Tagged: Colby Lewis

Fan Fest

Since Fan Fest was going to be different this year, I was pretty apprehensive. But the overall verdict is….. I LIKED IT!! Make sure to keep that in mind while I’m complaining about the autograph process in future paragraphs, okay?
I had planned to get up early on Saturday morning to wait in line for autographs, but I couldn’t sleep on Friday night. So when my alarm went off on Saturday, I decided to call an audible and reset my alarm for 10:00 instead.
I headed out to Arlington later than expected, but I was feeling great because of the extra rest.
When I arrived, it took me a good 15 minutes to find a parking space, and I only found that one because of dumb luck. Then when I tried to enter the Convention Center, I was told that I was entering through the exit and that I had to walk around the building. Lovely!

This did not put me in a great mood. But I eventually got around the building and found Will Call to pick up my ticket. As soon as I entered, I asked where I needed to go for autographs.
After walking around aimlessly for a while trying to find where the lady was talking about, I finally figured out the general area where I was supposed to be.
Let me first explain how the autographs were set up at Fan Fest. There were 4 autograph stages (A, B, C, and D) where players would be signing autographs at their specified times. They had players signing 2 at a time, so for example Matt Treanor and Colby Lewis were each signing at stages B and C, respectively, from 12:00-1:00.

So if you wanted to get both Matt Treanor and Colby Lewis, you were screwed. You had to have a special colored wristband to get an autograph, and 200 wristbands were given out for each player. Each person could only have one wristband at a time, and you were required to be already waiting in line for your player when the autograph time started.
After you got your autograph, there was a person standing there to cut off your wristband. Then you could head back over to the wristband area to try to get a wristband for another player’s autograph.

This should have worked out pretty well, because the Rangers had publicised that they wouldn’t start handing out wristbands for a specific player until 2 hours before his autograph session. But I heard that the fire marshal said that all the people lined up waiting to get their wristbands were blocking the exits, so they had to start handing out all the wristbands.
They also had only 4 lines (for stages A, B, C, and D), so you had to know what stage your player was going to be at. But if someone was waiting for either Michael Kirkman (signing on stage C at 2:00) or David Murphy (signing on stage C at 4:00), they were in the same line. It was madness!
After asking around for awhile, I realized that since Kirkman was signing before Murphy, I could go to the front of the line to get a Kirkman wristband.

I got there at a little before noon, and I ended up getting a Kirkman wristband for the 2:00 signing. I also wanted to get Darren O’Day (3:00) and Engel Beltre (4:00), but I couldn’t get those wristbands until after my Kirkman session was over.
Jamey Newberg 
So then I had 2 hours to kill before the autograph session, but I had to make sure I was in the line for Kirkman before 2:00. I decided to visit Jamey Newberg’s booth to see what he was up to.
Jamey and I talked for a little while, and unfortunately I allowed my displeasure about the autograph situation to overflow a little.
I said something like “I don’t know if I like this new Fan Fest. It’s kind of ridiculous!”
He cocked his head to the side, narrowed his eyes, and grinned at me. “But it’s also kinda awesome, right?” That helped me to realize that I was the one being ridiculous, and I needed to chill and try to have a good time. Thanks, Jamey!
Fergie Jenkins
Jamey had a prime spot, right between C.J. Wilson’s Children’s Charities and the Hall Of Fame Booth with Ferguson Jenkins and Gaylord Perry. So Jamey just got to soak in the greatness all day!
CJ Wilson 
The gracious C. J. stopped by his booth just before I got there, and he spent quite a while signing autographs for various kids. I was going to get in line, but then some official-looking guy said that C.J. had to leave soon, and the line was already too long.
I already have a C.J. Wilson autographed ball, but the 1st pen he tried to sign with ran out of ink, and the end result doesn’t look anything at all like C.J.’s signature. Oh well.
Gaylord Perry
Fergie and Gaylord Perry were also signing autographs, but you had to donate $20 to the Texas Rangers Foundation for each autograph. I would have done it if it had been the beginning of the month, but it was the 22nd, and I don’t get paid again until the 1st. Dangit!
On the other side of Fan Fest, there was a big stage that had been set up for Q&A Sessions all day long, and I realized that this was a good place to be. Not only because I learned some great stuff, but also because I got to sit down!
There were several different sessions scheduled, including ones with Nolan Ryan, members of the coaching staff, Rangers’ wives, Chuck Greenberg, former Rangers, and Nelson Cruz.

I listened to some or all of several of these Q&A’s, and I really enjoyed them. It made me feel special as a fan to get the opportunity to ask questions, and I learned a lot by listening to the questions that other fans asked.

There was also a little corner by the stage where the Rangers’ Foundation was selling various Rangers memorabilia. They were selling a bunch of things I already have at a reduced rate, like a 2010 Rangers’ Media Guide that I paid $10 for at the beginning of the season was going for $1.

