Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Thursday Lineup Card: Beginings And Endings

Stormy weather and rain mean intermittent broadband outages at Hooch World HQ, therefore we’ll dispense with eloquent reveries on the nature of baseball and Ron Washington’s ineffective lineups and get to the heart of the matter.

Confessions: I did not make the expected trip to OKC this past Sunday. The schedule I was working with was not correct – the start time for Sunday’s game was changed to 4:05, and unfortunately some of us have jobs that require getting up early on Monday morning. A midnight return time just didn’t fit into the plan.

Nice Day – Not So Nice Game: I did attend opening day at the Ballpark. As always Chuck Morgan and his crew did a bang up job on the pre-game festivities – special nod to the Ranger Legacy program, loved seeing all the alumni on the field.

Too bad the rest of the afternoon between the lines was not nearly as good.

However, I would like to point out that 10 years ago the Rangers lost their home opener to the Chicago White Sox and went on to win the AL West that year (the same thing happened in 1999 after Rick Helling gave up a HR to Juan Encarnacion on the first pitch of the game – and that might have been the best Rangers team ever).

The Kids Are Alright: As of the day I write this the Frisco Roughriders are undefeated, heading home for their first homestand of the season. My suggestion is if you are planning on seeing Chris Davis, better get out to Frisco sooner than later. In just 5 games he has 1 HR, 4 doubles and 6 RBI - I don’t know how much longer the Texas League pitching will be able to withstand the pounding he’s already giving it (.391 BA/ .375 OBP / .625 SLG for 1.087 OPS).

Speaking of the Roughriders, 37 year old Chris Michalak on the roster – are you kidding me?

Not So Glorious: This item on the problems with the financing for Greed…er… Glorypark from last week’s Startlegram:

Keep this in mind, the first two restaurants built on the edge of the Ballpark premises at Copeland Rd and Nolan Ryan Expressway (right under the Rangers electronic billboard facing I-30) – Shady Oak Barbeque and The Mexican Inn have already closed and have for sale/for lease signs. The Mexican Inn is a Tarrant County legend with its own following – and obviously couldn’t draw enough of a crowd to keep that location in business. I’m just wondering why the backers of Greed … er… Glorypark think anyone is going to drive out to Arlington just to hang around the Ballpark in the offseason (hey, I live in Arlington and since the Friday’s closed at the Ballpark I never go near the place except during the season).

Under the radar: From this week’s Baseball America Chat Session:

"Ben Badler: 'In our issue of the magazine that hits news stands on April 7,
we list the Top 10 POY candidates, along with a follow list of other players to watch. I'll give you a sneak peak and tell you guys that Clayton Kershaw was #1 and Travis Snider was #2. For bonus, if you're looking for a bit of a dark horse, I think Kasey Kiker is poised for a big year, although I'm not sure how quickly the Rangers would want to push him through the system.' "

Coming Up: Normally I’d look at the minor league schedule for the week ahead, but as mentioned above – the string between the tin cans Time Warner uses to provide my internet service is a little wet and won’t stretch all the way to Clinton, Bakersfield and OKC tonight. We’ll have a little more in depth information, if it's not raining, next week.

Non-Sequitor: We were saddened to learn of the passing of Charlton Heston this past weekend. As mentioned in a previous entry – he was Baseball Mom’s very favorite. While we living at home in Toledo, Mrs. Schmenge, Jeanne The New Mexico Bean and I saw quite a few of his movies, more than once.

I’ll admit there were a few them that I really liked and would recommend : “Will Penny” (with Joan Hackett - a kind of anti-western), “The Private War of Major Benson” (definite B movie comedy, that is a family …ahem…favorite), “Omega Man” (shame on you Will Smith for even attempting to re-make this one) and the best of them all "Ben Hur" (the definition of an epic movie)

Heston had a superb cameo in Kenneth Branagh’s “Hamlet” as the Player King (terrific, if a little long, movie overall) which appropriately brings us to the close of this week's entry:

“Now cracks a noble heart.
Good-night, sweet prince;
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”
--“Hamlet” Act V, Scene II

-- Marla Hooch

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Home Opener Special

This is one my very favorite baseball columns from the 2005 Star-Telegram Baseball Preview “The Myths of Baseball”. If the author of the piece answered e-mails, I might have even tried to get his permission to re-print it – so I’ll just take my chances – enjoy the day everyone!

“Now This Is A Sports Bar!”

“Christy Mathewson checked his NCAA bracket and cackled.

