October 2010

ALCS Game Four, Texas 10, New York 3.

The rosin on Cliff Lee’s cap has a message for you:

The Texas Rangers are one win away from the World Series.

molina.jpg

Acquired, with cash, for righthanders Chris Ray (who didn’t make the Giants’ NLDS or NLCS roster) and Michael Main.

holland.jpg

Selected in the 25th round of the 2006 amateur draft, the final one in which draft-and-follow process was allowed, and signed 50 weeks later for fourth-round money.

andrus.jpg

Acquired, with Neftali Feliz and Matt Harrison and Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Beau Jones, for Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay.

JD.jpg

There are different heroes every night.

Including the man in the pinpoint collar.  And a whole lot of people on his crew.

The Texas Rangers are one win away from the World Series.

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(c) Jamey Newberg
http://www.newbergreport.com
Twitter  @newbergreport
 

Lee vs. Pettitte.

The Rangers on the ALCS roster are a collective .308/.373/.462-hitting bunch against Andy Pettitte, which is sort of stunning.  It’s .327/.390/.497 if you include Vladimir Guerrero, Bengie Molina, and Jeff Francoeur’s work in the post-season, where Pettitte has generally made his career mark.  

Then again, the Yankees’ collective .280/.329/.482 slash against Cliff Lee is equally hard to believe.  Not surprisingly, the slash dips a bit (to .269/.314/.456) if you include the playoffs.

David Murphy has a 1.144 OPS in 12 plate appearances against Pettitte, but he’ll likely start the game on the bench, ceding the start to the right-handed-hitting Francoeur and his team-leading 1.455 (11 plate appearances).

Lots of pinball numbers.  But still feels like we’re poised for a 2-1 game.

Enjoy this.

ALCS, Game Two: Texas 7, New York 2.

Five-game series.  The other guys own the home field advantage.  Cliff Lee gets the ball first, and if the series goes long enough, he’ll get it in the final game, too.  In between, C.J. Wilson will start a game as well.  

Sound familiar?

That’s how it lined up for Texas against Tampa Bay, the American League’s best team in 2010, and that’s what we’re faced with now against New York.

In that Rays series, Lee won his two starts and Wilson won his one, as the duo gave up a combined two runs on 13 hits and two walks in 22.1 innings, striking out 28.  All three were on the road.

In the five games remaining in this series, one (tomorrow night’s Lee start) will be on the road, as will Wilson’s next scheduled start (Wednesday afternoon).  Lee would come back around, if necessary, in Arlington, Saturday night, in a Game Seven.

I’ll admit, after about an eight-hour day at Rangers Ballpark yesterday, that I haven’t read much about Game Two, so forgive me if this has been discussed and knocked down already.  But when I saw Tommy Hunter getting loose in the sixth inning yesterday, I began to wonder if the Rangers aren’t thinking about going to Derek Holland (rather than Hunter) in Game Four on Tuesday – Holland has worked his way into a key spot in the bullpen but shouldn’t be needed in relief of Lee tomorrow – or even Wilson.  

The latter would be risky, as Wilson has never started a big league game on short rest, and he did throw 104 high-intensity pitches on Friday, but if the club believes he’s conditioned physically and mentally to do it, imagine this: Wilson on short rest Tuesday, and possibly on short rest again on Saturday . . . which would mean Wilson (1, 4, 7) and Lee (3, 6) could start five of a possible seven games in this series.

Unlikely, but with Hunter warming in the sixth yesterday, you have to wonder what the plan is now for Game Four.

The big story in Game Two, of course, was the punishment the Rangers handed out to Phil Hughes, who had allowed three hits in 15.1 scoreless innings against Texas in his career, all in Arlington.  The Rangers were .064/.154/.128 hitters against Hughes going into Saturday; if you limit it to the nine Rangers in yesterday’s starting lineup, they had a collective .094/.147/.156 slash.  

Yesterday?  A cool .500/.565/1.000.  Texas was 10 for 20 off Hughes, with seven of the 10 hits going for extra bases.

That included 5 for 11 (with four extra-base hits) in counts that got to two strikes.  Texas had seven two-strike hits altogether on the day.  

Meanwhile, Colby Lewis was strong out of the gate, needing just nine pitches (seven strikes) to finish the first ahead of the Rangers’ havoc run in the bottom of the inning.  It was a quick, efficient inning for Lewis, the kind that the dude in the black shirt a row back from me would have been proud of.

