Tag Archives: Texas Rangers

Texas Rangers Welcome Josh Hamilton Home

It has been said that home is where the heart is.

It has also been said that you can’t go home again.

While both of those statements may be true, through stage and screen it has been portrayed that one need only click their heels together and say, “There is no place like home” and they will be magically transported there.

Today Josh Hamilton got his wish, without the need for ruby red slippers, and is returning home to the Texas Rangers after what can only be described as a disaster of a time playing for the Los Angeles Angels.

Josh Hamilton returned to the Ballpark in Arlington where he had the bigggest years of his career after a disastrous stint in Anaheim. Photo R. Anderson

Josh Hamilton returned to the Ballpark in Arlington where he had the biggest years of his career after a disastrous stint in Anaheim.
Photo R. Anderson

In fact, the Angels were so willing to be rid of Josh Hamilton that they are paying him $68 million to go away.

In his three years with the Angels, Hamilton battled numerous injuries and watched his offensive numbers plummet while also making many more defensive errors than usual.

It was also during this time that Hamilton once again succumbed to many of his personal addictions which had almost ended his career when he was with the Tampa Bay Rays organization.

Having yet to suit up this season Hamilton last saw action in 2014 when he hit .263 with 10 homers and 44 RBI in 89 games before being sidelined from April 9-June 3 with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb.

Things started looking up slightly for Hamilton in his final 45 regular season games when he batted .329 and ended the year with a 14-game hitting streak.

After leaving the comforts of home with the Texas Rangers Josh Hamilton never was able to equal his Lone Star success.  Photo R. Anderson

After leaving the comforts of home with the Texas Rangers Josh Hamilton never was able to equal his Lone Star success.
Photo R. Anderson

While the Angels are ready to move past the disaster of a relationship they had with Josh Hamilton, the Rangers are hoping that the player coming back to Arlington is more like the one who left in 2012 than the version of the player that struggled in the shadow of Disneyland.

While with the Rangers from 2008-12, Hamilton batted .305 with 142 home runs and 506 RBI in 647 games. He was named an All-Star in all five seasons he was with Texas, won three A.L. Silver Slugger awards, was named the Rangers Player of the Year two times, and received the American League Most Valuable Player in 2010.

It really is a small world after all that a player who left town in a flurry of angry fans can be welcomed back to ask forgiveness from those same fans that he shunned for the lights of the big city.

During a news conference at the Rangers Ballpark to announce his return Hamilton took time to address the comments he made when he left that angered some fans.

“You know, I’ve said some dumb things, and I continue to say dumb things sometimes,” Hamilton said. “I’m not gonna sit here and try to clarify all the dumb things I said cause we’d be here for a while. But I just want all the fans to know that I’m back here, I’m back home, I’m gonna give you everything I’ve got just like I did when I was here…. I’m excited about it.”

Time will tell if the fans fully embrace his return but one thing is clear Josh Hamilton needs the Rangers and the closeness of home.

That is not to say that the Dallas Metroplex is not a big city but for a player like Josh Hamilton, who has battled substance abuse issues his whole career, it was the temptations of Tinsel Town that ultimately led the Angels to give up on the troubled outfielder.

After admitting to a violation of the Major League Baseball substance abuse policy, Hamilton was cleared by an arbitrator who deemed that a suspension was not needed.

Usually this would make almost any team happy to learn that they would not have a player suspended. Of course the Angels took the opposite approach and were angered that Hamilton would not be punished for his most recent fall off of the wagon.

With a full no trade clause in his contract the Angels could not just trade away their problems to just anyone. They had to find a team that would embrace Josh Hamilton and accept all of the baggage that went along with that.

Former Los Angels Angel Josh Hamilton will continue to face is former team in division play as a member of the Texas Rangers. Photo R. Anderson

Former Los Angels Angel Josh Hamilton will continue to face is former team in division play as a member of the Texas Rangers.
Photo R. Anderson

That team is the Texas Rangers who already had a support system in place to try to keep Josh Hamilton away from his demons.

With Hamilton being closer to the end of his career than the beginning the Rangers are likely his last chance to show that he still belongs in Major League Baseball.

Of course Josh Hamilton is more than just a baseball player and he noted during the news conference that he understands that careers are finite.

“The reason I’m making certain changes in my life is because I want to be okay when baseball’s over,” Hamilton said.

As an addict who plays baseball, Josh Hamilton has a large platform to use to help warn younger players, and people in general of the dangers of addiction.

If the past is any indication Hamilton will use that platform to the best of his ability within the Dallas area and beyond and perhaps that is what the Texas Rangers need the most.

After spending time in extended Spring Training in Arizona Hamilton is expected to make his return to the Rangers in mid to late May which will be homecoming day.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to decide which Rangers games I am going to go to this year.

Copyright 2015 R Anderson

A Trio of Meaty Baseball Stories to Sink Your Teeth into

One of local barbecue restaurants I frequent has a plate called the pork three ways that includes pork ribs, pulled pork and pork sausage.

I mention this fact not to make people hungry for barbecue pork, but to point out that sometimes it is hard to pick a single entree leading to the need to combine things into a single meal.

In that same spirit we are going to focus on three entrees from the world of baseball since focusing on just one would not do justice to the other two, much in the same way that just getting ribs leaves out the pulled pork and sausage.

Our first entree comes to us from the Houston Astros who stepped on a player’s moment to create a look at us moment Monday.

For the first time in team history a member of the Houston Astros won a batting title. That player was second baseman Jose Altuve. Altuve not only had the best batting average in the American League but had the best overall average in all of baseball this season.