They also had a Rangers’ cookbook that I already own, as well as some old Hank Blalock bobbleheads from a few years ago.
But the things I purchased were some baseball-themed potholders ($1 each) and an autographed Jarrod Saltalamacchia baseball. Score!

I had wanted to get Salty’s autograph for the past couple of years, but when we traded him to Boston and I thought that my chance had passed. But they had at least a dozen baseballs with his John Hancock, as well as countless other autographed baseballs that were completely illegible, and each was only $15.

If they had taken the time to decipher some of those autographs, they probably could have sold a bunch more!
Right next to the old Rangers’ memorabilia was the “photo booth” where different current and former Rangers’ players would take some time to take pictures with the fans. There was no publicised schedule for the photo stage, so you just had to get in line and hope for the best.
I got in line for Mark McLemore, but his picture with the guy in front of me was his last one. Aww, man! I was upset, because I had no idea who the next guy would be or if I would want my picture taken with him.
Matt Treanor
But then Matt Treanor walked up, and I breathed a sigh of relief. When I walked up to have my picture taken with him, I explained that I had been waiting for Mac, but that I was glad to get to have a picture with him instead.
He was so sweet; he said, “Do you want me to get him back up here?” and he made a move to call Mac back to the stage. I laughed. “Oh, no!” I said. “I’m glad it’s you!”

Mark McLemore
After my picture with Matt Treanor, I realized that Mark McLemore was still off to the side talking to some people. When it was my turn, I explained that I had been the next person in line. “Well, I can’t leave you hanging,” he said. “You were the next person!”

The area between the big Q&A stage and the photo booth was also a great spot to catch various Rangers’-affiliated people for pictures.

Jim Sundberg
Jim Sundberg was walking through the crows unnoticed, and as he passed by me, I asked, “Sunny, would you mind taking a picture with me?”
“Sure!” he said. Then I felt kinda bad because a lot of other people realized who he was and they wanted pictures too. Oops!

Richard “Hoggy” Price

I also spotted Richard “Hoggy” Price, and I’ll bet that some of you hardcore Rangers’ fans don’t even know who he is. He’s the Rangers’ clubhouse manager, and I explained that I had seen him on Rangers Insider.
“Yeah,” he said with a wink and a smile, “I try to avoid the camera as much as possible, but sometimes they get me.” I told him I appreciated all the stuff he does behind the scenes that most people never know about, and he was very nice. He even gave me his business and said to call him if I ever needed help getting an autograph or something!
Michael Kirkman´╗┐ 
Then I realized that I needed to get in line for my Michael Kirkman autograph, so I headed over to the other main room. I got there around 1:45, but I ended up talking to the girl in front of me, and the line seemed to move quickly after that.
After Kirkman signed my ball and handed it back to me, I said “Thanks! This will be worth something someday!” He smiled, and I said “You’re gonna be great. I have a good feeling about you.”

After I got my autograph, it was about 2:30, and they had already given out all of the wristbands to the day’s remaining autograph sessions. Sad!

Chuck Greenberg
I decided to head back to the other room to see what else was going on, and I ran into Chuck Greenberg again, for what was probably the 4th time that day. I finally thought to get a picture with him. I’ve known him for a year, but we’ve never taken a picture together!
I was just wandering around when I saw a booth for the Texas Rangers Women’s Club. My friend Rachel had mentioned that we should check them out, so I went over to get some information.
The lady I talked to said they have women of all ages, and that they volunteer at various games at the Ballpark. As a member, I can work as many or as few games as I want, and unless the game is sold out, I can stay and watch the game for free!
They’re also the ones who hand out the promotional items, and my favorite thing was that she said we get each of the promotional items for the games we work, even the ones for kids 13 and under!
They also help with charitble events, have special TRWC events and get to have group outings at Rangers’ games. I almost feel guilty, as if I’m stealing something! It seems too good to be true.
She said the yearly dues are $22, but for your first year you have to pay a one-time-only badge fee of $7. I think I can handle $29!! Although I spent way too much money at Fan Fest, so the lady said I could take a form and just mail it in with a check after I get paid next. Yessss!!
Emily Jones and Nelson Cruz 
Next it was time for Nelly Cruz’s Q&A session, so I headed over to take a seat. This isn’t a very good picture, but it’s Emily Jones and Nelly onstage.
Someone asked Nelly why he wasn’t playing Winter Ball, and he responded “That wasn’t my decision; it was the Rangers’. I just want to play ball all the time. It’s harder to stay in shape when I’m not playing.”
So that was interesting. I guess the Rangers don’t want him to get injured playing Winter Ball and have it affect his Major League season, which makes sense.
Chuck Morgan
After Nelly’s session was over, I made one last loop around to make sure I didn’t miss anything. While I was making my rounds, I spotted Chuck Morgan, and he was gracious enough to take a picture with me too!
The whole autograph thing was total chaos, and I sincerely hope it is fixed for next year’s Fan Fest. Chuck Greenberg mentioned that they might need to get a bigger venue, and I agree. But the next venue needs to have a whole separate area dedicated only to autographs, with plenty of room for people to wait in line.

