THE NEWBERG REPORT — AUGUST 9, 2006

We’ve seen only two movies in the last few months, both in the last few days.

Saturday we saw "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby." Tuesday night we caught "Without Limits," a 1998 film about Steve Prefontaine starring my childhood friend Billy Crudup.

Quote from the former: "If you ain’t first, you’re last."

Quote from the latter: "I don’t want to win unless I know I’ve done my best, and the only way I know how to do that is to run out front, flat out until I have nothing left."

When "Without Limits" ended, we flipped to the Ranger game, and Texas was up, 4-0.

Five minutes later, the game was tied.

Demoralizing.

The fourth inning basically told the story, as both Texas and Oakland put their first two men on. The Rangers left their pair stranded on first and second. The A’s scored four times.

The ninth was pretty telling, too. Wow.

The difference between the minor leagues and major leagues is executing consistently. The difference between major league teams that don’t make the playoffs and those that do is capitalizing consistently.

The A’s capitalize. They play loose. They catch the ball. They get ahead in the count, they hit and run, they exploit your mistakes.

They’re missing one of the league’s best young starting pitchers and have one of baseball’s most pedestrian lineups, and yet they’re playing like they know they’re going to win.

The Rangers, on the other hand, are making lots of mistakes lately. In every phase.

I hate seeing a defeated look in the eyes of the guys who play for my team. It’s one of the worst feelings in sports.

Edinson Volquez came up, John Koronka went down, Kip Wells will start on Friday. Robinson Tejeda is pitching well against AAA hitters, Kameron Loe is not. Thirty-one-year-old Randall Simon is playing for the Rangers’ Arizona League club, as is 22-year-old Taylor Teagarden. Erubiel Durazo was let go from Minnesota’s AAA squad, and the River City Rascals traded righthander Shawn Phillips to the Washington Wild Things.

Francisco Cordero and Fabio Castro and Brian Shouse are pitching really well, and Laynce Nix is raking ever since switching PCL clubs. Surely Carlos Lee will find a run-producing groove soon.

Maybe I will, too.

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

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