Jose Altuve won the American League batting title this year and had one day in the spotlight until the team announced it had hired a new manager. Photo R. Anderson

Jose Altuve won the American League batting title this year and had one day in the spotlight until the team announced it had hired a new manager.
Photo R. Anderson

Altuve also set a new team record for hits in a single season.

For a team that has known more about losing than winning the last couple of years this individual achievement by Altuve gave fans of the Astros something to cheer about as another lackluster season came to a close.

Traditional wisdom would say that in a situation like this a team would give the spotlight to the player for a couple of days to give the proper attention to such a stellar achievement such as having the best average in all of baseball.

Instead, the smoldering tire fire that is the Astros front office saw fit to take the attention away from Altuve less than 24-hour after the end of the season to announce that they had hired a new manager.

The Astros certainly needed to fill the vacancy at the manager position. However, was the news that they hired a man with a losing record as a manager, who has been out of the dugout for four years, so important that they could not wait a day or two to announce it? Apparently in their minds it was and thus ended the spotlight on Jose Altuve.

While the hiring of A.J. Hinch left many fans underwhelmed and thinking that the Astros should have hired a more established manager the fact remains that more established managers have enough sense to stay away from the Astros in their current state.

As for the manager the Astros did get, Hinch managed the Arizona Diamondbacks from May 2009 until July 2010, and was fired after a 31-48 start. Hinch served as the vice president of professional scouting for the San Diego Padres from 2010 until this past August.

Not a very successful resume at first glance, but I will wait to see what he can do with his second opportunity to manage a big league club.

Speaking of managers, our second entree takes us to Minnesota where the Twins fired longtime manager Ron Gardenhire after a fourth straight losing season.

While I do not follow the day to day operations of the Twins as closely as I used to, I have been a fan of Ron Gardenhire since his days as the manager of the Orlando Sun Rays of the Southern League.

Ron Gardenhire spent nearly 25 years in the Minnesota Twins organization including the last 13 as manager. Photo R. Anderson

Ron Gardenhire spent nearly 25 years in the Minnesota Twins organization including the last 13 as manager.
Photo R. Anderson

As mentioned before I attended many Minor League Baseball games growing up in Orlando and several of those years were spent pulling for Gardenhire led teams at Tinker Field.

All in all Gardenhire spent around a quarter of a century within the Twins organization, including 13 seasons as manager, and was there for much of the teams success.

Unfortunately in a what have you done for me lately world, past success can only go so far in covering up current problems.

The Twins offered Gardenhire a front office position which he declined stating that he feels that he still has things to offer as a manager.

Personally I would not mind the Texas Rangers giving the reins to Gardenhire if for no other reason than to say that he managed both teams that used to be known as the Washington Senators as the Twins leaving Washington D.C. for the twin cities paved the way for the expansion team version of the Senators that became the Rangers.

Even if Gardenhire does not end up with the Rangers I have little doubt that he will end up in another dugout before too long.

Our third baseball entree takes us to Sugar Land where the Skeeters are hosting the first two games of the Atlantic League Championship Series against the Lancaster Barnstormers.

The series opened up last night with the Skeeters losing to the Barnstormers 10 to 6. Game two of the series is tonight and will find the Skeeters trying to even the series.

Regardless of whether or not the Skeeters hoist the championship at the end of the year they can be proud of what they accomplished this year.

Sugar Land Skeeters manager Gary Gaetti led his team to the playoffs for the second straight season. The Skeeters opened the Atlantic League Championship Series last night. Photo R. Anderson

Sugar Land Skeeters manager Gary Gaetti led his team to the playoffs for the second straight season. The Skeeters opened the Atlantic League Championship Series last night.
Photo R. Anderson

Among those accomplishments are hosting the All-Star Game in June, making the playoffs for the second straight year, and winning the first playoff series in team history against the York Revolution.

It is likely that the Skeeters will continue to build on their success next year during their fourth season of existence as they continue to form an identity

There you have it, three delicious entrees from the world of baseball this week.

As every good three meat plate needs a couple of side dishes, it should be mentioned that the Major League Baseball Playoffs kicked off last night with the American League Wild Card game between the Kansas City Royals and the Oakland Athletics and continues tonight with the National League Wild Card game between the San Francisco Giants and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Now if you’ll excuse me, all of this talk about entrees has made me a little hungry.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson

 

Orioles and Nationals Set for Potential Collision Course to Divide a Region

Yesterday, marked the end of the regular Major League Baseball season which makes today the official start of the postseason.

While Derek Jeter enjoys an early start to his retirement, since the New York Yankees failed to make the postseason for only the third time in his 20-year career, other teams and regions are preparing for what the MLB marketing team calls the Hunt for October.

In the nation’s capitol this means choosing between pulling for the Washington Nationals or the Baltimore Orioles with both teams being the first to clinch their respective divisions and punch their playoff tickets.

After winning their divisions the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals are seven victories away from facing each other in the World Series. Photo R. Anderson

After winning their divisions the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals are seven victories away from facing each other in the World Series.
Photo R. Anderson

The Orioles captured their first American League East title since 1997 while the Nationals captured the National League East title in equally dominating fashion.

As noted before I follow both the Orioles and Nationals as part of my stable of teams.

The Orioles were the first team I followed growing up in Maryland and through moves to Florida and Texas they are still considered my home team.

Although the Nationals were known as the Expos when I was born, I started following them when they moved down from Canada long after I had left the region.

Of course there was a time before I was born when the region supported two American League teams in close proximity in the Washington Senators and the Orioles.

With only one team in the region when I was growing up it was easy to pull for the Orioles despite living geographically closer to D.C.

