November 2010

Stuff.

If you think it’s too early for the off-season scoop wars to have begun, you have MLB Network’s Peter Gammons saying “Cliff Lee is going to sign with Texas” on the radio in Boston and Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman tweeting “Cliff Lee will end up a Yankee.  Not an East Coast bias, just reality.”

And if that throws you off your baseball bearings, the baseball gods give you Kansas City claiming Joaquin Arias off waivers from the Mets, and just like that: you’re grounded once again.  

Here’s a really good season wrap-up from Scott Lucas.

The Super Two service time designation this winter extends to all players with at least two years and 122 days of service (but fewer than three years), making those who qualify eligible for arbitration.  That service time number is significantly lower than in most years, when the top 17 percent of players with two to three years of service have typically ended up with something like two years and 140 days of service.  If you have tired head from reading the last two sentences, cut to the chase: Darren O’Day is arbitration-eligible this winter, even though in previous years his two years and 128 days of service would have fallen short.  That will cost Texas a million bucks or more.

Other Rangers eligible for arbitration: Josh Hamilton, C.J. Wilson, Nelson Cruz, David Murphy, Mark Lowe, Jeff Francoeur, Esteban German, Dustin Nippert, and Brandon McCarthy.

Pittsburgh has apparently narrowed the field for its managerial vacancy to Rangers hitting coach Clint Hurdle and Pirates bench coach Jeff Bannister.

Righthander Fabio Castillo has been selected to play in the Arizona Fall League “Rising Stars” All-Star Game, which will be televised at 8 p.m. Saturday night on MLB Network.

Japanese righthander Yu Darvish wants to pitch in the big leagues in 2012.  Tuck that one away.

For all you DFW lawyers out there: Chuck Greenberg will be the speaker at this month’s gathering of the Sports & Entertainment Law Section of the Dallas Bar Association.  His topic will be “How One Goes from Lawyer to Sports Franchise Owner” at noon next Wednesday, November 10, at the Belo Mansion, and he’ll take Q&A.

Ted Price, Adam Morris, and I recorded the final 2010 season episode of Rangers Podcast in Arlington last night, and once Ted has it loaded up today, I’ll let you all know.

In the meantime, thanks for getting preorders of the 2011 Bound Edition off to a good start, and in lieu of a Friday haiku, which I think I’ve decided should just be an in-season feature (and maybe just an in-2010-season feature), here’s the report I sent out on April 5, just because:

*    *    *

I could give you three reasons why the Rangers will win the American League West, and three why they won’t.

I could give you three each on the Angels, too, and the Mariners.  Maybe two and four on the A’s.

We saw win totals predicted from all corners this weekend, locally and nationally, and I suppose that in at least some cases it was at an editor’s request.  The fans demand it, right?  I guess.

Tell me in August whether you think the Cowboys are a 12-4 team, or headed toward 9-7.  I get that.  But why don’t we talk much in October about whether the Mavs are a 48- or 56-win club?  Or whether the Stars are poised for 95 points, or instead just 85?

In basketball and hockey, where they play five times as many games as in football, only the experts talk on the eve of the season about win or point totals.  Are they a playoff team?  Are they ready to lock down home court/ice?  Do they have a chance to contend for a title?  That’s what we hear about.  As it should be.

In baseball, they play 10 times as often as in football, double the number of games of their arena counterparts.  But for some reason we get bogged down on whether this is the year we win 92 instead of 87.

Someone who confidently chooses one number over the other before the first W or L is recorded must have a handle on when and how well Ian Kinsler will come back from his high ankle sprain — and on whether he can avoid trying to do too much like he did last summer when others were out of the lineup, on what Vladimir Guerrero has left, on whether Rich Harden can flip the switch right away, on whether Ron Washington’s situation will galvanize or distract or neither, on whether Josh Hamilton and Chris Davis will be able to lock 2008 back in, on Elvis Andrus and Nelson Cruz taking the next step, on how that seven-game swing through Boston and Detroit coming out of the Break will go, on what C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison and Chris Ray will be, on the way Clint Hurdle’s proposed approach will affect results, on how Julio Borbon will fare now that there’s a book out there on him, on which three Mariners starters Texas will face days after the trade deadline, on whether Scott Feldman and Neftali Feliz can repeat, on the catchers, on what sorts of contributions we’ll get from Tommy Hunter and Derek Holland and Brandon McCarthy and Alexi Ogando and Tanner Scheppers and Justin Smoak, on whether Guillermo Moscoso and Eric Hurley and Pedro Strop and Michael Kirkman and Omar Beltre will be needed and how they’ll respond, on the odds of Darren O’Day and Darren Oliver staying steady, on how many days the regular players on this club will lose to the disabled list.

