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Superstitions

November 1, 2010

If you had expected I might have posted something this October, you were wrong, but there was a good reason for it:  the Rangers were winning.

Not that I wanted them to lose, of course, but because of that craziest of sports things:  superstition.  You see, I hadn’t posted in a while, and they’d been winning, and the longer it went and the more I wanted to say something, the more I knew I couldn’t.  If I wrote something, they’d lose, and it would be all my fault.

Last week, on Wednesday afternoon, I went to Academy and bought some items.  Found a really nice gray-blue World Series hat, claw and antlers and a Rangers logo on it.  Wore it during Game 1 and Game 2.  Took it off for Game 3.  Yeah, superstition.  I guess I can wear it again now.

Went to Game 4, which, for the amount of money I had to pay on StubHub, was a rip.  Especially given the result.  And even though I was way in the depths of the third deck past the foul pole (couldn’t even see the center or right fielders at the start of each play), I was disappointed at the crowd.  There were occasional chants of Lets Go Rangers, but they were very much half-hearted.  When I read Jamey Newberg’s comments about the crowd this morning, I was very much nodding my head.  People seemed to be there just to say they’d been to a World Series game, like they knew what was going to happen so it was just the experience they wanted.  I wanted that, but I wanted a win too.  If we’d won yesterday, we’d still be going tomorrow.

Which leads to a few other things.  Like, why didn’t Cliff start Game 4?  We all knew Tommy Hunter wasn’t going to work out.  Didn’t know the offense was going to disappear though.  A whole bunch of bad at-bats.  At this point I’m supposed to say something about how it was great pitching from the Giants, but screw them.  They won.

Another thought from the playoffs:  taunting.  There’s a fine line between celebrating your team’s win and taunting someone else’s loss.  Yankees fans jump across that line all the time.  There’s only one thing I always think about when I hear about Roberto Alomar, and that’s taunting.  In the World Series in 92 (I think), the Blue Jays beat the Braves, and Alomar was in the clubhouse doing the Tomahawk Chop and singing “no, no, nooooo” to the tune of the Braves chant of the time.  That’s taunting, and that’s what has made him a jerk to me all these years.  I bring that up for two reasons:  in the Tampa series, a couple of the Tampa players were doing the claw as they won Game 4.  If I knew who they were, I’d remember them for that.  Glad they lost because of that.  The other is the Giants fan as we left the ballpark Sunday night, standing on a table and waving a Giants flag.  Sorry, pal, my memory of the 2010 World Series won’t be of your team outplaying and outpitching the Rangers, it’ll be of one jerk who has to ruin things for his whole team.

Not going to get into the manager right now.  I’ll put it this way:  he pretty much just got himself a job for life in Texas.  And he by no means deserves it.  I will maintain until the day I die that the team won in spite of him, not because of him.  He might be a good motivator, he might be a good coach, but he’s a terrible field manager and a terrible decision maker.  Just about every loss during this post season can be laid at his feet in one way or another, if not doing the actual deed then certainly not putting his team in a position to do well, or worse, taking them out of one.  And how he could let Vlad take all those at-bats, when he was a shadow of himself from even just a couple of months ago?  Certainly not hitting cleanup.

How come everyone thinks Nolan Ryan did such a great job turning this team around the last couple of years?  All his ideas that got the pitching staff going.  What was Mike Maddux, chopped liver?  He’s now done it in two places, and you can bet he’ll be a guy with a job for life, and that will be deserved.

Struggling to think what we can do with Michael Young.  He can’t keep embarrassing himself and the team out there at third.  The number of balls he missed that were right by him (or right at him in a few cases) was astonishing.  Does he have the power to play first, or DH?  Can he move to the outfield?  I don’t know, but Elvis can’t cover it all himself.

OK, final thought for the night:  In the next few days you’ll hear a lot of people saying “oh well, at least they are the AL Champs for the first time ever”.  To those people I say:  Bite Me.  Anyone who thinks that is not a sports fan.  That’s like getting a silver medal, nobody cares.  In my sporting fandom I’ve lost a number of finals (more than I’d care to think about), and in every case the trite “at least you were there” is like a punch to the gut.  No, it’s not like a silver medal, it’s like getting a participation award.  Tell that to the six year old who was crying himself to sleep tonight.  Then try telling it to his dad, who was sitting there trying not to cry himself.

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Frenchy? JD is waving the white flag

August 31, 2010

C’mon, really?

I mean, Jeff Francoeur, really?  Really?

Okay, right now Jon Daniels’ GM reputation is based on getting Josh Hamilton and the Tex trade.  If you look at those, I’ll admit it, he looks pretty good.  But the negative side of the ledger is looking worse and worse.

Just take this year.  Gets Cliff Lee, great!  Doesn’t even do too bad in the trade.  Sure, Cliff has stumbled of late, and he’s not going to be back, but still, he’s going to get back to form in time to win in the playoffs (as the Rangers go down 3-1 to the Yankees in the first round).

