Some might say that today’s opener couldn’t have been anymore perfect… Those people have probably dismissed the fact that Chris Davis went 0 for 4 (and attempted murder by chucking his bat 20 rows into the seats). But, yes, the Rangers are 1-0 and sit atop the AL West standings… for now. I’m doing my very best to fight off the urges that this season will not be a total bust, but there’s no way I can call us contenders after just one game. I really liked how Wash decided to go with his setup man and closer even with an 8-run lead… way to instill some confidence in the middle relief A-hole. I also loved that Hank Blalock went 2 for 4 with a 3-run homer… anything to increase his trade bait value makes me a happy camper. I’m not too thrilled with Kevin Millwood’s performance whatsoever… 7 innings pitched means 173 more innings until paydirt for him.. if he continues this pace, we will reluctantly be stuck with him for another year. Surprisingly, we rocked Cliff Lee, but it’s really no wonder how we did it… the guy had little-to-no command of his weakass fastball. Elvis Andrus got his 1st Major League hit out of the way in his very first AB… he closed his eyes and flailed at a pitch which just happened to land 2 inches from going foul (lucky SOB). That pretty much sums up the game, but there’s a few other things I noticed that need to be pointed out:
The flyover during the National Anthem was a bit premature… I’ve seen a ton of flyovers but have never seen one during the “twilights last gleaming” part of the song.
The Rangers broke out there brand-spankin’ new red jerseys and caps. Ian Kinsler encouraged fans to sport red in the stands and the fans gave Ian the middle finger by wearing pretty much everything but red.
Dear Fox Sports, I wasn’t at all happy with the telecast. There was way too much interviewing going on during the game. Interviewing people like Bush, military personnel or veterans, or representatives from various companies is fine, but refrain from doing it during the middle of the game. I don’t want my TV screen having 75% Jim Knox and 25% baseball game… save all that BS for between innings or pre/post game.
The attendance total today was 49,000+… it looked like 46,000 of them couldn’t keep their trash from blowing onto the field. How freaking hard is it to ball-up a hotdog wrapper and toss it under your seat???
Other than that, I’ve got no complaints. It was an all-around great game.. but I won’t be holding my breath until I see another one just like it.
I know I’ve been dormant for the past few days but that’s because 1) I’ve been swamped with school and work and 2) there were only had 3 people respond to my “I Need A Pick-Me-Up” post… and one of them is a fellow MLBlogger. So, basically my fanbase is less than a handful of people… that doesn’t motivate me to spend 1-2 hours on each post like I was doing. I’ll still continue to write, but there’s no way I can put in the same amount of time and effort into each post if only 4 people are reading it.
Anyways, I’m still on a break from this until April 6th.. That’s when I’ll get back on track. I’ll have stuff to talk about on a daily basis and the games should make things go alot smoother as far as my material is concerned. Thanks for checking in. – PFISH
Yesterday, the MLB Network aired the Rangers episode of 30 Clubs in 30 Days. I wasn’t surprised at all to find Josh Hamilton, Nolan Ryan, Jon Daniels, and Ian Kinsler selling lies about the upcoming season. I understand this is a business and it’s their job to instill the idea of winning into the minds of fans, but the fact that they never come through is why I find anything they say hard to believe. Here are some comments made by these men regarding the upcoming season:
“We feel real good about our ballclub. We feel like we’re gonna score runs with anyone. We feel defensively we’re gonna be a better ballculb… And, we feel like with the uh pitching staff that we’re gonna be able to compete. Now, I think the division is gonna be much tighter this year… and I really feel like it’s gonna be a close race in the West this year… We have every intention of being competitive this year… and we think we’re gonna be competitive this year and we’ll be dissappointed if we don’t.” – Nolan Ryan
“We have in the rotation something that we haven’t had in the last 3, 4, 5 years is some depth.” – Jon Daniels
“Our confidence is sky-high right now.. I mean we’re feeling really good in camp. We feel like we got a really, really solid team this year.” – Ian Kinsler
“We’re a never-say-die team… We got, I think, the most explosive offense in the league, uh in both leagues really and we got alot of young pitchers, veteran group of starters, uh who’ve been there before, who can help the young guys and ya know I told Nolan and Ron Washington the other day, I said I’ll be happy to run some balls down for ya while we try and figure this thing out. Um, and I don’t think we’re that far away from figuring it out.” – Josh Hamilton
I’ve heard comments just like these since 2000. Can you really blame me for raising an eyebrow at them? Granted none of them are as bad as the comment made a couple of years ago when manager Ron Washington infamously said, “I’ll be shocked if we don’t make the playoffs.” But still, the fact that they’re even trying to hype up the season causes me to roll my eyes. You might be wondering what I wish they’d say. Well, I wish they’d be honest with us and say, “We suck balls right now and really have no shot at contention this year, but come on out and watch baseball games anyway.” That would be much more admirable and honorable than using the deception tactic to put butts in the seats.
