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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Is it really September already? Yes it is!!


Well, it's been 3 long months since you've heard from me, Rangers fans. I don't have a fun post for you all this time because shit just got real! It's September Baseball...so I feel I need to warn you that this may get stat intensive. Haha...





39 days ago the Rangers were down 6 games in the AL West and things were looking pretty bleak. Luckily the great forward thinking baseball minds here at 162+ had taken a look at the schedule in the month of August and noticed only ONE team (those hated As) with a record above .500.





Now not only did they eliminate that deficit thanks in large part to a 20-7 record in said month of August, but they actually kept the A's at bay while maintaining a lead in the West that topped out at 3.


The Rangers finished the month by losing a winnable series at home against the Twins while only scoring 6 runs over the weekend; their only win coming on a walk off hit from Leonys Martin (whose transition into the lead off spot has really helped him and this Rangers offense blossom, by the way).

My boy Leo. I called it!


A weekend that began, mind you, with the Rangers up 3 games in West setting up a 3 game set in Oakland while the Rangers' lead in the West was down to a slim 1 game lead.


Which brings us to today...well, the Rangers lost 2 out of 3 to Oakland with only the first game having any measure of drama to it. The latter 2 games were more or less decided by the later innings. If you told me before the series that the only game we'd win was Martin Perez with Holland, Perez, and Darvish on the mound, AND the Rangers would lose Darvish's start 11-4, I probably wouldn't have believed you. Not that I don't have supreme confidence in Perez, he's been outstanding of late. He's won his last 6 starts and is 9-3 this season, not to mention his recent American League Rookie of the Month for August honors. The numbers don't lie. He finished the month 5-0 with a 3.06 ERA, 11 BB, & 26 SO in 35.1 innings pitched in 5 starts.




You really just couldn't have expected Holland and Darvish to be less than stellar in an albeit early, but important September series. The bullpen (Robbie Ross) didn't do Yu (get it? haha) any favors today, while Nick Tepesh looked pretty good in his return from the DL on Monday afternoon. What was noticeable today (and will probably prove to be nothing) was Darvish showing some measure of frustration on the mound; walking away from AJP (which I would no matter what he was saying actually haha) and Mike Maddux. It wasn't quite a CJ Wilson moment, but he still needed to buckle down there and get it together.







Again, also supreme confidence in Holland and Darvish. Our pitching (2nd in the AL) is what has made this team great in 2013 thanks in large part to Holland and Darvish. I don't need to tell you that Darvish is leading the world in strikeouts and has a top 5 ERA. It IS worth noting, however, that the Rangers are a sub .500 team in day games. It was peculiar to have 2 days games in this set, even if one of those days was labor day. Anyway, I digress. So, all of that being said...here's how we stand today...







Well, Ranger fans I've actually come here to praise the Rangers not to bury them. If I told you the before the season started that the Rangers would be deadlocked atop the West on September 4th would you take it? Would you? Given what all the baseball pundits and experts "claimed" we had lost in the offseason? I keep saying I don't need to remind you about the collapse of 2012, but I suppose that I now have to. Lets travel back to this date in 2012: The Rangers had a comfortable lead in the West with a record of 80-55 (80-62 in 2011 and 75-60 in 2010 for some perspective), while the A's were sitting at a 76-59 mark. The only record that mattered over the final month of the season was on the final day...the Rangers surrendered the West finishing 93-69 while the A's finished 94-68. Soooo, Math majors...that means the Rangers went 13-14 down the stretch and the A's went 19-9...COLLAPSE.



Once again...not without a little help.


What's interesting about the 2012 Texas Rangers is that despite winning the 4th most games in Rangers history (93) they were actually a mediocre 27-30 against the AL West. This included an 8-11 record against Oakland including a 2-5 mark after September. Contrast that with this year's Rangers and their 45-18 (!) record against the West and 9-6 mark against Oakland and you start to realize how truly dominant this team could have been last year if they had just handled business against their own division. Again...COLLAPSE.








Now most baseball experts like to talk about the lowly Astros and the 19 games the Rangers and A's get to play against them and the competitive advantage it supposedly gives us. The Rangers are 14-2 and the A's are 12-3 against them if you were wondering.