But look at what else he’s done.  Cantu, he’s been dreck, although you’d have to say his track record suggested he should be better (not much, but better) than what he has been.  Molina was a bad deal all around (did I ever mention the Giants blog I read, that the very day he was traded, that morning they had said the Giants needed to get rid of him as soon as possible, because he is worthless?).  Cristian Guzman was a stupid panic deal, made worse by the fact they had to hide him on the DL so he couldn’t hurt the team any worse.  Alex Cora?  Roster filler.

And Francoeur.  This is probably the worst of them all.  I point you to this post, where the operative quote is down in the comments: “He could help a team as the short side of a corner outfield platoon.  Anyone who trades for him and gives him any more of a role than this will immediately earn consideration as the worst GM in the game, and will deserve to be immediately fired.”  So who wants to bet that Ron Washington runs him out there every day?

Or how about this,where the quote is “a pitch that might hit Jeff Francoeur’s knee, and he’s as likely to swing at it as a pitch right down the pipe to Gardner.”  Hey, at least Vlad will have company.

Or you could just look at this and cry a little.

Sorry, but as bad as that loss was (a walk-off wild pitch, after a bad Cliff Lee outing), the news the Rangers had acquired Frenchy is much more upsetting to me.  Even for Arias, where clearly it was a case of two teams dumping their 25th man on each other.

Bah.  The more I think about it, the more I come up with to be mad about.  This guy has been a joke on the blogs for years.  Oh, sorry, bloggers, what do they know, these guys are real baseball professionals.

JD, as a GM you’re going to make a great minor league coordinator one day.  And Chuck Greenberg is talking about contract extensions for JD and Washington.  I guess going 30-30 over a couple of months is something worth celebrating around here.

First but worst

August 18, 2010

The next person I hear saying that the Rangers have the biggest lead in baseball is going to get punched in the mouth.  I don’t care if it’s Josh Lewin, the guys on the radio, or someone at my office, I will track them down.

Why, you ask?  Because I’m sick of hearing that!  It’s meaningless.  It’s a pathetic way to drum up support for the team, and pretend they are better than they are.  It avoids all mention of anything like context, or how badly the team actually is playing.

So, here’s the context:  Yes, the Rangers have the biggest lead in baseball (excuse me while I punch myself in the mouth). Now, put them in any other division, and guess what?  They wouldn’t be in first place anywhere else!  Yeah, you heard me right, the great Rangers team, playing really good ball this year… and in the NL Central they’d be a game out of first, which is the closest they’d be to any of the other division leaders.

But, so what?  They’re in the AL West, and the reason they have such a big lead is that the rest of the AL West sucks, not because of the Rangers.  If any of the other teams were able to put together a run, they might be able to give the Rangers some serious competition.  But even though the Rangers have gone 3-7 in the last ten, the Angels have only gone 5-5, so they pick up two games.  Woohoo.  Keep doing that, and they might be able to squeeze by the Rangers by the end.  But they won’t, as my last post said, and I don’t believe the Rangers will go 3-7 the rest of the way either.  Maybe 5-5.

Anyway, so what if they do have the biggest lead?  Doesn’t matter if you win by one game or a hundred (except for the ability to rest people for the playoffs).  I’m about 99% sure the Rangers are going to get into the playoffs.  Obviously they’ll be the division winners, since they’re currently 6.5 games out of the wildcard after being humiliated in Tampa.

(Speaking of Tampa, you know the difference between Texas and Florida?  After the game today, the Rays were hosting a senior citizen’s prom, complete with king and queen.  Yep, that’s Florida, where people go to die.)

Now, let’s assume the races are settled in the AL.  Minnesota has a 5 game lead in the Central, and the Yanks and Rays are 5.5 ahead of Boston.  It’s possible someone will cough up one of those leads in the final month and a half, but if you were a betting man you wouldn’t get very good odds on it.  One of the Yanks or Rays will win the East, the other will be the wildcard.  Given that the wildcard cannot play the team from their division in the first round of the playoffs, that means they’re guaranteed to play the Twins and Rangers.  Whichever team wins the East will host the Rangers, since the Rangers have an inferior record to the Twins.  Does it matter which is which?  Do you think the Rangers will have much success going to either Yankee Stadium or Tampa in the first round?  No.  They won’t.

I can’t even see it happening with Cliff Lee on the mound, unless he has some kind of magic playoff mojo.  He can’t get any support here, plus he’s suddenly become mortal over the last couple of games.  And yeah, if you think he’s re-signing with the Rangers, I have one of those famous bridges to sell you.  He’ll say all the right things, but the look on his face in the dugout the other night should be all you need to see.  A zillion Yankee dollars is what’s going to get him.

So, here’s my prediction, and it’s a bad one:  The Rangers will probably win their second ever playoff game, but they still won’t win their first ever playoff series.

Finally, a little more food for thought:  Since the eleven game win streak back in June, the Rangers are now below .500, at 23-24.  Just a week short of two months where they haven’t even won as many as they lost.  Thank you Angels for being so bad at the same time.