A couple of days ago, MLBTradeRumors submitted an offseason review of the Rangers:
“GM Jon Daniels gave the middle finger to free agency this winter, signing players only on minor league deals… The main offseason change was the losses of Bradley and Laird… The ’08 Rangers led the AL by a wide margin with 5.56 runs scored per game. The ’09 squad won’t match that… The problem, of course, is the pitching staff. It was the worst in the league in ’08 and doesn’t look much better for ’09… The bullpen will have a somewhat different look in ’09, but it’s a crapshoot… If the Rangers allow runs like they did last year, they’re looking at 68 wins. But just with better defense at a few positions and a couple of halfway decent starting pitching performances they could trim 100 runs allowed and win 77 games. They still seem a long shot for .500 ball though.”
It’s such a breath of fresh air to see an unbiased and realistic outlook on the upcoming season. I’ve gotten sick of seeing deluded Rangers fans predicting 85-90 wins this season. “What if the team ERA drops to 4.50?” “What if each of our starting pitchers lower their ERA by half a run?” “What if David Murphy hits 86 homers?” This “what if” game played by optimistc Ranger fans is absolutely hopeless…
Here’s what you can bet on: We will score runs… and we will allow more runs than we score. That is Texas Rangers baseball. Most are already looking forward to 2010 and counting chickens before they hatch (yeah, I just called Neftali Feliz and Derrek Holland chickens). But, for now, let’s put the crystal ball away for a while and get ready for some exciting .400 baseball.
To all my readers: I have no way of knowing how many people actually check out Rangers Lowlights for Cynics… there’s nothing that tells me how many hits my page gets. I’ve done a little advertising at Newberg Report, LoneStarBall, Rangers.com, and even Myspace and Facebook and I’m just curious about how many readers I have.
Without knowing how much traffic I have (if any) and zero compensation for doing this, I need the motivation of knowing that people read this. I don’t do this for myself.. I could sit around and bash the Rangers by myself and still get the same satisfaction. I write this blog for you guys and I put a ton of time and effort into it. With my hectic school and work schedule, I lose alot of much needed sleep doing this and I’m really wondering if it’s even worth it.
Whether you love my stuff or hate my stuff, e-mail me at RangersLowlights@hotmail.com and let me know you’re here. Thanks alot.
And Julia, I know that you’re my biggest fan (even though you aren’t really a Rangers fan) and you do an excellent job of supporting all of us MLBloggers. It’s really appreciated and there’s no need whatsoever for you to e-mail :)
Adding on to yesterday’s post regarding A-Rod’s larger than life contract, I’m going to list off some worthless crap that $252,000,000 would buy.
- 1,200,057 authentic Rangers jerseys
- 6,633,324 Jeff Russell autographed baseballs
- 12,606,303 Nolan Ryan figurines
- 31,539,424 Chan Ho Park rookie cards
- 60,504,201 Titleist Texas Rangers team logo custom golf balls
- 252,000,000 dollar hot dogs
- Hypothetically, If the price of season tickets in the “Premium Infield” section stayed the same till the end of time (at $5,330 per season) you could go see every Rangers home game for the next 47,279 years… or if you’d prefer sitting in the “Grandstand Reserved” section (at $410 per season), you could go see the Rangers for the next 614,634 years.
- You could pay off the entire Rangers 2008 team salary plus the team salaries of Pittsburgh, Oakland, Tampa Bay, and Florida… and still have a little over $20 million to spare.
Now, it’s time to get you good and mad…
- Alex Rodriguez was making an average of $25.2 million per year.. That’s $484,615 per week.. That’s $69,041 per day.. That’s $2,876 per hour.. That’s $48 per minute.. That’s 80 cents per second.
- If a person can live real comfortably on making $100,000 a year, then A-Rod could live real comfortably for 2,520 years.
- If a person made $60,000 a year for 60 years, they would make $248.4 million less than what A-Rod would make in 10 years.
