Friday, September 3, 2010

Step away from the Ledge

"She was my dream, my muse. A vision suitable for the wide-screen format. I can still taste her fist against my face. The sweet sugary sweat from a lifetime of diabetes. A heartbeat you could hear from six blocks away. One big pump every hour."

• I don’t know why people are making a big deal about Jeremiah Masoli’s denial at Ol’ Miss because it is believed he was trying to find a loophole to keep playing college ball. The NCAA only has the integrity of the league in mind. Besides it will all work out. They didn’t let Duke’s/Syracuse’s Greg Paulus get away with it. Oh, wait a minute…

• Is it just me or when Cliff Lee comes to the mound shouldn’t his theme music be “Sabotage” by The Beastie Boys?

• Speaking of Lee, doesn’t it seem like the whole organization is desperately trying to kiss his ass to keep him here. When he fired those two rockets to second base in Tuesday’s loss to the lowly Royals, Tom tried to explain both errors away, including blaming infielders Andrus and Blanco for both being on second base. Truth is they were trying to catch the season Lee is desperately trying to throw away.

• The game the other night between the Nationals and the Marlins featured an actual “brawl” instead of the hand slapping we are normally accustomed to seeing. I can’t understand why announcers will go in depth about honor and codes and the need to retaliate when there are the usual shoving matches, but when you have the potential for an old-fashioned slobber knocker, it’s the most vile thing out there and “there’s no place for that in baseball.” Huh?

• Before his scheduled appearance with NFL commissioner Goodell, Ben R. said he has matured, found religion and claims he is a better person. Subsequently, his suspension was reduced from six games to four and he will be eligible for reinstatement after week four. Here’s my question, if he is so religified now, when is he going to tell the truth about what happened in that bathroom?

• While we’re on the subject of finding religion…
If someone only finds religion later in life and they claim it is a life changer, what does that say about their upbringing?

• How is it that the friggin' little league baseball can have instant replay (Avg. time 53 seconds) but MLB refuses because it will slow the game? I’m guessing no one in the league office has ever watched the Red Sox vs. Yankees. A three game set between those two lasts at least a week.

Any who…

The history of the Ballpark in Arlington has had three common themes since play began in 1994; poor pitching, power hitting and playoff futility. The good news is two have been fixed, one is more efficient and one you can do nothing about except intense, centralized prayers overhead.

For longer than I can remember, the Rangers have been able to hit with the best of them. Players like Juan Gone, Raffy, Pudge, Mac, Palmer and Greer have kept the Rangers interesting to say the least. Fans kept dropping dollars at the ticket windows over the years for the offensive fireworks that were expected nightly at the ballpark. Problem with that was you also paid for the poor pitching. And oftentimes one was left watching countless opponents use home plate as their launching pad as well.

I believed that has changed this season.

Three times in the 90s the Rangers went to the playoffs, but poor play, especially the pitching, had always been the Achilles heel of the clubs and there never seemed to be a big push to correct the trend.

But over the course of the John Daniels era, pitching has become priority number one and there has been a conscious effort to stock the team’s pitching staff.

Fans had their hopes set on the arrival of Danks, Diamond and Volquez and watching them lead the charge atop the AL West one year. But if you want to watch them work, you’re going to have to subscribe to the MLB network.

Of course we were all pissed when they were gone, with several fans, myself included, calling for the head of JD. But if being a Rangers fan has taught us anything it is patience. Albeit being patient comes with the territory for a team that perennially flames out around midsummer every season.

But oh how the tables have turned this year. The reigning West champs look like the old Rangers and the closest team to us is the A’s and they are 10 games back.

We still have the hitting with Hamilton, Cruz, Murphy, Young and a “washed-up” Vladimir Guerrero in the line-up. However, we’ve been able to do what every other eventual champion has been able to do when they make a title run—put it all together.

Hunter, Lewis, Harden (at times), Holland and Lee are led by staff ace C.J. Wilson and have been dominant throughout the season. And in the case when the frontline has suffered, O’Day, Harrison, Nippert, Oliver, Ogando and Kirkman have been spectacular in most cases.

And because of this, Rangers’ fans are going to be in for an extended playoff run. Wash is not going to let the guys let up and their play is only going to get better. These guys know what’s at stake as well as how hard it is to get back to the playoffs.

So what the team had a subpar August. Every team goes through a slump. The good news is we went through ours with significant players out of the lineup. Now we are getting healthy at the right time and are poised to not only have the largest lead in the division, but in the team’s history.

So Rangers’ fans, step away from the ledge. We are not backing into the playoffs, we only backed into September. And once the full team is back on the field for the first time in nearly two months, we’ll see just how dominant our team can and will be.

Go Rangers!

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