Print those playoff tickets already, will ya?

August 11, 2010

If you’re an optimistic Rangers fan, stop reading right now (this means you, Jamey Newberg).

Okay, now that they’ve stopped reading, here’s what I have to say:  The Rangers are not as good as you think they are.  I’ve been listening to a lot of sports talk radio lately, and hearing folks jumping on the bandwagon.  Every so often they’ll have the pessimists (like me) call, and say that they don’t believe because of the team’s history of collapsing.  In the last few days they were even asking if people were ready to start pressing the panic button.  Of course, you beat the Yankees last night (and lead in the 8th inning as I write tonight) and everything’s all right with the world again.  Short term memories for a lot of people.  Either that, or they’re the kind of people who say they don’t believe in global warming because there was a bit of snow where they live.

Now, my reason for not believing is not because of the Rangers’ history of discovering that their pitchers were just having a career year (hello Mr Feldman!).  I disbelieve because of the way the current season has gone.  The folks jumping in to root for the Rangers (although welcome) are only doing so because they see the Rangers climbing into a double digit lead (“biggest in baseball” as we are reminded ad nauseum, as though the poor performances of the rest of the division are something to be proud of).  But people haven’t noticed one thing:  the Rangers are not building this lead.  It’s actually the Angels who are doing it (and the A’s, I guess, although I really don’t care about them).

Now, what do I mean by that?  Take a look at the Rangers record.  Remember way back when, in June to be precise, they had an 11 game win streak (against those NL powerhouses of Milwaukee, Florida, Houston and Pittsburgh)?  What do you think they’ve done since then?  They’ve gone 21-19.  That’s right, in a month and a half they’re barely above .500.  Why has their lead gone up since then?  Because the Angels have been even worse – 17-23, to drop four games in that time.  Take out that 11 game streak, or even just make it a more normal 6-5 instead of 11-0, and the Rangers are stumbling in first by only 3 or 4 games.

Here’s a chart of the way the teams in the AL West have gone this season (I made this over the weekend, so it’s a couple of games out of date):

Games above 500

You can visually see the 11 game win streak, and how the Rangers have been losing just as much as winning since then.

So, ask yourself this question (the big question for Rangers fans):  Are the Rangers capable of winning the division?  Can they really hang on?  Which is more likely, that the Rangers can step it up a notch, or that the Angels will suddenly find themselves?  If you believe that the Angels are more talented than their record (and you might not since their loss of guys like Vlad from the last few years of dominance), you might expect them to be able to swing back into winning ways more easily than the Rangers.

One way of looking at things is to look at the last few years, with another chart:

Win Pct by Month

This would be the winning percentage of the Angels and Rangers this year (dark colors) and the last three years (07-09) combined (light colors).  Interesting the way they track each other this year – as the Rangers went up, so did the Angels, as the Rangers went down, so did the Angels.

[Minor interruption:  Feliz just blew the save.  He pitched two innings last night, and I said to myself there’s no way he’s available tonight.  Guess Ron Washington knows more than I do.]

The Rangers have followed the same pattern all four years, starting slow (despite everyone saying how good Washington is at having people prepared), getting good for a while (this is where people usually start jumping on the bandwagon), then fading down the stretch.  The Angels have been similar, although they tend to peak a little later, and all-in-all are better on average every month in the past three years.

So looking at this, what is the outlook for the Rangers this year?  As the old saying goes, if the Rangers only go .500 the rest of the way, the Angels would have to go about 33-14, close enough to .700 ball.  That puts the Rangers in a pretty good position.  Can you see the Angels playing .700 the rest of the way?  Look at the last three years, the Angels haven’t even managed to go .600 in August and September.  My guess is they will right their ship a little, and they will go .600, while the Rangers continue to stumble along at .500.  If that happens, the Rangers will end up with about a five game lead at the end, which is a good enough cushion – although if it comes down to that final week against the Angels and they’re at five or closer, the Rangers might just be in position for an epic collapse.

[And there goes the loss, dammit.]

Now when we get to the playoffs, it’s a different matter.  Everyone knows (don’t they?) that the playoffs are a crapshoot.  You roll the dice and hope for the best.  In our case, we hope for Cliff Lee to be just about perfect, because the cast of thousands behind him might not be enough.  Which of the guys in the rotation do you bet on in the playoffs?

Colby?  He’s having a really good year, and he might be good enough.  Not really tested in the big pressure cooker of the playoffs though.  I think I would trust him though.

CJ?  Do you know that with the next out he gets, he will have matched the combined total of his previous two highest innings pitched seasons?  Yeah, he’s at 141 innings, next best for his career is 73.  If that doesn’t worry you, nothing will.  Way back in April I was doubting that he could last a full season as a starter (and then I cringed as Washington sent him out time and time again to throw 100 pitches in six innings).  I’m amazed that he’s gone as far as he has, every outing I expect his arm to fall off.