Davey Johnson was the manager of the Baltimore Orioles when they won the American League East Division in 1997. He also managed the Washington Nationals to their first winning record. Photo R. Anderson

Davey Johnson was the manager of the Baltimore Orioles when they won the American League East Division in 1997. He also managed the Washington Nationals to their first winning record.
Photo R. Anderson

While the decision to root for the Orioles was easy for me I was curious to know what it was like for people in the shadow of the Potomac River before I was born when they had to pick which team to follow.

As luck would have it, it turns out that my mom is older than me (funny how it works that way) and was alive when there were two teams to choose from, so I called her up to see which team she pulled for growing up.

As I had suspected my mom was a Senators fan growing up. I had suspected this because long after the Senators had left town she would still where her Senators shirt.

Conversely I had never known her to wear anything Orioles related although she did follow the team and encouraged my love of the Orange and Black.

While the Senators only exist to me through old baseball cards that I rescued from a dusty bin at a card shop, the Orioles are full of vibrant memories that shaped the baseball fan that I am today.

In a world where the Senators did not move to Texas it is possible that I never would have rooted for Cal Ripken, Jr.

In a world where the Senators did not move to Texas it is possible that I never would have rooted for Cal Ripken, Jr.

But had the Senators not headed to Arlington, Texas a few years before I was born to become the Texas Rangers, the odds are I would of had an entirely different childhood when it came to baseball.

In this alternate baseball universe instead of the Cal Ripken, Jr. poster on my bedroom wall it could have been replaced by whoever the big star for the Senators was at the time.

Of course, it is likely that I still would have become a Cal Ripken, Jr. fan much in the same way that there are fans of Derek Jeter who cannot stand the New York Yankees. Certain players just elevate beyond team loyalty.

Each year during Spring Training when I was growing up I tried to catch at least one Orioles game. Once the Nationals came onto the circuit I added games to see them as well further cementing my divided beltway allegiance.

Bryce Harper leads a young core of players who have brought playoff baseball back to Washington, D.C. Photo R. Anderson

Bryce Harper leads a young core of players who have brought playoff baseball back to Washington, D.C.
Photo R. Anderson

This support of two teams in the same market was justified by the fact that the only time they would meet in games that really mattered was if they both made it to the World Series in the same year.

I was not counting interleague series play as a challenge to pulling for both teams. For me the only conflict would come in the World Series since I would be divided on who should be crowned World Champions.

With the Orioles undergoing years of mediocrity at the time the Nationals moved into the neighborhood it seemed a safe bet to pull for both teams since the odds of either team, let alone both teams making the World Series was extremely low.

That all changed this year though when I had a hunch that the stars could align and turn Washington, D.C. into a house divided.

Each Spring Training visit includes a stop to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, FL to see the Baltimore Orioles play. Photo R. Anderson

Each Spring Training visit includes a stop to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, FL to see the Baltimore Orioles play.
Photo R. Anderson

While few could predict the dominating manner that the Orioles and Nationals won their divisions few should be surprised that both teams are in the playoffs.

There really is no clear cut line in the sand declaring, “This far, no farther” when it comes to saying where the Nationals Fans live and where the Orioles fans live.

The closer one gets to Baltimore the more intense the fan base for the Orioles becomes. But, the region in between Baltimore and D.C is where the real battle rages.

In fact, the Orioles have a billboard less than seven miles away from the Ballpark that the Nationals call home.

For people like me who were born when there was only one team to pull for in the region it is easier to justify keeping allegiance to the team from our youth and adding a more geographically friendly one as well.

The Washington Nationals are also a must see during Spring Training. Photo R. Anderson

The Washington Nationals are also a must see during Spring Training.
Photo R. Anderson

The generations that follow now will likely have to choose a side, either Red White and Blue, or Orange and Black much like my parent’s generation had to do during the time of the Senators.

With both the Orioles and Nationals full of talent throughout their rosters it seems likely that postseason meetings between the squads could become a regular thing.

As for the Senators of my mom’s youth who made that western journey all those years ago, since moving to Texas I have found myself rooting for the Rangers. In that way I suppose I am a Senators fan as well. They just have a bit more of a twang now than they did back in D.C.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some postseason baseball to prepare for.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson

 

Championships are Not Won in April but They Can be Lost in April

It has been said that championships are not won in April but that they can certainly be lost.

That is to say that a team’s early success does not always carry over throughout the course of a full season as many things can happen between Opening Day and Game One of the World Series to shape a team’s fortunes and in some cases misfortunes.

While a team winning the bulk of their games early in a season does not guarantee continued success, a team that loses most of their games early on will in most cases continue that trend throughout the season.

While it is certainly neither the time nor place for celebration or despair in any of the 30 Major League Ballparks this early in the season it is certainly worth looking at some early trends in terms of expectations met and expectations that have not been met.

In the American League East few should be surprised that the New York Yankees are leading the standings during the Derek Jeter Swan Song Tour.

With the  New York Yankees in first place in the American League East very few people are likely to bet against them going deep into the postseason during Derek Jeter's Farewell Tour. Photo R. Anderson

With the New York Yankees in first place in the American League East very few people are likely to bet against them going deep into the postseason during Derek Jeter’s Farewell Tour.
Photo R. Anderson

Some may go so far as to suggest that the baseball stars will align so that Jeter’s last game occurs as a World Series Champion. That is not to say that baseball is rigged but there are certainly odd occurrences now and then. I am looking at you Boston Red Sox.

The rest of the American League East offers a few surprises.

Few would have thought that the defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox who famously healed an entire region last year with a title following a terrorist attack at a marathon would be in last place in the division.

The Tampa Bay Rays who many predicted as a World Series bound team are also struggling a bit due to injuries to their starting rotation but it is likely that they will bounce back from the early season struggles and become the playoff team that many predicted them to be.

