October 2011

Hello Off-Season

It’s finally here.  Sure, the ‘Riders have been done for a while, but this is the first Monday in a very long time without major league baseball.  In fact, the last Monday the Rangers had without baseball going on was Monday, February 21 (Spring Training games began for Texas on Sunday, February 27).

It’s an incredibly long and stressful season and, for the second straight year, the off-season for the Rangers will be brief.  That’s the price of October baseball.

As the off-season begins to stir, here are some news and notes from around professional baseball:

  • Tony La Russa retires after 33 seasons with the third most wins in major league history (2,728).
  • Rangers’ general manager Jon Daniels told reporters today that prior to Spring Training, the clubwill  decide if former RoughRider Neftali Feliz will move into the rotation.  According to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com, “The club will likely decide some time in January. And it will partially depend on what kind of players they sign, how the rotation looks this offseason and what Feliz wants to do.”
  • Tampa Bay’s Matt Moore wins the Spink Award as the Topps/Minor League Player of the Year.  You might remember the lefty’s seven scoreless innings of two-hit ball in Tampa Bay’s 9-0 victory over the Rangers in Game 1 of the Divisional Series.
  • The Rangers announced today that the team has exercised the club option on right-handed pitcher Colby Lewis for the 2012 season.  Lewis, 32, has posted back-to-back seasons of at least 12 wins and 200.0 innings, the first right-handed pitcher to accomplish that feat for Texas since Rick Helling in 1998-99-2000-01.  He has also gone 4-1 with a 2.34 ERA (13 ER/50.0 IP) over 8 postseason starts the last two years
  • 148 major leaguers are now free agents.
  • According to several reports, former RoughRider Mitch Moreland had what is being described as wrist soreness/tendinitis for most of the second half of the season.
  • Six years ago today on Halloween, former Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein avoided talking to reporters following his resignation by dressing up in a gorilla costume before leaving Fenway Park.
  • There have been no reports of a gorilla exiting Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

-AG

The Rangers’ Closer: Eric Nadel

33 years.  That’s how long Eric Nadel has been broadcasting Texas Rangers’ baseball. 

33 years.

It’s the longest tenure of any broadcaster in the history of the Rangers’ franchise and the second longest continuous current stint with one team in the American League.

The events of last night’s World Series Game 6 need no further discussion for Rangers’ fans.  However, there’s something that needs to be acknowledged that virtually no one is aware of.

After St. Louis tied the game in the bottom of the ninth, it was No. 2 broadcaster Steve Busby, not Nadel, who took over the play-by-play in the top of the 10th inning.  Now, for the record, this isn’t anything unprecedented in the history of baseball on radio.  Even during the RoughRiders’ extra innings games, Brian and I alternate frames.  I typically do the 10th, but there’s certainly no rules for how the rotation works.

I heard Busby’s call of Josh Hamilton’s home run in the 10th that put the Rangers up by two when it hit me: if things stay as they are, it will be Busby who is on the mic when the Rangers celebrate their first World Series championship.  Not Nadel.

33 years.

When the bottom of the 10th began, I suddenly became more focused on who would open up the inning on-air, Busby or Nadel?  To my surprise, it was Buzz.

I couldn’t believe it.  The Rangers are three outs away from winning it all and Nadel is sitting in the back seat.  I immediately wondered if he and Busby had talked at all during the inning break about who would call the bottom of the 10th.  Did Buzz offer it to Nadel but Eric declined because he wanted to respect the play-by-play rotation?  Wouldn’t surprise me, Nadel is that much of a class act.  Maybe that conversation never happened.

After Daniel Descalso and Jon Jay both reached to begin the inning, Scott Feldman came on to pitch for the Rangers, replacing Darren Oliver.  The Cardinals, once again, were showing life but had just one out to play with.  That’s when Busby said, “Feldman is working  as the closer tonight, and we bring in our closer, Eric Nadel.”

33 years.

Judging by Nadel’s reaction, it appeared to me that the toss from Buzz was unexpected.  I could be wrong, but he sounded genuinely surprised.  Good for Busby.  Good for Nadel.

Eric didn’t get a chance to make the call we all wanted to hear.  A call that, if it happens, will be replayed time and time again, forever.

