THE NEWBERG REPORT — JULY 9, 2006

Saturday was a really cool day. I had the opportunity, along with close to 100 other Rangers fans, to throw in the outfield at Ameriquest Field. I’m at the stage of my life where my happiest moments all involve my children one way or the other, but yesterday afternoon’s was one of those where I was the kid, where I enjoyed and appreciated and absorbed the experience just as if I were 12 years old again.

And five hours later, Francisco Liriano was as menacing as Juan from El Zarape. There was actually a scandal in the North Dallas Chamber over whether Juan was 12 like the rest of us, or a 15-year-old ringer.

From the July 28, 2005 Newberg Report: “Several stories have Minnesota close to cutting ties with Bret Boone and possibly interested in [Alfonso] Soriano. Fine: offer me Francisco Liriano. Yankees? Put Philip Hughes on the table. And then I’m calling the Mets back [about outfielder Lastings Milledge].”

July 30, 2005: “The Twins[, having lost Torii Hunter,] not only need a second baseman now, they also need another big bat. And if they’re willing to part with 21-year-old lefthander Francisco Liriano, then I probably tell the Mets I’ll call them back. I’m taking Terry Ryan’s call first.”

July 31, 2005: “In the space of two days, I changed my mind as to how badly I wanted Liriano to be traded to Texas. He’s now number one on my list, ahead of Mets outfielder Lastings Milledge.”

It’s pretty clear that the Twins were never going to make Liriano available, and that Texas simply wasn’t going to trade them Soriano unless they did. Both teams played it correctly. What a monster that guy is. And he’s just 22.

The Rangers lineup seemingly had as much of a chance against Liriano last night as Corpus Christi had against Thomas Diamond (complete-game, five-single, one-walk shutout) or as my Dallas Piping bunch had against Juan from El Zarape.

Scary thing is Liriano is actually six months younger than Diamond, unless the Dominican lefthander is fudging his age like Juan — if that was even his real name! — did. Maybe we should launch an investigation, calling Chamber Commissioner Quentin Altizer (though I’m afraid he’s passed) or possibly his successor, David Curliss.

The best player on El Zarape, next to Juan, was the Tigers’ catcher, Vincent Perez. He was an athlete behind the plate in the Pudge Rodriguez mold (though it should be noted that Vincent and I and certainly Juan are all older than Pudge), and I was in awe of his defense. It was really cool when, in eighth grade, it turned out that Vincent went to E.D. Walker Middle School just like I did. Suddenly we were teammates. Catching Vincent’s throws at shortstop on attempted steals was something I haven’t forgotten.

Speaking of catchers, Francisco Liriano is Exhibit A for the proposition that you can never draft, sign, acquire, and develop enough catchers. Bravo, Terry Ryan.

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

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