I don’t expect this to be a 96-win club, or a 76-win club.  But I think it’s silly to argue whether it’s an 85-win roster, rather than a squad poised to win 88 times.

The talk last September 13, when Texas won Game One of a twinbill against Seattle, 7-2, to improve to 80-61, was whether, despite dwindling playoff chances, the team could cross that elusive 90-win plateau by putting together a winning record over the final 21 games.  Nobody saw a 7-14 collapse and 87 wins coming.  

Yet, though there are eight times as many regular season games left to play today, writers are assertively picking the number 87 or 89 or 92 out of the air and asking players and officials to weigh in.

I have no idea what the Rangers’ 2010 win total will, or should, be.  I’m not sure if Texas will win its baseball game this afternoon.  I do have a pretty good idea who will suit up for Texas and Toronto this week, though, and my focus is on Feldman-Shaun Marcum, Harden-Brian Tallet, and Wilson-Ricky Romero.  Even then, coming out of this series with three wins, two, one, or none probably doesn’t tell us much more about where this thing is headed than we believe we know today.  

Minnesota started the 2009 season 4-7, the Angels 4-8.  Both played past 162.

I won’t guess what the Texas record will be in a week, let alone in six months, but I’m counting on this group to play hard and play smart and play well for three-and-a-half months, well enough to justify the addition of two impact players in July, maybe one of them in time for a huge July 22-29, seven-game set against the Angels and A’s in Arlington, the other before a three-game series in Anaheim concludes on August 1.  

No matter what the record is at that point, I won’t hazard a guess as to what it will be two months later after the Mariners and Angels come into Rangers Ballpark for 156 through 162.  And I certainly won’t pretend I’ve got a bead on that final number today.

I’m more interested in whether Texas wins a game than what the final score is.  The important thing, whether it was a pitchers’ duel or a slugfest, a blowout or an extra-inning walkoff, is that we were better than the other guys on that day.  Same with the season.  As long as we’re better than enough
of the other guys to keep playing beyond October 3, it doesn’t matter to me how many games we won, or how big a cushion we had in the standings.

Predictions are fun.  So are video games, and turning double plays in your backyard (you’re Bert Campaneris, he’s Bump Wills).  

I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t close our eyes and imagine the electricity of a September in Arlington that’s about more than just a football season that will end with the hosting of a Super Bowl.  This is unquestionably a year about which the players are thinking that way, management is thinking that way, an ownership group on the doorstep is thinking that way, and for all those reasons we should feel even more emboldened thinking that way.

But I look at this like I would the onset of a basketball or hockey season.  Don’t ask me for an over-under on victories.  Is this a playoff team?  Will the Rangers do enough, starting today, to win more times than 10 other teams in the league?  I don’t know, but this is about to be a year where that’s the question, not whether “progress” will be made.  The answer is likely going to depend on how many of those real player questions get answered acceptably.  

And on which of those three reasons to say yes, and three reasons to say no, will come to pass.  No formula can help us there, and just as no formula could have predicted 17 wins last year for Feldman, or 54 RBI for Hamilton, or seven wins over the final 21, trying to figure out now how many of the 162 that lay in front of us will end with daps near the mound is probably a waste of energy.

I know this much: They’re always fascinating, but this Rangers baseball season, with the engines set to start in a few hours, promises to be one that we’re going to remember for a very long time.  

Hopefully for the right reasons.

===========================================================

To join the free Newberg Report mailing list so you can get e-mail deliveries of every edition of the newsletter, daily minor league game recaps, and frequent Newberg Report News Flashes, go to http://www.newbergreport.com and click the “Mailing List” link on the top menu bar.

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

Not an option.