Maybe that call happens tonight.  If there’s a chance it does, don’t make the mistake of having your radio turned down.

-AG

Game 6 News, Notes, & Numbers

The Rangers have a chance to make history tonight in St. Louis.  Here are some interesting facts from the Rangers’ Game Notes:

  • Texas is 10-5 this postseason, with the back-to-back wins in Games 4 and 5 giving the Rangers a win streak for the first time since five straight victories in ALDS Games 2-3-4 and ALCS Games 1-2.
  • This is just the third Game 6 in Rangers history, having beaten the Yankees in 2010 ALCS Game 6 and Tigers in 2011 ALCS Game 6 to clinch those series.
  • Elias Sports Bureau notes that, with Texas in position to clinch the Series in Game 6, it is the 8th time

    (H. Darr Beiser/USA TODAY)

    in major league history that a potential World Series ending game was postponed, the first in exactly 25 years.

  • Texas has taken a lead in a World Series for the first time in franchise history (1961-2011).
  • Texas is 4-4 all-time when having a chance to close out a postseason series.
  • Texas enters Game 6 having played 45 consecutive games (including postseason) without losing 2 straight games…it is the longest streak by any major league team since the 1995 Cleveland Indians (thanks to Elias Sports Bureau).
  • Rangers’ pitchers issued nine walks in Game 5 (4 intentional) and still won the game, just the 4th time a team has ever won a 9-inning World Series game when allowing that many free passes, first since the 1997 Florida Marlins (Game 3 at Cleveland).
  • Mike Napoli has nine RBIs in the first five games of the 2011 World Series.  His nine RBIs  are already T6th-most ever in a single World Series, most by any player in one Series since 1997.
  • Napoli has 14 RBIs in this postseason, while Nelson Cruz leads the club with 15 RBIs…it makes the Rangers just the 5th team in history to have at least 2 players with 14+ RBIs in a single postseason…Albert Pujols and David Freese have done it for the Cardinals in this postseason as well.
  • Colby Lewis is 4-1 with a 2.22 ERA (11 ER/44.2 IP) in his seven career playoff starts, the 10th-lowest ERA in postseason history among players with at least seven starts.

Now it’s time to go impress everyone around your office with your random knowledge of tonight’s game.  Thanks to Rich Rice and the Rangers Media Relations department for some of the best game notes in the majors.

Don’t leave your couch tonight.

-AG

Mendonca, Team USA Take Silver

As you might have seen on ESPN, Team Canada topped Team USA yesterday to take the gold medal in the Pan American Games.  A familiar name to RoughRiders’ fans, Jimmy Van Ostrand, drove in both of Canada’s runs as they edged Tommy Mendonca and the US team, 2-1.  For what’s it’s worth, Matt Hicks, the “Voice of the Hooks,” told me at one point during the season that Van Ostrand was one of the best guys he’s ever met in minor league baseball.

Tommy Mendonca celebrates with his teammates at home plate. (Arnulfo Franco/AP)

Mendonca, the ‘Riders 2011 everyday third baseman, batted seventh in the championship game and finished 0-for-3 with three strikeouts.  However, those numbers aren’t a fair representation of his overall performance during the Games.  In the opener of the Pan American Games, the Fresno State product went 3-for-4 with two doubles, six RBIs and two runs scored as the United States thumped the Dominican Republic, 20-2.   In his first three tournament games he hit .455 with nine RBIs.

Along with Van Ostrand, the Canadian team featured Northwest Arkansas’ Tim Smith and Jamie Romak.  Arkansas’ Matt Shoemaker, the Texas Leauge Pitcher of the Year, joined Tommy on the US squad.  As did Matt Clark (San Antonio, ’10) and former RoughRider Chad Tracy.

Game 6 of the World Series is tonight (maybe).  The Cardinals’ batting practice is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. with the Rangers hitting an hour later if possible. Game 6 has officially be postponed due to rain.  We’ll have to wait until Thursday.