Tommy Hunter?  Love the guy.  I think he’ll be a great pitcher in a few years.  Now though, going into the playoffs?  Maybe he can do it, maybe he hasn’t learned how to lose yet.  We can hope.

So you’ve got two likely’s in Lee and Lewis, and two maybes in CJ and Hunter.  A lot of teams have ridden two horses all the way through the playoffs, so there’s no reason the Rangers can’t.

Assuming they can hit, that is, and that’s not a good assumption right now.  They are sorely missing Kinsler, who every time he is out injured is supposed to be back in just a few days, and ends up being gone for a few months.  The guys they’re putting on second just aren’t doing the job.  Cristian Guzman was a panic trade, because the Kinsler injury happened a few days before the deadline, and they thought they needed to do something.  He hasn’t shown anything with the bat or in the field since he came over.  Seriously, I think Blanco would be a better option, at least he gives something when he’s fielding.  And I never thought I’d say that Blanco would be a better option than anyone.  In fact, it doesn’t really matter which one you choose, Guzman, Blanco or Arias (if he ever comes back from his conveniently timed injury), they’re all much of a muchness.

Looking at the other trades, Cantu and Molina haven’t shown much either yet.  Of course, they weren’t expected to, based on their career numbers.  I think all of the trades (Lee excepted) were just done to make the team look like it was doing something.  They weren’t really upgrades, were they?  Unless you say upgrades over Chris Davis, which pretty much anything would be.  Point is, the way things were going, there wasn’t much the Rangers could do to mess up the season.  They’re very likely to make the playoffs, and most of those guys will have little to do in October other than ride the bench.  I guess the good part is that most of them won’t be around in the next few years, when things might really get interesting around here.  The bad part is that Cliff Lee won’t be around either.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again:  I write these posts in my head every day.  Just wish I could get round to writing them on the computer.  I have the greatest respect for Jamey and the prodigious output he has had over the last decade.

Washout

June 11, 2009

No, there’s no space in the title, so don’t get your hopes up.  They extended him, anyway.

I hate rainouts.  You have all the waiting round to see if something is going to happen, and then it doesn’t.  Waste a bunch of time that you could use on more interesting things, but you don’t want to get started on something in case the game starts.  You’d think they’d have a better system for calling games, like someone saying “hey guys, there’s a bunch of tornadoes around, let’s get out of here!”.  They just don’t want to give up the ticket money.

Our garage door was bowing in the wind tonight, I really thought it was going to bust in and do some real damage.  It’s an interesting feeling to be watching the rotation in the clouds, while you’re listening to sirens going off.  No touchdowns, but it was certainly running through my mind at the time.  And there’s still thunder as I write, 6 hours later.

Our first pick in the draft went to Klein High in Spring, which is where both David Murphy and my niece went.  At different times, of course.

The Red Sox are 7-0 against the Yankees this year?  Wow!  If it wasn’t for that series, the Yanks could have a good lead in their division.  Of course, we might say the same about us and the Tigers, too.

I really want to write something insightful here, but I don’t have squat.  If I’d thought of it earlier, I could have started a longer stat study, my next will be on the 300 game winners and how they got there.  But it’s almost 1.30, so you’ll have to wait – just don’t hold your breath.

A little help

April 20, 2009

What would you think if I ran out of runs, would you stand up and walk out on me?  Lend me your ear and I’ll tell you a tale, and I’ll try not to go oh for three.

And so we continue the saga of Kevin Millwood suing the Rangers hitters for lack of support, as the rather boring old joke goes.  Here’s a question for you:  what exactly does clutch mean?  Numerous sabermetric studies show that clutch hitting doesn’t exist, but any baseball man will tell you that such-and-such a player is clutch, because he gets better when the game is on the line.  And, returning to Millwood, they’ll tell you players perform better in contract years, because their money is on the line.

Let me suggest this to you (and you’ve probably heard it before):  since it is impossible for anyone to give more than 100% (which by definition is the maximum), if they improve they must have actually been giving less than 100%.  So a clutch hitter is, if ever possible to find, not so much a clutch hitter in those pressure situations, but rather a choke hitter at other times.  And a Millwood is not so much proving himself this year, as proving he was dogging it the last three years.  He can bleat all he wants about finally being healthy this year, but you go back every spring and you’ll see stories about him being fitter than ever (didn’t he spend the winter a year or two ago doing karate to improve his fitness?).  So, whether these first three starts are an indication of being healthy, being better, or the contract year, I have no faith in him any more.  I’m waiting for him to break down, and I’m waiting for him to prove it was just a small sample size thing.  If that doesn’t happen, I’ll consider him a money-grubbing jerk.

We went to Saturday night’s game, but I spent more time out of my seat than in it.  Had to get seats in the third deck, because I sure as heck wasn’t going to pay $65 a seat to sit in the good seats (although by the end of the game I told my wife to make me buy the better seats if I ever think of going in the third deck again).  I spent about two innings trying to get some hot dogs and cokes on the third deck, and after a long wait I eventually went down to level two to get them, which was much faster.  Note to Rangers:  your food service on the third level sucks.  Watching the servers for four different lines grab each hot dog or hamburger as they came out, one by one, was pitiful.  The vendor up there is not doing their job, and even if I did only pay $8 a ticket, I would rather stay at home than sit in there again.