Well then I'd have to say to them how about we talk about the Mighty Angels for a second then? Weren't they supposed to be the no doubt AL representative in the World Series this year?


http://espn.go.com/mlb/preview13/story/_/page/13expertpicks/espn-expert-team-predictions-2013-baseball-season


In case you didn't want to count, that's 31 "experts" that picked the Halos to win the West and 3 that actually had them winning the flippin World Series!!! Now that we're all in agreement that baseball 'experts' are idiots and the Angels suck, we can look at the A's 9-4 record and the Rangers' 10-2 record against them as proof positive.





Yeah, yall have a losing record against Houston, guys. Good job!

So who do the Rangers and A's play this weekend, you ask? Wouldn't you know it. The A's host the Astros for 4 and the Rangers are at Anaheim for 3. From there the A's have 6 games left against the Halos while the Rangers have 7 games left against the Halos (4) and Astros (3)...all 7 being the final games and homestand of the Rangers' season. The other 6 games left for the Rangers are against 2 difficult opponents (Pirates and Rays), while the A's have a cakewalk with 6 against the Twins.



This makes next weekend's 3 games in Arlington against Oakland kind of a big deal.




So while you're watching ESPN this month and they keep telling you that the Rangers are gonna collapse and the A's are unstoppable and Johnny Manziel is the devil...




...you'll know better. You'll instantly tell ESPN...








Haha. More importantly you know that you've been reading 162+ all year and you know the #'s and recent history and you know this team has no quit in them...


139 down 23 to go...




Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I Told You So...

Do you guys remember a couple months ago when everybody was in huge state of panic about our Texas Rangers?  Yeah, me either...

Kidding...of course I remember.  I wrote this, didn't I?  Thank goodness for the quality baseball minds here at 162+ who told you guys to pull yourselves together...the season is long...we'll be okay..NOBODY FREAK OUT, etc.  You remember it now, right?

And at that point, which was July 8th, our Texas Rangers were 14 games OVER and in 2nd place in the West by only HALF A GAME.  Tsk, tsk, spoiled fans (including me...I was in a mini-panic..but don't tell anyone).

Well now I am here to do what any self-respecting baseball blogger would do: say I TOLD YOU SO. Haha.  Okay...not exactly "I told you so".  But let's just reinforce the "Nobody Freak Out" blog post by looking at this:

Now that's a good lookin' ball club as of 8/27/13.
So what do we have here?  We are looking at TWENTY ONE games over .500 and a 2.5 game lead over the Oakland Athletics my friends.  And that is sounding pretty good to me.

And while we have still have had plenty of injuries and re-injuries (can guys quit getting hurt rehabbing?  I'm looking at you Matty & Colby), we have also had some guys get healthy. Joakim Soria was finally ready to go in early July.  Martin Perez has come roaring back from the DL with some pretty stellar games.  And Jeff Baker managed to fight back from an extremely vigorous high-five.

That DL stint due to high-five actually did happen, btw.  That's why the guys do this after hits now.
Of course, we obviously can't talk about this team and how they might finish the season without mentioning who we've lost.  But, so far, we seem to have overcome those obstacles.  First on the Man Down list:  Nelson Cruz.  MLB suspended Nelly for 50 games on August 5th as you probably know.  50 games means he's done for the season.  However, he is eligible to come back for the playoffs.  The rumor is he's playing ball in the Dominican trying to stay fresh until then.  We'll see.

Not the best defensive outfielder that ever was, but we'll definitely miss his boomstick.
Alexi Ogando managed to land himself back on the DL after a brief return to the rotation (shoulder inflammation).  But, based on the starts he had in that return, we ain't missin' much.  Old Man Berkman also managed to injure himself...AGAIN.  Of course, this is what most of us expected of the 37-year old DH.  I mean...he's on the DL with a hip problem.  Literally.  I'm not even making that up.  And because he wasn't producing much either before his latest injury, he's in the same boat with Ogando; not even sure we want them to come back. Young Nick Tepesch has also found himself on the on the DL.  But I'm not even sure he's hurt.  I think that's Wash finding a way to not have to start him again.  But, as I've said before, he did as much as we could have expected him to do in the position the team threw him in.  So, we'll see you again, kid!  (FYI, they are calling it 'elbow inflammation')

The team has also added a couple of new faces too though, before and after the trade deadline.  

Dat's right...


Ready for your intros?  