While the New York Yankees may be the current frontrunners in the East, one cannot discount Joe Maddon's Tampa Bay Rays since no team has done more with less over the past five seasons. Photo R. Anderson

While the New York Yankees may be the current frontrunners in the East, one cannot discount Joe Maddon’s Tampa Bay Rays since no team has done more with less over the past five seasons.
Photo R. Anderson

The Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles certainly cannot be ruled out as well in what is often the most hotly contested division in all of baseball.

Traveling further down the geographic standings brings the focus on the American League Central where the usual suspects seem to be doing the usual things early on.

The Detroit Tigers will likely continue their reign atop the division while fighting off the advances of the Kansas City Royals who continue to improve each season.

The Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians will likely string together some impressive victories throughout the season but it is unlikely that they will rise to the top of the standings based on their early sample of work.

Out in the American League West the Oakland Athletics are in first place and the Houston Astros are in last place.

No real surprises there.

While the Texas Rangers will look to return to postseason play in the post Nolan Ryan era a more intriguing thing to watch in the division will be whether the Astros can break their streak of consecutive 100 loss seasons.

Early indications point to another long season for the Houston Astros. Fans can take comfort in the return of the view of the skyline however. Photo R. Anderson

Early indications point to another long season for the Houston Astros. Fans can take comfort in the return of the view of the skyline however.
Photo R. Anderson

Early indications certainly point to it being another very long season in Minute Maid Park but at least fans have a view of downtown again to entertain them during lopsided losses by the home team.

The Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will look to get some bang from their hefty payroll bucks and should easily finish higher than the Astros but it is doubtful that they will break the grasp the Rangers and Athletics have atop the division.

With the American League shaping up with few surprises it is time to look at the National League and any potential surprises or unexpected trends from the early parts of the season.

The National League East has the Atlanta Braves in cruise control atop the standings. With their days in Turner Field numbered it would be nice to see the Braves give the Ballpark a final taste of postseason play before it is reduced to a pile of rubble.

The Atlanta Braves look like the team to beat so far in the National League East. Photo R. Anderson

The Atlanta Braves look like the team to beat so far in the National League East.
Photo R. Anderson

The Washington Nationals, New York Mets, and Philadelphia Phillies will try to keep things interesting but the division does seem to have a heavy “tomahawk chop” feel to it with the Braves going the distance.

The Miami Marlins hold their familiar spot at the bottom of the standings showing that a Ballpark without payroll can lead to a very long couple of seasons.

The National League Central is shaping up to look like the division normally looks with the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals near the top and the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs near the bottom.

It is likely that the 100th Anniversary season at Wrigley Field will end like many of the previous years with the Cubs shut out of the postseason.

The Cincinnati Reds will likely hold their familiar spot in third place in the division although Billy Hamilton will certainly give the Reds’ fans something exciting to watch as he scorches the base path with his base stealing speed.

Current Cincinnati Red Billy Hamilton stole a record number of bases in the Minor Leagues  and became immortalized as a bobble head. The real life version is likely to entertain Reds fans for years to come. Photo R. Anderson

Current Cincinnati Red Billy Hamilton stole a record number of bases in the Minor Leagues and became immortalized as a bobble head. The real life version is likely to entertain Reds fans for years to come.
Photo R. Anderson

As for the National League West the Los Angeles Dodgers are leading the pack with the Arizona Diamondbacks currently having the worst record in all of baseball.

The Colorado Rockies, San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres will keep things competitive but the West has a feel of Dodger Blue as long as they don’t implode down the stretch.

While the standings in all six divisions are likely to change through the course of the season early indications do seem to point to a postseason filled with the usual suspects.

Of course there are no guarantees in baseball. Teams will need to battle through injuries and other factors as they approach October.

The only peak the Astros are likely to see this season will come in the form of Tal's Hill in center field. Photo R. Anderson

The only peak the Astros are likely to see this season will come in the form of Tal’s Hill in center field.
Photo R. Anderson

The teams that peak at the right time are the ones that win it all in the end. For some teams that peak occurs on Opening Day and lasts the whole season long. Other teams are more slow burners and need to build up to their peak.

Then there are the teams who are stuck in the valley where the only peak they see is the pitcher’s mound or in the case of the Houston Astros, Tal’s Hill.

Now if you’ll excuse me, all of this talk about peaks and valleys has me craving a mountain view.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson

 

Rangers Mark 20 Years in Ballpark Tonight

Tonight the Texas Rangers will mark the 20th anniversary of the first game played at the Ballpark in Arlington with a game against the Houston Astros.

The Houston Astros visit the Texas Rangers tonight for the 20th anniversary of the first game at the Ballpark in Arlington. Photo R. Anderson

The Houston Astros visit the Texas Rangers tonight for the 20th anniversary of the first game at the Ballpark in Arlington.
Photo R. Anderson

Aside from serving as the 20th anniversary game for the Ballpark, tonight will also mark the first game of the season between the two in state and, as of last season, American League West Division rivals in what is known as the Lone Star Series.

In recent years the Lone Star Series has been leaning heavily towards the Rangers but with both teams heading into tonight’s game with an equal amount of victories for the season anything is possible in the quest for the silver boot trophy.

While the teams have similar records heading into tonight’s game I tend to think the Rangers have the edge.

In a could not have planned it any better for the anniversary twist the Rangers will send their ace Yu Darvish out on the mound in a night honoring the past and the future of the team.

As far as the Ballpark in Arlington goes, it marked the 20th season with a new 10 year corporate naming agreement as it enters its third decade of service.

While the Ballpark may have a new corporate name as of this season for me it will always be the Ballpark in Arlington.