The Twitterverse and local blogs blew up as Wednesday’s season-ending press gathering gave way to a rally before thousands of Rangers fans just outside the Ballpark, flashing news that the Rangers were declining the $9 million mutual option on Vladimir Guerrero’s contract for 2011.  But there’s nothing surprising or particularly newsworthy about that development, any more than the revelation at the presser that the organization has imminent plans to extend the contracts of Ron Washington (whose deal could get hammered out this morning) and Jon Daniels.

Mutual options almost never get mutually exercised, as we talked about at length last winter when the Rangers tacked them onto Guerrero’s and Rich Harden’s one-year contracts.  Texas, strapped for cash and constrained by a bright-line budget at the time of the deals, proposed the mutual option in each case as a creative way to pay Guerrero and Harden an extra $1 million but defer it for a year – in the form of a buyout of the putative option.  

Daniels made it clear yesterday that there was never any intent at the time of the deal with Guerrero for either side to exercise the mutual option, and so the team’s decision to decline it wasn’t really a decision at all, and yesterday’s announcement certainly wasn’t one that Guerrero and his agents were perked up and waiting for.  He’s now a free agent, yes, but this was a one-year contract all along, dressed up as one plus an option as a way to boost the deal by $1 million without having to pay that bump until this off-season.

Daniels said the club isn’t closing any doors on the possibility of Guerrero remaining in Texas.  Washington, for what it’s worth, said he believes Guerrero will be back.  

If he is, it will be for less than the $9 million the option would have paid, or the $6.5 million he was guaranteed when he signed in January.

Both Daniels and Nolan Ryan said yesterday that the goal is to go to spring training three months from now with a better squad than in 2010.  Whether that will include Guerrero is a point of discussion, but no more so today than it was before yesterday’s formality of an announcement.

Texas Rangers, 2010- .

As I mentioned about a month ago, last year’s Bound Edition ended, on page 322, before the release of any franchise marketing slogans for 2010, with the words: “It’s time to win.”

And that’s what happened in 2010.  Texas won.

There are 22 teams who have to go home after they play 162.  Of the eight remaining teams, seven finish their season with a loss, with the one other team piling on each other in the middle of the field.  There’s only one team that gets to play on and then finish with a win, and if that’s the definition of winning, nobody in baseball other than the San Francisco Giants won in 2010.  But I will never define this Rangers season that way.

If you would have told me in March that the Major League season would end with Tim Lincecum facing off against Cliff Lee, I might have believed that.

But if you then added that the matchup would take place in Arlington – that one of those two pitchers would be Texas Rangers – I (1) would have doubted your mental stability and, (2) if convinced that you were on to something, would have taken it in a second, regardless of whether the Rangers were the ones piling on, or watching the other guys pour out of the visitors’ dugout like the rest of us and like the 28 teams whose season ended sometime in October.

Nolan Ryan said this three weeks ago: “Our goal is to get in the World Series and win the World Series, and if we fall short of that, we’ll be disappointed.  That’s not to say we won’t look back on the year and the postseason and feel good about what we accomplished, but we’ll still feel like that we didn’t finish what we wanted to do.  So, if that were to happen, I think it would be motivation, obviously, to the organization and to the team itself to go to Spring Training next year with that goal in mind again.”

And Jon Daniels said on a radio show this morning: “We didn’t get it done.  We need to get better.  Let’s figure it out.”

Was Giants-in-Five disappointing?  Absolutely.  For a number of reasons.

But does that mean the Rangers didn’t win in 2010?  Absolutely not.  They didn’t Win, maybe, but they sure as hell won.

The final out of the season was recorded on our field.  You gonna turn that down next year?

I sat in my seat for almost an hour after that final out Monday night, long after the friends I’d been at the game with had gone home.  I didn’t move.  I watched San Francisco celebrate, I watched the Rangers in their dugout, some players leaning on the dugout rail, others slumped back on the bench, others gathering their equipment and shuffling off to the clubhouse.  

I just watched.  I have this habit, during games and immediately after the big ones, of honing in mentally on some things I want to write about.  But I forced myself not to do that Monday night, as the grounds crew smoothed out the dirt around home plate for the last time this year.  I tried to let it all sink in, and drain out.  I felt eight months of mounting adrenaline receding, at last, leaving me exhausted.  