- A-Rod could buy a $10 million home, 6 cars worth $300,000 a piece, spend $15 on a meal for 3 meals a day for the next 60 years, put 40% of the $252 mil towards taxes… and still have $138,414,500 left over to spend on gas, utilities, insurance, and whatever guilty pleasures he wants to indulge himself in.
I did all this calculating just to show you how much $252 million really is. Was Alex Rodriguez worth it? Was he THAT good? My answer is no. And, all these other guys (like Teixiera, Jeter, Sabathia, Santana, Manny, etc) making over $100,000,000 are outrageously overpaid too. I wish this absurdity would be put to an end with a hard cap in baseball. Every Spring Training, each team should throw $70 million in cash on the floor of the locker room and let everybody fistfight for it. All of these primadonna A-holes think that baseball needs them more than they need baseball when, in fact, baseball would do just fine without them… I just wish that owners would collude and put an end to overpaying for players (and this includes the mediocre players as well). But, it’s too bad that the MLBPA would never let that happen.
Being born in the early 1980’s, I never got a chance to see baseball being played for wins and championships instead of dollars and contracts. From what I’ve read, baseball used to be a game and is now more of a business… a very greedy business. A couple of weeks ago, Manny Ramirez turned down a 2-year/$45 offer from the Dodgers just because he didn’t want money being deferred… Pssh, the guy already has well over $100 million in his bank account… Seriously, what the hell do you wanna buy??? What are you trying to prove??? What are you trying to win??? It’s not just Manny, but still, every time I hear crap like that, I consider it a huge slap in the face to the average American.
The question here is “As a fan, how much more are you willing to take?” When will we stop supporting these clowns? If these players found a cure for cancer or found a way to make all the Jack in the Box products fat free and still taste the same, then they might deserve a small fortune.. But, all these guys do is hit, throw, and run… and because they’re the best at doing these trivial activities, they feel entitled to all this money and even get pissed when they dont get an extra $4 million to go on top of $48 million (see Johnny Damon’s move from the Red Sox to the Yankees)…
Apparently, A-Rod felt that $252 million wasn’t good enough… During the World Series of 2007, he had the nerve and the balls to opt out of it and demand more. The Yankees gave in to these terrorist demands and signed him to a brand spankin’ new contract worth $275,000,000 for 10 years. Please note that he had made $185,450,000 from 2001-07… add that to $275 mil and you get $460,450,000… unbelievable… and that doesn’t even include the money he accumulated with the Mariners (which was $11,042,334 from 1996-2000) or any endorsement deals. Oh, and this new contract says that he’ll make $30,000,000 more if he ends up breaking Barry Bonds’ career homerun record…. so that would be $501,042,334 PLUS endorsements… I mean just think how many Laynce Nix jerseys on clearance you could get with that.
Even if he suffers a career ending injury this season (which I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing), Alex Rodriguez will have well over half of a billion dollars when he retires… Pssh, A-hole.
Over the past few days I’ve posted a history of Rangers misfortunes and mishaps… Today, I present to you my top 3…
#3) Batting hemlets – This year, the Rangers will have 4 different jerseys (blue, red, white, and grey). In an attempt to find a way to have a batting helmet that could be worn with all the jerseys, the Rangers had a Texas flag puke all over them. We were only weeks away before these hideous concoctions were to be introduced to the baseball world. The idea was scrapped though on March 6th due to outraged players and fans. Even though these helmets won’t ever see the light of day, I still rank them #3 just because somebody in the Rangers organization actually approved these monstrosities. For your viewing pleasure…
(yes, that is a front and back of the same exact helmet.. f**king gross)
#2) David Clyde
The Rangers had the 1st overall pick in the 1973 draft. We chose LHP David Clyde right outta high school. In his senior year at Westchester High School in Houston, this kid went 18 and 0 and only allowed 3 earned runs in 148 innings pitched. We gave him a $125,000 signing bonus which was the highest bonus given to a draft pick at the time. The Rangers had only been in Texas for one season and they had never attracted more than 9,000 people to a game. Rangers owner Bob Short was looking for an attendance boost and Clyde was it. An agreement was made that Clyde would make 2 starts for the Big League club and then be sent down to the minors. For Clyde’s first start 37,000 people made it to Arlington Stadium (the first sellout ever) and he produced a victory. He also pitched well in his second start and management decided to drop the plans of sending him to the minors…
He started a total of 18 games that season finishing with a record of 4-8 and a 5.01 ERA. In the 1974 season, Clyde played in 28 games (21 starts) and finished with 3-9 record and a 4.38 ERA. He started one game in the 1975 season (a loss) before developing arm trouble and being demoted to the minor leagues. He stayed in our minor league system for 3 seasons and then was traded to Cleveland.
