Baseball Jesus Speak: An Interview with Mike Rhyner (Part 2)

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**ORIGINAL POST DATE 7/3/12**

ShutDownInning: The team has had a few struggles throughout this season. It’s early, but other than injuries, what are your major concerns, if any?

Mike Rhyner: My concerns about this team all have to do with the the down-the-road of it and most can be summarized in one very simple question: What kind of shape’s this thing going to be in if it needs to play meaningful games to get into the tournament, and once there, what kind of shape’s it going to be in then? Injuries are a huge concern, as they are for every club, but the scope of that goes well beyond injuries. Will the nucleus of this team have the energy to play those kinds of games a third year in a row, after being beaten down by the weather for the next 2-plus months? As for the here and now, yeah, they’ve had injuries, offensive blackouts, starting pitchers who’ve blown hot and cold…and so has everybody else…it’s all part of the grind. When you start thinking things are bad with this team, take a look at the standings and count the teams who’d trade places with them.

SDI: Who is your favorite Ranger player of all time?

MR: Man–so many, and a lot of ’em weren’t really that great, but they were Rangers and in one way or another they gave me some reason to remember them. Nolan, Pudge, Juando, Rafael, Rusty, Buddy Bell, Al Oliver, Larry Parrish, Jim Sundberg, Mike Hargrove, Ruben, Jules “Keeper of the Big Gold”, Toby Harrah, Richie Zisk, Charlie Hough, Jim Kern, Bert Blyleven, Gaylord Perry, Will Clark and that barely scratches the surface. As for that singular one, you can talk me into or out of just about anything. One thing I’m very amused by, maybe even gratified by is seeing the way the Ranger fans of today are now embracing the history of this team. I’ve always felt that most of them just flat-out didn’t care because the team didn’t win when the guys mentioned above and so many others were here, and in their eyes, anything those guys did while here had no value because of that, and that’s just flat-out wrong. Good or bad, a lot of great players had great years here and gave us all many, many singular baseball moments, and this doesn’t even take into account all the weirdness that’s surrounded this team. For the day 1–game 4 ranger fan, it’s really good to see that even though everyone’s more caught up in the here and now, they now seem to get that it’s ok to think good about the Rangers’ past.

SDI: Who was the best player, for any team, you ever saw play in person?

MR: Another one that’s hard to narrow down. It seemed as though Roberto Clemente impacted every game I ever saw him play in some way, but I only saw him on tv and he was in the National League anyway, so that wasn’t the question. I saw Hank Aaron hit the 1 home run he hit at the old ballpark but by then he was on the fade. He was still great, though, and I did see him in person. I feel sort of shortchanged because I missed out on seeing all the greats of my baseball youth in person, i.e., Aaron, Mantle, Mays, Spahn, Koufax, etc. On the other hand, I saw virtually every great american leaguer from the ’70’s on. And in the ’80’s and ’90’s I saw them night after night. It was awesome to see such greatness in baseball every night

SDI: What are your initial thoughts on Jurickson Profar? I realize you may
have not seen much of him, but from reports or with your own eyes what do
you think?

MR: It’s going to be very interesting to see what becomes of him. There are variables in play in which he’s a player, even though they may not involve him directly, i.e., how things go with Elvis when it comes time to get the contract done with him that will keep him here, how Kins plays as he starts to get a little older, how his body holds up, whether or not he can continue at 2B, and how proficient Profar may become at a position other than SS. He’s risen through the system at the very least on schedule, with no Neil Ramirez-like setback. If they decide they can hang with Kins at 2B for another 1-3 years, which I wouldn’t bet on, and if the Elvis contract gets done, then what? Do you try to make Profar an OF? Or do you include him in a trade. I’d bet he winds up somewhere on the Rangers infield fairly soon. 

Patrick Despain is the Editor for ShutDownInning.com. He can be reached at Patrick.Despain@shutdowninning.com or on Twitter @ShutDownInning
Patrick Despain
Patrick is a member of the IBWAA and creator of Shutdown Inning. He was raised him Arlington, Texas and grew up watching games on HSE and listening to Eric Nadel and Mark Holtz on the radio. He is a long time Rangers fan and never achieved his dream of being a bat boy. He know lives in Georgia with dreams of a Texas return.

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