Greg_Maddux.jpg

 

Lewis wiggled out of trouble in the second, though Robinson Cano (flyout to right), Nick Swisher (double to right), and Lance Berkman (lineout to right) all barreled up on him.  Texas put up a four-hit, two-run second, and Lewis came back to strand a couple in the New York third, just as he’d done in the second.

Two more Texas runs in the third (on three doubles), and Lewis did what the game asked him to do, to steal a Wash-ism.  He threw strikes in the fourth (eight strikes, four balls) and fifth (11 strikes, five balls – though that included a Curtis Granderson walk).  When his command deserted him two outs into the sixth (10 strikes, including a Cano missile halfway up the home run porch, and nine balls), his day was done.

The lead at that point was five, and the bullpen was being entrusted not only with two inherited runners but the task of going 3.1 innings.  After what happened Friday night, it wasn’t exactly a comfort spot.

Clay Rapada, Alexi Ogando, Darren Oliver, Darren O’Day, and Neftali Feliz: 10 outs (four on strikes), no runs, one hit.

It wasn’t the cleanest of bullpen efforts (80 pitches, just 47 strikes; four walks), but it was absolutely effective, and should be a terrific confidence boost for the beleaguered Red Bull crew.  They get the day off today and possibly tomorrow in Lee’s start, and should all be ready to go Tuesday.

A few other thoughts:

Is this the best couple weeks Elvis Andrus has had all year? 

How many New York fans are dead certain that Derek Jeter’s winter contract will be for four years, matching the length of time Andrus has before he can be a free agent?

Forget it, Yanks.

Ian Kinsler?  Say it with me: Bat path.

Cano is an absolute beast.  Love that guy.

(What if that trade six years ago had been Alex Rodriguez for Alfonso Soriano and Cano?  Sigh.)

Texas walked seven Yankees.  None scored.

One of the things Lewis said last night was that it felt like a regular season game yesterday.  He admitted to being a little amped up against Tampa Bay, but was relaxed against New York.

I believe him.  It’s a uniqueness about this team’s veterans and coaching staff.

The Rangers’ 7-8-9 hitters (David Murphy, Bengie Molina, Mitch Moreland) yesterday: 5 for 10 with four RBI.

Moreland can play every remaining inning of the post-season, as far as I’m concerned.  The only thing Jorge Cantu offers that Moreland doesn’t is experience, and Moreland has proven, over and over, that he’s not handicapped by his inexperience.  At all.

By the way, I did my part yesterday.  Newsday’s Ken Davidoff, who wrote one of the forewords for the 2008 Bound Edition, started his entry this way: “Let me start out by asserting that Jamey Newberg is the greatest guy I’ve never met.”

Ten straight playoff losses against the Yankees was enough for me.  I felt my small contribution toward the busting of that disgusting streak was to make sure I finally met the man face to face, after many years of emails and instant messages.

We met before the game.  Streak busted.

Did the sweep against Minnesota result in too much rest for New York starters C.C. Sabathia and Hughes?  Some of the Yankees suggested after Texas 7, New York 2 that it’s possible. 

Underlying tomorrow’s Cliff Lee start: In the last 19 ALCS’s that have started out locked up after two games, the team that took Game Three won the series 14 times.

But the intrigue for me goes beyond that, as we start to think about Game Four, and about the fact that Tommy Hunter was getting loose in a key spot in the game yesterday.  The idea of C.J. Wilson and Lee pitching five games of a possible seven is a lot to digest, but confronted with the irritation of a day off during the greatest baseball time of my life, I’m having a tough time right now preventing my mind from jumping up and down a bit.

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(c) Jamey Newberg
http://www.newbergreport.com
Twitter  @newbergreport
 

ALCS, Game One: New York 6, Texas 5, v.2.

A good friend just sent this to me:

Here at the Car Dealership. . . . Have lived here 25 years.  Never have ever heard before a bunch of people in DFW talking and arguing about last night’s game.  Could have sworn I am back home in Chicago!  Whatever happens, the fact that this is occurring is great for the future of Ranger baseball.  We’re just as good as the Yankees and when we come back to Texas at 3-2, I hope you can find some joy in the fact that people in car dealerships all over DFW are arguing if Lee should start game 6 – with as much fervor as if they were talking about Wade getting fired.

Yep.

The crowd was fantastic last night.  There was no hint of all those typical Rangers-Yankees crowds – typical even of the 1996-1998-1999 playoff series – that felt split down the middle.  We need that again today.  The team needs that again today.