The Ballpark in Arlington replaced Arlington Stadium 20 years ago tonight. Photo R. Anderson

The Ballpark in Arlington replaced Arlington Stadium 20 years ago tonight.
Photo R. Anderson

While players have come and gone throughout the history of the Texas Rangers franchise the current Ballpark marks only the second home for the Rangers since they made the move from the east coast.

The Rangers begin their baseball life in Washington D.C. as the second team known as the Washington Senators following the exodus of the first Washington Senators to Minnesota.

Crowds over the last couple of years have seen two World Series come through the Ballpark in Arlington. Photo R. Anderson

Crowds over the last couple of years have seen two World Series come through the Ballpark in Arlington.
Photo R. Anderson

Like the Senators before them who became the Minnesota Twins, the second version of the Senators also pointed their wagons, err moving vans, west in search of greener pastures and more suitable Ballpark amenities.

The Rangers first stop in Texas was Turnpike Stadium, a 10,000-seat Ballpark which had been built in 1965 to house the AA Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs of the Texas League.

After it was announced that the Senators were moving to Texas, improvements were made to Turnpike Stadium which after being renamed Arlington Stadium served as the home to the Rangers from 1972 to 1994.

In 1991, two years into George W. Bush’s tenure as Managing General Partner of the Rangers, ground was broken on The Ballpark in Arlington.

A couple of years ago the Rangers got a new neighbor when the Dallas Cowboys came to town.  Photo R. Anderson

A couple of years ago the Rangers got a new neighbor when the Dallas Cowboys came to town.
Photo R. Anderson

The Ballpark in Arlington opened in 1994 which was also the same year that Bush left the team after being elected Texas governor.

While George W. Bush went on to be President of the United States for eight years, the Ballpark he helped create has hosted two World Series among other notable events since it opened its doors.

While it currently is dwarfed by its new neighbor Cowboys Stadium the Ballpark still mixes the charms of an old time Ballpark with the conveniences of a modern Ballpark.

One thing that the Ballpark does not seem to have though is adequate air circulation in the hot Texas summer heat.

Unlike Minute Maid Park, and many other Ballparks built after it, the Ballpark in Arlington does not feature a retractable roof.

While the lack of a roof would not be as big of a deal in places such as Minnesota where the original Washington Senators turned Twins recently left a domed stadium behind for the open air comfort of Target Field, the lack of a roof in Arlington is definitely noticed on most game days.

Some times you really don't want to know hot hot it is as day games in Arlington often prove. It is likely the actual temperature was much hotter than 99 degrees. Photo R. Anderson

Some times you really don’t want to know how hot it is as day games in Arlington often prove. It is likely the actual temperature was much hotter than 99 degrees.
Photo R. Anderson

In fact, studies were done to look into the feasibility of placing a roof over the Ballpark in Arlington to help protect fans from the blistering heat and frequent thunder storms that the area is known for.

The study found that retrofitting the Ballpark with a roof would cost more than the cost of building an entirely new Ballpark so the issue was tabled leaving fans to continue to be exposed to the elements.

It is likely that in 10 years when the current team lease on the Ballpark is up there will be more studies looking into the options of building a retractable roof Ballpark in the Dallas area.

In Atlanta the Braves are abandoning Turner Field after only 20 years so it would not be unheard of to trade in a 30-year Ballpark for a younger model.

Despite the battles with the elements I hope that the Rangers do choose to stay in their current facility since it really is a nice place to catch a game and a tan.

It is likely that fans coming to see the Rangers in the coming years will still see the sky as a study down by previous team owners showed putting a roof over the stadium was cost prohibitive. Photo R. Anderson.

It is likely that fans coming to see the Rangers in the coming years will still see the sky as a study down by previous team owners showed putting a roof over the stadium was cost prohibitive.
Photo R. Anderson.

As a word of advice though if one does decide to venture out to see a game in Arlington I would suggest drinking plenty of water before the game and definitely wearing light colored clothing.

You can also try to schedule your visit around one of the t-shirt giveaway days which will give you something dry to change into for the drive home.

And try not to pay too much attention to that thermometer in center field.

It may say it is only 99 degrees in the shade but it will definitely feel a lot hotter when you are shoulder to shoulder with 30,000 of your closet friends.

Needless to say this is one anniversary game that I will be catching from my couch where there is plenty of elbow room and the temperature is always a pleasant 72 degrees.

Now if only I could find a hot dog vendor to avoid having to go to the kitchen it would be just like being at the Ballpark.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a game to watch.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson

Rays Finally Silence Rangers in an Elimination Game

The past two times the Tampa Bay Rays went to the postseason they were knocked out by the Texas Rangers.

So on paper when the Rays and Rangers met Monday night for the tiebreaker game to earn the second Wildcard spot and a trip to the postseason it felt like deja vu all over again.

The Rays had dropped two of three games against the Toronto Blue Jays to slip from first place in the Wildcard standings to tied for the second spot with the Rangers. The Rangers on the other hand had won 10 straight games and were hosting the pivotal 163rd game of the season.

Historically Rangers Ballpark in Arlington has not been kind to the Tampa Bay Rays. Photo R. Anderson

Historically Rangers Ballpark in Arlington has not been kind to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Photo R. Anderson

The Rangers held a four games to three edge over the Rays during their regular season meetings leading to the Rangers having home field advantage for the regular season tiebreaker.

Momentum and home field advantage were clearly in favor of the Rangers, on paper.

On paper the pitching match up also favored the Rangers as David Price, the defending American League Cy Young Award winner, took the mound for the Rays.

Despite being the defending Cy Young Award winner Price had only defeated the Rangers once in his career and in previous meetings the Rangers and little difficulty scoring runs off of him.

Before the game there were many who looked at Price’s past performance against the Rangers and said that the Rays were foolish to put him on the mound in a win or go home type scenario with the whole season on the line.