And the Rangers should actually wait until 2 hours prior to the autograph session to hand out wristbands, so that people can have a chance to get more than one autograph all day!
They should also have a lot more lines, with each one dedicated to each player. The 4-stage setup worked out pretty well, but waiting in line for your player’s stage alongside other people who were waiting for another player at the same stage was bad. It just created a lot of confusion, both for the fans and for the poor people working the event who didn’t know what was going on either.
Okay, enough with the griping. I had planned to attend Sunday’s Fan Fest as well, (since I had purchased a 2-day pass), but I was so exhausted after Saturday that I ended up deciding that I needed to use Sunday to rest and get ready for the work week. Just another example that I’m getting old. {Sigh}
With the Rangers making it to the World Series in 2010, it was necessary to change Fan Fest to accomodate all of the extra people attending. The Arlington Convention Center was nice because it’s right next to the Ballpark, and because it was indoors. It just still wasn’t big enough.
All of the booths and events that were at this year’s Fan Fest may have been present before, but if they were, they were hidden in various nooks and crannies around the Ballpark. I really liked how most things were easy to find (besides the correct autograph line), and I had fun.
This year’s Fan Fest was geared more towards children, with indoor batting cages, speed pitch, a game where you try to steal home, pitching and hitting instructional clinics by Rangers’ coaches, and a Home Run Derby.
But I thought it offered plenty for the grown-up Rangers fan too. I enjoyed the Photo Booth and the Q&A sessions, and at least I got one autograph! Dang this entry was long!
Pitchers and catchers report in: 23 days

Goodbye, Cliff Lee

Well folks, it’s over. Cliff Lee is not a Ranger or a Yankee, he’s a … Philly??

When I heard the news, I was as surprised as everyone else. Who would have thought that Cliff Lee would decide to go to the Phillies for less money and a shorter contract?

But it just goes back to what I’ve been saying since he entered free agency… no one knew where Cliff Lee would decide to go. Only Cliff and his family could make that decision, and they chose Philadelphia for their own reasons.

It obviously wasn’t because of money or length of contract, so it must have come down to a personal decision about where he and his family wanted to go.

I’m not mad at Cliff Lee. Why would I be? I mean sure, I wish Cliff was coming back to the Rangers. But just because he didn’t pick my team doesn’t mean that I hate him now.

But how about the Phillies starting rotation now? Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, AND Cliff Lee? Sheesh. It looks like the Phillies will be heading back to the fall classic in 2011.

At least he’s not going to New York. HA!!! TAKE THAT, YOU HEATHENS!!

So now I think the Rangers need to put all of their eggs in Zack Greinke’s basket. (Wait, that doesn’t sound right…)

Let me rephrase: They should do whatever is necessary to get Zack Greinke. If that means giving up Martin Perez or Tanner Scheppers, okay then. Just not both of them please!

Derek Holland? Fine. Jurickson Profar? Okay. Robbie Erlin? Sure. Leury Garcia? No problem.

Yes, it could come back to bite us later. The same could be said for any trade. But it’s not like we’re trading away all of our young talent for some has-been.

Grienke is still young, and he still has a lot of upside. And we NEED a top of the rotation starter!

CJ Wilson and Colby Lewis can’t carry us all year by themselves.

Recently, I’ve also heard that Matt Garza (Tampa Bay) could be a possible trade option. If we don’t get Zack Greinke, I would be perfectly happy with Garza!

So the same principle applies for Garza: I think the Rangers should do whatever they have to do to get one of them!

In other news, the Rangers were able to re-sign Matt Treanor for the 2011 season. That’s great, because he knows our pitching staff and he can help Torrealba get acclimated. And he’s dependable, so I feel confident with him as our back-up guy.

He’s also CJ’s preferred catcher. We don’t want to mess with CJ!

So now we’re just waiting for a front-line starter and a DH. There aren’t too many big names on the free agent market, so if the Rangers want somebody good, they have to be willing to trade some prospects.

I’ll let you know as soon as something happens!

Amazing ride

Wow, this year has been amazing ride for the Rangers. I’m actually kind of looking forward to the 3 months before Spring Training starts, so that I can recuperate. I don’t think my heart could have taken too much more.

I went to the 1st World Series game ever in Arlington, which was Game 3 on Saturday. And it was absolutely magnificent!!!

My dad and my friend Matt Pesta met me at my apartment at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, and we arrived at the Ballpark a few minutes before 10:00. We headed to the parking lot where we usually park by the 1st base entrance (Lot A)… but a rope was across the entrance and there were no parking lot attendants to be found.

We were actually the 1st people to arrive at that lot, and we looked around for a while not knowing what to do. Daddy asked Pesta to check the rope to see if it could be easily removed, and lo and behold… it was unlocked! We decided to go ahead and park the truck, and we would pay the parking lot attendants as soon as they arrived.