Yes, the home field advantage is gone.

If it’s an advantage at all.  This franchise is winless in seven home playoff games, including three this month.  

True, Phil Hughes has been ridiculous against Texas in his career, with 15.1 scoreless innings – all in Arlington – on just three hits (all doubles, by Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz and Taylor Teagarden) and four walks, with 13 strikeouts.

But remember that the Rangers on this roster were a collective .188-hitting bunch against C.C. Sabathia going into last night’s game, when they went 6 for 17 (.353), slugged .588, and added four walks (.476 on-base).

Things felt pretty good when Texas not only reached safely with its first three hitters of the series but scored all three (only the second time in big league history that had happened).  But the Rangers should have scored more in that inning.

Then New York reached safely seven straight times to start the eighth, off five pitchers, scoring five times.  We miss Frankie.

Baserunners have stolen 51 bases in 54 tries against New York relievers in 2010, and that was apparently on Ian Kinsler’s mind when he wasn’t ready for Kerry Wood to throw over in the Rangers’ eighth.

If Texas wins today, all the club needs is a win from either Cliff Lee or C.J. Wilson in Yankee Stadium to bring the series back to Arlington.

The Rangers need Colby Lewis to be big this afternoon.  They need to shake last night off.  

They also need us to shake last night off, which may take a little stepping up on our part, but that was a winner’s atmosphere in the building on Friday, and more of that is needed.  

This is a resilient team that has earned our resilience, and I’m in no mood to start talking about firing Wade yet.  Win this one today, take at least one of three in New York, and bring this thing back home.

If you’re one of those who thinks an electric crowd can factor in, I hope you’ll be among the 50,000 out there in a few hours.  We can do this.

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(c) Jamey Newberg
http://www.newbergreport.com
Twitter  @newbergreport

ALCS, Game One: New York 6, Texas 5.

Condolences, C.J.

Sorry about baseball.

Go.

Start spreading the news
Twelve hours until C.J. kicks
Rangers 4, Yanks 2

To answer your question:

Both.

Wishful thinking?  Maybe.  But that’s what this is all about.

When I see Mark Teixeira step up in the top of the first and Alex Rodriguez in (hopefully) the second, in the back of my mind I’ll have it tucked away that Tex is 0 for 5 lifetime against Wilson and that A-Rod is 1 for 13.  But this is different now, and even those numbers feel like wishful thinking.

But if I’m going to toss those out, do I also toss out the fact that the Rangers suiting up for this series are 24 for 137 lifetime (.175) against C.C. Sabathia – and 12 for 99 (.121) if you don’t count Michael Young’s 12 for 38 (.316)?

I toss it all out, as well as the fact that my legs are almost numb right now, I figure because I probably haven’t slept well in a week and a half.  Because of this.

This I think I know: Over the next week and maybe for the rest of my life, I will harbor an irrational hatred for Nick Swisher, there will probably be a home plate ump or two whose name I’ll remember forever, and not fondly, and there will be several moments and images that will push all other moments and images down in my mental sports scrapbook.

It will never be like this again.

Texas could go on to win three World Series in a four-year span, and yet there will never again be a year like this one.  Those of us who are Cowboys fans understand that.

There are lots of numbers in my head right now, streaks and trends and splits and precedent, and I’m going to make an effort, strenuous as it may be, to suppress all of them, and to do for myself whatever the equivalent is of Wilson looking over his left shoulder at the top of the right field foul pole, to center myself and block out the hype and the history and the punditry and the paranoia, and lock in on Wilson-Jeter, seeing it and every other battle in this best-of-seven not as a clash of numbers, but a series of exercises in pure sports combat.

Roger Angell said this: “What I do know is that this belonging and caring is what our gamers are all about; this is what we come for.  It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look — I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable.  Almost.  What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring — caring deeply and passionately, really caring — which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives.  And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved.  Naivete — the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball — seems a small price to pay for such a gift.”

Enjoy this.  Love it and hate it and lose sleep.

Enjoy this.

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(c) Jamey Newberg
http://www.newbergreport.com
Twitter  @newbergreport

Essential Lee.

There are images you never forget, a Nolan Ryan pitch that made history or a Rusty Greer catch that preserved a perfect game, a Pudge Rodriguez fist pump or Josh Hamilton double fist pump, an impossible Gary Matthews catch or improbable David Dellucci double.