One strikeout...ah, ah, ah...
At least 75% of Rangers fans think Matt Garza looks like The Count.  I am one of them.  Since joining the team at the end of July, Garza has had bouts of pitching brilliance, Twitter ignorance, and a few bad starts as well.  As of now, his Rangers ERA sits at 4.44; not so hot.  But only time will tell how this acquisition will pan out.  Here's to hoping he starts pitching like hid did in his first two starts as a Ranger again soon.

Lucky for me, nobody reads your little TIME magazine.  Or whatever it's called.
So...it has come to my attention that Alex Rios is really, really ridiculously good looking. Unfortunately, he thinks so too.  So all I can think of is the movie Zoolander.  Derek Zoolander..."A Model Idiot".  Anyway, Our male model is hitting .279 as a Texas Ranger.  And some of those hits have been of the clutch variety. I've never been a huge fan of this guy, I always thought he was overrated (I'm still not convinced otherwise). But he's playing well for us thus far, and we really needed offense prior to his arrival. As with Garza, I guess we'll have to wait and see how this one pans out.

Utility guys don't get funny pictures or even nicknames really.  Poor guy.
Adam Rosales was picked up, DFA'd, picked up again, and now he's actually on the team. Alright! He adds a nice glove on the bench and isn't expected to do too much other than that. But, he's a new Ranger nonetheless.

So none of these guys seem like team saviors, do they?  Well..they're not.  They're not big bat Mike Stanton like I was hoping for.  And they're not big ace Cliff Lee of a couple years ago.  The truth is, there wasn't too much on the trading block this year to choose from, even for JD, Jedi that he is.  But as we've already read, this team didn't really need a savior per se.  They just needed to patch some holes here and there.  So, I'm still hopeful for a lengthy playoff run, even if not a full on world championship.  Why, you ask?  Two very good reasons:

1.  Harry Caray:

He's such a clown, but he's been dealin'.

2.  And The International Man of Mystery:

What a ridiculous photo this is.  And an organized team photo no less!
Well, that's all for now.  Feeling pretty confident in this team.  But we're in the midst of the dog days of summer and September will prove to be very important, just like last year.  Sorry if I brought on any Josh Hamilton flashbacks.

Dutch is throwing on the West Coast tonight.  Stupid 9PM start.  

131 down, 31 to go.
 

























Monday, July 8, 2013

Grimm sucks. What happened to David Murphy? Man, the Rangers are terrible....

So, I had about 154981 topics in my head that I've been wanting to write about over the last couple weeks.  Good stuff too!  Best GMs in MLB, an examination of the Rangers farm system and the power of the prospect as trade bait...then something dawned on me:  People are in an outright PANIC about this team!  I mean, "throwing in towel" freaked out.  Not to fear, I will get to those other topics in upcoming posts.  But, I felt 162+ may need to prescribe a virtual dosage of Paxil in blog form first.

And that's what this post is.  The "Nobody Freak Out!" post.


Let's start with this:

STANDINGS!

Not only are the Rangers 14 games over .500, but they are only a half game out of first in the division.  And lest we forget, that this half game changes hands almost daily.  Ask me tomorrow and we'll be in FIRST PLACE.

If the AL West standings aren't enough for you, how about this:  only TWO teams have better winning percentages than we do in the entire AMERICAN LEAGUE, Exhibit A:

A HALF FREAKING GAME OUT! As of 7/8, pre-gametime.
Still not convinced?  Exhibit B:


^ That would be the National League standings also as of 7/8, pre-gametime.  And if you're scoring at home (or even if you're by yourself)*, that's only FOUR teams in all of MLB with a higher winning percentage than your Texas Rangers.  

*You're welcome for the old school Keith Olbermann (pre-crazy; he is a nut now, btw) reference. 

So why are we panicked?  Because we've been spoiled by this team for the last 3+ years.  That's why.  These guys have been playing out of their minds for over three years and now we flinch every time they lose.  But to know why today's standings are truly remarkable, consider this:

You guys remember Neftali Feliz, don't you?  
As evidenced above, we've had injury after injury.  That list is current, it doesn't even include these guys:

Ian Kinsler:  DL May 18th - June 15th
Joakim Soria:  DL - since the beginning of time - he's back now
Martin Perez - since he broke his hand in spring training - also back now

And you can say whatever you want about Kinsler's pop-ups, but he's the straw that stirs the drink.  Right, Wash?