The phrase “I hope they don’t pull a David Clyde with him,” referring to a professional sports team taking a very young player (often just out of high school) and rushing him to the major leagues before he is ready, has become a part of baseball’s lexicon. Many of Clyde’s troubles are attributed to the rush to get him into the majors before he was ready. This was due, in part, to Short wanting to sell tickets. The Rangers averaged 27,000 fans in Clyde’s six home starts, but 6,000 fans for the other 75 home dates. As it turned out, Clyde’s major league debut was the highlight of his career.
Whitey Herzog, Clyde’s manager in 1973, said in his 1986 autobiography White Rat that he regretted going along with Short’s desire to rush Clyde to the big leagues. According to Herzog, he was often forced to leave Clyde in the game way longer than he felt was normal for a young pitcher because fans wanted to see the 18-year-old “phenom” pitch. This led to Clyde’s arm burning out an early age. Herzog also said he regrets letting older players supply Clyde with beer and liquor, as Clyde later developed an alleged problem with alcohol that affected his pitching performance. Herzog said that Clyde was hung over many times to the point that he should not have been pitching, but he was pressured by the front office to pitch him anyway. Such a sad story for such a sad franchise…
#1) The A-Rod Megadeal
Yes.. I rank the signing of Alex Rodriquez as the #1 biggest blunder in Texas Rangers history. I’m not talking about A-Rod using steroids and I’m certainly not blaming him for accepting the deal… This is a rant against Tom Hicks for attempting to solve problems by throwing an absurd amount of money at them…
It’s one thing to jack up your own team, but it’s quite another to further aid in destroying the MLB Hot Stove. Not only did this move not do a damn thing in terms of winning baseball games, but Rangers management hurt the entire baseball world by drastically altering the egos and mindsets of every superstar ballplayer. Since there are no caps in baseball and all the money is guaranteed, it seems as if every superstud is hunting down “A-Rod deals.” Free agency and contract negotiations would never be the same again.
Owner Tom Hicks signed A-Rod for $252 million for 10 years… that’s $2 million more than what he paid for the entire frikken franchise. This salary is by far the largest in all of professional sports beating out guys like Tiger, Kobe, Roethlisberger, Floyd Mayweather Jr., David Beckham and any other sports star you can think of. (Note: I’m talking salary only.. this does not include endorsement deals).
At the time, the previous high for a baseball player was an eight-year, $121 million contract between left-hander Mike Hampton and the Colorado Rockies (which was also a giant blunder, but that’s not my team so I dont give a crap). The previous record for a sports contract was a six-year, $126 million agreement in October 1997 between forward Kevin Garnett and the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves… Tom Hicks could have easily acquired A-Rod for $100 million less, but he wanted to make an offer that would be impossible to refuse.
“Alex is the player we believe will allow this franchise to fulfill its dream of continuing on its path to becoming a World Series champion,” Rangers owner Tom Hicks said. “The Rangers are serious about winning,” Texas general manager Doug Melvin said. Oh yeah?.. Well, in his 3 seasons here (from 2001-03) the Rangers won 71, 73, and 72 games respectively. In the past 5 years we have won more games in each season (89, 79, 80, 75, and 79) than in any of the seasons A-Rod was with us…
While in Texas, A-Rod had a batting average of .305 and averaged 52 homers, 132 RBIs, 83 walks, and 15 stolen bases per year. He won the AL MVP in ’03, but he actually had much better numbers in his first 2 years than during his MVP campaign… so, basically, we had the league’s best hitter for 3 years, yet managed to finish in dead-last in the division each year. My point here is despite the monster numbers, A-Rod hurt this team a helluva lot more than he helped it.
The offseason of 2004 was the only time in my life I was thanking God for the New York Yankees. They were the only team that was rich enough, dumb enough, and desperate enough to unload this contract from us. And, in the offseason after the 2006 season, A-Rod (being the piece of $#!* that he is) backed out of the contract which freed us from paying the millions we would eventually have to pay the Yanks for taking him.
No player and I mean NO PLAYER is worth $25.2 million a year or even $20 mil a year. No player should ever be given a deal worth any more than $99,999,999.99. When the cost of a loaf of bread rises to $50, then we’ll talk about increasing it to 9 figures. There should be limits on years as well. Imagine if the Dodgers threw an 8 year deal to Andruw Jones last season worth $18 million a year… they would be royally screwed. I say this because nobody is THAT good… and even if they were, they wouldn’t be THAT consistent. No human being has ever or will ever hit .500 with 90 homers annually, but if they did then they would deserve a contract like A-Rod’s. This is by far the most idiotic thing that’s ever occured in Rangers history and if we ever do it again, I will quit the Rangers.