“Those plucky Jayhawks,” he said, smiling. “A scrappy bunch to be sure. They gave my lads all they could handle but the Bison prevailed.”

Walter Johnson looked at Tris Speaker and rolled his eyes.

“Matty,” Johnson said, “we’ve heard enough about upsetting Kansas. Did you even graduate from Bucknell?”

“Nah,” Speaker scoffed, sipping his beer and checking over the crowd filling into the Field of Dreams Bar and Grill. “He was a lousy drop-kicker. A glorified punter. That’s how the great Matthewson spent his time at that fine institution of higher learning known as Bucknell.”

Mathewson laughed, feeling young again in the mythological fog of time that surrounds all great legends who live forever in the hearts and minds of sports fans everywhere.

“Best not to talk college,” Johnson said. “Gehrig’s on his way and I don’t want to get him started on Columbia.”

“Gehrig?” Speaker said. “If Lou is coming then that means…”

The bustle at the front door said it all, and sure enough, there was Gehrig followed by the Bambino himself, the Sultan of Swat, George Herman, better known far and wide as Babe Ruth.

He was wearing a camel’s hair coat, and big cigar was clenched between his teeth as he waved to the crowd.

He pinched two barmaids, winked at Sonja Henie, slapped Red Grange on the back and stepped over John L. Sullivan who was passed out again on the floor.

Harold Abrahams lined up the six ball to the corner pocket, but Ruth walked behind him and gently nudged the cue stick. The shot went awry.

“You lousy son …” Abrahams said.

“Ah, and your movie stunk, too, you lousy Chariot of Sugar,” Ruth said, laughing, making his way to the table where Mathewson, Speaker and Johnson were sitting. Gehrig joined them, and Speaker ordered another round. Ruth started growling as he watched the big screen television.

“What the…is this?” he said as Annika Sorenstam sank a long putt in the desert.

“SportsCenter” Johnson said, and Ruth let loose a long string of obscenities that made Joe Louis, Bill Tilden, Bobby Jones and Eddie Arcaro look up from their card game.

“I told the dirty four-flusher who owns this joint never to put ESPN on that television,” Ruth snarled.

“Why not?” Gehrig asked.

“Oh, he’s just still mad that ESPN selected Michael Jordan as the top athlete of the 20th century” Mathewson said.

“Lousy basketball player,” Ruth growled. “Guy was a washout as a baseball player. Anybody can dunk a basketball.”

“Shoot,” Mathewson said. “Anybody knows Jordan couldn’t carry Bill Russell’s jock anyway.”

Ruth was about to say something else obscene, but Sorenstam was no longer on the screen. Instead there was Barry Bonds, on crutches, hopping his way across some parking lot. This time Ruth swore so loudly that Jackie Robinson looked up from the Pac-Man machine and Joe Louis missed badly with his dart shot.

“Now what?” Ruth barked, shaking his head.

“More steroid stuff,” Gehrig said quietly.

“Tell the truth,” Mathewson asked. “Babe, would you have used steroids if they were around back then?”

“Of course he would have,” Speaker said. “In no time flat.”

“No way,” Ruth said, protesting. “I’d stuck to frog legs and pigs knuckles and those delicious spare ribs from the House of Good Shepherd out there in Saint Louie.”

“House of the Good Shepherd?” Johnson asked, but Mathewson help up his hand and shook his head.

“This guy is gonna pass you this year, Babe,” Speaker said, eying Bonds on the screen.

“Good for him,” Ruth said waving his hand dismissively. “He ever win 20 or throw a shutout in a World Series?”
“Or call his shot?” Gehrig said sarcastically. “Babe, when gonna own up and admit you never did such a thing?”

“When Shoeless Joe owns up to the fact that he helped throw the World Series,” Ruth said.

“Please,” Mathewson said, “Don’t tell us about how you saved baseball again.”

But Ruth was still watching Bonds.

“He can hit all the home runs he wants,” Ruth said. “He couldn’t carry Willie Mays’ Fruit of the Looms and nobody had it tougher than Aaron. Not me, not you, Lou, not any of these guys.”

“No kidding,” Gehrig said. “I wouldn’t have wanted to face Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax and Juan Marichal. Plus you and I were lucky we never had to face Satchel Paige and those guys.”

“Or be measured against Josh Gibson,” Ruth said solemnly.

There were nods all around the table and clinking of glasses.

“Records were made to be broken,” Mathewson said. “The great myths and legends…they last forever.”

-- written by T.R. Sullivan (Fort Worth Star-Telegram April 3, 2005)