Wash salutes you, Kins...and so does 162+.

In addition to Ian Kinsler, that's 3/5 of our starting rotation that have missed considerable time:  Colby, Perez, and Ogando.  Hell, it's been the whole year for Colby.  And now...even our backup guy is hurt.  One young Nick Tepesch.  And while we're on the subject of Tepesh, let me add this:

He and Grimm were never called up to stay.  They aren't in the big leagues because the Rangers think they're ready for big league hitters and can get them out.  They are up because JD & Co had no other choice.  Tepesch is a 24 year old kid that's never pitched above AA ball.  Grimm, also 24, had only thrown about 10 games at the AAA level before his stint in the rotation this year.  So, yeah, ERAs in the high 4s and 5s suck.  But they are exactly what's expected when young guys get thrown into the fire like this.  

So...through all of this...we're still a half game out of first.  Now don't mistake me saying "nobody freak out!" for "we're gonna win the World Series as we are" because that's just not true.  This team is going to have to make some moves to be a real contender in the playoffs.  Mainly, we need a big bat.  Like this guy:


Or this one: 


Or maybe even this guy:


Ok, ok...I know that's all the same guy.  Haha.  But, he's exactly what this team needs.  

A big bat and the return of some key guys could really help to boost this team.  The dog days are coming, so we shall see.  But, there's definitely no need panic now.  And that's really all I had to say.  Short and sweet.

Just a brief post to calm your nerves.  Although, the 3-2 score that I'm staring at right now isn't helping things.  Especially since the O's have the bases loaded.  But...again...not to fear...Scott Feldman is their starter.  Happy days are hear again...

88 down, 74 to go...including the one in progress.  

Stay the course, my friends.  

PS.  I forgot about the title of this thing!  David Murphy shouldn't play everyday:













Thursday, June 13, 2013

Baseball 601 (Or whatever I said I'd call this)

So almost two months ago, the good folks here at 162+ put together a baseball glossary of sorts.  You know...the stuff we reference all the time and assume you know, but you might actually not know.  Like 5-4-3 double plays, 5-tool players, and Leo's personal favorite Ducks on the Pond.

In case you forgot...
Well...that wasn't even half of it.  So...here we are again.  Baseball 601 - I think that's what I called the "advanced" version of the glossary when I ended the last one.  Here we go...get your spikes on:

Save Situation - There are a couple of rules here.  To qualify as a save situation, the pitcher in the save situation must enter the game later, in other words, he cannot be the starter or the winning pitcher.  It doesn't have to be the 9th inning, it can be the 8th, or even the 7th, etc.  BUT, he MUST obviously record at least one out.  Also one of the following must apply:

1.  His team cannot have a lead of more than three runs when he enters the game.
2.  He enters the game with the tying run either on base, at bat, or on deck.  Regardless of the count when he enters the game.
3.  He pitches for at least three innings.

That was a long explanation wasn't it.  I told you this was the advanced class.  Now, before you start name-calling, nobody here is a Yankees fan.  I swear.  But, you can't define save without this dude's picture:

Oh that cutter.
The dude does have SIX HUNDRED THIRTY ONE saves after all.  And he's STILL pitching...going on his 51st season.

Hold.  So what about the guy that comes in before the closer?  To get a 'hold', almost everything is the same as with a save situation, except, the reliever only qualifies for a hold if he leaves before the game ends and doesn't give up the lead.  Thereby "holding" the lead for the closer.

WHIP.  We covered ERA last go round, which is the number of earned runs a pitcher gives up in an average nine innings.  Well, WHIP is another pitching sabermetric that basically gives you a measure of a pitcher's ability to keep hitters off the bases.  It is walks + hits per inning pitched.  How many baserunners, of any kind, does this guy allow per inning on average?  

Alright...enough with the pitchers.  Let's talk hitting.

On Deck.  This is just the guy next in line to come up to bat.  There's an "on deck circle" that is this guy's place to stand until he's up...but they rarely stand IN the circle.  They mill around, take swings, etc.   My favorite on deck story involved Pudge Rodriguez.  As most of my favorite stories of any kind do.  He was once in the on deck circle for like 7 extra minutes because he was attempting to take the donut off the fat part of the bat.  The broadcasters were dying laughing.  I didn't say he was smart.  I said he was a GREAT ballplayer.  Sadly, I can't find a picture of this.  But, at least I'll show the on deck circle:

Kitten Face on deck and outside the circle.
And, as you can see, there's NO WAY to get that donut off the fat end of that bat.
In the hole.  Do NOT say "That's what she said".  Just don't. This is the guy that's hitting after the guy who's on deck.  He usually parks himself on the top step of the dug out until it's his turn to move into the on deck circle.   