Rays Manager Joe Maddon made several player substitiutiuons that helped propel the Tampa Bay Rays into the postseason Monday night. Photo R. Anderson

Rays Manager Joe Maddon made several player substations that helped propel the Tampa Bay Rays into the postseason Monday night.
Photo R. Anderson

But Rays Manager Joe Maddon is not one of those people who does what conventional wisdom says and he put his ace on the mound despite Price only having one victory in his career against the Rangers.

Thankfully for Rays fans though Monday night was not like the previous two meetings as the Rays defeated the Rangers in Arlington to return to the postseason for the fourth time in the last six years.

As for David Price, the guy who the Rangers had managed to dominate the past few years, he pitched a complete game and only gave up two runs.

I guess one could say he balled up that piece of paper that said he couldn’t win against the Rangers in big games.

The Rays face the Cleveland Indians tonight in a win or go home Wildcard game with the winner facing the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series.

Alex Cobb who finished the season with an 11-3 mark and a 2.76 ERA in 22 starts will take the mound for the Rays.

Alex Cobb will look to extend the season for the Tampa Bay Rays tonight when he pitches against the Cleveland Indians in the American League Wildcard game. Photo R. Anderson

Alex Cobb will look to extend the season for the Tampa Bay Rays tonight when he pitches against the Cleveland Indians in the American League Wildcard game.
Photo R. Anderson

On paper the teams are pretty evenly matched.

And once again the Rays will be living out of their suitcases as they face yet another game on the road.

Of course, the Rays seem to excel in the face of adversity and hostile crowds so I will place my money on the Rays winning the game.

While there is still a lot of October baseball to be played I would not be the least bit surprised if the Rays make it all the way to the World Series.

Don’t tell me what the odds are of that happening on paper are.

After all, the Rays have shown time and time again that just because it is the conventional wisdom, it is not the way the Rays play.

The Rays are a different team with a quirky manager that gets the most out of his players in every situation and once again they are in the playoffs.

Regardless of what happens in the game tonight the Rays will be remembered as a playoff contender once more.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a game to watch.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

Rays’ Rivalry with Rangers is Young but Intense

For Sherlock Holmes, it was Professor James Moriarty.

For the Hatfields, it was the McCoys.

For Inigo Montoya, it was the Six-fingered Man

For Superman, it was kryptonite.

For Batman, it was the Joker

For the New York Yankees, it was and forever will be the Boston Red Sox.

History and literature are full of examples of epic rivals facing off.

Usually the best of these rivalries occur when both parties are equally matched and either one could secure victory on any given day.

Over the past four seasons the Tampa Bay Rays and the Texas Rangers have been familiar rivals in the quest for the postseason. Both teams are currently tied atop the American League Wild Card standings. Photo R. Anderson

Over the past four seasons the Tampa Bay Rays and the Texas Rangers have been familiar rivals in the quest for the postseason. Both teams are currently tied atop the American League Wild Card standings.
Photo R. Anderson

For the past three years another rivalry has been quietly building between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays.

For those who question the Rangers and Rays as rivals consider this, the path to the postseason for each team for three of the past four seasons has come down to a battle between them.

In 2010 the Rays faced the Rangers in the American League Division Series and lost two games to three.

In 2011 the Rays once again found themselves facing the Rangers in the Division Series and this time only managed a single victory in the series.

Although the Rays were defeated by the Rangers in two consecutive years they can take some solace in the fact that the Rangers went onto the World Series both years. After all, somehow losing to the eventual pennant winner provides some small comfort.

Both teams were shut out of the postseason in 2012 which brings us to this season. Currently the Rays and the Rangers are battling each other for the top seed in the wildcard race.

After splitting a four game series in Tropicana Field this week the Rays and the Rangers remain tied for the top Wild Card spot.

It is highly probable that the Rays and Rangers will meet in the winner takes all Wild Card game this year marking the third time in four years that the road to the World Series runs through them.

So while the Rangers and Rays have not been rivals for as long as some of the historic rivalries in sports, it should certainly not be discounted in terms of intensity.

And while one could argue that the Rangers’ true rival should be their American League West Division opponent, and neighbor to the south Houston Astros, they would be wrong.

The Rays and Rangers offer a battle between two teams that were near the bottom of the standings for much of their existence before finding a winning formula for success late in the last decade.

The fact that each team went through so many losing seasons makes them even hungrier to continue their current success which just so happens to intensify the rivalry more than any games against an in state rival such as the Astros or Marlins would provide.

There are also some connections between the two teams beyond their recent success that may not be so obvious at first glance.

Hall of Famer Ted Williams was the first manager in Rangers' history after they moved from Washington D.C. where they were known as the Senators. Photo R. Anderson

Hall of Famer Ted Williams was the first manager in Rangers’ history after they moved from Washington D.C. where they were known as the Senators.
Photo R. Anderson

Baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams served as manager of the Washington Senators and continued in that role for a single season after the team relocated to the suburbs of Dallas, Texas to become the Texas Rangers.

The Ted Williams Baseball Museum is located inside of Tropicana Field which just so happens to be the home of the Tampa Bay Rays.

In addition to the Ted Williams connection there are many players who have been associated with both the Rangers and the Rays leading to a familiarity of sorts.

During the 2010 and 2011 playoffs former Ray Josh Hamilton helped lead the Rangers to victory. I am sure there were quite a few times when the Rays had wished that they still had him on the team.

Although he once managed the Rangers the Ted Williams Museum is located inside Tropicana Filed the home Ballpark of the Tampa Bay Rays. Photo R. Anderson

Although he once managed the Rangers the Ted Williams Museum is located inside Tropicana Field, the home Ballpark of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Photo R. Anderson

This year it is Matt Garza former Rays pitcher turned Rangers pitcher that will look to eliminate his former team from the playoffs.