Ahhhh, my favorite decade… not only because it provided so many ridiculous lowlights, but also because 2000 was my first year as a real Rangers fan. I was 16-years-old throughout the 2000 season and I was just starting to understand the game of baseball (This was also the first season I indulged myself in fantasy baseball, which really increased my interest in all of MLB and showed me how inferior the Rangers were compared to everybody else). From 2000-06, I was an avid supporter of the Rangers, always thought positive, and always thought we were going to be contenders. But, in 2007, I had had enough of the promises of contention and constant failure to deliver.. a Rangers cynic was born. Anyways, on to the crapiness of the 2000’s…
- In April 2000, with a 1-0 lead over the Indians late in the game, 4 (yes, four) Rangers batters struck out in one inning. Ace reliever John Wetteland then came in to ice the game — but instead, promptly ruined Esteban Loaiza’s masterful shutout by serving up two straight two-strike home runs in the bottom of the ninth. Game over. Indians win.
- As the early part of the 2000 season started to roll — around the bowl and down the toilet! — the Rangers committed one of the most unusual game-losing blunders in history: a walk-off balk. On April 28, shaky reliever Jeff Zimmerman (who had been an All-Star the previous year) trotted to the mound with the score tied 3-3 against Baltimore. After yielding a leadoff single and a double, Zimmerman faced Greg Myers with runners on first and third, and a 1-1 count. In mid-motion, Zimmerman stepped off the rubber for a balk, sending Lewis home. Game over. Orioles win.
- The AL West-leading Oakland A’s racked up a franchise record for runs scored in a single game, in a 23-2 win over the Rangers late in the 2000 season. This game also guaranteed the Rangers’ last-place finish in the West, an accomplishment which made them only the fourth team in history to finish last in their division one season after finishing first.
- Longtime catcher and cinch Hall-of-Famer Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez was the most gifted all-around catcher of his era, winning multiple Gold Glove awards, an AL batting title and an AL MVP. Heavily involved in the community, he was among the top three most popular Rangers of all time (along with Nolan Ryan and Jim Sundberg). Yet, in 2002 and after three straight last-place seasons, the Rangers decided he was on a decline and that they no longer needed his services. The Rangers jolted and jilted their fans by casting Pudge adrift into the free agent market. The next season, Pudge led Florida to their second stunning World Series championship, and in 2006, Pudge would play for the Tigers in another World Series. Attention, future Rangers GMs: If you are considering letting a player go who is wanted by the Marlins, for gosh sakes, don’t!!!
- Also in the offseason prior to the 2002 season, the Rangers needed an ace starting pitcher and settled on free agent Asian-sensation Chan Ho Park. The Rangers handed Park a 5-year/$65 million contract. In return, the Rangers received a pitcher that posted a record of 22 wins and 23 losses with a 5.80 ERA during his 4 years as a Ranger.
- In 2003, Alex Rodriguez was only the second modern player on a last-place team to win a league MVP award (after Andre Dawson of the almost-as-woeful Chicago Cubs). He perenially contended for AL batting title and Gold Glove honors at shortstop, won respect among players and coaches around the league for his deep work ethic and community involvement, and led the league in home runs two of three previous seasons. Yet, after the 2003 season and their fourth consecutive last-place finish in the AL West, the Rangers decided that the cure for their woe was to trade away the best player in baseball at the time. Hugely publicized “private” talks with the Boston Red Sox dominated the sports media for over a week, during the stretch runs of college and pro football seasons, no less! The Rangers’ brass was so inept, however, that they endured a humiliating public failure in the trade attempt.
- Heckling of the bullpen by Oakland fans on September 13, 2004, led to one of the ugliest incidents in team history. During the ninth inning, Rangers relievers became far too irritated with the loutish behavior of the crowd above and charged the stands, brawling with several fans and drawing a large crowd of players from both teams, as well as security officers. During the commotion, pitcher Frank Francisco hurled a metal folding chair across several rows of fans, striking a woman who then needed hospital treatment for a broken nose and facial cuts. (See my Rangers Basebrawls post for a picture of this event). Oakland police booked Francisco on a charge of aggravated battery. The Rangers lost by one run.