We had just started to unload our chairs out of the back of the truck when a security guard drove up. He told us that the lots weren’t opening until noon, so we had to move the truck. He said that we could go ahead and set up the chairs and stuff in the parking space that we wanted, though, and we could park the truck right by the parking lot entrance.

At this point, about half a dozen other cars had shown up to tailgate as well. We passed along the message and everybody started staking their claims.

Pesta and I decided to go to the Majestic Grand Slam Gift Shop to buy a bunch of World Series stuff, while my dad walked around talking to all of the other tailgaters.

The gift shop was absolutely slammed! I felt like I was in a can of sardines! But I got a World Series shirt, and I got Dad a World Series hat (because I couldn’t find any WS shirts in XXXL!)

Pesta and I had to wait in line for forever, and we headed back to the tailgaters at around 11:30. My back was killing me after standing around for so long, so we just hung out until they opened the parking lot. After Dad parked and got the grill set up, Pesta and I left to walk around the stadium and take pictures.

As we walked, we saw Giants fans scattered here and there. When I saw the first ones, I muttered, “Oh crap. Here we go,” as I rolled my eyes. “Hey, no,” Pesta said. “I have a lot of respect for them, because they have the courage to come out here in enemy territory wearing Giants stuff. I mean, if you had the opportunity to go to the World Series games in San Francisco, wouldn’t you show up sporting your Rangers’ gear?”

I admitted that he was right. If the situation was reversed, I would totally be the obnoxious Rangers’ fan at AT&T Park. So we decided to be nice to them, so that they didn’t go back to California talking about how rude everybody was in Texas. Texans are supposed to be known for being friendly.

Pesta walked up to a couple, shook their hands, and asked if they had traveled here all the way from San Francisco. And it turned out that they were actually very nice! Pesta offered to take a picture of the two of them with their camera, so that they could have a picture with both of them in it.

And then they wanted to take a picture of us, because they said they wanted to remember the nice Rangers’ fans. Aww!!

Next we saw an older gentleman by himself wearing a Giants’ jacket, and we ended up talking to him for quite a while. It turned out that he was actually born in New York (and he had a New York accent), but he lives in San Francisco now and the Giants have become his team.

He talked about how great it was that the Giants were in the World Series again, because they hadn’t won the World Series since 1954. “But the Rangers have NEVER been in the World Series,” I said, “so I’m sorry, but you’re going down!”

He took my good-natured trash talking in stride, and when we said goodbye, I told him that I hoped that other Rangers’ fans wouldn’t be too rude to him. His reaction? “Honey, I’m from New York. I know all about rude fans.” OOH, BURN!!!

Then we happened to run into a Giants’ fan wearing a fake black beard (in support of Giants’ closer Brian Wilson), and Pesta got a picture of me and him. Score!

Just as we were finishing our circuit, our friend Rachel called to say that she was entering the parking lot where my dad had set up. (She was the owner of our 4th World Series ticket.) We told her we were on the way and headed back to the truck.

When we got there, Rachel had already found my dad, and we found out that she had brought her dad just for the tailgating. (He lives in Arlington anyway.) The more the merrier!

While we had been gone, Dad had been cooking up hamburgers and hot dogs. So after we all hugged hello, it was already time to eat!

And bravo, Daddy, because that food was absolutely delicious!! I mean, seriously, I don’t know what you did, but it was perfect!

While we were eating, a guy came around selling special commemorative “Rangers’ editions” of the Fort Worth Star Telegram for a dollar apiece. He barely got the first sentence out before I blurted out, “Only a dollar? Sure, we’ll take a bunch! We’re not a hard sell!” All 5 of us ended up getting one.

As we were putting all the food up, a guy walked through selling t-shirts. “Whatcha got there?” I asked. They were royal blue shirts with a big picture of Ron Washington’s smiling face in the middle, along with the slogan, “That’s how baseball go.”

“Oh my gosh, I HAVE to have one of those!!” I exclaimed. So $15 later, I was changing my shirt in the cab of the truck. And I tell you what, it was probably the best $15 I’ve ever spent!

Next we wandered ‘next door’ to talk to the other tailgaters. They had a little trailer set up with a big screen TV and a beer tap! Plus they had ridiculous amounts of food (3 briskets, hot dogs, hamburgers, bratwurst…), and they even brought their own portable potty!

These people have truly perfected the art of tailgating. They were longhorns, which caused me to recoil initially, but they turned out to be very nice people. Pesta and the “patriarch” of the family (Gabriel) even exchanged phone numbers, and they invited us to come tailgate with them during the A&M/tu game this Thanksgiving!

While Pesta, Rachel, and I were talking to them, by dad bought us these World Series lanyards with a clear plastic place on the end to put your ticket. “Seriously, Dad? This thing was $10! What a waste of money!” I said.

