Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Night To Remember

When you write a knee-jerking type blog entry like I did after Wednesday night’s game, then it stands to reason that it’s probably a good idea to write a blog entry when the Rangers play a game that is the polar opposite the next time out.

Sounds like a good idea, so I will.

Friday night’s game was the first official game for Texas new ownership group Rangers Baseball Express. The thing that struck me immediately was that as last night’s game unfolded it was an uncanny parallel of Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg’s seemingly uphill trip to the owner’s box.

Bottom Of The First Inning: Nelson Cruz singles, Josh Hamilton scores, Rangers lead 1-0

Let’s start in December: after MLB cordially invited Tom Hicks to put the Rangers up for sale, three bidders are vetted and approved to submit bids for the Rangers including the Ryan/Greenberg group.

Bottom Of The Second Inning: Elvis Andrus singles, Mitch Moreland scores, Rangers lead 2-0

Late January: the Ryan/Greenberg group is selected to negotiate the purchase of the Rangers. Initial reports say the sale would be finalized by Opening Day in April

Top Of The Third Inning: Jed Lowrie homers – Rangers lead cut to 2-1

April: Opening Day comes and goes, but fans are assured the sale will take place soon.

Top Of The Fourth Inning: 3 HR’s, 4 more runs score on singles and fielder’s choice by the Red Sox – Rangers are behind 8-2

Late April – Early May: all hell breaks loose as the jilted lenders for HSG dig in and start clamoring for their pound of unsecured flesh from the new ownership group since Tom Hicks refuses to pay back the loans he took out (which the lenders foolishly gave him without any personal guarantees or collateral).

Bottom Of The Fourth Inning: Mitch Moreland Homers - the lead is cut to 8-4

Late May: In a effort to extricate themselves from the catfight between the lenders and HSG the Rangers declare bankruptcy and submit a pre-packaged plan that could finalize the sale by mid June.

Bottom Of The Fifth Inning – Michael Young Homers, Josh Hamilton homers – the lead is cut down to 8-6

Early July: As the bankruptcy drags on, the Rangers GM pulls off an amazing trade for the best pitcher in baseball – snatching Cliff Lee at the last minute from the clutches of the hated Yankees while barely affecting the Rangers frozen payroll.

Top Of The Seventh Inning – JD Drew homers – Red Sox increase their lead to 9-6

Late July:- The legal actions become mired in more claims, counter claims and motions, the judge appoints a CRO whose solution to the situation is an auction of the Texas Rangers baseball team. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who at first said he wanted to act as a “backstop” to the Ryan/Greenberg group – decides to bid on the Rangers, joining Jim Crane (one of the bidders from back in December).

Bottom Of The Seventh Inning - Josh Hamilton scores on a David Murphy sac fly, Bengie Molina’s rare hit scores Nelson Cruz – but the Rangers are still behind 9-8

August 4th:  The Greenberg/Ryan group makes one last attempt to offer a bid directly to the lenders to avoid the auction, but the group brokering Mr. Hicks sale of the Dallas Stars  (who also happens to be a creditor) vetoes the proposal – so the Rangers will be auctioned. There are only 2 groups bidding: Cuban/Crane and Ryan/Greenberg. Accusations and curses fill the courtroom and the halls outsides. Mark Cuban struts confidently around the courthouse ordering pizza. Stories are written and saved as drafts on laptops proclaiming Cuban the new owner.

However, earlier in the week, Chuck Greenberg had posted this message on Facebook: “Keep the faith”.

Bottom Of The Eighth Inning – Vlad Guerrero slides into first on an improbable infield single while uber-player Josh Hamilton scores from second sliding around the catcher’s tag – the score is tied 9-9.

August 4th : Late, late in the evening the Ryan/Greenberg group revise their bid taking out some of the “onerous” portions (the most onerous portion removed cuts out Tom Hicks from any association with the Rangers and the new ownership group) The major financial backers of the Ryan/Greenberg group at the courthouse and appear to be “all in” with their support of the Rangers Baseball Express escalated bids.

Bottom Of The Eleventh Inning: Nelson Cruz, a player who bounced back in forth between the major league team and the minors, was placed and not claimed on waivers, but has emerged as one of the core players for this team hits the first pitch by Tim Wakefiled into the left field seats – Rangers Win 10-9

Early morning August 5th : Cuban/Crane place their largest bid – Ryan/Greenberg place their counter bid (a few moments later in Seattle Michael Young hits a grand slam HR against the Mariners in another Ranger comeback) Jim Crane walks into the courtroom and shakes Nolan Ryan’s hand and says “we’re done” – Rangers Baseball Express comes back to win the auction.

Rangers Baseball Express faced setbacks and obstacles just like their team did with the ostensibly devastating loss to the Yankees last Wednesday. Yet the Ryan/Greenberg group did not panic, they persevered the same way Ron Washington’s crew did Friday night. Nolan and Chuck kept their eyes on the prize, did not fall prey to the media distractions and reached their goal. Last night Josh, Michael, Mitch, David, Vlad and Nelson did the same, as they have done so all of this season.

As a fan, it’s easy to adopt the “football mentality” living in Texas – where fate is determined in less than 20 games and only once a week. Just like Rangers Baseball Express has done since January – I need to “keep the faith” with this Rangers team.

