Change up

I’m less than enamored with the changes to MLBlogs, so I’ve moved my ramblings here. All of my old posts will remain here, but everything from today and beyond will be at the new site.

Rock the vote!

I foLouiergot to mention in my last entry that Louie the Lumberking (mascot of the Rangers’ low-A team in Clinton) is in the finals of a mascot contest at cnbc.com.  He’s facing off against the Quad Cities River Bandits.  Come on now…Louie is way cooler.

Let your voice be heard

Voting ends at 8 p.m. CST on Friday.

There’s no crying in baseball…

…and there’s really nothing to cry about right now.

The Rangers finish play in Surprise with a 17-10-2 record.  I know these games don’t count, but I’m happy with the record anyway.  They have two more games — Friday in Oklahoma City vs. the Pale Hose and Saturday vs. the Rough Riders in Frisco — before the real season starts.  The ups, the downs, the exhiliration and the heartbreak await.  As fans, we live for these days.  Why?  Why with the guarantee of pain and suffering would we sign on?  Because for every bad game, there’s another great game with a shining moment that keeps us going.  No one goes 0-162.  At least no one has yet.  :)

Anyhow, I’m very much looking forward to Monday’s Opening Day matchup in Seattle.  I have meetings to cover the first three Mondays of each month.  Thankfully, the baseball season starts on the fifth Monday in March this year, so I’ll be home to enjoy Opening Day. I think I’ll buy some hot dogs and peanuts for the occasion.

These commercials (which I found thanks to Jon) certainly help get me in the mood for some Rangers baseball. It’s no surprise that my favorite one is the one with Kam waving his cap as he walks off the mound.  He may not be starting the season in Arlington, but I strongly believe he’ll be there before long.

Botts is in!

Jamey Newberg made my day with his afternoon update.  Jason Botts has made the Opening Day roster!!!!!  I couldn’t be happier for Jason.  He deserves this!

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Loe’s low and Botts’ bat

Last night’s loss was tough to swallow.  Especially since it was my boy, Kam, who took the loss.  I am almost 100% convinced he will be starting the season in Oklahoma.  All but two of the bullpen spots are locked up, and he hasn’t even been mentioned as a candidate.  It breaks my heart, and I’m not even the least bit excited that I would get to see him in person in a RedHawks uniform in mid-April.  I’d much rather see him in a Rangers uniform and not see him in person until May or June.  *sigh*  But his fate is not looking favorable.

Jason Botts, on the other hand, has made a stronger case for a spot on the roster.  Today, he played a near flawless 1B (although he wasn’t too challenged) and went 2 for 5 with three RBI.  Both of his hits came with RISP, something the Rangers had been wanting to see from him all spring.  I guess it’s better late than never, and he may be in Seattle on March 31, afterall. 

Other random thoughts…

- I’m underwhelmed by Milton Bradley as of yet.  It’s clear he’s not 100% yet.  He used to be a Ranger killer.

- I don’t know what to make of Scott Feldman being converted into a starter.  I like Feldy, but he wasn’t a great reliever.  Then again, I hated C.J. Wilson as a starter and now embrace him as the closer.  Perhaps a change in roles will produce a changed player.  I sure hope so.  I would love to see Feldman succeed.

- I can’t lie — I cheered for a Mariner during today’s game.  Tug Hulett.  I miss him as a Ranger.  I hope he does great things.

- I’m on the fence about the Laird/Saltalamacchia/Melhuse situation.  Melhuse underwhelmed me last year, and he hasn’t done much this spring to win me over either.  Laird was fantastic behind the plate last year and, I think, helped make up for his anemic offensive output.  Salty can hit — there’s no doubt — but I’m not sure he’s comfortable with the catcher’s duties yet.  He’s very young, so he has a lot of time to grow into it, but I haven’t decided if he’d be better off learning at the big league or AAA level.

-  When I visit the Rangers gift shop in a few weeks, I plan to buy a new player tee (I get one each year), but I haven’t decided which one I’d want.  Of course, I don’t know which ones are available either.  So far, I have Loe, Kinsler, Young, Blalock and Wilson.  You know I’ll get a Botts one someday.  But Hamilton and Murphy are sounding good too.

- Jamey Newberg’s enthusiasm is contagious.  His reports from Surprise this week have been so fun to read. I appreciate that he’s unabashed in his love for the Rangers, and I thoroughly enjoy his reports, stories and anecdotes. I’m in awe of his knowledge of the game and the Texas organization, and try to soak up all I can.  His reports arrive in my inbox early in the morning, and they usually get my day started on a good note.

By the way, I’ll be taking down almost all of my photo albums in the next week to make room for the new ones I hope to add this season.  So…be sure to take a peek at all my photos before they’re gone!!