But then he showed me the pin that came with it. It said “World Series 2010. I WAS THERE.” Now how awesome is that??

Wow, I haven’t even talked about the game yet! Okay, we headed into the stadium at about 5:00, and even though the game didn’t start until 6:57, the place was already crowded. We made our way to our seats, and the journey up to the top of the 3rd deck was treacherous, but once we got up there, I realized that our seats were actually pretty awesome.

We were sitting on the 1st base side between home plate and 1st base (really closer to home plate), and we were seriously like 5 rows from the very top. But the view was amazing, and the ballplayers didn’t look like ants!

The only thing I didn’t like was that the incline is so steep up there, and every time I had to use the steps, I felt like I was gonna pass out. I have terrible balance (an unfortunate side effect from The Accident), so me + steep steps = a very scary situation.

The vendors also don’t visit the 3rd deck as often. Or if they do, they stand at the bottom and wait for someone to flag them down. Only a couple of vendors actually climbed the steps to hawk their wares.

So that meant that I had to brave the stairs in order to get something to eat, which brings me back to my origina
l complaint.

If it wasn’t for those 2 things, I’d get my season ticket plan for next year on the 3rd deck. I liked the view as much as I like the view from the Corner Box, and but Corner Box tickets are like 3 times more expensive!

And the people on the 3rd deck are a lot more fun! Someone was always starting a chant, and it would get picked up immediately by everyone in the general vicinity.

Man, the more I think about it, the more I want to get season tix on the 3rd deck! Maybe I could get some on one of the first few rows of the 3rd deck, so I wouldn’t have to climb stairs very often. Hmm…

Anyway, the Rangers were up 3-0 in the 2nd inning due to a 3-run homer by Mitch Moreland, but after Josh Hamilton hit a solo homer in the 5th inning, we were winning 4-0. That was when I actually realized that the Rangers were probably going to win, and that I would be witness to the Rangers 1st World Series victory EVER!

Those last few innings were very stressful, because the Giants started to chip away at the Rangers’ 4-run lead. They were able to get 2 solo homers of their own, one in the 7th and one in the 8th, and I was afraid the Rangers would lose their fragile 2-run lead.

Colby Lewis was magnificent, giving up only 1 run on 3 hits over 7 2/3 innings. I worried about Colby, because it was hard to remember how good he could be when he wasn’t getting any run support. But obviously, my worries were unfounded.

I just can’t believe my good fortune baseball-wise this year. I was there when the Rangers clinched the ALCS for the first time in history, and I was also there for the Rangers’ first World Series game ever (and first World Series WIN)!

Unfortunately, the game I attended was the only Rangers’ World Series win, and the Giants became the World Champions in 5 games. During the entire World Series (even the game they won), it just looked like the Rangers were tired.

Maybe it was because they’re not used to playing for so long. Mid February through the beginning of November makes for a long season!

Fortunately for us, we have a new ownership group who can finally infuse some cash into the team, we signed Ron Washington for 2 more years, we have a great bunch of players, and now we have some post-season experience. You’d better watch out for the Rangers over the next few years!

Words can’t fully describe how amazing this season was for the Rangers, and I am so glad that I got to be a part of it. I can’t wait until the start of the 2011 season!!

Drive-by blogging

Hey there. I don’t have much time to blog, but I haven’t posted anything since Monday, so I’ll mention a few things real quick.

-The Rangers tried to claim Manny Ramirez on waivers, but the Chicago White Sox got him first. I’m glad. We don’t need a poisonous presence like his in the clubhouse.

-Michael Kirkman is awesome.

-Bengie Molina has a blog. I didn’t know that. Apparently he blogged for 3 years while he was with the Giants, so now he’s blogging for the Rangers. It’s pretty good stuff, and it just points out what a great guy he is.

You should check it out: http://bengiemolina.mlblogs.com/

-Rich Harden isn’t all that great. Yes, he threw a no-hitter through 6 2/3 innings on Monday. But he also walked 5 batters and threw way too many pitches.

I think everybody is blowing this whole “no-hit” thing way out of proportion. He still needs to go deeper in games and control his walk totals.

-What’s up with Cliff Lee? Seriously! If you had posited the following scenario to me 6 weeks ago, I would have predicted a very different outcome:

“The Rangers will win 3 out of 4 against Minnesota. Rich Harden, Colby Lewis, C.J. Wilson, and Cliff Lee will be the starters in those 4 games. One of the starters will have a no-hitter through 6 2/3 in that series, and one starter will only go 5 innings and get the loss.”

Obviously I would have gone with Cliff Lee for the no-hitter and Rich Harden for the 5-inning loss. This is crazy.

-Playoff tickets are ridiculously expensive.

-I went to the game on Wednesday, and I had a great time. The weather was wonderful and the Rangers won. What more can you ask for?

-I’m going to the game on Sunday, and I’m really excited. I was dreading the prospect of an afternoon game at the end of August, but thanks to the cold front, it’s not going to be as hot! Sure, the high on Sunday is still going to be 97 degrees, but that’s better than 107!