The players talked in the Rays series about “emptying the tank,” and that’s how I felt Monday night, how I’m sure we all felt.  The fuel that had carried me through 178 games that counted, 98 of them victories, was suddenly gone, even though hours earlier there seemed to be more than enough to carry me through another game, possibly two, as this resilient baseball team found itself once again in a corner.

And as I sat back, silent, still, watching the players in the road grays pull gray commemorative T-shirts over them, and replace their black and orange caps with those black commemorative lids that I wanted my team wearing when the final out of the final game was recorded, the tinny commotion of a hundred or two in the middle of the field started to get trampled by a chant coming from the fans who had stuck around.  Right away, and again more than 30 minutes after the season had ended:

“Let’s Go, Rangers!”

One last smile, and I got up from my seat one last time in 2010.  I found myself surprisingly at peace.
 
It’s never going to be like this again.

That’s not to say this team is about to be broken up like the 1997 Marlins – or 2010 Rays – or that its core may have peaked like the 2006 Mavericks.  But Texas could rattle off three World Series appearances in the next six years, and it will never feel like 2010.  That’s OK, but this is a season, however disappointing as the end was, we can’t ever take for granted. 

This was a year when the non-fan in the Metroplex became a casual fan.  Casual became locked in.  Locked in became hardcore.  Hardcore became combustible.

Every one of us had ten times more people around us wanting to talk Rangers baseball these last few weeks.  It’s a proud time to be a Texas Rangers fan, because of what happened, and what’s happening, both on and off the field.

This was the season that so many of you said to me in the last month that you wish you’d had with your Mom or Dad, and that your kids now will always have had with you.

Over the final five games, the Giants soundly beat Texas.  They were the better team.  This wasn’t a World Series that leaves us cursing an umpire or mourning a crushing error.  The Rangers offense (which led baseball with a .276 team batting average this year) was flattened, hitting .190/.259/.288 for the Series – with much of that limited production coming in Game One, well after San Francisco already had that game in hand. 

Texas hit .179 with runners in scoring position (while the Giants checked in at .405, capitalizing despite what was an overall .249 batting average – they collected 43 percent of their hits with two strikes and drove in 17 of their 29 runs with two outs).  And the Rangers didn’t create a lot of chances.  They had one at-bat with a runner in scoring position in Games Four and Five combined – on Sunday, when Michael Young fanned to start the seventh, Josh Hamilton reached first on a Juan Uribe error, Vladimir Guerrero struck out, Nelson Cruz singled, and Ian Kinsler lined out to left field. 

Not counting Cruz’s home run late in the Series finale, the only two to reach third base in Games Four and Five were the two kids in the Steal-A-Base contest. 

Guerrero’s week was one big epic flail.

But he wasn’t alone in his futility.  Only ninth-place hitter Mitch Moreland hit over .250 (if you discount the 1-for-2 showings by Julio Borbon and Cliff Lee).  Only Moreland reached base as much as a third of the time.  Only Moreland slugged more than .450.

Texas scored five runs in the final four games of the Series.

But that’s enough detail.  The Giants were simply the better team over the last week.  Are they the best team in baseball?  The hardware and the Sports Illustrated commercials say yes.  But they’re a great example of what Ron Washington likes to say – that it’s not a question, day to day, of who the best team is, but instead of which team plays the best baseball.  That was San Francisco this week, hands down.  I’d suggest the Giants aren’t the best team in baseball, just as I’d concede that the Rangers weren’t the best team in the American League over 2010 – though they did play the best baseball in October, after earning the right to play in that month in the first place.  And they did eliminate the two clubs that probably had the best claim to the “best team in baseball” label this year.

Considering the stack of adversity that Texas overcame in 2010, for this club to have been one of the final two standing defies reason. 

The club’s number one and number two starters were so ineffective that they not only lost their rotation spots
but were left off the three playoff rosters, never even bubble candidates to make those squads.

The pitchers being counted to pick up the slack were a Japanese baseball export-import and a converted set-up man.

The starting catcher started one game.  

The season-opening leadoff hitter and closer lost their jobs days into the season.

The five first basemen who appeared for Texas before Moreland arrived with two months left in the season hit a collective .199/.298/.310 for the year.