The Rays have four games against the Orioles at Tropicana Field before heading to New York for a three-game set with the Yankees. The Rays will end the regular season in Canada with a three-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays. There is little room for error for the Rays if they want to cling to that Wild Card spot as the Orioles are nipping at their heels and could take the Wild Card spot depending on how the head to head games go.

The Rangers have a slightly easier path in theory when it comes to them holding onto their Wild Card spot with three games on the road against the Kansas City Royals before returning to the Ballpark in Arlington for three games against the Houston Astros and four games against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

But of course anything can happen on any given day which is why the games are played. This year is shaping up once again to be one of those down to the wire seasons where all of the postseason spots won’t be filled until the last out is recorded.

While it is yet to be determined how this season will end in terms of the Rays and Rangers one can definitely not deny the young rivalry that seems destined to last for years to come as both teams battle each other year after year.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am off to pray for a miracle sweep of the Rangers by the Astros to help the Rays secure home field advantage.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson  

Tampa Bay Rays Join My Triple Double Club

Tonight around 7:30 or so I will be at Minute Maid Park watching the Tampa Bay Rays play the Houston Astros in the third game of a four game series.

While the night will include postgame fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July, it occurs to me that it will mark another milestone as well.

While it did not occur to me at the time when I purchased my ticket, tonight’s game will mark the second time that I have seen the Rays play in Houston. Add that to two games at Tropicana Field and two games at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and the Rays become the first member of my Triple Double Club.

Fresh off their first World Series appearance in 2008 I visited the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009 for a long overdue trip to Tropicana Field. Photo R. Anderson

Fresh off their first World Series appearance in 2008 I visited the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009 for a long overdue trip to Tropicana Field.
Photo R. Anderson

There have been numerous teams that I have watched come and go through Minute Maid Park through the years.

But with the exception of seeing a few of them for Spring Training games, there have not been many that I have seen in multiple Ballparks so the Rays induction in the Triple Double Club is sort of a big deal.

The fact that the event will be met with post game fireworks is sort of a happy coincidence.

Okay so the Triple Double Club may be something that only matters to me but I thought that it was pretty cool.  Considering that I have only made it to four of the 30 Major League Ballparks so far the fact that I saw the same team twice at three of those ballparks is nothing to sneeze at.

I have seen the Baltimore Orioles play at three stadiums during the regular season but only once at each ballpark so they are in the Triple Single Club. Of course seeing them play in two different Ballparks over a four day period gives them bonus points. And I have seen them play in three ballparks over the years during Spring Training.

A second ballpark viewing of the Rays was added in Arlington when I saw them take on the Texas Rangers. Photo R. Anderson

A second ballpark viewing of the Rays was added in Arlington when I saw them take on the Texas Rangers.
Photo R. Anderson

The Texas Rangers are in the Double Double Club as I have watched them at both their home Ballpark and Minute Maid Park. It stands to reason that they would be a strong candidate to join the Triple Double Club as all it would take was a trip to an additional ballpark when they were in town to get them there.

The Toronto Blue Jays make it into the Double Single Club as I have seen them play at both Tropicana Field and Minute Maid Park.

The Houston Astros are the team I have watched the most due to the close proximity between my house and the Minute Maid Park.  I have probably seen close to 100 games at Minute Maid Park over the past decade but ironically I have never seen them play a regular season game at any other Ballpark.

I’ve made numerous trips to Florida to see the Astros play in Spring Training games but during the regular season it seems that the desire to see them play far from home just doesn’t exist. In that way the Astros closeness is both a blessing and a curse.

Minute Maid Park became the third ballpark to watch the Rays in when I saw them take on the Houston Astros in 2011. Photo R. Anderson

Minute Maid Park became the third ballpark to watch the Rays in when I saw them take on the Houston Astros in 2011.
Photo R. Anderson

There have been years where I thought about making the four hour drive to see them play the Texas Rangers in Arlington but those thoughts were usually quashed quickly at the thought that I could just wait until the Rangers came to Houston.

But there are certainly worse places to watch games than Minute Maid Park.

With the Astros move to the American League this year the odds of me completing the Single Thirty Club of seeing all 30 teams at Minute Maid Park is pretty high.

I do not have the number in front of me but it seems highly likely that I am less than five teams away from reaching that goal of seeing all 30 teams from the air-conditioned comfort of Minute Maid Park.

Off of the top of my head I know I have yet to see the New York Yankees play there but the other teams that I am missing escape me at the moment. The Oakland Athletics seem like another team that I have yet to see play but with them sharing a division with the Astros that is an easy team to cross off of the list.

Tonight will mark the sixth Tampa Bay Rays regular season game that I have attended and the second at Minute Maid Park earning an inaugural induction into the Triple Double Club as I have seen a pair of games at Tropicana Field, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, and Minute Maid Park. Photo R. Anderson

Tonight will mark the sixth Tampa Bay Rays regular season game that I have attended and the second at Minute Maid Park earning an inaugural induction into the Triple Double Club as I have seen a pair of games at Tropicana Field, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, and Minute Maid Park.
Photo R. Anderson

I suppose it is entirely possible that the Yankees and Athletics are the only missing teams but I will definitely have to look into that.

I do know that the National League, and in particular the National League Central, is well represented in my list of teams that I have seen multiple times there.

While the focus tonight will be placed firmly on enjoying the Rays and the induction of the first member of the Triple Double Club the festivities will be short lived.

Tomorrow afternoon I will start my way towards the Triple Triple Club as I will be catching a matinee game between the Rays and the Astros.