And it will be good to put some more distance between ourselves and our closest competition in the AL West (Oakland).

Overall Rangers’ record: 72-55
My Rangers’ record: 14-8
Days ’til my next game: 2

It’s good to be home again!

Man, that was a tough road trip. At least we ended it with a win.

Dropping three straight to Tampa Bay was awful. We split the 4-game series in Baltimore, but we probably should have swept them.

So which do you think is worse? That the Rangers were humiliated against a team they will very likely see in the playoffs (TB)? Or the fact that they only took 2 out of 4 against the worst team in baseball (the O’s)?

I’m not giving up on my boys. They just really need to step it up.

Yes, we still have an 8-game lead in the AL West. As long as we win our division, we will get to the playoffs. But that doesn’t mean we’ll get past the first round.

If the season ended today, the Rangers, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, and Tampa Bay Rays would be going to the post-season. And the Rangers would have the worst win/loss record of all the playoff teams.

In the first round, Tampa Bay would play Minnesota, and the Rangers would again face the Yankees. And the Yankees would have home-field advantage.

We’ve seen this before, and it doesn’t end well for the Rangers. They need to prove that they’re not just the Yankees’ whipping boy. Because the goal isn’t just to get to the post-season, but to actually make it past the 1st round.

I really feel like the Rangers have a shot this year. They just need to be careful so that they don’t fade down the stretch.

Speaking of fading down the stretch, I’m concerned about all the injuries hurting our playoff berth. The Rangers currently have 6 players in the 15-day DL. If most of them are well enough to come back by August 31st, we should be good.

I’m sure that most of you know that the active rosters expand on September 1 from 25 up to a maximum of 40 players. But only the players who are on the Rangers’ 25-man roster on August 31st can participate in post-season games, unless there is an injury and someone has to be called up.

Kinsler’s been out since July 29, and hopefully he’ll be able to come back at the end of August. The Rangers could really use Kins in the post-season. Cristian Guzman was pretty useless as Kinsler’s initial replacement.

Taylor Teagarden has been doing a great job filling in for Matt Treanor, so it will be interesting to see what happens if Treanor can make it back before the 31st.

It will be good to get Dustin Nippert back too. Matt Harrison is a great lefty long reliever, but Scott Feldman is not a good option for a righty long reliever. Dustin is no longer having headaches, so I’m not really sure what the hold-up is.

But the player that the Rangers need the most is Nelson Cruz. They need his boomstick as well as his range and strong arm in the outfield. Seriously, I can’t wait for Nelly to come back.

Luckily, Josh Hamilton and Vlad Guerrero seem to have emerged from their slumps, lessening the need for Nelly’s bat. But just think how much better we will be with Cruz!!

The Rangers are back in Arlington today, and they are set to play 3 games against Joe Mauer the Minnesota Twins. The Twins are a good team, but the Rangers have been great at home this season.

Rich Harden is starting tonight for the Rangers. Again? I thought we got rid of him! I thought he was gone for good when the Rangers put him on the DL this last time. I mean, how many chances are we gonna give this guy?

He’s just too unpredictable. He’s only had 2 good starts all year long. Enough already!

But then again, maybe he’ll have another stellar performance this evening and continue it all the way through the post-season. Miracles can happen, right?

After Harden, Colby Lewis is expected to pitch on Tuesday night, followed by C.J. Wilson on Wednesday.

My prediction is that we will lose the game tonight (and then hopefully we’ll really be rid of Rich Harden)! Then Colby will finally get his 10th win on Tuesday, followed by another spectacular show by C.J. Wilson, earning us the series win on Wednesday.

I’m going to the game Wednesday, and I’m really excited because I just looked at the 10-day forecast. It looks like tomorrow will be our last day of 100+ degree weather! Yay!!

My dad mentioned that a cold front is supposed to come through on Tuesday night, so I figured the temperature might drop a bit on Wednesday and then climb right back up. But the forecast predicts 93-95 degree highs every day through Wednesday, September 1! Woo hoo!!!

Bring on the Twins! It’s gonna be downright chilly!!!

Overall Rangers’ record: 69-54
My Rangers’ record: 13-8
Days ’til my next game: 2

The Tampa Bay Debacle

This is very frustrating. I want my team to do well, and they’re not.

I’m not a fickle fan who will stop watching the Rangers if they lose. Even if they lose every game for the rest of the season, I’ll still watch every single game. It’s just frustrating.

What’s up with all the injuries?? Ian Kinsler’s obviously been out for a while, but it looks like he’s not coming back any time soon. Hopefully Dustin Nippert and Matt Treanor will be rejoining the Rangers shortly.

Then there’s Nelson Cruz and Cristian Guzman. We’re not missing too much with Guzman gone, but losing Nelly for 2 weeks hurts. Bad.

