THE NEWBERG REPORT — April 14, 2008

My softball team lost twice Sunday morning, first by two
runs and then by one run.  We were awful
defensively, and incredibly unopportunistic with runners in scoring
position.  We got jobbed in a big way by
the umpires at a critical point in Game Two, but when you play the way we did,
you sort of make your luck, and we deserved to get beat.

I had a good day at the plate in the doubleheader (8 for
8), but was in a terrible mood heading away from the complex.  I’d rather go 0 for 5 with two errors and win
than play well and lose, even in something as inconsequential as a weekend
softball league.  I’d rather second-chair
a trial win than get to run the show but earn a disappointing result.  I hate losing.  Hate it. 
No matter how satisfied or frustrated I am about how I play is secondary
to how my team comes out.

The worst part about yesterday morning, worse than the
10-8 and 9-8 final scores, was how we lost. 
The failure to catch and throw well, the squandered opportunities on
offense. 

And the games I play don’t mean a thing.  Can’t imagine how JD and Wash and the 27 guys who have suited up to
play these first 12 for the Rangers must feel.

The 26th and 27th players to appear, Luis Mendoza and
Scott Feldman, did their jobs.  Mendoza came out of
Saturday’s start with a 1.80 ERA, while Feldman threw a quality start on
Sunday.

The Rangers’ starters, in fact, have seven quality starts
in 12 games (their five non-quality starts are matched in the American League only
by the Twins), and a 3.19 ERA, which is three-hundredths of a run off the
league lead.  And yet no Texas starter has more
than one win.

No American League team has a lower fielding percentage
than the .973 mark owned by Texas,
or a lower defensive efficiency rating (.6864), or more errors (13), or more
unearned runs (11).

No American or National League team hits worse than the
Rangers’ .184 with runners in scoring position, or their .192 with runners on
base.

This time last year, Texas was 5-7, in fourth place in the West,
two games back.

Today, Texas
is 5-7, in fourth place in the West, 2.5 games back.

But for some reason, even though there are some symptoms
in common (particularly the defensive problems), things don’t feel as dire in
2008.  And I think the reason is pretty
obvious — that 3.19 starters’ ERA. 
Granted, it’s not going to remain that low, but the situational hitting
won’t remain as bad as it’s been either, and the defense will continue to get
better.  Good things start with good starting
pitching, and if you’re clicking in just one phase, from a long-term standpoint
you’d want it to be your rotation stepping up.

There’s no bigger proponent than I am of the idea that
the big picture is what’s important here. 
It’s about building a contender, a team that is positioned to compete at
the top not for a string of weeks but for a string of years, even if that
advent isn’t likely to arrive for another season or two.  It’s less about this series, or this
homestand, or this month, or this season.

But, for me, it’s still about tonight, if that makes
sense.

I can’t do anything about how I’m wired.

 

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

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