-AG

“The Year of the Napoli”

As you might remember, Tampa Bay Rays’ manager Joe Maddon declared this “The Year of The Napoli.” So far, Mike Napoli’s nine World Series RBIs are doing nothing but confirming things.  Consider the following information from the Rangers’ Game Notes:

• His 9 RBI are already T6th-most ever in a single World Series, most by any player in one Series since 1997.
• He had 2 RBI in Game 5, his 4th multi-RBI game in this World Series.
• He joins Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle (1960) as the only players in history with 4 multi-RBI game in one World Series.
• According to Elias Sports Bureau, Napoli joins Moises Alou and Tony Fernandez as the only players with at least 9 RBI in their first 5 career World Series games.

Even if the Rangers take Game 6 to win the World Series, Napoli has a chance to at least tie the Yankees’ Bobby Richardson who drove in a World Series’ record 12 runs in 1960.

As if you need a reason to watch Wednesday night

-AG

Thanks to TexRangers2011champs for producing the following montage:

Ranking Derek Holland’s Mustache

Derek Holland’s World Series Game 4 performance speaks for itself.

So does his mustache.

Some historians have already gone so far as to say that it’s the best mustache in World Series history.

With that in mind, it’s necessary to compare Derek’s crumb catcher with some of the other greats of our time.

Tom Selleck might be the “complete game shutout” of mustaches. Full of color and texture, it’s virtually as good as it gets.

Edge: Magnum P.I.

Dr. Phil’s mustache lacks the rich color of Sellecks, yet is refined and distinguished. I fear young Derek will have to wait a few more months (or years) to reach this level.

Edge: Oprah’s guy

Remember Rojo Johnson?  If you missed it, he returned to the mound in 2010 to pitch for the Round Rock Express after spending four years in prison for stealing, and eventually selling, illegal iguanas.  Rojo can hardly be contained.

Edge: The Venezuelan

Ron Swanson. Do I need to say anymore?  If you haven’t seen NBC’s Parks and Recreation I highly recommend it.  Ron is a man’s man.  His ‘stache  is the one we should be fearing.

Edge: Don’t mess with Ron

Now that is a mustache. You know you’re doing something right when your fans dress like this to watch you pitch. Who are the guys on the right? If you don’t know, maybe you should stop reading and start watching The Office. Jim, Dwight, and Michael are three of my closest friends and should be yours, too.

Edge: Dunder Mifflin

So maybe Derek’s mustache can’t yet compete with some of the great mustaches of our time.  But that didn’t stop him last night.

-AG

 

Rangers Ballpark Prepares for World Series

Here are some pics from around the web today of the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington preparing for Game 3 of the World Series. Pretty exciting stuff!  -AG

Field level view before batting practice (Photo: Rangers Twitter)

Field level view before batting practice (Photo: Rangers Twitter)

Banners being hung outside the ballpark (Photo: Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

Banners being hung outside the ballpark (Photo: Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

View from high up (Photo: Rangers Facebook)

View from high up (Photo: Rangers Facebook)

Outside the First Base Entrance (Photo: Mike Davidow, the RoughRiders Director of Community Development.  Lucky guy who got a ticket!)

Outside the First Base Entrance (Photo: Mike Davidow, the RoughRiders Director of Community Development. Lucky guy who got a ticket!)

“Kinsler’s Safe!”

According to Nettie Schwarz, our receptionist here at Dr Pepper Ballpark and All-Time Greatest Rangers’ Fan, Ian Kinsler’s stolen base in the 9th inning in Game 2 of the World Series “was the game.”

Ben and Skin on 103.3 FM ESPN this morning went so far as to say that, along with Nelson Cruz’s blasts in the ALCS, it might be the most defining moment in the playoffs so far for the Rangers.

Kinsler, a member of the RoughRiders’ 2004 Texas League Championship team, told the Dallas Morning News after the game, “my hand just barely got in there.  It took everything I had.”

Of course, all of this came on the heels of Cardinals’ All-Star catcher Yadier Molina rifling a strike down to second base to get Kinsler in the first inning of Game 1.

The replay of his stolen base in Game 2 showed that second base umpire, and St. Louis native, Ron Kulpa got the call right. Rangers’ radio play-by-play man Steve Busby said, “Boy … Molina, not only did he get rid of it quickly, he threw a laser down there to second.”  Boy, is that right.  Couldn’t have been much closer.