And Josh Hamilton can’t play defense on Astroturf because of his knees? Yeah, let’s put Vladdy in there, because his knees can take it, and his defense is so great! Gimme a break!

They should have just left Vladdy on the bench and played Brandon Boggs. It’s not like Vlad’s bat is all that stellar lately either.

Wow, I’m being really negative! Sorry about that, it’s just hard to find good things to talk about right now.

 
Michael Young is having trouble with neck stiffness. I can’t be mad at Michael Young, because he always wants to play and he never misses because of injury. I’m just saying it’s bad timing.

Cliff Lee hasn’t been too lucky when starting for Texas. I think it’s time for us to give him a day off here and there, instead of always starting him on the 5th day no matter what. We don’t want him to be burned out before we get to the playoffs.

Tommy Hunter is perplexing. It’s understandable that he wouldn’t do such a great job last Friday, because he was throwing up. But what happened on Tuesday at the Trop??

And Derek Holland yesterday! I didn’t get to watch the game, because I was at work, but I listened to it. He threw 106 pitches in just 4 1/3 innings and gave up 5 earned runs on 6 hits and 4 walks.

We all know that Rich Harden doesn’t have it, and that Scott Feldman doesn’t either. What happened to our multitude of starting pitcher options in Spring Training??

I think we should get Matt Harrison out of the bullpen and give him another shot at starting. It could be a good thing.

Everybody just looks really tired. Half the team is already on the DL, so I think they should just bring up the entire AAA roster for the next couple of weeks. They couldn’t be much worse than the big league team right now.

Monday night’s game seemed to be going pretty well for Rangers’ fans. Cliff Lee was motoring along as usual, and although David Price was great, the Rangers chased him after 6 innings.

They were able to get 2 runs each in the 7th and 8th innings because the Rays’ relief pitchers weren’t necessarily as good as Price. But then again, who is?

Then the bottom of the 8th inning happened, and it all fell apart. The Rangers lost 6-4.

There were several squandered scoring opportunities by the Rangers all throughout the game. If the Rangers had more of a cushion, those 4 runs in the bottom of the 8th wouldn’t have hurt as badly.

I think if the Rangers had been able to pull out a win on Monday, they might not have lost on Tuesday and Wednesday. A win on Monday would have given them some momentum. Oh well, I guess we’ll never know.

Tuesday’s game was just bad all around. We lost 10-1. Blech!

Wednesday’s game looked bad when the Rangers were down 7-2, but then they rallied in the 8th to make it 7-4. And in the 9th they added 2 more runs to make it 8-6. But then the game was over.

Tonight they’re heading to Baltimore for 4 games with the Orioles. No problem, right? The O’s suck.

Except that the last time we faced them, we were swept in a 4-game series. In OUR ballpark. Now they’ve hired Buck Showalter as their manager, and they’re on a hot streak. Great.

Tonight it will be Colby Lewis (9-9, 3.28 ERA) against Brian Matusz (4-12, 5.28 ERA). It looks like Colby’s got this one sewn up.

But Colby has a 2.72 ERA in his last 5 games, and he hasn’t gotten a win in that time. It’s about time Colby got his 10th win, because he’s been pitching really well. He just seems “snakebit” lately, as my dad would say.

A win for Colby would definitely help to get the Rangers out of this funk they’re in. We could use some cheering up! Go Rangers!!

Overall Rangers’ record: 97-52
My Rangers’ record: 13-8
Days ’til my next game: 6

Off-day ramblings

Yesterday was an off-day, so there was no Rangers’ game for me to dissect today. Instead, I want to address a couple of things that I’ve meant to talk about but haven’t gotten around to.

First and foremost is the Rangers’ ownership situation. Today is August 3, and an auction for the team is set to take place tomorrow (August 4). It is very rare for a major league ball club to be auctioned off, so this kind of puts us in uncharted waters.

I have been planted firmly in the Greenberg/Ryan camp from the beginning, and that hasn’t changed. I still really want them to get the team, but apparently, it doesn’t seem likely that they will get the team.

All of this ownership stuff has been very confusing, what with the bankruptcy situation and all of the angry creditors and such. So I’m not even pretending to know what’s going on or what might happen.

But other people (who may or may not know more than I do) don’t seem to think that the Greenberg/Ryan group will be victorious tomorrow.

Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, is said to be deeply rooted in the mix of other potential bidders. The notion of Cuban getting the Rangers absolutely infuriates me.

Yes, he has plenty of money. He’s been very smart with his money. After the Tom Hicks Debacle and dealing with a team that has been flat broke for the past several years, this appears to be quite an attractive possibility.

But ultimately, you have to realize that Mark Cuban is a tool. And we don’t need another George Seinbrenner in Texas.

I’m not trying to imply that George Steinbrenner was a tool. But he did get really involved with the Yankees in areas that ownership doesn’t usually go. He was known to be hotheaded, hiring and firing people at the drop of a hat.