I guess that means I need to plan road trips back to Arlington and St. Petersburg to complete the Triple Triple Club for the Rays.  I don’t think my arm will be twisted to hard to make that happen.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to decide which Rays shirt to wear to tomorrow’s game.

 Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

To Cheer, or Not to Cheer? That is the Question

Earlier this week Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers came within one out of becoming the 24th pitcher in Major League Baseball history to throw a perfect game.

For anyone unfamiliar with the term, a perfect game occurs when a pitcher (or combination of pitchers) pitches a minimum of nine innings in which no opposing player reaches base safely for any reason including hits, walks, hit by pitch, etc. In short, the pitcher has to be “perfect” on the mound.

Despite falling short in the bid to retire 27 Houston Astros batters in a row, the Rangers ended up winning 7-0 and Yu took his denial of immortality in stride.

Current Astros Bullpen Coach Dennis Martinez threw a Perfect Game on July 28, 1991. Martinez was rooting for Yu Darish to join the fraternity as well.

Current Astros Bullpen Coach Dennis Martinez threw a Perfect Game on July 28, 1991. Martinez was rooting for Yu Darvish to join the fraternity as well.

The game brought up many interesting questions. Chief among the debates that have occurred is the issue of whether is it okay to cheer against your team when one is witnessing potential history in the making.

With the Astros down by seven runs in the late innings few could argue that the odds of an epic winning rally occurring, while conceivably possible, were likely.

So the argument in one camp would say that with victory of your team out of the realm of possibility it is okay to cheer for the guy that is mowing down the batters one after another.

I was not at the stadium Monday night but I was watching along at home. I will admit I had the game on as background noise at first but as the innings were winding down I found myself glued to the couch watching and hoping that I was about to see history occur.

David Wells threw his Perfect Game on May 17, 1998.

David Wells threw his Perfect Game on May 17, 1998.

I am of the opinion that when it comes to the ninth inning you root for the pitcher trying to throw the perfect game regardless of whether or not it is your team that is on the losing end.

The Tampa Bay Rays have had three perfect games thrown against them since 2009. Does that mean that the Rays are a bad team? Far from it as their recent string of playoff appearances would attest to.

If anything one could argue that being at the receiving end of no hitters further fuels the fire of the team. And last time I checked there aren’t any teams that win all 162 games so whether you lose in a no hitter, perfect game or any other fashion doesn’t really matter in the final win-loss column in my opinion.

I know that there are people who will disagree with me. They will say, “But Ryan how could you ever root for someone to beat your team. Doesn’t that make you a fair weather fan?”

To that I say that there are moments in the course of baseball events when the time to rise up and support the singular performance temporarily outweighs one’s allegiance to a team.

Randy "Big Unit" Johnson threw his Perfect Game on May 18, 2004.

Randy “Big Unit” Johnson threw his Perfect Game on May 18, 2004.

In fact, after the game the Astros Bullpen Coach, Dennis Martinez, himself a perfect game throwing pitcher, admitted that he was rooting for Yu to get the perfect game and join that elite club of perfect game throwing pitchers.

So, if a coach on the team on the receiving end of the perfect game can see the history in the making aspect why wouldn’t it be okay for the fans to get caught up in the moment as well?

Think about it, in the entire history of Major League Baseball only 23 players have ever thrown a perfect game.  There is so much that has to go right over the course of 27 at bats and nine innings for that to happen.

While much attention is focused on the need for the battery of pitcher and catcher to work in harmony during a bid for a perfect game all nine players on the field have to be working in perfect harmony to make a perfect game occur.

Aside from the fans wanting to see the perfect game occur there is another group of people that was affected by the game not ending in a historic manner. That group is the media that was covering the game.

Current Texas Rangers executive and Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan threw 7 no hitters during his career. Nolan Ryan did not however pitch a perfect game showing just how rare of an achievement they are.

Current Texas Rangers executive and Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan threw 7 no hitters during his career. Nolan Ryan did not however pitch a perfect game showing just how rare of an achievement they are.

Back when I covered games on deadline I, like many other reporters, would try to get a head start on my articles before heading back to the newsroom to file them.

Despite the availability of laptops and internet connections that allowed people to file stories directly from the press box, I never had that option during my career as I always had to go back to the newsroom to write my stories and put the pages together for the next day’s paper.

So, during the game I would try to gain every time advantage I could when constructing the article. While entirely boring for half of the fans in attendance blowouts and total one sided games were definitely fun to cover from a reporter’s point of view since that gave ample time to get a head start on the article since the outcome was very much clear early on.

Nail-biting games where the lead changed hands several times were good for the fans but definitely hard for the reporters trying to get an early start on the story.

On Monday night when it appeared that the perfect game was going to happen I am sure that there were certain media members who had already written leads along the lines of “Yu can do it”, etc. I lost track of the numerous bad puns I read afterwards involving Yu’s name in headlines.

There were probably even some reporters who had a nice 140 character tweet all set to send out when the final out was made.

As an aside, let me just say that I am so glad that the bulk of my career, or at least the formative years, did not occur during the age of Twitter. I have nothing against Twitter when it is used properly to send out an important bit of data.  But, having to send out constant updates during the course of a game is a certain side of multitasking that I can do without.

So when the perfect game bid fell apart those preemptive tweets were erased and leads were rewritten as the reporters than tried to track down the player who foiled the game by getting the lone hit of the night.

So while the bid for perfection fell short for Yu Darvish this week as he became the 12th player to lose a perfect game on the 27th batter he faced, I am confident that he will have other chances to flirt with baseball immortality. And when he does, or when any other player does for that matter, just remember that regardless of whether the color of their jersey matches yours, it is okay to cheer for the good of baseball.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have a baseball road trip to get to.

Copyright 2013 R Anderson