Ode To A Season Lost

Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre throws out Baltimore Orioles' Manny Machado during the seventh inning of an American League wild-card playoff baseball game Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Thirty-two games into the season and Rangers fans are abandoning Rangers Ballpark in Arlington[1] without hope. But I ask you fans: why are we abandoning this team? Is it because we are entitled fans? We’ve been spoiled with success recently and we are turning our nose up at the stench that is coming from the Ballpark.

But do you see what I see?

Take a look at the team as they played on Monday and something is happening.

Pride.

You see, these veteran players hate losing. Because while losing they can’t have fun.

With every Adrian Beltre bomb, Elvis Andrus gets that gleam in his eyes and the gloom of April disappears.

In April the top four hitting players were Prince Fielder, Mitch Moreland, Leonys Martin, and Ryan Rua, which would shock a couple of people. The fact that Fielder and Moreland were the only ones batting over .265 would explain the slump that the team experienced.

I want you to close your eyes and imagine three teams from 2014.

Team 1 had 15 wins and seven saves with an ERA of 3.92 and 105 earned runs allowed.

Team 2 had 15 wins and eight saves with an ERA of 3.10 and 68 earned runs allowed

Team 3 had 11 wins and six saves with an ERA of 4.64 and 106 earned runs allowed.

All three teams had potential to make the playoffs but only two did. Team 3 bowed out in the ALCS, Team 2 lost in the World Series, but Team 1 was the Rangers. Fifteen wins, with four from Martin Perez. Where were the big guns? The fire and flash of Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison, or Colby Lewis?  We find out later Yu’s hurt and angry, Harrison is just not right, and Lewis needed some body work on his frame.

The team that had lived on pitching successes early during the glory years were dying, like they are now, struggling to find their identity.

But you are a liar [2] if you think that this April was such a horrible month that the Rangers are completely doomed for the season.

Team 1 had 11 wins, six saves with an ERA of 3.69 and 85 earned runs allowed.

Team 2 had 16 wins, eight saves with an ERA of 3.89 and 103 earned runs allowed.

Team 3 had seven wins, two saves with an ERA of 4.18 with 88 earned runs allowed.

Which of these teams didn’t go to the World Series?  Well for right now, we can’t say Team 3 yet, because the season isn’t over yet, but you should know the other two are the stats from the 2010 and 2011 Aprils.

How about another stat, in the 2010 Texas Rangers April run, only four players batted above .265 : Vladimir Guerrero, Nelson Cruz, Joaquin Arias, and Andrus.

Chris Davis? .188. Michael Young? .255. How about David Murphy? .162. Julio Borbon was a miserable .191 but the team came together and found a way of fighting for each game.

What does a fire need to exist?

Look at the fire in this team, sweeping the MLB leading Astros in their own home, taking the first game from the Royals with inspired hitting, and inspired pitching from Colby Lewis.

For a fire to blaze it needs three things: heat, fuel, and an agent to sustain combustion.

Jeff Banister is making moves to improve the team. He gave them April to come along and find a grove, then when he realized that losing is a disease, he kicked the groove to the curb and had a “come to Banny” meeting with the team. [3] He made it clear that players who didn’t perform weren’t going to be part of this team. He made it clear that the Rangers were a family, but he was going to do what was right for the team. So with the subtle threats to players that minor league stints would be in the future, he took action, taking Rougned Odor and letting him spend some time in the minors, bringing up hungry players.

He gave the players fuel: Play or else. We will find the players that want to win and we are going to work around the injuries that have plagued this team.

Last year’s injuries were the agent that denied combustion. The team imploded with each injury and the spark was extinguished.

Who has the fire?

Prince Fielder does. After last year’s disappointing ending, you could see from Spring Training that Prince was on a mission. He has single-handedly carried this team on his back in second place in doubles with eight, and leads the team in hits and RBIs.

Look at the way he plays with his teammates. Prince is leading by example, keeping the clubhouse loose and having fun. Right now he’s the spark and he is warming others up, like Adrian Beltre.

Admit it, Beltre has been in a slump. His swing isn’t as compact as it once was and it looks as if he is swinging a Wiffle ball bat rather than a golf club. He seems frustrated. But while April showers bring May flowers, April’s frustrations for Beltre has slowly turned into May’s showers of hits. Although I still see a wildness that still has him swinging out of control, trying too hard, and already with as many strikeouts as he had all of April, I do see the swing returning.

The future…

I’ve been begging for the Rangers to bring up the future and let them succeed or fail while our pitching woes continue.

Tommy Field: way to go. Carlos Peguero: you are making me proud. Delino DeShields: you are a THIEF on the base paths that give pitchers ulcers. Odor and Jake Smolinski: all it will take is time for your nerves to coalesce.

On the pitching side, anyone who is disappointed with the patchwork quilt that is the Rangers starting lineup should be embarrassed. Nick Martinez. Colby Lewis. Wandy Rodriguez. How can you not love these guys?

Although the bullpen is weak, I see great promise in Keone Kela, Alexander Claudio, and Roman Mendez.

This team has a bright future and although the fans are not showing up for games yet…

They will.  The pitching is coming… and when it returns[4], the future will be even brighter for this team.


[1] I’m not getting paid by an insurance company, so RBiA it will be called until further notice. So sue me.

[2] And I mean it, full blown LIAR!

[3] I can’t verify this meeting but in my mind it went a little like this…

[4] we can Send Ross Detwiler to Hickory…. Oops sorry!

Rangers Magic Number
Who is Rangers Magic Number? Who cares? I could tell you about the ex-girlfriends, ex-wives, managing bands and getting favors from Globe Life Employees parking where I am not ever supposed to be able to but all that would do is make you angry.

RMN is the fan in all of our hearts, the one who brings out the Rangers jersey in March with hope & dreams of a World Series win, carefully packing it away in October with a tear in his eye. RMN believes and loves his team, still having somewhere a Rangers Bat Day bat that he got the year after we broke bleachers banging away as we faced the Royals.

I am a lucky man, married to a Rangers fan who loves me for who I am, a crazy fan. I do have many Ranger memorabilia, but my most treasured is a Nolan Ryan baseball. My son took it out of its case one day to play catch with me before he learned how close to a heart attack a Rangers fan can get when that happens. (We still played catch with a Oddibe McDowell baseball, don't ask.) I've been to Rangers games in Dallas, Houston and will eventually make it to Surprise. I've been working as an managerial consultant for many years and spend too many afternoons in meetings & phone calls but still cheer when I get to say HELLO WIN COLUMN!

I guess I am very lucky because of the people that I have met on this journey. We have drank a lot of whiskey and celebrated more victories than losses. So I look forward to meeting you down the road.

One comment

  • Yes, leaders come in different stripes. Clubhouse leaders, ra ra leaders, leaders by example, and guys like Vlad Guerrero who just brought teams together and nobody wanted to play badly when he never gave up.

    Who knew Delino DeShields had a son in baseball, with he same name? Expo links galore.

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