Cinematic countdown

There are just 13 days until Opening Day (fewer if you count those games in Japan, but I’m not counting them).  In preparation for the big day, I’m having a baseball movie marathon over the next few weeks.  Every day from now until Opening Day, I will watch at least one baseball movie (I’ll probably watch two tomorrow and three on Saturday).  Last year, I watched them in alphabetical order. This year, I’m watching them in chronological order, based on the year they were released (except for the two I’m getting from Netflix this weekend). 

So…without further ado, here’s my lineup:

Tonight – The Natural (1984)
Thursday – Bull Durham (1988) and Major League (1989)
Friday – Field of Dreams (1989)
Saturday – A League of Their Own (1992), 61* (2001) and Eight Men Out (1988) (( the last two are coming from Netflix, which is why they’re out of order))
Sunday – Rookie of the Year (1993)
Monday – Major League 2 (1994)
Tuesday -  Major League 3 (1998)
Wednesday – For Love of the Game (1999)
Thursday – Summer Catch (2001)
Friday – The Rookie (2002)
Saturday – The Pitcher & the Pin-Up (2003)
Sunday – Fever Pitch (2005)

Now, I realize some of these only have baseball as a sidebar, but I don’t care.  They’re in my collection anyway. :) 

Naturally, "Field of Dreams" is high on my list.  It was filmed in my home state, and I just think it’s a beautiful movie.  I’m also a ****** for "Fever Pitch" because of Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore.  "The Rookie," "The Natural" and "Fever Pitch" get extra points because they have Rangers tie-ins. 

There are a few other baseball movies I wish I owned — "The Sandlot" and "Bad News Bears" (the original one).  Someday, I’ll add them to my shelves.  Are there any others I should see/own?

Alternate reality

I was bored today.  Well, not bored, but not really wanting to work.  Instead of placing obits on a page, I took a few moments to browse around MLBlogs.  I looked under the page that listed the MLBlogs by team, and found some of the numbers there shocking (others, not so much).

So, I did a count.  If the number of MLBloggers for each team determined the playoff qualifiers, here would be your division winners…

NL East – Mets
NL Central – Cards
NL West – Dodgers
NL Wild Card – Phillies

AL East – Yankees
AL Central – Tigers
AL West – Rangers
AL Wild Card – Red Sox

Minus a few of those categories, I wouldn’t mind so much.  Ha ha.

Anyway, in case you’re curious, here are the totals for each team from highest to lowest…

Yankees – 46
Red Sox – 37
Phillies – 33
Cardinals – 27
Rangers – 18
Dodgers – 16
Tigers – 16
Twins – 14
Phillies – 14
Brewers – 13
Giants – 13
White Sox – 13
Cubs – 12
Astros – 10
Blue Jays – 10
Braves – 9
Rays – 9
Pirates – 8
Reds – 7
Angels – 7
Rockies – 6
Indians – 6
As – 6
Padres – 5
Royals – 5
Mariners – 4
Nationals – 4
Marlins – 3
Orioles – 3

Of course, I didn’t have (or take) the time to see how many of these were active.  I know there are a few Rangers ones that aren’t. 

I was amused to see that The Heckler in Tampa Bay had a blog.  I always get a kick out of that guy.  Unfortunately, he hasn’t updated it in almost two years.  C’mon Heckler!! 100_0096cropped_1

As a side note, I had another sports moment tonight.  An evening with two Iowa Stars (Dallas Stars farm team) players.  Here’s a photo of me with Ethan Graham and Francis Wathier.

Insomnia, my friend…

“So I’m stumbling through this hollow room for peace of mind
I find that I am going over everything I’ve said to you, for you..”

                                                        - Tyler Hilton

I now know why I don’t make a habit of sleeping in Sundays. I can’t seem to fall asleep Sunday night. So, it’s 1 a.m., and I’m here on the couch instead, watching “The Cutting Edge 3” (nothing can beat the original, however), pondering some friendships and trying to instead think about the upcoming baseball season.

The winter was such a long, cold one, but the warm promise of spring training and baseball season kept me going. Here we are, two weeks away from Opening Day, but instead of feeling optimistic, I’m just feeling uncertain. Perhaps that’s my real life bleeding over into my baseball life (it’s interesting that I view the two as separate entities…hmm…I’ll have to think about that). Or maybe the injury reports out of camp have gotten me down. Or maybe I’m just afraid to set my expectations too high (like I do in so many areas of my life). Whatever it is, I’m still looking forward to Opening Day because, no matter what it brings, baseball season is back. Any baseball is better than no baseball at all.

That said, let’s get down to some more specific thoughts on the Rangers…

The good

- Josh Hamilton. From every account I’ve read, this guy is amazing. I’m getting tired of people adding, “…if he can stay healthy” to their optimism of him. This could be said about any player, and we should hope they all stay healthy.

- David Murphy. I liked what he did when he came over last year in the Gagne trade. He may end up proving to be the best thing we got out of that deal. If nothing else, he should be on the 25-man roster on March 31.