Slugging Percentage.  (SP) We know that Batting Average tells us how often a guy gets a hit; hits divided by at bats.  Well, Slugging Percentage is a measurement of power.  Total bases divided by at bats, with each multi-base hit getting multiplied by the number of bases the hitter got at that time; a single is one base, a double is two bases, and so on...then you divide the sum of all of that by the number of at bats:

SLG = (1B) +  (2 X 2B) + (3 X 3B) + (4 X HR)/AB          


Let's up the ante now.

On Base Average.  (OBA) Exactly what it sounds like.  A measurement of how often a hitter is on base by almost any means; hits, walks, and even hit by pitch.  (almost because it doesn't include when a runner is on because of errors, or fluke stuff like catcher's interference).  Take the sum of all of those and divide them by the sum of hits, walks, hit by pitch, and sacrifice flies.  Sac bunts don't count because they are considered strategic.  That'll give you a pretty good idea of how often a guy is on base.

I'll see your OBA and raise you a:

OPS.  On Base Plus Slugging.  Also exactly what it sounds like, the combo of Slugging Percentage and On Base Average.  This just gives you a great idea of how well a guy gets on base AND hits for power.  

The OPS king*.  (Yes, he also get asterisks from 162+)
Hit & Run.  This is a risky offensive strategy involving the guy on base and the guy at bat.  The thought process is that if the guy on base attempts to steal a base, it'll open a hole between the bases for the hitter to put the ball through.  The reward if you succeed?  A two base advancement or even a run scored, depending on which base the base stealer was originally on.  The risk if you fail?  The strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play.  

Fielder's Choice.  For the 3rd time, I will say...exactly what it sounds like.  If a guy is on base and the batter hits a ground ball to an infielder, the infielder can choose to throw to first to get the hitter.  OR, he can choose to try to get the lead runner (the guy that was already on base) out instead.  The at bat for the hitter is scored as a Fielder's Choice and even if the hitter's now on first base (because the infielder chose to get the lead runner out), he is not credited with a hit.  

And now for the RULES.  

The game of baseball is over 160 years old.  I think we covered that.  Part of being that old is having about 35248412318454 rules.  I'm going to venture to say that baseball has the most complex rules of any professional American sport.  I mean...this blog post could go on for days just on rules.  But don't worry, it's not nap time yet.  We're just gonna hit three.  But, just in case you thought I was kidding...click here (and that's not even all of it).

Defensive Indifference.  Super simple.  If a guy steals a base and no gives a crap on the other team...BAM...defensive indifference.  It's usually really easy to pick this one out because the catcher will barely even look at the runner and will definitely make no attempt to throw him out.  In this case, the runner is NOT credited with a stolen base.  And this usually happens in blowout games because the stolen base and the run it could help produce, doesn't really matter in the outcome of the game.

Catcher's Interference.  After about 20 years of this never happening, it's been called...like...5 times  in the last couple of years.  Ask Leo.  I'm not making that up.  Basically, the catcher is not allowed to make any contact with the batter, not him nor his equipment.  Interference is usually called when the catcher's mitt makes contact with the hitter's bat.  It  normally happens when the catcher gets overzealous about throwing a guy out attempting to steal a base and he gets up too soon, but that's not always the case.  The result is that the hitter is awarded first base (with no official at bat) and the catcher is charged with an error.  The caveat is if the hitter still manages to get a hit after his bat hits the catcher's mitt, the umpire can wave off the interference call.  

And now...I present to you...the granddaddy of all rules:

The Infield Fly Rule.  I'm deeming this one the granddaddy because Leo and I have decided that only roughly 3-5% of a sold out Rangers Ballpark in Arlington can explain this one to you.  And I still think we're being generous.  I mean that's about 2400 people...I don't buy that.

