Friday, September 17, 2010

Rangers vs. AL East

"Godalmighty, we ask you to bless this feast that lie before us, and please allow these spent lottery tickets with their silvery scratchery seasonings to nourish our bodies as they were unable to do the same to our wallets. Lord, thankya for the untimely frost you sent what claimed our pointless bananer orchards. Oh I was a fool to plan bananers on a mountain, you made sure of that. In short, thanks for nuthin'."

  • I don’t know if anyone has discovered this fact but I will gladly take credit. If you have ever paid attention to eHarmony’s commercials, you would notice the theme music in the background as the same music used in UGKs Int’l Players Anthem song. It is also the same music in Project Pat’s Choose You and it was also sampled in P.I.M.P. Pt.2 by 50 Cent. All three songs basically talk about selecting a woman much the same way a pimp would choose his prostitutes. The actual song titled “I Choose You” is by Willie Hutch. The irony is that Willie Hutch wrote the song for the soundtrack of The Mack, a movie starring Max Julien as a drug dealer turned pimp. The song is featured during a scene when Julien has just picked a new girl to expand his pimping. So is that what eHarmony is really about? Sign me up.

  • The first week of the NFL season was a whirlwind of disappointment, letdowns and the realization that teams are not as good as thought prior to the season. From coordinators that need to be fired to head coaches and players not being on the same page, the opener had it all. And I’m just talking about the Cowboys. Thank God for the Rangers.

  • So who do you have on your BCS radar after two good weeks of NCAA football? I’m sure most of you have the favorites; Alabama, Boise State, Florida and Ohio State. But don’t slip on the Sooners. After a mediocre, at best, season opener against Utah State, the Sooners proceeded to thoroughly dismantle Florida State. Instead of Texas and their fans wondering who they will play in the BCS National championship game, they need to be worried about how many wins it will take to get into the Holiday Bowl. October 2nd can’t come fast enough/

  • The Rangers series last week against the Yankees had all the elements of playing playoff baseball—New York. We had a capacity crowds all three nights as our team swept the Yankees for the first time in 14 years. The only problem was there were more Yankees fans than Rangers fans and at this pivotal juncture in the season, isn’t it about time the true fans put a stop to this. I was on the computer during the second game and heard a loud cheer from the crowd. I turned around expecting the Rangers had done something spectacular only to find Robinson Cano had hit a single. If you are going to give your tickets away, at least give them to Mariners fans. They might not show up much like their team did for most of the season.

  • In the interest of fairness, David Murphy’s homerun in the Tigers’ game on Tuesday was a foul ball. I know the umpires upheld the ruling, but if you go back and watch the replay, the most compelling evidence comes from a woman in the stands near where the ball is descending. When the camera is back on her, you can read her lips while she is talking to a guy in khaki shorts. She clearly says “it was on this side of the pole” and you see the guy sheepishly laugh in agreement. Just FYI

  • Ever wonder what it takes to determine the magic number for a baseball team? This bit of information comes from Determine the number of games yet to be played, add one, then subtract the number of games ahead in the loss column of the standings from the closest opponent. So with Texas 10 games ahead of Oakland with 17 remaining, you would figure it like this: 17 +1=18. Then subtract 10 from 18 leaving you with a magic number of 8. Now if I could only figure out how teams gain and lose half-games, I would be all squared away.

Any who…

So here we go Ranger fans. Our team, fresh from the brink of disaster that was a five game losing streak only to come out on the other side smelling like Al West Champions. What a time, what a time.

I’m betting most of you walked up to the ledge and contemplated jumping into the next passing bandwagon that happened to roll by. By the smart ones, those of you who really believe in this team know that sometimes, to quote Ron Washington, “that’s the way baseball go.”

Every team has gone through slumps and slides and it was only fitting that our team did the same. In fact, I would have been more concerned if we hadn’t experienced any significant problems because I would totally expect something bad to happen in the playoffs. But we got ours out of the way without losing any real ground in the West and our number to clinch shrinking nightly.

The Rangers have 17 games remaining with 10 coming on the road. However, all are against divisional foes. The Rangers also have a combined record of 24-16 against the West including 10-3 versus the Mariners, with whom they open road trip against this evening.

They then shoot down the coast to take on the “stick a fork in ‘em” Angels before heading over to Athletics, who have been like herpes to the Rangers. Even though you don’t see them, they are still there. Then they finish off the season at home against the Mariners and the Angels, which the Rangers hold a combined 10-3 record in the yard in Arlington.