Tuesday night’s indelible image for me was Cliff Lee’s march toward home plate as B.J. Upton lofted the first pitch he saw with two outs in the ninth, a simple yet striking walk toward battery mate Bengie Molina during which Lee never looked up or back, paid no attention to where Upton’s pop-up was headed or where or when it might land, an understated set of steps that I’ll never forget.  

It started, as the ball shot straight up off Upton’s bat, with Lee demonstratively clapping his left hand into his glove, then taking a slow, measured walk towards the plate, presumably never taking his eyes off his catcher the whole way even though we didn’t get to see Lee’s face in those 10 awesome steps.  

We didn’t see his face until well after we saw this:

Lee_Molina.jpg

 

He never looked back.  The baseball world watched the harmless flare settle into Elvis Andrus’s mitt, ending the series, all but Cliff Lee, who wasn’t even curious. 

It was as if, just as most of his night had gone, he didn’t need to see where the ball ended up, because his own visualization of the ball’s path, start to finish, rang true with every pitch. 

He was surgical all night long, with his four-seam fastball and his two-seam fastball and his cutter and his curve ball and his slider and his change, and for Lee there was no point in watching the 27th out get made.  He knew exactly where the ball was going.

All night.

The man never looked back to see the biggest moment in Texas Rangers history.

He’s so ridiculously cool.

He’s Don Draper.

The local high school classes of 2029 are going to have an oddly large concentration of “Cliff’s” in them.

Our next dog will be named Cliff Lee.

And he, or she, will startle all comers with a spectacular lack of wasted energy, an imposing subtlety, and an endless supply of cool.

His first time through the Rays lineup, Lee threw 28 pitches.  Every one of them was a fastball, or a cutter.  Every single one of them.

As the Rays order rolled and leadoff hitter Jason Bartlett stepped back in with one on and one out in the bottom of the third, and Texas ahead, 1-0, Lee, who knew in pregame warm-ups that the curve was going to be a reliable weapon for him in Game Five, and yet kept it in his back pocket through each Rays hitter’s first look at him on the night, finally showed the big bender.

Lee had Bartlett down in the count, 1-2, and had thrown to first several times to keep Sean Rodriguez close, when he spun his first curve of the night, a pitch that stayed up and that Bartlett beat into the ground for an infield single to set up what would be Tampa Bay’s lone run of the night (on Ben Zobrist’s single to center).  Lee escaped further trouble by getting Carl Crawford to roll back to the mound (and starting a 1-2-5 rundown to erase Bartlett from third) and Evan Longoria to bounce out to shortstop.

He never threw a second curve that inning.

But then the gameplan shifted.  Texas took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth (when Nelson Cruz turned two mistakes into a run, first admiring a double off the center field wall that should have been a triple, and then inexplicably attempting to steal third with two outs [it's not as if David Price, who tends to work up in the zone, was prone to Brandon Webb a pitch or two into the dirt, which I suppose might have made the risk of getting thrown out worth the reward of moving from second to third] and coming home when Kelly Shoppach’s throw toward third took off into left field), and Lee took a new plan to the mound.

After throwing just the one curve in his first 42 pitches over three innings, Lee would throw 18 of them over his remaining 78 pitches.  And most of them were gorgeous.  Or nasty.  Depending on your perspective.

Lee would maintain the cut fastball, which was a tremendous pitch for him all night, but would show the Rays far fewer four- and two-seamers, actually throwing fewer over those final six innings than he did in the first three frames.  From a strike efficiency standpoint, the curve was actually the least effective of Lee’s six offerings (12 of 19 for strikes, or 63 percent), but several of them came in huge spots, and the threat of that pitch made everything else work.  Of the 38 cutters Lee threw, a silly 33 of them were strikes (nine swinging, seven called, nine fouled, eight put into play), and very few were hit with any authority.

You’ve heard this many times by now: there have been eight playoff pitching performances in the history of the game in which the pitcher logged at least 10 strikeouts and no walks.  Lee has now authored four of those masterpieces.  Four other pitchers (Deacon Phillippe, Don Newcombe, Tom Seaver, and Sterling Hitchcock) did it one time each.

The great Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner points this out:

Sandy Koufax pitched 57 playoff innings in his career, scattering 10 runs on 36 hits [two home runs] and 11 walks, striking out 61.

Cliff Lee has pitched 56.1 playoff innings in his career, scattering 12 runs on 38 hits [one home run] and six walks, striking out 54.

