Time for one of my catch up posts. I haven’t posted any “words” really since the World Series ended except for one post about free agents. I was somewhat annoyed that we lost the World Series. In fact, within seconds of the final out, I had deleted the game from my TiVo, cancelled all future recordings of Baseball Tonight and MLB Tonight, and deleted all the games except the one we won. I’ll watch that one again at some point, just not now. I was quite cold about it when they lost, my wife was probably a bit surprised.
Anyway, some things have happened since then, and I wanted to get in a few words about what’s transpired since I last talked on the site. But before I get to that, I did want to say a few words about the season that just passed.
2010 Season: It was absolutely the single best season of baseball since I started this site. The season that just ended was my 12th since this site started. The Rangers got to the playoffs in the first year I was doing this site (1999), and not again until this year, although I thought we had a shot in 2004. But this was by far the best season they’ve had in my time with the team (obviously). Even if they didn’t get to the World Series, it was a great run. Even my wife noticed it – during the playoffs she remarked that it seemed like I was more into the season than I’d been the last few years before this. I was at the playoff game in 1998 & 1999. Those sucked. 2010 was something different. I went to one game in each round. I was at Game 3 of the ALDS where we lost rather annoyingly to Tampa Bay. I was at Game 1 of the ALCS where we lost to the Yankees. I saw three playoff losses in three different seasons spanning 12 years – all to the Yankees. But then I got go see a WORLD SERIES game with my own eyes. It was the busiest, the craziest game I’ve ever been to in my life, and I’ve been going to baseball games since about 1975 or so. Again, I have Chris Wilson of Fleishman-Hillard and Donna McLallen of Chevrolet to thank for making that dream of mine come true. Thank you again both of you – there was no way I would have been there without you two. It obviously didn’t end the way any Ranger fan wanted it to, but it was by far the best ride the Rangers have given their fans – ever.
Free Agency Begins: The Rangers, having gone all the way into November while still playing, got started later with movement than other teams, although they oddly DFA’ed Rich Harden during the playoffs, which I thought was an insult. I wrote briefly about the moves, but I’ll repeat ‘em here:
- Jorge Cantu (not coming back)
- Frank Francisco (could go either way)
- Cristian Guzman (is he still here?)
- Cliff Lee (Uh, that’s five dump trucks full of money please – if he wants ten, give it to him)
- Bengie Molina (I’d take him back if he wants to play)
- Matt Treanor (he’ll come back)
Since I wrote that, there’s been some noise that the Rangers are going to try and sign Victor Martinez. If they sign him, I’d say that’s it for Molina. I’d say Treanor comes back to act as a backup to whomever they sign for #1. Additionally, Doug Mathis, Brandon McCarthy, & Esteban German refused AAA assignments and are now free agents. I’ll guess German comes back on a minor league deal, the other guys are probably gone for good.
Vlad Guerrero’s Option Declined: That was initially a surprise when it was reported, but then some noise came out about the decline being agreed upon when the contract was signed. The idea being the decline buyout was a way to sneak some extra cash in the deal and bypass issues at the time relative to the bankruptcy proceedings. That seems plausible, but it still doesn’t sit right. I even called up XM Radio and relayed that decline concept to the on air talent. They didn’t seem to buy it, and while I do buy it somewhat, my gut says that’s not the whole truth. As I’ve said several times this season, I’ve been following Guerrero since his Montreal days. I even drove down to Houston once to see an Expos game against the Astros in the ‘dome, just so I could see Vlad back then. It was awesome to see him be his old self this season, but he wilted down the stretch. Plus he looked awful in the outfield in the World Series. Despite my past love of him, and how much he worked, I don’t think I’d be too upset if he didn’t come back. This kind of reminds me of the Sosa move a few years ago. Bring him in, see what happens. Only it worked well for most of the season here. I’m not really sure what will happen.
Ron Washington’s Contract Extended: I think a lot of people thought Wash was on thin ice after the cocaine story in spring training. While that may or may not be right, by season’s end, he certainly proved he deserved the job still. You just look at how the team performed this season, he appeared to do his job well, and there were tons of stories about how players responded well to him. I like his attitude with people and whatnot, and he seemed to have fun, despite being the boss. His extension was for the 2011 & 2012 seasons. I would have personally done three, but this is still a good move. Needed to lock him up. Also need to take care of Jon Daniels, while we’re at it.
Scott Feldman has Surgery: After getting a nice contract following the 2009 season, Feldman tanked in 2010. I figured he was easy a 20 game winner in 2010, that was an epic failure on my part in the prediction department. Word is he won’t be ready at the start of camp, and will come in late. That could work to his benefit if he comes on like he was in 09, and not in 10.
Zack Greinke: Also some noise being made about possibly trading with the Royals for Greinke. To get him, we’d have to give up some painful names. While some of our talent pool has been moved out, we still have plenty, and they’re sure to want two star pitching prospects. To get Greinke, you don’t blink at giving up one. Two? Depends on who they ask. But if we can’t resign Lee, I’d expect us to make a move to go get Greinke.
Rangers playing in Round Rock: The last game of spring training will be a game down in Round Rock on March 30th. That will be cool. That’s a Wednesday, so traveling down for that is unlikely, as I have to bloody hope I’m back to work by then. If I’m still unemployed then and can see the game, I’ll be bummed out.
Eric Nadel nomiated for Frick Award: What can I say about that? If you’re reading this, you know what Eric Nadel is to the Rangers. I grew up listening to Harry Kalas in Philly, and I get that same feeling listening to Eric that I did listening to Kalas as a kid. Eric also seems humble about all this, which is cool. I’d love to see him get the award and get in.