Kinsler missed a third of the season.

As did Cruz.

Hamilton missed less time than that, but at the worst time of the season, and even on his return was never close to 100 percent.

The deposed closer, who settled into the set-up role and was largely effective in it, missed the final five weeks of the season and the entire month of playoff games.

Elvis Andrus had an extra-base hit every 15.4 at-bats as a rookie in 2009.  He had one every 32.7 at-bats in 2010.

Young made twice as many errors in 2010 as he did in 2009.

The targeted utility infielder (Khalil Greene) never showed up due to social anxiety disorder, leading to a parade featuring Gregorio Petit, Hernan Irribarren, Ray Olmedo, Esteban German, Arias, Cristian Guzman, Alex Cora, and, thankfully, Andres Blanco. 

Cocaine.  The manager.

Bankruptcy Court. 

An inability to increase payroll through trade season.

But what Texas did in that trade season exemplified what this team did all year, in all phases.  Backed up against a wall, handcuffed, dealing with roadblocks that no other team faced, Jon Daniels and his crew didn’t resign themselves to a position of bystander and pulled off a July trade for the best available starting pitcher in the league, and acquired several other role players who helped in varying degrees.

Trade deadline deals pay off less often than you might think.  The best mid-season pitching acquisitions over the last generation, based on immediate impact?

Rick Sutcliffe, Cubs, 1984.

Doyle Alexander, Tigers, 1987.

Larry Anderson, Red Sox, 1990.

David Cone, Blue Jays, 1992.

David Cone, Yankees, 1995.

Randy Johnson, Astros, 1998.

C.C. Sabathia, Brewers, 2008.

Cliff Lee, Phillies, 2009.

Cliff Lee, Rangers, 2010.

Pretty sure Texas was the only one of those nine teams whose expenditures were being controlled by Major League Baseball.

This front office is as resourceful as its players are resilient.

Lee lost twice in this World Series – his first two losses in 10 career post-season starts – but make no mistake: The Rangers would have made the playoffs without him, but wouldn’t have won the pennant.

Was the Lee cutter that Edgar Renteria turned around Monday night for the decisive three-run home run the next-to-last pitch of Lee’s career as a Texas Ranger?  We don’t know that yet.  But we know Texas is going to fight for that not to happen.

Says Bob Simpson, one of the lead investors in the Greenberg-Ryan ownership group: “We’re going to go after Cliff Lee – hard, and we have the financial firepower to do that. . . . And we’ll do it within a model that’s sustainable.  The most important change for the Rangers is a model that’s sustainable and not based on leverage or something that will jeopardize the long-term franchise.  I don’t know that it’s ever had that before.”

What did Lee – who misses his spots with his words about as often as with his pitches – have to say in the immediate aftermath of Monday night’s season-ending loss? 

We’re disappointed, but we’re building something special here and we expect to be back here next year. . . . There’s a lot to build on.  We did a lot of firsts for this organization.  We were the second-best team in the big leagues.  We should be proud of that.  We’re going to use this as motivation and come in next year and try to do better.”

Lots of first-person plural.  Lots.

Then the qualifiers: “I like this team.  It’s a very fun team to play on.  I expect this team to do some really good things next year.  I don’t know if I’m going to be a part of it or not.  To be honest with you, I would love to be, but so many things can happen.  You never know.” 

Go back to that day-of-trade press conference in July in Seattle, as Lee was getting set to face the Yankees – if he wasn’t shipped to the visitors’ clubhouse first – and you might recall what appeared to be disappointment, frustration, maybe even a little disillusionment over being convinced he was headed to New York only to be told he was going to Texas instead.  Over the nearly four months since that time, Lee is either an extraordinary actor or a guy who has been won over by this organization and his teammates, and whose family might just view Texas as having a real edge on New York in both (1) proximity to their Arkansas home and (2) beer-throwing etiquette.

Said Lee just before the World Series: “I like it here.  It’s good for my family.  There really couldn’t be a better situation.” 

(For what it’s worth, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes this morning, while conceding that Lee “is everything [the Yankees] need,” that they “are not motivated like they were with Sabathia,” that they “are not as desperate now.”) 

This ownership group is used to going to war.  This will be a different brand of battle, but it’s going to be fascinating.