Lee tied an LDS record with 21 strikeouts (matching Kevin Brown’s 1998 effort with San Diego), and his zero walks in 16 innings represented the first time a pitcher had thrown at least 15 walkless frames in such a series.

He put on an absolute clinic in Game 5.  To say he located all night doesn’t do his performance justice.  The dude flat painted.

Three-fourths of Lee’s pitches went for strikes, but very few pierced the zone – he annihilated the picture frame, with assassin’s precision.

Meanwhile, the Rangers offense didn’t so much punish Price as it pressured him, creating opportunities and capitalizing on them.  I was too locked in watching the game, practically immobilized (outside of my Twitter barrage), and so the thought didn’t occur to me until afterwards that the way the Rangers generated offense Tuesday night reminded me of the Super Bowl Saints, a team that probably had fans without a rooting interest thinking, “Man, I wish my team played baseball like that.”

Yes, Cruz and Ian Kinsler did something no playoff teammates since Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig had done (hitting three home runs each in a playoff series, which Ruth and Gehrig did in 1928), but Game Five was more about audacity than brawn.  The first three Texas runs, unbelievably, scored from second base without the ball ever leaving the infield – unless you count Shoppach’s throw that sailed past Longoria into left. 

The last time a playoff run scored from second on an infield grounder was in 1970, when Orioles outfielder Paul Blair motored around in the eighth inning of Baltimore’s World Series-ending Game Five against the Reds, as Cincinnati second baseman Tommy Helms tossed to reliever Ray Washburn covering first base on a Boog Powell grounder.

Forty years later, the Rangers did it twice, in the first (Andrus) and again in the sixth (Big Bad).  And that
doesn’t count Cruz scoring from second on his crazed stolen base attempt, with two outs and Kinsler’s hot bat at the plate.

It’s almost funny: If you had to name the four Rangers with the biggest issues on the bases in 2010, it would probably be Andrus, Guerrero, Cruz, and the glacial Molina.  They were the base-running stars in Game Five.

(It wasn’t only Cruz’s run that probably shouldn’t have happened the way it did.  Think about this: If Shoppach hadn’t held onto a Hamilton foul tip on 2-1, Andrus’s first-inning steal of second would have been nullified.  Maybe he still would have stolen on the next pitch [which turned out to be a 2-2 ball], setting up Hamilton’s run-scoring groundout to first.  But maybe not.) 

(And this: Price gets the primary blame for Guerrero’s run, but Shoppach deserves some, too.  If he wasn’t out of position at the plate, Price’s throw home almost surely cuts Guerrero down.)

The havoc that Texas created on the bases had to make the Yankees uncomfortable from their couches.  New York can be run on, as the Rangers proved in 2010, stealing eight bases without being caught in the teams’ eight matchups. 

New York decided yesterday to flip Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte in its rotation, setting up the following matchups: C.J. Wilson against C.C. Sabathia in Game One, Colby Lewis against Hughes in Game Two, Lee against Pettitte in Game Three, and Tommy Hunter against A.J. Burnett in Game Four.

The Yankees aren’t modifying their playoff roster from their Division Series against the Twins, but the Rangers are.  Pinch-runner Esteban German (who wasn’t used against the Rays) will be dropped, replaced by an additional left-handed reliever.  The bullpen, which was a bit shaky against Tampa Bay, needed the reinforcement, while David Murphy’s proven health has made Julio Borbon a bench player, minimizing the potential need for an extra runner like German.  Candidates for the southpaw spot include Clay Rapada, Matt Harrison, and Michael Kirkman. 

Frankie Francisco, still not recovered from his rib cage injury, will not be added to the roster.

Ron Washington said that Jorge Cantu will likely be in the lineup at first base against Sabathia or Pettitte.  He sat against Price on Tuesday after looking overmatched against him in Game One.

Lee’s use on Tuesday meant he’ll start Game Three instead of Game One, but a few thoughts there. 

First, Texas was reluctant to use Lee on short rest in Game Four against Tampa Bay, which was at the time the biggest game in franchise history, so shouldn’t we assume it would be unlikely for the club to have planned to use him on short rest in the World Series?  He wasn’t going to pitch Games One, Four, and Seven. 

Second, Game Three is the first game in Yankee Stadium – I sure don’t mind Lee getting that assignment, no matter what happens in Arlington in the first two games. 