So in my opinion, we have nothing to worry about in Ranger land over the next two-and-a-half weeks. I know the team will handle its business and I fully expect the team to push past the 92 wins mark set forth by Nolan Ryan in the offseason.

So while I think the Rangers have entered a stretch of winnable games that could best be described as exciting only if the home team goes on a 13 game losing streak, I would have to recommend turning your attention to the race in the AL East. And what a race it is shaping up to be.

The top two teams, Tampa and New York have been battling for the AL East crown and it’s going to come down to the wire for sure. But unlike seasons past, I don’t see the Yankees pulling off any miracles to take the division. For one, the remaining schedules of both teams are polar opposites, favoring the Rays.

The Rays, in their final 17 games, face teams they have gone a combined 21-10 against. They open this weekend against a sad sack Angels team, then face the Yankees on the road for four games before heading home to face both Seattle and Baltimore. Their final four games against the Royals, in all likelihood, should be the games we see their starters resting and getting prepared to face Ron Gardenhire’s Minnesota Twins in the ALDS.

The Yankees, on the other hand finish with one of the toughest schedules of all the postseason contenders. Tonight they face a resurgent Orioles team that has been one of the hottest in MLB since the beginning of August. Overall, the Yankees are 11-4 against the Orioles, but they went 1-2 against them last week and the trend will continue. Once the Yankees return home where they host four games with Tampa and three with Boston, which I’m sure will be some entertaining, hard fought, grind it out games. This season the Yankees are 6-8 versus the Rays and are 7-5 against Boston.

And just when Yankees’ fans think they are out of the woods, the team goes north of the border for a three game set against the hard-hitting Blue Jays (4-2 vs. Yankees in Toronto) before finishing the season in what will be an emotional finale against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. This will be the game that, if the Red Sox do what I expect them to do in their 13 games leading up to this series, will decide the wild card winner and Rangers’ opponent.

Even though the Rays and Yankees have been the frontrunners for the division title, I think everyone (especially New Yorkers) have forgotten that Boston has been on a nice little run as of late. On September 1st, they were 8 games back. But with the help of a four game win streak and bloody fight between Tampa and New York they have quietly crept back into the mix and are now down to 6.5. And their schedule definitely favors a playoff appearance.

The Red Sox play the next six at home against Toronto and Baltimore before embarking upon a seven game road trip against the Yankees (3) and the slumping White Sox (4). Against Toronto, the Red Sox are 11-4 with two of their losses coming in Fenway. It will probably be a little tighter against Baltimore where Boston posts an 8-7 record but the Orioles have only two wins when at Boston.

I’m sure people will look at this and wonder how I could possibly place Boston ahead of the Yankees in a divisional race that only has two real teams fighting for the title. Here’s why. For the entire 2010 season, there have been only two teams contending in the east, Tampa and New York. Boston’s chances grew complicated as the injuries started to mount and culminated in “next year” mentality when Pedroia and Youkilis were shut down for the year. Yet they still managed to post an 82-64 record and have had favorable match ups along the way. The real key for the Red Sox making it to the post season, however, is the play of the last place team in the division.

Through August 2, the Orioles record was a deplorable 33-73. But with the addition of Manager Buck Showalter on August 3, no team has been hotter than the Orioles. They have posted wins against the best teams in the AL and have been impressive night in and night out with their never-say-die attitude they’ve adopted from their manager.

In the 41 games Showalter has been at the helm, the team is 26-15 whereas it was 85 games before the Orioles reached 26 wins. In that span, the Orioles have also won eight out of 13 series, including four straight series, with wins coming against the Yankees, Rays and Blue Jays.

The Orioles’ final 16 games begin with three against the Yankees before going on a nine game road swing though the rest of the division which will have great implications on the divisions’ top three contenders. On the road, the Orioles are 11-7 and have lost more than two games in a row only once. They then conclude the season in a four game set at Camden Yards against the Tigers and will be looking up at the carnage they have wreaked in the rest of the division.

And by then, Rangers’ fans will know three things; Tampa will win the AL East, Texas will be playing the Red Sox in Arlington for the opening round of the playoffs and the Cubs will be introducing Joe Girardi as their next manager.

It’s been a great ride and it will only get better. The East will guarantee that!

Go Rangers!!!

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