- Tentative conversations about returning to Ranger red. New to Ranger fandom, I don’t remember these days, but if the players are in favor, go for it. I don’t really care what the boys wear, although I am slightly afraid the red will make them tough to distinguish from their division rivals in California.

- The Rangers are currently 10-7-2 in Spring Training play.

The bad

- Kevin Millwood, C.J. Wilson and Joaquin Benoit have yet to pitch in an “A” game. The health and presence of this trio is imperative to a successful season.

- Kameron Loe has failed to make a strong case for the roster. (You know it breaks my heart to write this.) He may be off to OKC for the start of the season.

- Jason Botts has reportedly displayed the aggressiveness, defense improvement and fire the Rangers desired from him, yet he still seems to be getting edged out by veteran players. I will never waver from my belief that he needs to be in the big leagues for an entire season before we really get to see what he can do. EMC pointed out in her March 13 blog entry that when Michael Young was breaking into the majors, he was hitting .249 in 300+ ABs. Jason is currently hitting .242 in 244 major league AB’s. Just sayin’…

The Ugly

- Brandon McCarthy’s injury. I was really hoping he would come in this season and really make an impact.

- Travis Metcalf’s injury. He was having such a great spring. It’s a shame he’ll have to miss the first few weeks recovering.

- While the Rangers record in spring training overall is favorable, they are 0-3-1 versus division rivals. Ouch.

Happy sounds

The crack of the bat. The cheer (or occasional groan) of the crowd. The call of the ump.

These are all sounds of happiness for me, and I can hear them right now.

I’m listening to the Rangers/Angels game on Gameday Audio, and I’m not sure life could be much more blissful. Unless, of course, I was listening to the game at home (instead of in the office of my part-time job) in my pajamas with something good to eat or drink. Of course, I would also prefer to be hearing Eric Nadel and Victor Rojas calling the game instead of an Angels’ broadcaster. But I will take what I can get. Any baseball is good baseball after the long, long winter I’ve had.

It’s just good to hear baseball talk again. Talk that isn’t centered on what trades have been made (or not made) or Roger Clemens.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

- My excitement about Josh Hamilton grows each day. I’ve been reading about him and what he could possibly do for months. Yesterday and today, he got to add to that with his performance at the plate. Yesterday, he doubled in a run. Today (so far), he drove in a run on a triple in the first inning and scored later that same inning. He’s creating a lot of buzz in spring training, and, thankfully, not all of that buzz is about his past substance abuse. While his past is certainly interesting, I think the future is going to be much more interesting.

- It’s hard for me to judge pitchers on two innings or so of work. But…I liked what I read about Luis Mendoza yesterday, and Kason Gabbard seemed to do pretty well today. A.J. Murray and Eric Hurley struggled a bit in their outings, but, again, it’s two innings. Not easy to get a read. At least not for me. But I’m still new to all this, remember?

- I’ve read and heard a lot about the controversy surrounding C.J. Wilson and the comments he made about politics and baseball players. Apparently, he’s in a bit of hot water with his teammates because of these comments. I’m not going to side with anyone in this debacle (because that’s not my place, and I’m certain I don’t know the whole story), but I will say I hope they work it out soon. I’ve always seen this team as a very cohesive unit and it would be a shame for that to be ruined by one paragraph in a magazine and a few internet comments.

Heat wave

     The thermometer reached the 30s today, and I truly began to believe that spring was on the way.  Heck, I was ready to break out the short sleeves and sandals!  Baseball is just around the corner, and these warmer temperatures are only helping me get in the mood for it.

     Speaking of warmth, what’s wrong with the picture below? 

  Padillasmile    Is that Vicente Padilla?  Is he actually smiling?  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this guy smile before.  Has his attitude really changed as so many articles have stated?  I sure hope so.  I think Padilla has the potential to be a great pitcher for this team, but his career with the Rangers (and baseball in general) has been marred by what appears to be a negative attitude and a penchant for plunking batters. I know I’m not the only one who grew tired of that.  And I’m certainly not the only one hoping he’s honestly changed.  If he’s going to remain on our roster (and he probably will given the lack of available starting pitchers), I hope he has sincerely turned a new leaf.

     The Rangers will play their first exhibition game next week.  You better believe I’ll be doing all I can to keep up with the game on my computer at work. It will be interesting to see what lineup Wash throws out there and how the guys play.

     I enjoyed an article in today’s FW Star-Telegram about the Rangers’ tattoos.  I think hearing the story behind peoples’ body art is fascinating. I agree with most of the guys who said it has to mean something.  I actually have two tattoos — a star and flame on my lower back and a treble clef and eighth notes on the inside of my left ankles.  Obviously, the latter symbolizes my love for music.  The former is also music-related, but is a bit less obvious.  My next tat (yes, I want one) is going to be something baseball or Rangers related, but I haven’t decided on the artwork yet.  I probably won’t get it until summer anyway, so I’ve got some time.  Maybe those guys could offer some suggestions.

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