THE NEWBERG REPORT — SEPTEMBER 25, 2007
I really don’t hate Jamey Wright. I didn’t hate Jack Morris, either. But for whatever reason, Morris was my baseball anathema in the formative years of my baseball consciousness, and I can no more easily handle watching Wright than I could Morris. I can’t explain it.
So when I learned that it would be A.J. Murray taking the hill tonight rather than Wright, I was ecstatic, since I was going to be in the ballpark. I figured the best we could expect was four or five innings out of Murray, since he hasn’t really been stretched out, but that was cool with me.
And Murray was solid. Five innings, five hits, one walk, four strikeouts, and one run — on a solo home run in the fifth. There was no shame in the 1-0 deficit that Murray left behind in what was his first big league start.
But just my luck (because it’s all about me), in trotted Wright.
And he reels off four scoreless innings, giving up two singles, walking nobody, and fanning two. A seemingly impossible 73 percent strike rate. Eight groundouts, one infield pop-up, one flyout.
He was no Jack Morris.
When the Rangers win, I never start toward the aisle until the handshakes are underway near the mound. Just a habit, I guess. Tonight, strangely enough, it wasn’t until I was filing out of the stadium that it occurred to me that the next Rangers game I’ll be at will be in Surprise, and the next one that counts will be in April.
That’s always a saddening moment for me, that last exit from the ballpark for the year. But I’ve had a second wind this season, even if the end results were disappointing. It was prompted by the June that the amateur scouting department had, the July that Jon Daniels had, the second half that this remade team has had. The Tuesday night that Ian Kinsler (.306 for the month) had at the plate. The throw that Jason Botts made on Juan Rivera’s single off the wall in the fourth. More basebally goodness out of David Murphy. And yes, the brilliance of Jamey Wright, for a night.
Baseball doesn’t end for me in September, even if it will again this year for my team. There’s a book to write, a quick trip to Instructs, a fascinating Rangers winter ahead. My thoughts as I pulled away from 1000 Ballpark Way tonight turned to that first home date in April, a day just over six months away that will offer up all the sights and sounds and smells and adrenaline that get packed away for the winter but that baseball always delivers, dependably, like a breaking ball that catches the black for a called strike three from a pitcher who is zoned in.
I can’t wait for Opening Day, and can hardly contain myself at the thought of what it’s going to be like the next time that that 30,000-strong crowd I just sat among at the last home night game of the regular season will instead be a standing-room only affair, with everyone in attendance knowing that there’s another stage of the season, and more home night games, just a few days away.