How I Learned To Start Lovin’ The Oven

This is a mea culpa – one that’s long overdue.  You see, I’ve spent the past few seasons as one of Derek Holland’s harshest and most vocal critics.  And the time has come for me to finally, once and for all, admit I was wrong about The Dutch Oven.
While most rational, level-headed Ranger fans preferred to focus on the flashes of brilliance he’d shown during the early years of his career, I was always more consumed by frustration and preoccupied with what I felt was his maddening inconsistency.

People tried to tell me he was still young and that many great pitchers – such as Cliff Lee – didn’t fully develop and mature until they were older than Holland, but I couldn’t keep from fixating on the fact that he’d already spent the better part of four seasons (coming into this year) as a big league starter.

I tried claiming his wacky personality didn’t influence my opinion of him as an underachiever, but I really did think doing Harry Caray impressions in the dugout on live TV during playoff games his team was losing showed a lack of intensity and focus.

In retrospect, I became so convinced I was right about Holland that I chose to emphasize his shortcomings and draw as much attention as possible to every subpar outing, even if it just consisted of one poor inning.  I was so blinded by my perceived certainty that I practically ignored any of Holland’s better starts.

I simply cannot continue to wrong Derek Holland any longer.  This season, he has been nothing short of brilliant.  Although Yu Darvish is widely considered the Rangers’ ace, and he’s dazzled everyone with his spectacular strikeout-filled performances this year, Holland has truly been the team’s most consistent member of the rotation in 2013.

Holland was great once more on Friday, but despite posting seven solid shutout innings against Seattle, he was victimized yet again by poor run support and a late-inning bullpen meltdown.  He deserved better from his teammates last night, and he’s deserved better from me for going on five years now.

I’m sorry, Derek.  I don’t deserve your forgiveness, but I’m thankful you’re having a season great enough to help keep your injury-ravaged team in contention when they likely would have already been buried by now without you.

I couldn’t be happier about being so wrong.  Eating my own words has never tasted so great.

Bob Bland

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