I’m going to take a break from football for a second and throw some Ranger talk your way. No, I haven’t forgotten about the team; in fact, I’ve still be religiously watching/listening to the games. I’ve found that football tends to be easier to keep a schedule to write about as you have a clear week to week progression. For someone that doesn’t have all the time in the world to write, it is perfect for me. So if you are wondering where I’ve been on the Rangers, believe me, I’m tuned in, just not blogging religiously about it.
Jamey Newberg I am not.
When I do write, it is because something rather big has happened, the team makes some big moves, or I feel like something simply needs to be said about the team. Today is one of those days where the latter comes into play.
Yes, we are on a horrible stretch of baseball right now. We are in all likelihood not going to make the playoffs; in fact, after this weekend, all doubt could be removed from that situation. This weekend we face off against the Angels, whom we are now 6 games behind (6.5 behind Boston in the Wild Card). We have 7 games left against the Angels, so all hope isn’t quite lost yet. We have owned them this season and we could very well make up the ground if we step up in a huge way.
However, if it doesn’t happen, we shouldn’t be jumping off a bridge by any means.
I’m a big fan of throwing stats around, especially for baseball. Today though, I only want to give you one: 80-65. That would be the Rangers’ current win-loss record. That is 15 games over .500. That is something we all would’ve died for at the beginning of the season.
Bottom line: We’ve seen some damned good baseball in 2009.
Tuesday night, I was asked by a friend of mine, after I complained about the current state of the Rangers game on at the bar: “Why do the Rangers suck now?” The short answer is that they really don’t so much “suck” as it just looks like they’ve hit a wall.
The Rangers have had quite a few obstacles to overcome this season. They’ve been hit hard financially for one. While I don’t believe that affected a trade for Halladay (I don’t think we wanted to pay the price as far as actual players go), it has stopped us from doing a couple of other things: picking anyone up at the trading deadline of worth, not being able to afford claiming Scott Khazmir off of waivers, and not being able to sign our top draft pick. Our biggest move was bringing Pudge back, and while I like the move, it was bargain basement.
This team has also been dependent on tons of young players. Take a look up and down the roster and start looking for real experience, there isn’t a whole lot. Mike Bacsik on the Ticket’s Diamond Talk made a great point after last night’s game. These young players have been brought up out of necessity for the most part and not because they have proven themselves. Tommy Hunter might be an exception to this rule, as he was an afterthought, but due to how well he did in his spot start and in AAA, he was brought back up. Holland was the golden boy and we were looking for an excuse to bring him up, despite having even little minor league experience. Feliz was much of the same. Elvis Andrus got tossed straight into the fire. I could go on and on.
Young players will almost always struggle. Just look at Chris Davis. He was easily our first basemen of the future last season and this season people wanted him to never see the big league roster ever again this season. Holland is having all kinds of issues now as well. That isn’t to say these players won’t be great in another year or two, but the growing pains happen.
You also have to throw on top of everything that the Rangers have been playing great ball and they’ve been seeing two things. The first is that the two teams ahead of them just refuse to lose. The second is that the crowds have been absolutely lackluster despite the quality of baseball being played. Now, I know there are several reasons for the crowd: the economy sucks, people hate Tom Hicks, the Ballpark is in freakin’ Arlington, and the games are starting at 7pm instead of the usual 7:30pm. And of course, football has started too and this is most definitely a football town.
So you throw all that together, add in the fact that Millwood has been awful as of late and the offense can’t seem to score at all, and you are going to see a losing streak. However, this is not “oh the Rangers suck again” or “here we go again, we can’t hold it together” in the least. This has been one of the best seasons of baseball we’ve seen in a long time, and not only that, this time around it was fueled by pitching and defense. Plus it was fueled by young players that will be the future of this franchise.
If you want to place any kind of worry on the Rangers, place it on the financial side. MLB basically owns us right now and is handcuffing our ability to do anything. That is the real shame — and no MLB isn’t to blame, it is Hicks for getting himself in this much financial trouble. If this team doesn’t sell to someone soon, we could see all kinds of awful fallout like not being able to resign Byrd and even team president Nolan Ryan whose contributions to the Rangers have been nothing short of amazing. If there is anything that “sucks” with the Rangers, look no further than the bottom line.
This team though deserves all the credit in the world for what they did this year, and they could still pull on last rabbit out of the hat before the season is over. So don’t get down on them. Continue the support, make it out to the games if you can (believe me, I’m personally in the boat of can’t afford/can’t make the drive with my schedule, I know it isn’t easy), and keep your heads up about the results of the season.
It ain’t over ’till it’s over.