Mariners lose their voice: I realize this isn’t a Rangers remark, but since I brought up Nadel, I wanted to mention the loss up in Seattle of their voice Dave Neihaus. I’ve heard a handful of his games, but not enough to form an opinion on him. However, my friends in Seattle who knew him well probably have the same feeling towards Neihaus that I mentioned in the bit above with Nadel & Kalas. I’d be lying if I said I know what that feels like first had. Eric Nadel is still with us, and God willing for a ton of years down the road. Kalas died after I left Pennsylvania, and while I saw all the news stories, and read all the accounts (and several books), I didn’t “live through it” – I didn’t talk to the other fans in my town and all that. So I can only imagine what the Mariner fans are feeling right now. I suppose if Eric Nadel wasn’t there, I’d be in shock, too. There is one thing though. Neihaus was the Mariners ONLY voice (oh I know they have more than a single broadcaster, but you know what I mean). They came into existance in 1977, and he’s been their lead broadcaster all that time. Eric Nadel, while being here for a long time wasn’t an original broadcaster. Same for Kalas in Philly (team existed for about 87 years before Kalas started). Since I can’t give any first hand accounts of Neihaus, I’d like to direct you to this blog post by Terry Melia of Upper Deck. He was kind enough to send me that a few days ago, and I wanted to get it up here for you to read. It’s worth your time, even if you’ve never heard a single Neihaus broadcast ever.
Silver Slugger Awards: On Nov 11th, Vlad Guerrero & Josh Hamilton were granted Silver Slugger awards. I don’t think that’s really a surprise to any Rangers fan, given the way they hit. It was Vlad’s eighth such award, and Josh’s second. Josh also lead the league in batting average, something that’s seemingly overlooked. The second time a Ranger has lead the league in batting average in six seasons. In other award news, no Rangers got a Gold Glove. Bah.
Clint Hurdle hired by Pirates: This is a mixed story for me. I really didn’t want Clint Hurdle to leave. After such a long time without a change under Rudy Jaramillo, I wanted some stability, not a third hitting coach in three straight seasons. Still, most Ranger fans probably figured that Hurdle wouldn’t be here for a really long time. He’s too good of a baseball man to have a coach job. He probably should be a manager. So it’s not a surprise that he’s on his way out to be a manager again. But the Pirates are definitely a challenge. Eighteen straight years of losing baseball. I follow the Pirates somewhat. With my wife being from Pittsburgh, I pay attention, although not nearly as much as I do for the Rangers and the Phillies. Still, they have some good talent up there (although not much pitching). It starts with Andrew McCutchen, but they have some other good young kids like Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata, and I also like Ryan Doumit. So I wish Hurdle a lot of luck – he’ll need it, but I would love to cheer on the Pirates again – they have in my opinion the single best ballpark in baseball, but such a bad brand on the field. Back home, we need a new hitting coach again. A Rangers story said they’re looking for a hitting coach with “presence”, whatever that means. I just want them to stop farting around and hire Rusty Greer, making Julio Borbon give back the uniform number.
Josh Lewin let go: Not too long after the season was over, it was announced that Josh Lewin was being let go by the Rangers, and the search would be on for a new TV play by play guy. I already wrote about this in some detail, I’ll just refer you back to my old story (please read it). I only bring this up again, since his new gig was announced – he’s a weekday radio host at 105.3 The Fan now where he has a 3 hour a day radio show. I need to listen to that, but I still cannot stand sports talk radio. If they did away with all call ins, I might try, but man, having random sports fans call in is death. 95% of them don’t have a clue. On the whole I liked Lewin, but the bits about him I didn’t care for will probably work better on the radio, so I really should try, see how it is. I will repeat one mantra from my previous Lewin story. Do NOT promote Dave Barnett to TV. I might actually watch less TV for that reason, and go to radio solely.
Neftali Feliz wins AL Rookie of the Year: This story just happened today, and mostly tried to do these in reverse order… Today Neftali Feliz was named the AL Rookie of the Year. Again, this isn’t a surprise to Rangers fans. But despite his being on a milk carton for portions of the playoffs, he was spectacular for us in 2010. Despite not starting the year as the closer – that’s even more amazing. This is the second time a Ranger has won it – the other time being Mike Hargrove in 1974 (which was way before my time as a Rangers fan!). I’m really glad Neffy won this, as he deserved it, and I honestly hope he stays there for a bit. Yeah, CJ Wilson made the move to starter and it worked, but I think I’d be more comfortable with Feliz as closer. Please, Neffy. Stay as the closer.
To sum up, there were a ton of great moments to the season. I won’t summarize them all, but my two favorites were probably seeing the World Series game in person with my own eyes. And oddly enough following Anthony Andro from the courthouse the night of the auction for control of the team. That grand slam in Seattle at the same time? Pretty darned cool moment in Rangers history.
As I write this story, my blog stats counter tells me I’ve written 926,387 total words over 3,324 entries here on the site. That’s a lot. I’ll need roughly 74,000 words written between now and the end of the 2011 season to pass a million words here. It’s probably doable, but I’ll need more entries like this one and less that say just “That sucked!”. I thank you for visiting, and those of you who remember me almost quitting about three years ago.. Boy am I glad I never did that now. :)
Looking forward to next season. A lot. And the new scoreboards. Make it happen. :)
P.S. In the “From Left Field” department, Doctor Who was named the best Sci-Fi show of all time. Like there was any doubt. :)