Between the first two games of the season and last night, someone in the Rangers organization made the rule that the vendors have to take the caps off the soda and water bottles before giving them to us.  Note to that person:  you are a $*(&(@$&.  Get out of your air-conditioned box, then try carrying a tray with hot dogs and a couple of uncapped bottles up the stairs on the third level.  I don’t care if someone else threw their caps, you don’t punish everyone for it.  You’re not Homeland Security.

Brad Wilkerson retired.  Some of us would say he retired three years ago, he just kept wearing the uniform.

Not even a Michael Young walk-off can make me happy about the fact that the Rangers are playing sucky ball.  I keep thinking I need to revise the projection down.  Seventy is looking a long way off right now.  The teams we’ve played so far are a combined 17-20 when not playing the Rangers.  How bad are we going to be when we play some good teams?  Better yet, how bad is the rest of the division when we’re tied for second?

Wish I’d known Derek Holland was in the bullpen Saturday.  We stood behind there in the late innings, and I looked at them, but the only ones I knew were Frankie Francisco and Taylor Teagarden (FF & TT).  Would have even been a nice surprise if Holland had had his jacket off, so I could have read the name on his back.  Could have told my son that there’s another one of the guys we met at Jamey’s book signing in December.

I feel pretty confident in saying that this is no longer Michael Young’s Rangers, it’s now Ian Kinsler’s Rangers.  There was a palpable difference in the crowd when Kinsler was up, compared to anyone else.  Okay, he just cycled and went 6 for 6, which would sure help his profile, but even without that I think he is now the man.  If you want another indicator:  my four year old now has an Ian Kinsler shirt, to go with his old Michael Young.  His choice.

I still want an Elvis shirt.  Best first two weeks for a Rangers rookie ever?  Must be close.  He’s starting to get the crowd buzz, too.

Do you need anybody?  I need somebody to love.  Could it be anybody?  Sure, as long as they can help the Rangers win.  It might take Superman though.

Fooled me once, shame on you

April 18, 2009

They give you hope, they take it away.  Actually, I don’t have hope, except for a fleeting moment after sweeping the Indians, and watching the Angels implode.  Fact is, the Rangers are in last place in the West, and there’s only one team with a worse record in the AL.  Sweet dreams are not made of this.  The Indians, the team we swept, have gone 3-5 since, so they were a bad team we were beating up on.  The only good team in the West, and I use good in it’s broadest sense, are the Mariners, off to a 8-3 start on their way to 75 wins.

My guess?  First team in the West to 81 wins will take the division title.  Rangers?  71.

Over-under on Ron Washington I put at May 10.  Can’t even win when we’re given a patsy schedule to start the season?  His only saving grace may be the Rangers in foreclosure, so they won’t want to pay him to do nothing while they hire a new manager and have to pay them a million bucks.

2010 is looking a long way away, and realistically, if we’re planning on contending with a bunch of rookie pitchers, it ain’t gonna happen.  Let’s assume we get three prospects up from OKC by the end of the year.  They replace Millwood, Padilla and Benson.  Are we really going to be in it with a rotation whose most experienced player is Brandon McCarthy?  Or whichever piece of dreck they drag in next winter?  Nope, those guys will need time, as will the next group, and the group after that.  At best you’re bringing in three guys a year, two of whom can stick.  In three years you have half a pitching staff, with very little experience.  2012 is the earliest, unless the other teams throw in the towel.  Let me revise that:  2012 is the earliest we win a playoff series.

Millwood is flattering to deceive.  Just pray he doesn’t get to 180, or we’ll get another year of it.  I’ll be at the game tomorrow night, so I bet his true colors will be shining through.  Five innings, five runs.

It’s become even more clear that Nolan Ryan’s emphasis on starters going longer has been pushed into the manager’s brain, because he gets everybody 100 pitches regardless of if they stink or not that day.  I think he has a flowchart on how to manage pitchers, with the first box asking “has he thrown 100 pitches?”, and the No answer being “do nothing”.

CJ Wilson should never come in with a four run lead.  I’ve talked about this before:  bring him on with bases loaded and nobody out, he strikes out the side.  A four run lead, he will melt like an icecream on a Dallas sidewalk in August.

The Rangers are second in the league in batting average.  Take out Kinsler and Byrd and they fall to tenth.  Yeah, that’s how much those two have meant so far.  The offense has definitely not been firing very well so far, and 19 run outbursts really just mask how things are.  If we really have such an excess of offense, as we seem to every year, how come we’re not trading some of it for pitching?  Oh yeah, park effects.  Raw data gets masked so easily.

I think Kinsler flirts with .400 one of these years, if not this one.  Okay, six for six will inflate you a little in the early going, but he has so much potential and room for development.

