THE NEWBERG REPORT — MAY 11, 2006

I can feel the quiet river rage
Forcin’ my lips into a smile
Don’t believe that the world is empty
Just too noisy to hear the sound
I can feel the quiet river rage
And I’m fallin’ down
Saved by the river now
Saved.
– Live, “Feel the Quiet River Rage,” The Distance to Here

If that hair-dryer wind was behaving any differently, the path of that Mark DeRosa shot might have found a clear path into the visitors’ bullpen, a few inches to the right of the wall it instead crashed into, and we’d have had a tie game in the eighth.

If Vicente Padilla’s three-hitter through six didn’t turn into a complete loss of command in the seventh, who knows?

If Gerald Laird doesn’t muff that foul pop, Tony Batista doesn’t get the chance to drive in Minnesota’s third run on a 4-6-3 Twin killing. But even if Juan Castro still fans next, Lew Ford comes up with the bases full. Then what?

If Gary Matthews Jr. were healthy enough to start, would the entire game have gone differently? If he were healthy enough to make the final play of the eighth a closer one, with DeRosa on third, there’s no telling.

If Erubiel Durazo were healthy enough to be on the roster right now, available to hit with two outs in the eighth, or two outs in the ninth, would he have made a difference?

I sorta wish the club didn’t have an off-day today, after those last two games and before this potentially crucial trip to Boston, New York, and Houston (a.k.a. the “Roger Towns”). Everyone can use the day off, but maybe having an extra 24 hours to think about home losses to starting pitchers who came in with ERAs of 8.59 and 9.71 and about the gauntlet that awaits the club isn’t the healthiest thing right now.

And yet, we’re a fifth through the season, and despite all the injuries and the closer catastrophe, Texas remains tied for first place.

It’s gonna be OK. It doesn’t feel so much like it right now, but this is one little valley that will soon be forgotten in favor of more valleys, some of which promise to be deeper, and a handful of peaks, some of which will probably leave some of us overconfident.

It’s gonna be OK, because this offense will get better. And that’s because Mark Teixeira is about ready to take off. Because Michael Young is going to be Michael Young all year. Because I’m pretty sure that Hank Blalock is back to what, not long ago, we all thought he was becoming.

And because when Ian Kinsler comes back, it might not be the worst thing in the world to have DeRosa give Phil Nevin a little breather.

I also believe that Jon Daniels is fully prepared to act aggressively in the next 10 weeks. And when I say fully prepared, I don’t mean mentally. The guy is probably laying groundwork for a July 2007 trade right now, in all likelihood. If Texas is in the mix in July, I’m betting Daniels will see to it that the roster is stronger in August. And that’s not even taking into consideration the possibility that it includes Adam Eaton, Frankie Francisco, and Brian Anderson.

And if Texas isn’t in the mix late in July, there’s some things JD can do in that case as well.

So I’m going to take a deep breath, and even if I don’t accept this little 1-5 swoon, I can at least put it behind me, force my lips into a smile, jump back in after this welcome day off, and roll with the current, just as likely to find an unwelcome and unhappy stagnation or sad little runoff as it is to gain momentum and bounce decisively off the rocks, rushing toward something bigger, whatever that might be.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

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