- This was a peculiar case where the Rangers were cursed by their riches, at least at one position, causing them to swap out a player who became a star at a different position. How? As usual with this team, truth is stranger than fiction. Behind what then was a “conga line of power hitting first basemen,” according to Sports Illustrated‘s Franz Lidz, a hard-hitting young player “languished in the Texas bushes.” After being traded to the Indians, Travis “Pronk” Hafner went on to become one of the top hitters in baseball, as a DH. Ironically, when Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson plunked Pronk with an inside fastball in September 2006, breaking Hafner’s hand, the resulting RBI set a Cleveland team record for a DH at 110.
- Veteran pitcher Kenny Rogers had an unpleasant stretch in June 2005. It began when he broke his right (non-throwing) hand while attacking a water cooler. Rogers still lost one start and pitched poorly in another, allowing six runs in three innings in a loss to the Angels. Rogers later told the media, “I did something that was irresponsible. I’ve done those things more times than I care to talk about. But I went out and made my next start, and I was a pitcher that simply didn’t have a clue what I was doing.” Nearly two weeks later, he pitched a tirade instead, shoving one cameraman outside the dugout and busting the video camera of another. (See my Rangers Basebrawls post for a picture of this event). That misdeed earned him a suspension, a lawsuit and a postseason release. It was an ignominous but fittingly bizarre ending to the Rangers career of a pitcher who once hurled the only perfect game in team history. He went on to lead the Tigers to a 2006 World Series, pitch 23 scoreless innings in those playoffs, and earn consecutive Gold Gloves.
- For most pitchers, allowing a homer every 5-1/3 innings would be quite undesirable. A homer every 5-1/3 at bats would be a terrible night, surely causing an early stroll to the showers. Rangers pitching has different standards of ineptitude however: a homer every 5-1/3 swings! Early in the 2006 season, in a 10-6 loss to the Tigers, righthander R.A. Dickey got smacked for six homers in 32 swings, tying a record in the modern era of baseball (1900 onward). He promptly headed back to the minors with an ERA that was high even for the Rangers: 18.9.
- One fine May evening in 2006, the Rangers set a team record by losing a nine run lead against the hated Yankees. Our heroes appeared to bust the game wide open with scores of 9-0 and 10-1 that seemed utterly insurmountable. Of course, this being the Rangers, the bizarre cascade of uncharacteristic individual blunders that ensued should be no surprise to longtime followers of the team. Gold Glove first baseman Mark Teixeira bobbled two bad hops and got thrown out twice (once at home) from overaggressive base running. A series of series of runs allowed by rusty relievers was capped off by closer Akinori Otsuka, who hadn’t blown a save in three weeks. With a one run lead, a man on base and two outs in the ninth, Otsuka served up a fat, juicy, 3-1 fastball that a Yankee obligingly blasted into the right field seats. Texas scored 13 runs…and lost by one.
- Just for kicks, here’s a pic of Adam Hyzdu who had all of 4 at-bats for the Rangers in 2006…
- Late August, 2007, found our Lone Star heroes cemented firmly in a familiar place — the basement of the A.L. West, sporting a 54-70 record. Salvaging something positively historic from an otherwise lame season, Texas scored the most runs by any major league team in 110 years, by ransacking the Orioles 30-3 in an otherwise meaningless game. For once, manager Ron Washington was able to say, “We set a record for something on the good side of baseball.”
- Only one team in Major League Baseball failed to get a single complete game from any of its pitchers in the 2007 season. That team plays between Dallas and Ft. Worth.
- The 2008 season already was turning into a thudding clunker by the end of April, with the Rangers firmly cemented at the bottom of the standings. Seeming somewhat indignant at this development with which we fans are quite accustomed, some national sports writers made the following observations in their respective rags in the same week:
- Sports Illustrated (Who’s Not column): “A familiar scene in Texas: The Rangers (9-17 through Sunday) were dead last in the AL West. Who to blame? Hitters like Ben Broussard (.173 batting average)? Pitchers like Jason Jennings (above, 7.46 ERA)? Team president Nolan Ryan, explaining a 2-8 slide: ‘[We] had a total breakdown in all aspects of our game.'”
- The Sporting News (Bob Hille’s Starting 5): “May. It’s my favorite month, but it does make me sad that spring blossoms curl up and die so quickly .. kind of like optimism in the Texas Rangers’ clubhouse.”