If your four year old gets onto a team called the Diamondbacks, and they play a team called the Rangers, who do you root for?  I’ll find out in a few weeks.  Oh, and don’t tell anyone, because I’m trying not to be “that guy”, but I was as proud as punch when in his first ever practice with a real team, he was hitting harder and further than anyone else.

Central Market is expensive, but I could stand in the coffee aisle all day with my eyes closed, just breathing.

The Rangers need to wake up and smell the coffee.

Bubbles bursting pop!

April 10, 2009

Been meaning to write all week.  Takes the first loss of the season to get me to do so.  Hopefully that will deflate a few of the people talking about the Rangers contending.  Okay, yes, they did sweep the Indians, but one series does not a season make.  Has anything changed on the Rangers in the last week to make them suddenly likely to win the division?  No.   I’m sure you’ve heard it here before, but remember this phrase: “small sample size”.  How many times did the Rangers win three in a row last season?  A lot.  Just because it happened to come in the first three games of this season, are all the clouds surrounding this team blown away, and everything is now all fluffy and light?  No.

Hey, are you, like me, wondering what kind of idiot Ron Washington is?  In my case, it’s because he’s giving his starters 100 or more pitches in opening week!  Come on, even Kris Benson gets 100 today, when he sucked all day?  I know Nolan Ryan talked about getting the guys more physically fit so they can go longer, but please, this is ridiculous.  It’s like they told Washington that he will be fired if his starters don’t go 100 every night.  And yes, I freely admit that blame could just as easily go to Mike Maddux.  As of right now the MLB site shows 27 pitchers have thrown 100 pitches so far this year (presumably all in starts), and that doesn’t count Benson, who’s not on the list yet.  Our other three starters are though, tying us with Cincinnati as the two teams with three pitchers to do that.  I will bet you that one or more of these first four starters will be on the DL by the end of the month.  Don’t I remember Padilla having some trouble late in spring training, so much that he might have missed his start on Wednesday?  It’s criminal.  And yes, I did say when Millwood came out to pitch the seventh on Monday that he was about to melt down, having already gotten into the 90s in his pitch count.  If I can tell from section 235, how come Washington can’t?  Of course, I also called Salty’s home run (told my son to pay attention – he was goofing around – because Salty was going to hit a homer, and two pitches later he did), so maybe I’m just psychic.

Love the red.  Get a clue, Rangers.  Blue should be gone by next season at the latest.

Enjoyed Opening Day, despite the horrible traffic around the ballpark.  Somehow they actually managed to make it worse.  Yes, they’ll blame construction, which will presumably make things better one day.  Me, I blame the cops, who were doing a terrible job of traffic control everywhere I went.  When you’re in a mile-long backup, seeing the cop just letting people turn right on red into the very road all your cars are trying to get to, that’s pathetic.  We couldn’t go anywhere because the right-on-redders kept filling in our gaps.  If the cop had stopped them once in a while, we’d have gotten there in half the time.  And as for the folks at Six Flags (where we were forced to go to park), they should realize that they should open all of their ticket booths when they have a thousand cars waiting, not half of them.  I wanted to tell their workers who were blocking the lanes off that they should open the booths instead, but my wife wouldn’t let me.

Wednesday night was a lot better, of course, since only half as many people showed up.  I think it was a much more enjoyable day, too.  The temperature was just right (whereas on Monday we were fine in the sun but froze when the shadows hit).  The ballpark has much better screens this year, I really like the various video boards.  Plus, we saw Elvis hit his first career home run, hopefully the first of many (and yes, I know he’s only going to average two a year, but still).  I wonder when we’ll be able to get Andrus shirts in the store?  If it’s anything like Chris Davis last year, we’ll have to wait until Opening Day 2010.

How do you explain to a four year old that green dot won’t win every time?  He was just so mad about it, and then red won twice in a row, so that just made him even madder at Mommy (her dot is red dot.  Mine is blue).  It’s really funny to watch him get mad about it though.

One of the things about blogging (or indeed writing in general) is that you need to stick with it to be successful.  Take a few days off, and soon enough it becomes a few months.  I must try harder to post daily, or at least several times a week.  Too many thoughts bounce around my head to not commit them somewhere (and no jokes about committing me somewhere, please).

Nick Adenhart, huh?  On Opening Day we were in traffic that was so slow (I estimated it took us 45 minutes to drive a mile at one point) that the passenger in the car in front of us went to the cooler in his trunk twice while we were watching.  He tried to hide it when he went back, but obviously he and the driver cracked a couple of beers each while they were driving.  How stupid can people be?  And how come a victim like Adenhart dies, while the driver walks (or runs) away?  Let’s get some serious punishment for these people.

I like the idea of day games, but it still doesn’t really feel like the season has started until we get into our rhythm of watching the ballgame every evening through the summer.