Third, using Lee on short rest in any scenario would make it less likely we’d get nine innings out of him, and the way several of the relievers are going, you don’t want to go into any game increasing the chances you’ll need to depend on the bullpen. 

Texas advanced without getting much of anything in the ALDS from who most would agree is its best player, Hamilton.  Almost as stunning as the fact that Texas won the five-game series without winning a home playoff game for the first time is the idea that the Rangers move on without getting so much as an extra-base hit from Hamilton in the entire series.

But Texas has Cliff Lee, who the Yankees would have right now if they hadn’t been so insistent on replacing injured minor league second baseman David Adams, alongside catcher Jesus Montero, with righthander Adam Warren instead of infielder Eduardo Nunez or righthander Ivan Nova in their trade talks with Seattle.  Had that played out differently, the Rangers aren’t in the ALCS right now.  They probably would have reached the ALDS, but with a much different team, and not only at the top of the rotation.

Lee will start in New York on Monday and, if the series is still going, in Arlington a week from Saturday (or conceivably Friday).  That feels really, really good.

There may be another indelible image or two to add to the bank, right around the corner.

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(c) Jamey Newberg
http://www.newbergreport.com
Twitter  @newbergreport
 

ALDS, Game Five: Texas 5, Tampa Bay 1.

Every year the main section of my book has roughly 12 months of reports in it.  I generally cut it off some time in October, when there’s a natural break in the ongoing story.

Last year’s book ended with an October 12, 2009 report, which concluded (before any marketing campaign had been launched) with these words: “It’s time to win.

One year later, to the day, this team won.

Not the big prize yet, of course.  There are two more teams to beat, eight more games to win.  
For some franchises, this wouldn’t be quite as big a deal.  For some, in fact, anything less than what happened last night might be considered a failure.  

But for this team, what happened last night, with the entire baseball world having cleared the stage, had never happened, and for a number of reasons it felt like it needed to.  It’s too early to call the season a success, but at the same time, no matter what happens going forward, that’s what this season will be called once the final Texas Rangers game of 2010 has been played.

Nolan Ryan said in March he expected 92 wins.  It took more than 162 games to get there, and if Texas had lost last night that’s where the number would have been frozen.  But Texas 5, Tampa Bay 1 was number 93 for the year, and this team plays on, with at least four more baseball games to go in 2010 and maybe as many as 14.

Group hug.

I haven’t stopped smiling since about the sixth inning last night (when David Price missed the first base bag by the thickness of a Sports Illustrated cover and Vladimir Guerrero took advantage, scoring from second base).  I haven’t slept much.  And I haven’t allowed myself to think fully about the things I want to say in this space.  

I’ll get there, but bear with me.  It will probably be tomorrow before I settle back into a writing frame of mind.  Right now, no chance.

There’s a lot more writing to go in what will be this year’s version of the Bound Edition, and when in October the book will reach its natural end is impossible now to predict.

Especially since it might be in November.

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(c) Jamey Newberg
http://www.newbergreport.com
Twitter  @newbergreport

No words.

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A night of firsts, but two stand out for me:

 

1.      The
Texas Rangers have won a playoff series.

 

2.      I’m
absolutely speechless.

 

I will have more, but for the moment I’m going to continue
to let the phone ring and the texts and emails pile up unanswered, and stop
typing here in a second.  I need to continue to do absolutely nothing but
let this soak in.

 

clifflee_gettyimages.jpg

Getty Images

 

underdog.jpg

 

 

 

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recaps, and frequent Newberg Report News Flashes, go to
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(c) Jamey Newberg

http://www.newbergreport.com

Twitter  @newbergreport

This is why.

I’m generally not a superstitious person, but I’m very sports-superstitious.  I was as a player, I am as a fan.

Given what’s at stake tonight, I’m not messing around.

This gets blown up into wallpaper today.

price_si_cover.jpg

 Tonight we experience something we’ve never experienced. 

Tonight is what Steps One through Five were all about, starting with the trade of Mark Teixeira and the patience and untelevised grinding that followed.  And why those 100 folks in untucked short sleeves and slacks lined up behind home plate before player introductions on Saturday are so important, even if the names and faces aren’t as recognizable as the last player on the roster.

Tonight is the reason it was the right decision to draft Justin Smoak instead of Ethan Martin. 

Tonight is the reason it will always be OK that Justin Smoak is now a Seattle Mariner, maybe for life.

Tonight is the reason we all invest the way we do.

Trust in Cliff.

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