A special thanks to Roger Edwards for compiling and providing all the information I copy/pasted here in the past 4 days. Here’s a link to his blog: http://www.stormeyes.org/tornado/rangers.htm
This decade was pretty uneventful (meaning a lack of lowlights) due to the Rangers actually having slivers of “success.” But, there are still a handfull of tidbits that I found quite amusing…
- The Rangers made this future All-Star pitcher a top draft pick. He earned 14 victories before the All-Star break and 21 total wins as a Ranger in 1991. Several years later, Kevin Brown would be the starting pitching ace…of the World Champion Florida Marlins.
- Renowned hitter, admitted steroid abuser, erratic right fielder and self-styled ladies’ man Jose Canseco won a World Series title with Oakland, before arriving in a blockbuster trade with the Rangers during the 1992 season. On May 29th of the next season, he destroyed his elbow while pitching during the 8th inning of a 15-3 defeat to the Red Sox. The Rangers’ stud slugger suffered ripped ligaments and was finished for the year…
- The Rangers, trying to bolster their bullpen, traded Robb Nen to Florida for relief pitcher Cris Carpenter in 1993. Nen would later become the Marlins’ relief ace, helping them to win their first World Series.
- Irate after a road loss to the Twins in 1993, manager Kevin Kennedy demolished a mirror in the clubhouse — using a baked potato.
- On May 26th, 1993, Jose Canseco (RF) misjudged a long fly ball, which was nothing unusual. Problem was, it bounced off the top of his head and over the fence for a home run! (See my Rangers Basebrawls post for a picture of this blooper). The Rangers lost that game…by one run.
- In 1994, the Rangers finally found themselves at first place in the AL West at season’s end…with a winning percentage of only .456! To add insult to insult, season’s end was September 14 when the players went on strike, meaning no official division title and no playoffs.
- In 1996, after 24 years of futility, the Rangers officially won the AL West and went to the playoffs for the first time. They lost to the Yankees in the first round. In 1997, the Rangers won just their second division title ever. They lost to the Yankees in the first round. In 1999, the Rangers won their third division title in four years — an unprecented run of success. They lost to the Yankees in the first round.
- Ace starting pitcher Aaron Sele won 19 and 18 games for the Rangers in 1998 and 1999, respectively. His reward for those efforts: A multimillion dollar contract…with talent-rich intradivisional rival Seattle!
- (I’m not sure if this was in the 80’s or 90’s, but it’s gotta be thrown in here).. A Rangers pitcher was once yanked from a game in the fifth inning for his awful performance — during a no-hitter, with 10 strikeouts! The rest of the story: Bobby Witt also had 8 walks, 2 runs, and 4 wild pitches.
- And, here’s a picture I found of then Rangers owner and future President of the United States, Dubya, taking in a game wearing his custom made Texas Rangers high school varsity baseball jacket…
Check out this card…
It’s a 1981 Topps “Rangers Future Stars” card. Here’s what these 3 men did in a Rangers uniform… Bob Babcock pitched a total 57 2/3 innings in ’79, ’80, and ’81 (1981 was his last season in the Majors)… John Butcher started a total 28 games for the Rangers from 1980-83 (His win-loss record was 11-16)… Jerry Don Gleaton only pitched 16 2/3 innings during his stint as a Ranger… wow, Topps really sure can pick ’em. What a perfect way to kick off this post.. and now, onto the craziness that was the ’80s…
- Flamethrowing young righthander Danny Darwin won 8 straight decisions in 1980, despite busting a knuckle on his pitching hand. He injured his knuckle on the face of a Chicago fan who was heckling teammate Mickey Rivers.
- Fireballer and Ranger reliever Jim Kern sustained the worst injury among many during his subpar 1980 season when he suffered a nine-stitch mouth laceration, a concussion and brief amnesia. The culprit? A baseball thrown back to him from his catcher in practice. Apparently, his pitching amnesia was not temporary; the “Great Emu” went 3-11 that season with an ERA near 5, only a year after holding opposing hitters to a .199 average with a 1.57 ERA.
- In 1981, relief pitcher Steve Comer became Don Zimmer’s closer, but had one very bad day. First, a practice ball ricocheted off a batting cage and into his mouth, busting a couple of teeth. That night, while waiting at a DFW Airport bar for a flight to the next road game, Comer ordered a drink with actual fire on top. He spilled the flaming concoction on his face, in turn torching his beard.
- Outstanding reliever Tom Henke started with the Rangers in 1982, and set a Ranger record for saves in 1993 with 40. He also was the top reliever for his team in between, during the prime of his career, when he helped Toronto to win a World Series.