Hit me once, hit me twice

May 9, 2008

By now, if you’re a Rangers fan, you’ve seen and heard about the big fight tonight, which was mostly just a bunch of handbag swinging.  The clear exception was Richie Sexson, who I would expect to get at least a 10 day suspension.  You want to throw punches, that’s one thing, but throwing a helmet can cause serious injury.  The guys on the Rangers broadcast said he’s well-liked and this was out of character.

The ridiculous part is that the Rangers were completely innocent on this.  They had been hit twice by Felix Hernandez (whose reaction during the fight was way over the top), Kinsler looked like he was going to start something when he was hit but didn’t, and Gabbard’s pitch was a long way away from Sexson.  I know there will be people who will defend the Mariners in this, because I’ve been on the other end and defended the Rangers in similar situations (Frankie Francisco in Oakland, for example), but I fully expect most neutrals to side with Texas.

The video wasn’t completely clear on the location, so here’s what Gameday showed:
Sexson fight

This shows the pitches in Gameday during the full at-bat. The one at the top is the one to Sexson, the others were to Cairo after Sexson was ejected.  Now, I may be biased (yeah, may be), but this shows pretty much what we saw on tv, that this was a high pitch, not inside.  Admittedly, Sexson is a giant freak of nature, and his head sticks out like a pelican, so maybe he thought it was closer than it was.  But really, it’s on the edge or maybe slightly off the plate.

Curiously enough, the Gameday data logs don’t show it.  Sexson is simply missing from Gabbard’s data at that point, then you have Cairo’s at-bat and it is three pitches long.  If you didn’t know better, I think you’d probably just assume it was a glitch of some kind.  In Sexson’s batter data, it appears he only batted in the second inning.  My guess is that they didn’t program for this situation, not that they are trying to hide something.  The pitch existed at some point, because they made the chart from it.

Ahh, okay, I found it.  It doesn’t exist under the individual players, but it does exist in the inning data, which means it’s probably a programming oversight that didn’t get it into the players’ logs.  But the inning data has errors too though, because it shows all four pitches to Cairo.  Here’s what the data has:  px=”-0.879 pz=”5.362.  5.3 feet high (pz), so about eye height for a crouching Sexson.  0.879 feet inside.  That’s about 10.5 inches, which with the ball diameter is right on the edge of the strike zone.  If it was lower, it would just as likely been called a strike as a ball.

I love that Gameday called it an “On-field Delay”.  Someone out there was imagining a streaker, surely.

Sexson’s just mad because he can’t hit any more.

Took a while, but I finally saw Ichiro on the video, coming out at the back.  For a while I thought he wasn’t there at all, which would have been a major faux pas on his part.

It occurred to me a little later that my three year old was asleep at the time, but would probably have been watching if this game was in Arlington.  Josh loves to mimic the players in great detail, down to pulling on his gloves, stepping out of the box (not that he knows what the box is, he just knows that the players step back a little after each pitch), or even trying to break his bat over his knee after Milton Bradley did that the other day (plastic bat, and no, he didn’t really try very hard).  But if not today, one day, he will see players fighting.  And even though we’ll tell him that was a bad thing (just as we did with Bradley), and they’re not being nice, I am right now imagining the moment when he is going to throw his bad down and charge at me, and throw his helmet at me, “just like the Rangers did”.  That’s a bit of an uncomfortable feeling, when you’re the cause of your son being hooked on the Rangers.

Other notes:  Ben Broussard DFA’d.  Should have happened a couple of weeks ago, and given the job fulltime to Botts.

Edinson Volquez had a quote in today’s Star-Telegram, I can’t find it in the online edition.  He said something like the difference between last year and this is that last year he was just throwing pitches, but this year he is throwing them for a reason, and he understands why he’s throwing them.  I wish I had the exact quote.  Point is, the moment I read it, I of course thought that the difference is that this year he has a pitching coach who knows what he’s doing.

Jon Daniels says Ron Washington’s job is safe at least until the All-Star break.  Roll on All-Star break.

We’re going to try and get out to Saturday’s game, weather permitting, and get our budding superstar the Michael Young poster.  Hopefully it won’t be the only sighting of Michael Young we have.

Oops! Sorry Vinny, I didn’t mean it.

April 23, 2008

If there are any Ranger players reading this (yeah right), stop right now.  I can’t afford to say anything that might cause you to stop hitting, or pitching, or fielding.  Lord knows you’re already doing it badly enough.

First I cursed Michael Young on Opening Day, and he proceeded to go 0 for a week. Then, just two days ago, I praised Padilla, and said I hoped I wasn’t jinxing him. Sure enough, he went out and had an abysmal performance against the Tigers (who, despite a slow start, will be there or thereabouts at the end).

The collapse of the Rangers continues. Ron “Mr Fundamentals” Washington clearly has no idea what he is doing. Someone asked me the other day if he was asleep during the games, because he doesn’t appear to have any idea what’s going on, let alone show any kind of emotion. I’m not a big Mike Scioscia fan, mainly because his team usually beats us, but I’d sure rather have a guy who cares, not someone who looks like he should be in his rocking chair in the retirement home, telling us about how players in the old days were so much better, that they could run and steal and bunt and forget all this newfangled nonsense about getting on base, or maximizing your roster to it’s full potential.

