I’m not much for looking back, especially when there’s lots to look forward to. I don’t really care what C.J. Wilson is saying these days, I have no urge to ask whether Cliff Lee feels good about his decision, I don’t lose sleep any more over Danks and Masset for McCarthy.
But there are three things I want to look back on real quick this morning.
First, this tweet from the sixth inning one week ago today, after Mike Napoli lined out to shortstop off Mariners lefthander Jason Vargas:
“There was a Nellie Cruz playoff liner to SS in TB that (accurately) signaled an imminent slump-busting. That Nap square-up looked real good.”
With that lineout, Napoli was hitting .077. He’d singled once in 13 at-bats for the season.
Since then, he’s 8 for 20 with four home runs and 10 RBI in five games plus one added plate appearance. Good for a .400/.435/1.050 slash.
Second, this was fun: Buster Olney’s February 28 ESPN column titled “Ranking early-season AL schedules,” in which he suggested the Angels (who nearly half of his ESPN colleagues picked to reach the World Series) had the second-cushiest schedule out of the gate, with only six of their first 32 games against teams that posted winning records in 2011.
The Angels, having played three of 12 games so far against teams with winning 2011 records, have yet to win any of their first four series.
Texas has won each of its four series.
This was supposed to be the week when Los Angeles would start chipping away at the Rangers’ early division lead. The Angels had Oakland at home, while the Rangers were traveling to Boston.
Instead, the Angels have dropped two of three to the A’s so far, while Texas swept the Red Sox.
Finally, we’ll all get a chance to look back Monday night, when Ivan Rodriguez, who will retire this week, will reportedly be honored in a pre-game ceremony at Rangers Ballpark.
In the visitors’ dugout will be the New York Yankees, the club that Pudge was apparently minutes away from being traded to on July 31, 1997 (for Jorge Posada and Tony Armas Jr. and maybe Eric Milton), had he not marched alone into Tom Schieffer’s office and worked out a contract extension. The club that had knocked Texas out of its first-ever playoff appearance the year before, and that would do the same thing again in 1998 and 1999. The club that Pudge joined for the final two months of the 2008 season (the only season in which the Yankees missed the post-season over a 17-year stretch).
The Yankees were the fourth of six teams Pudge would play for. Over the first 12 years of his career, all of which were spent in Texas, the thought that he’d go on to play for five other teams would have been just about impossible to believe.
He and Nolan Ryan were teammates for three seasons, the final three of Ryan’s 27 and the first three of Pudge’s 21. Pudge didn’t catch Nolan’s two Texas no-hitters, or his 300th win, or his 5,000th strikeout.
But they may have been the two most transcendent talents to play for this franchise – at least in the past – and whether or not Pudge goes on to have a presence in the organization, something that’s been rumored, it’s going to be a good thing Monday when the two of them are standing side by side on the field.
For that moment, we’ll have a chance to look back on good memories from this club’s past before reorienting ourselves to what are the true good old days for the Texas Rangers, as Derek Holland gets set that night to face New York’s Hiroki Kuroda while the Angels sit the day out, traveling to Tampa in advance of 0-3, 6.75 Ervin Santana’s Tuesday night start against David Price, one of the tougher assignments in the Angels’ remarkably easy April 2012 schedule.