Didn’t it remind you a little of Boston’s Dave Roberts’ stolen base in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS against the (stinkin’) Yankees?  Granted that was an elimination game, but still, when Kinsler took off to to second base, virtually everyone’s heart stopped beating until he was called safe – just like Roberts.

Who knows, maybe Kinsler’s stolen base will do for Texas what Roberts’ did for Boston.

-AG

What the Manning Brothers Taught Me About the World Series

Although Rangers fans are no doubt bummed today, that was a great start to this World Series.  What did I learn from last night’s game?  That no matter what happens, I won’t be fully satisfied.

Remember when the Colts played the Giants last year and Archie Manning was interviewed about if he was cheering more for Peyton or Eli?  I’m sure that was a more difficult situation than what I’m in the middle of, but I can truthfully say that no matter who wins, there will be at least a small part of me that wishes the other team won. (If you haven’t read the blog over the last two days, let it be known that I’m from St. Louis).

  • Sure did seem like Adrian Beltre got hosed on that call in the ninth.  With his bat, you never know, the next pitch could have gone bye-bye and tied things up.  Sure did look like that ball fouled off his toe.  How about that crazy X-Ray cam that Fox threw at us.  You know that producer had been waiting all night to break that thing out.
  • I know Tim McCarver takes a lot of heat from virtually everyone, but the line of the night came when we described back-to-back swings by Beltre in the seventh:  “Those are two grown man swings.”  Loved that.
  • Thanks to ESPN Stats and Info along with Baseball Reference for this random nugget from last night’s game:  St. Louis’ Arthur Rhodes, who got through the 8th inning,  is  now oldest pitcher in baseball history to record a World Series hold (turns 42 on October 24).
  • Not sure if you caught it, but former ‘Rider Mark Hamburger made a cameo on FOX last night.  Late in the game a foul ball found its way into the Rangers’ dugout and he graciously tossed it to a young Cardinals fan.  Mark isn’t on the roster, but what a great experience for him to be there and take it all in.
  • In news outside of the World Series, Jose Ruiz has been released by the Rangers. The big, yet agile, first baseman hit .275 over 106 games in 2011 with the RoughRiders.  His 12 home runs and 54 RBIs were no doubt a disappointment given his stature (6-3, 235) and the fact that he put on some shows during batting practice.  Ruiz, who received a late-season promotion up to Triple-A Round Rock,  had a major league option in his deal.  That means the Rangers would’ve needed to put him on the 40-man roster in order to keep him.
Should be a fun Game 2 tonight.  I’ll be cheering for … someone.
-AG

Wednesday’s News & Notes

  • According to a press release by sent out this morning by the Rangers, the Ballpark in Arlington will be decorated inside and out with signage and other décor to display the arrival of the Fall Classic to Arlington. Today at approximately 11:00 a.m., five large World Series banners with images of the Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals logos are scheduled to be installed at each of the Ballpark’s entrances. The first banner will be installed at the third base entrance.
  • It was announced shortly ago that Doug Dascenzo, the Texas League Manager of the Year, has accepted a position in the Atlanta Braves organization as their minor league base running and outfield coordinator.  Dascenzo, a former major league teammate of ‘Riders skipper Steve Buechele, spent 13 years in the San Diego system, the last two with the Missions. He played seven seasons in the majors after being drafted in 1985 by the Cubs. Little known fact, he was a Texas Ranger in 1993. Dascenzo began his big league career by playing in a then National League record 241 games without committing an error.  I’m sure he’ll continue to do well with Atlanta.
  • In other Missions’ news,  BallparkDigest.com is reporting that the wheels are in motion in San Antonio for a new ballpark.  As aptly stated by the website, “Despite the size of the San Antonio market (25th largest in the nation, third-largest in Texas), the Missions ranked last this past season in Texas League attendance, drawing just 4,202 fans per game. ”  Although the ballpark is not all that old (built in 1994), there’s no doubt it ‘s been beat up.  It would be great to see a new ballpark built closer to downtown San Antonio where there is steady tourist activity.  San Antonio is a nice city and deserves a great ballpark.
  • If you read yesterday’s blog, you learned of my pair of ballpark seats from the old Busch Stadium.  This is where I’ll be sitting while watching tonight’s game on TV.

-AG

 

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