THE NEWBERG REPORT — April 26, 2008

There are some things that fired me up yesterday, even
before Ian Kinsler, with the same look on his face that Brenden Morrow had as
Mike Modano fired in the empty netter to clinch Round One on Sunday, was the
first player to tear out of the home dugout to mob David Murphy on the game’s
final play.

I was fired up by the way this team responded to the
Twins’ four-spot in the top of the third with a five-spot of its own in the
bottom of the third, on the strength of seven straight hits.  Hank Blalock’s rake to right that scored Josh
Hamilton to tie the game was obviously big, but it was the previous pitch that really
lifted me out of my seat, as Michael Young scored behind Kinsler on Hamilton’s
single and sprung up from his slide and shouted and fist-pumped and bounced all
the way to the dugout, like a college player who had just scored a tie-breaking
run in a June game in Omaha.

I was fired up when, before the game, Jon Daniels did his
weekly radio segment with Victor Rojas and said, without hesitation and without
pretense and without spin: “The fans are pissed.  I’d be pissed.”

Bravo.  That sort
of raw honesty hasn’t always been prevalent around here.  I wasn’t crazy about a few Ron Washington remarks
after a couple of the week’s losses, comments that sounded as if he was counting
on us not having watched.  (Moments after
the four-game sweep in Boston:
“I thought we came in here and handled ourselves well.  Things might have unraveled a little bit
today, but before that I thought we handled ourselves well.”)  A little insulting.

From Daniels we got this, instead: “We’ve played
terribly the past two weeks, and that’s a reflection on me, the coaching staff,
and the 25 guys on the field.”

And: “When a team struggles, you have to look to
leadership to turn it around.  The
expectation of ownership is that we get things turned around.  That’s on Ron.  That’s on me.  It’s on everybody that wears a ‘T.’  I’m not going to put the blame on any one
man.”

Accountability and a refusal to take the fan base for
granted, or to try and slip one past us: much appreciated.  We’re all in this together.

I’m also fired up by the 14-4 Clinton IanGacs and the
15-5 Frisco CD-Ram’s (sorry) and Cristian Santana and Jose Vallejo and Kennil
Gomez.

And the impossible fact that nobody in the 16-team
Pacific Coast League has more walks than Nelson Cruz (who, more
characteristically, is also third in the circuit with a 1.204 OPS). 

Keeping an eye on A.J. Murray, who is on the 40-man
roster, and Doug Mathis, who could be soon. 
Warner Madrigal and Kendy Batista, Craig Gentry and Grant Gerrard, Derek
Holland and Andrew Laughter.

Learning that Jarrod Saltalamacchia is up with no plans
to return him to AAA, no plans to have him wither on the bench, and no plans to
play him at first base, and that Taylor Teagarden is headed to AAA to replace
him, paving the way for both Teagarden and Frisco’s Max Ramirez to start
catching five days a week.

Learning that the MLB Network will launch before the 2009
season.

But of course, nothing was as adrenalizing as the Murphy
shot to left that plated German Duran to give Texas an April win that felt oddly like a meaningful
September win. 

It’s too bad that these four weeks have made last night’s
win feel that liberating, but given what’s gone on, and despite the frustration
that we didn’t put that game away in regulation, what this team needed was a
win but what it was blessed with was a walkoff party.  The daps procession behind the mound is cool;
the dugout-hopping, field-storming, pogo scrum closer to first base is a lot cooler.

After a whole lot of lousy over the past couple weeks, that
was a perfect moment — for the GM, the coaching staff, and the 25 guys on the
field — and for us.  Regardless of what
comes next.

 

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

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