The success of 2010 wasn’t only about Lee (which is of course a plus in terms of recruiting him to stay).  Texas may have the best position player in baseball (notwithstanding his rough World Series).  The best young closer.  The best young shortstop.  One of the best General Managers and baseball operations departments and ownership groups.  One of the deepest farm systems. 

And to the extent that we as fans can gauge this, one of the most effective managers in the game, if your measure is a man’s ability to get the most out of his players and to set a tone of accountability, character, tenacity, and focus.

And, yes, resiliency and an aptitude for handling adversity.

The mental toughness of the manager and the third baseman define this team, and Cliff Lee appears to be right there with them.  That’s part of what gives me confidence that if the organization decides it can play ball with the Yankees in terms of the dollars it can offer Lee to stay here, the benefits will go far beyond what he can give the team every fifth day.

Said Young minutes after the final loss to the Giants: “”Right now, this stings, obviously.  To come so close to a world championship and fall short is a bitter pill to swallow.

“But we’ve established a different standard of expectations around here.  We’ve built a great foundation.  Now we know how good we can be and where we want to be.”

Christina Kahrl of Baseball Prospectus wrote: “The present belongs to the Giants, but in the competitive dynamics of the present, it’s easy to see how tomorrow more likely belongs to the Rangers.”

You and I believed this time was coming, and very likely soon, but we’d have to admit that, even half a year ago, we didn’t expect the World Series to arrive in Arlington before the Super Bowl.  It’s been an extraordinary year, one none of us will forget, one that came to an end Monday night and will be celebrated in the Rangers Ballpark parking lot tonight at 6:00.  And the beauty of extending this season as long as Texas did is that, literally and otherwise, spring training is closer than it’s ever been at season’s end.

I don’t know if there will ever be
a more captivating, rewarding baseball season around here – I hope there is – and I know I wouldn’t have enjoyed every minute of it as much without you guys.  This baseball market has long been disparaged by the mainstream media, but we’ve always known what we are and what this could become.

And so, with this report, another book ends, this year’s Bound Edition of the Newberg Report.  But what it really is in the bigger picture is merely a chapter in a compelling story that’s just getting started.

The great thing about this organization is that, coming off the disappointment of getting stomped on in its first-ever World Series appearances, this doesn’t feel anything like a blown opportunity, a window that we allowed to slam shut on us. 

No, the window here is just opening, opening wide, and given what the Texas Rangers accomplished in 2010, and with what this franchise has in place in every corner you look, there’s a palpable confidence that, going into 2011 and well beyond that, with apologies to a spot-on and prophetic marketing campaign that will now be retired in favor of a new one, it is, unquestionably, still Time.

===========================================================

To join the free Newberg Report mailing list so you can get e-mail deliveries of every edition of the newsletter, daily minor league game recaps, and frequent Newberg Report News Flashes, go to http://www.newbergreport.com and click the “Mailing List” link on the top menu bar.

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

World Series Game Five: San Francisco 3, Texas 1.

This one’s gonna take a day or two to write.  Bear with me.

I love this team.

A message from Chuck Greenberg.

This comes from Chuck Greenberg.

This season has transcended expectations and transformed the psyche and hearts of legions of Rangers fans across Texas and throughout our country and beyond. At the core of the remarkable journey we have shared together is a ballclub and a community who collectively have consigned the conventional wisdom of the past to the dust bins of history, busting myths and charting a new course previously thought to be unattainable.

Can’t pitch successfully in Rangers Ballpark. Wrong.

Can’t compete successfully late in the season because the heat will break you down. Wrong.

Fans will lose interest when training camp opens. Wrong.

Fans won’t come to Rangers Ballpark after the All Star break because its too hot. Wrong.

Rangers can’t win a playoff series. Wrong.

Rangers can’t win a playoff game at home. Wrong.

Rangers can’t beat the Yankees in the playoffs. Wrong.

Rangers can’t get to the World Series. Wrong.

Rangers can’t captivate the hearts and emotions of fans new and old deep into the fall. Wrong.

And on and on and on….

I can’t even begin to count the memorable moments we have shared this year thanks to a very special group of players with hearts and smiles as big as Texas, who always pull together, stand up for one another, and who have changed the sports landscape here in the Metroplex forever.