- In 1983, one season after firing Don Zimmer and failing to give “interim” manager Darrell Johnson the job, the Rangers passed over one promising candidate whom they were considering. Instead, GM Joe Klein hired Doug Rader, who would be gone within a couple of seasons. The man Klein considered — Jim Leyland, who would turn around a moribund Pittsburgh Pirates franchise and later guide the Florida Marlins to a World Series championship.
- New manager Doug “The Rooster” Rader introduced many unfamiliar routines to spring training in 1983. Among them, he would smack the same tree every day…with his car. Team GM Joe Klein delicately described his prized hire as having a “hint of unsteadiness.”
- Yes, two lowlights for the price of one! Southpaw ace Rick Honeycutt led the AL in ERA in 1983 — the first time a Ranger pitcher had ever done so. The Rangers showed their appreciation by trading him to the Dodgers in August. One of the two relatively unknown pitchers acquired in that trade was Ricky Wright, who faded away. The other was used mainly in relief and posted a 12-22 record over three seasons before going to Oakland. There, Dave Stewart would quickly become staff ace and win a World Series.
- Once the 1983 season was over, longtime catcher and six-time Gold Glove winner Jim Sundberg had played in more games as a Ranger, with more at-bats and more hits, than any other player. He appeared in several All-Star games, and was probably the most popular player in Rangers history to that time. “Sunny” was respected by his peers for his work ethic and by the community for his charitable activities off the field. Manager Doug Rader, citing his desire for a “a different kind of human being,” traded Sundberg for Brewers backup catcher Ned Yost. Feeble at both batting and throwing, Yost hit only .182 as the 1984 starter, and stopped just 13% of opposing runners’ steal attempts, prompting his release the following offseason.
- During the 1985 season, the Rangers acquired unknown and unheralded Duane James from Detroit for 1984 Ranger Pitcher of the Year and longtime star Frank Tanana. James remained unheralded and unknown.
- During 1986 spring training, a line drive by rookie slugger Pete Incaviglia busted a hole through inch-thick plywood in an outfield fence. This impressed manager Bobby Valentine, who told awestruck reporters, “The fat kid is something, isn’t he?” “Inky” could indeed slam the ball very hard — when he could make contact at all. His total of 788 strikeouts in just four years set a team career record.
- The 1986 Rangers set a major league record with 94 wild pitches — 22 by the notoriously erratic Bobby Witt. Also padding that dubious stat: 38 year old knuckleballer Charlie Hough and fiery reliever Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams. Witt also walked 143 batters, the most by any major league pitcher in 18 years.
- Relief pitcher Mitch Williams hit 11 batters in just 98 innings in 1986 — an average of one plunking per 8.9 innings. The “Wild Thing” was so feared by his own team that 1985 manager Doug Rader prohibited him from pitching to left-handed batters during practice.
- The Rangers once lost a game by striking out an opponent in the bottom of the ninth inning. Yes, it is true; and even Rod Serling couldn’t have written a more bizarre ending. In 1986, knuckleballer Charlie Hough took a no-hitter into the ninth with a 1-0 lead, when left fielder George “G-Man” Wright dropped a fly ball in the corner for a three-base error. The next batter broke up the no-hitter with a single, scoring the run. Another Angels hitter struck out on a knuckleball; but backup catcher Orlando Mercado lost the ball, allowing the runner to advance to second. The final batter also struck out; but Mercado let this knuckleball scoot past him too! The Angels’ winning run scored from second base.
- During his presidential campaign, Texas governor and former Rangers owner George W. Bush called this trade his biggest mistake of his adulthood. On July 29th 1989, the Rangers acquired infielder Fred Manrique and DH Harold Baines from the White Sox for shortstop Scott Fletcher, future All-Star pitcher Wilson Alvarez and a 20 year old rookie outfielder — some guy named Sammy Sosa…
- The Rangers were fined $250,000 by commissioner Peter Ueberroth late in the 1987 season for bringing aboard pitcher Steve Howe, who was notorious for his numerous drug violations and suspensions. Howe was cut the following spring after flunking his after-care program.
- 1989 was a disappointing year for the Rangers, who finished fourth in the AL West, 16 games back. At one point that season, former Ranger player and GM Tom Grieve stated, “You can’t compete…with one starting pitcher.” Pitchers for the Rangers in 1989 included Nolan Ryan, Kevin Brown, Kenny Rogers, Wilson Alvarez, Jose Guzman and Charlie Hough — all of them All-Stars at some point in their careers.