George Steinbrenner set up the Yankees so that they have the highest payroll in all of Major League Baseball by $44 million dollars. A-Rod is being paid $33 million this year, which is almost the entire budget of the Pittsburgh Pirates for 2010 (the Pirates are at $34.9 mil).

I’m not saying that there should be a salary cap in baseball. But I am saying that if you have a bottomless pit of money, then players are just going to start asking for more and more money just because they can. And it drives up prices all over baseball.

This is the whole premise behind why I hate the Yankees. I realize that the Yankees have a rich history, especially going back to the days of Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris and Yogi Berra and Lou Gehrig.

But now they’re just the team that has the most money, and the elite players go there because they’ll get paid the most there.

The Yankees have the top 4 players with the highest salary in all of baseball (A-Rod, CC Sabathia, Derek Jeter, and Mark Teixeira), and just their 4 salaries alone is over $100 million. That’s just ridiculous.

Cuban, like Steinbrenner, has more money than God. And Cuban is way too emotionally invested in every aspect of the game. But then again, Steinbrenner actually liked baseball. Cuban doesn’t. I’m just going off of what Cuban has done with the Mavericks.

Yes, it’s true that since Cuban has done great things with the Mavericks. Since he bought them 10 years ago, they have been to the playoffs every single year. He has paid obscene amounts of money to get great basketball players to come to Texas.

But he also sits courtside at every game (home and away), screaming obscenities at the officials and at the other team’s players. He has had to pay at least $1.665 million in fines because of 13 separate incidents, including as recently as May 22 when he spoke out against LeBron James. The Rangers don’t need that kind of publicity.

Okay, I’m going to stop ranting now. I hope that what I’ve just said makes sense. When I get this heated over a subject, sometimes I make connections in my head that don’t exactly translate to the written word.

In other news, the Rangers are 8 games up on both the Angels and the A’s, because Oakland won yesterday and LA had an off-day (just like the Rangers did).

I kind of feel bad for poor Seattle, because they’re 22.5 games back in the AL West. I was predicting them to be more of a threat this year than the Angels and the A’s.

Speaking of Seattle, Justin Smoak has recently been demoted to AAA Tacoma, where he can hang out with fellow trade-bait Blake Beavan. Beavan was recently promoted from Seattle’s AA affiliate to AAA Tacoma.

Michael Schlact posted a great blog today about the impact of all of these trades on the Rangers’ minor league system. It’s a great insider’s perspective. You can read it here.

It’s probably about time I started talking about Rich Harden. I was not at all impressed with how he started off the season for the Rangers, and I was about ready to give up on him when he surprised everyone with a breakout performance in Oakland on Monday, May 3.

I was willing to give him a bit of leeway after that stellar game, but by the end of May, I had given up hope again. I was praying that the Rangers would get wise and send him back to AAA until he learned his lesson.

And in the middle of June, Rich went on the DL with a “left glut strain.” I’m sure Rich was a little sore, but he may not have been injured enough to actually go on the DL under normal circumstances.

I think the Rangers said, “Okay, here’s the deal, Rich. You’re not producing. So you can either:
  1)go straight to AAA (do not pass “Go,” do not collect $200) or
  2)go on the DL, get some rest, get your act together, and try again.”

I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Rich was legitimately injured. Either way, he made his post-DL debut on this past Saturday in Anaheim, and he was the same guy from May 3 against Oakland!

He allowed just one run over 7 innings of work, and he only threw 88 pitches (62 for strikes). He ended up getting the W, and I would venture to say that it is only the 2nd win that Harden has actually earned this year.

Scott Feldman has generally been producing like Rich Harden had been this year, meaning that he just hasn’t had commanding stuff, wasn’t going deep enough in games, and has been generally ineffective. But with Harden and Derek Holland both on the DL, there wasn’t really anyone who could take his place.

Something had to be done about Feldman, though, if the Rangers were going to continue their post-season bid. I figured that Harden would make a couple of starts until Derek Holland came off the DL to permanently take Harden’s/Feldman’s spot in the rotation.

But instead, Rich blew everyone away with his performance. Now let’s just hope it stays that way. But I suppose if Harden tanks again, we can still replace him with Holland.

Tonight kicks off a 3-game series in Seattle, followed by a 3-game series in Oakland this weekend. Then the Rangers come back home, but they have to face the Yankees and the Red Sox. Yikes.

Tonight it’s Colby Lewis (9-7, 3.40 ERA) against Seattle’s Jason Vargas (6-5, 3.20 ERA). According to the numbers, they seem about equal. So I guess we’ll have to see!

I’m actually grateful that the game doesn’t start until 9:10 Central tonight, because after I leave work today I have to ride the DART bus/train for an hour to Garland so that I can pick up my car from the shop. Hey, at least the A/C is finally fixed! Go Rangers!!

Overall Rangers’ record: 61-44
My Rangers’ record: 13-7
Days ’til my next game: 11