But here is a simple reality. Monday will be the last game played in Rangers Ballpark this year. We all owe it to ourselves, our players and each other, to celebrate with passion, enthusiasm and indefatigable belief from lineup cards to the final out, loud and proud.

The defining team of my young life was the 1979, “We are Family” Pittsburgh Pirates. I have often remarked how much this Rangers club reminds me of that team, with a confident but friendly swagger and an abundance of character and personality.

Now these two teams have something else in common. Both fell behind 3-1 in the World Series. Kent Tekulve, the great closer from the ’79 Pirates, texted me after tonight’s game to pass along this story. Before Game 5, Willie Stargell told his teammates:

“We are playing in front of the whole world. We may not win this thing, but before we go, let’s show the world how the Pirates really play baseball”.

The Pirates, playing against a team whose colors were black and orange, won Game 5. Then they returned to Baltimore and won Game 6. Then they won Game 7.

I know our players will show everyone how the Rangers play baseball tomorrow. As fans, let’s do the same. We have one final opportunity this season to show the world what we have accomplished together and the passion we all hold for our players and our shared dreams.

The World Series is going back to San Francisco. And then there will be one final piece of conventional wisdom to prove wrong….

Believe.

Chuck

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for minka_kelly_007.jpg

(That last part was from me.)

Jamey

World Series Game Four, San Francisco 4, Texas 0.

Cody Ross, Andres Torres, Aubrey Huff, Buster Posey, Edgar Renteria, Freddy Sanchez, Pat Burrell, Aaron Rowand, Travis Ishikawa, and Mike Fontenot.

Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, Bengie Molina, Matt Moreland, Josh Hamilton, David Murphy, Elvis Andrus, Michael Young, and Matt Treanor.

And Matt Cain.  And Cliff Lee.

All 21 of them have a higher OPS in the 2010 playoffs than Vladimir Guerrero.

I get that the manager trusts him.  I get that he’s a “cleanup hitter.”  I get that his teammates believe in and revere the guy, no matter what the numbers say.

I have no further comment.  It’s not as if he’s lining into hard outs.  What an awful, awful night for Big Bad, not exactly an aberration of late.

But that’s not what I’m most disappointed about tonight, nor is it the loss of the Alexi Ogando to a strained oblique, though that sucked, nor is it the unfortunate lack of a putaway pitch in Tommy Hunter’s arsenal (he didn’t get spanked, but the barrage of spoiled two-strike pitches forced the bullpen into early action – the first pitch the Giants swung at and missed was Hunter’s 72nd of the night).  

Bottom line on that game is that Texas was flat shut down by a brilliant pitching performance.  Tip of the cap to Mr. Bumgarner.

What disappointed me the most were some things that went on in the building tonight.  I don’t really want to elaborate right now.

Hey, I’m tired, too.  The post-season can be draining, nerve-racking, tense.  But c’mon.

Actually, I know this isn’t the audience that should be directed to.  It’s the people who have enough disposable entertainment money to cross “World Series” off their bucket list, then play Solitaire on their cell phones starting in the second inning and leave the game in the seventh, sitting on their damn hands all the time in between.  Those folks kept lots of you out of the ballpark tonight.  They aren’t on this mailing list and don’t read Baseball Time in Arlington or Lone Star Ball.  

But hey, they’ve now been to the World Series, man.

I don’t know how we change the makeup of the 50,000-plus who will be in the stadium Monday night for Cliff Lee vs. Tim Lincecum.  I wish I did.

But know this: It’s the final game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in 2010, the greatest, most exciting season in franchise history.

We need to act like it.

==============

ADDENDUM: I’m so not seeing straight about this that I called Mitch Moreland “Matt” in that last report, and left out that I’m sure that none of the 9,800 of you on this mailing list are either of the two people who barked at me tonight to “Sit down!”

It was by far the liveliest they got all night.

And I didn’t sit down.

===========================================================

To join the free Newberg Report mailing list so you can get e-mail deliveries of every edition of the newsletter, daily minor league game recaps, and frequent Newberg Report News Flashes, go to http://www.newbergreport.com and click the “Mailing List” link on the top menu bar.

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

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 66 other followers