Obdurate! -- Marla Hooch

P.S. TR Sullivan said it best in his game story – Josh Hamilton last night – “one of the greatest all-around games by a single player in Rangers history”

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Bluest Skies You've Ever Seen Are In Seattle....

What relatively obscure 1970's television show had those lyrics in it's theme song?  (Hint: Perry Como actually had a modest hit with it).

While you are thinking about that you can look through some of my pictures from the Rangers/Mariners games in Seattle by clicking right here.

-- Marla

Random Thoughts And A Rant

The original title for this post was “ I went to Safeco Field and saw the Mariner Moose scratch his behind” – but I couldn’t get the camera turned on in time to get that picture.

The Marla Hooch Entourage headed for the Pacific Northwest last week for some Rangers/Mariners baseball and some nice cool R & R. Let’s put ourselves back in a happy place: last week Thursday we were basking in the glow of a 2 game win streak over the M’s then closing the ledger on the bankruptcy fiasco with Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan winning the auction (with the added bonus of eliminating Tom Hicks completely from their ownership group) 70 degree temperatures in Seattle and the Pioneer Square Saloon. Deep sigh - that was short lived.

-- Can someone explain why Cristian Guzman is on this team? So far he hasn’t done anything that Andres Blanco couldn’t do, and Blanco at least gets a hit every once in a while.

-- Bengie Molina appears to be a class act, but I am really worried about the reports I’m reading that the Rangers would like to keep him as a primary catcher for next season – really? Remember that series in Boston where the Rangers stole a record number of bases on Victor Martinez, I think we better get ready to see that same thing happen to us in Tampa Bay next week. Molina may be great in the clubhouse and with the pitchers, but he has absolutely no mobility and his throwing arm just plain terrible. The most important thing to keep in mind: should the Rangers reach the playoffs (and that is NOT a given a this point in my mind) they would most likely face the Rays – just the thought of having Molina behind the plate while Carl Crawford and company run wild gives me a queasy stomach. Much as I like the idea of a “crafty veteran presence” in the clubhouse – keeping Bengie Molina doesn’t fit my ideal for that role.

-- Which leads nicely to my next random thought: since the Rangers have given up on Chris Davis, then maybe that role of “crafty veteran presence” for next season needs to be at 1B. I like Mitch Moreland, but is he really the Rangers cornerstone 1B of the future or just the bat they need at the bottom of the lineup to get through this season? By the way, I firmly believe that Chris Davis may be a “late bloomer” a la Nelson Cruz (but it won’t take until he’s 29 to get there) I hope he winds up with an AL team, and I hope every time gets a big hit against the Rangers or makes a spectacular defensive play that JD and the Front Office visibly flinch.

-- Does anyone see the resemblance between Vlad Guerrero and Sammy Sosa (circa 2007) since the All-Star break? Do we need to tap the brakes on the notion of picking up Vlad’s option for next season?

-- Is anyone else worried about the intermittent offense? I know I am and so is Jim Reeves – his column on that subject from is a must read.

Finally: A Rant

We keep hearing that the Rangers are a different team than the one the Yankees swept in April, that they are different than the teams that the Yankees embarrassed into submission during the playoffs in the late ‘90’s. Frankly, I think that’s a bunch of baloney. As warm and fuzzy as everyone felt about Tuesday’s win, the truth is the Rangers are still 1-4 against the Yanks this season.

If Cliff Lee had any doubts about signing with New York and staying with the Texas beyond this season, they were probably erased by Wednesday night’s game. He saw and felt first hand the Rangers two major organizational flaws.

The first is the heat – Cliff brought it up in his post game interviews, which is telling. If it really didn’t bother him or play a role – why even bring it up? It’s a factor that, unfortunately, no-one can do anything about right now (but I still see a day when the Rangers move to a downtown Dallas retractable roof stadium – maybe even when their lease is up in Arlington). Maybe JD and company need to spend less time trading pitching away for useless second baseman and over the hill catchers and spend more time developing a Cliff Lee type who is not a three month rental that will leave to escape the heat.

The other, and more important is that elusive “killer instinct”. I think there’s a valid argument that the Rangers team on the field last night was almost equally as talented as the Yanks. Yet the Yanks beat the Rangers because they have patient, unflappable players, they make things happen in tight situations. They never ever let up. They grind their opponents down. As an organization, the Rangers have never ever done that.

During Wednesday’s game Josh Lewin was doing the numbers saying if the Rangers played .500 baseball for the rest of the season the A’s or Angels would have play almost .700 ball to catch them. I think he meant that as an accolade, however, Josh wasn’t here in 1996 when the Rangers had a 9 game division lead on September 1st, then less than 2 weeks later were clinging to a 1 game lead over the Mariners. The Rangers are 4-5 in August, and more importantly 2-3 against teams they need to beat (Oakland and New York). Good teams don’t let up and just play .500 baseball, they put their foot on the gas and keep pouring it on – that’s not the Texas Rangers.

Does anyone remember the 1999 season when they could’ve set a franchise record for wins during the last week of the season instead they were swept by the Angels and then, of course, by the Yankees. The Rangers had leads in two of the games they played in New York earlier this year, and a five run in the 7th inning last night yet the outcome of all those games was inevitable.

In my never humble opinion: the Rangers need to put the “deer antlers” signal on hold until they stop freezing up and looking like a deer caught in headlights every time they play true contender like the Yankees.

Not thinking about “magic” numbers, or saving money for playoff tickets  --  Marla Hooch