We were leading I think 3-1 against Boston the other day (I’m pretty sure it was a 2 run lead), in the middle innings, we get the first man on, and Washington calls for a bunt. Because, you know, against some useless team like Boston, bunting the man over so someone can drive him in (or not, in the Rangers’ case) gives us that extra run, and that will make all the difference. Washington, you’re an idiot. You know what the Red Sox can do (you certainly do now). This is the American League. You don’t play for one run, you play for five or six. Remember the saying, don’t kick a man when he’s down? Doesn’t apply to baseball! Not only should you kick him, you should beat him with your bat.  Because if you don’t, he will.

The Rangers led 5-0 in the middle of the 7th on Sunday.  Win expectancy for the Red Sox is 0.039, which surprisingly enough is about 1 in 25.  I would have expected it to be much lower than that.  On the other hand, that means the Rangers should have won that game 24 out of 25 times.  I was astounded when Millwood came out for the 7th inning – I had seen his pitch count at the end of the previous inning (104 I believe) and said “okay, he’s done for the day”.  When I saw him come back, it was like “uh-oh, nothing good can come of this”.  If I can think that, what on earth were Washington and Connor thinking?  104 isn’t too many, they might have hoped to get another inning from him, but he hadn’t really been great anyway, he’d given up 8 hits and 2 walks in 6 innings.  Of course, with the bullpen collapsing, what else can you do?

Think Washington will be fired before the end of the year? I do. Those geniuses in the front office gave him a one year extension last year, through 2009. Which means when he’s fired in June or July, and Art Howe gets the job, we’ll be paying him an extra year of salary for nothing.

Not that Tom Hicks really cares right now – he’s too busy trying to save his skin in England, where the fans hate him so much the police told him he should not go to a Liverpool soccer match. We may think he sucks, but at least we wouldn’t try and kill him. Unless, that is, he tries waving his scarf and singing along with the fans.

Yes, the Boston massacre was embarrassing, and humiliating.  A coworker came into my office this morning and said “well…”, and before he could go any further I said “think they’ll manage 50 wins this year?”, and he laughed and left.  Believe me, there is no taunting that can make a die-hard Ranger fan feel worse about the team.

On Opening Day I commented about Ben Broussard being lackadaisacal in the field, comparing him to the all-out effort that Teixeira would give. Broussard’s lack of attention cost us dearly against Boston on the weekend, as he sauntered away after thinking he had made the play at first, totally ignoring the guy who kept on running and scored the go-ahead run. You know Tex would have been watching for anything like that. It’s not just his bat we’re missing.

In the Star-Telegram today there was a line from Washington about how he and Jon Daniels had talked and agreed to get Jason Botts more playing time.  My guess is that JD did all the talking in that conversation.  There was also a “kick the tires” comment on Frank Thomas.  Yeah, that’s what we need, a 40 year old washed up first baseman.  We already have a 30 year old.  Maybe we can get Bonds, too, then we can block two future players at the same time.

Loved seeing Pudge catch that foul popup, then smile at the cameras. Wish he was still doing it for us.

I forgot to save the link, but sometime in the last week or so someone wrote that Trey Hillman is outstanding at getting the young guys to improve their game.  What could have been, huh?

The Rangers are leading their opponents in something:  they’re ahead about 25-9 (I forget the exact number, and I’m not going to look it up) in errors committed.  Fundamentals.

Here’s a thought: You know those $10 Fox Box tickets? They’re $12 this year, with a $2 donation to the Boys and Girls Club. I’m all for the B&G Club (except for having A-Rod as a spokesman), but I’m really opposed to this kind of forced donation. I have charities I donate to (this is my favorite) already.  Having some multi-millionaires try and make me give money somewhere is ridiculous.  Make the tickets $12, and if the Rangers want to donate some money, do so.  Funnily enough I was just watching Bono on tv last night, talking about charity.  He said (and I paraphrase) that if it’s done publicly, it’s not charity, it’s PR.  In this case, it’s definitely PR.  There was a quote in the paper a few weeks ago about how the team has lost the fans (or rather, the franchise has lost the fans, it’s not so much to do with the team itself), and they’re trying anything to get them back.  Ironic that their new neighbors are going to charge tens of thousands for a seat license – and sell out.

Jeez, do I sound like Larry King, starting a paragraph off with “here’s a thought”?

Okay, two last lines:

John Danks: 2-1, 3.04 ERA.  17 hits (0 HR), 16 K in 23.2 innings.

Edinson Volquez:  2-0. 1.17 ERA.  12 hits (0 HR), 16 K in 15.1 innings.

And one last comment:  that’s 40% of our 2010 rotation.  Maybe, just maybe, the Chris Young/Adrian Gonzalez deal isn’t going to go down as Jon Daniels’ epitaph after all.