Anywho...here it goes.  The point of the rule is to prevent an infielder from intentionally dropping a routine pop up so that he can easily double up or even triple up (!) runners already on base.  This is multiple runners.  If there's only a guy on first, the infield fly rule will not be invoked because it's not really advantageous for the infielder if he chose to intentionally drop the pop up.

When the rule is invoked by the umpire, he'll do this:

I got it!  I got it!
And that signal means the rule is in affect and no matter what the fielder does, the hitter is out and no one on the bases can be forced out.  The runners can attempt to tag up like they would with a fly ball, but that's at their own risk just like a regular tag.  And they almost never do that because...well..because the guy with the ball is RIGHT THERE.  

So what's the big deal?  That's easy to understand.  Well...the difficulty comes in when discussing when the rule can be invoked.  This is totally at the umpire's discretion.  There's no point on the field where it cannot be called.  The only guidelines are that the ball must be "catchable" with "ordinary effort" by an infielder, which is totally subjective.  

Last year during the Cardinals/Braves Wild Card playoff game, umpire Sam Holbrook made a really late infield fly call on a ball that was hit into the outfield, practically, by the Braves' Andrelton Simmons.  And at the time, the Braves had men on first and second with one out in the 8th.  They were also down by three runs. Well, the infield fly call meant that Simmons was automatically out and the runners couldn't advance, EVEN THOUGH no Cardinals player caught the ball.  Short story long, the Braves lost that game and their playoffs and Chipper Jones' career were over.  You make the call:

That ain't "ordinary effort".
Ok class...time for summer break, that was a lot to take in.  Stay tuned for more on other fun topics like the Rule 5 Draft, Minor League Contracts, and more in your graduate course coming later this summer.

38 Wins, 27 losses.  1 game back of Oakland.  

On the bright side, it's Yuesday and Kins is rehabbing in Frisco tonight.  















Friday, May 31, 2013

Now Batting for the Rangers...


It's been some week, Ranger fans. First of all, it feels like we're playing the flippin' World Series against the Diamondbacks...a day/night doubleheader (which we both lost, one in walk-off fashion) on Monday, an off day, a rainout at home against those same D-backs, and FINALLY a win early today against them.


Soooo, all of this down time (and a goofy poll on the FSSW broadcast) got me thinking about another idiosyncrasy of this great sport they call baseball that we all (hopefully) love so much...the much celebrated 'walk-up' music in the modern era of baseball.


Wait. What? Downtime and music in baseball? That immediately makes you think about a live baseball game where you have the requisite organ with obligatory audience participation. (Lets go Rangers! clap, clap, clap, clap, clap). The organ or whatever music they want can dictate any chant! (Here we go Rangers! Here we go! clap, clap). Not to mention:


Bases loaded at any ballpark (I think)...







A base on balls at the Ballpark is almost always followed (which is really cool) by:




So are we all in agreement that music is important at a baseball game? I mean, we all sing the National Anthem, 'God Bless America', and of course 'Take Me out To the Ballgame'.



Well, if you're a 'recent fan' by baseball standards (20 years or so) like I am, you LOVE walk-up music. It more or less defines everything about you. It sets the tone for your presence, your at-bat, AND your entrance as a pitcher. No other sport has this quality aside from pre-game festivities and endless fanfare in football, basketball and hockey. You'd think basketball would have figured out a way to work this into a game by now....I know what you're thinking, now there's a game that's dying for more 'look-at-me' antics (haha).










Anyway, it really just got me thinking about baseball purists and what their actual thoughts are about the walk-up music element and its ubiquitous nature in the game now. We are, after all, talking about a 200+ year old game here.






If you're familiar with my posts, by now, you know that I'm a history/statistics junkie and you also know that I'm going to pose essential/necessary questions such as, is there a history here to speak of? Is walk-up music important? Is it relevant? Will it endure? Lets examine...


Well, if you're like me, when you think of walk-up music you begin to think that maybe it's a product of Sports Entertainment, i.e. Pro Wrestling. As a youth, like many young kids, I was an admitted lover of Pro Wrestling (as phony and inane as it always has been), and if it gave us nothing else but walk up music I'm proud to say I was a fan (haha). However, walk up music is TOO important in wrestling...






Haha. I digress. Back to actual sports. According the always reliable (sarcasm) Wikipedia, walk-up music (in baseball anyway) began as such...

The practice of using a heavy metal theme song to signal the entrance of a relief pitcher began at Qualcomm Stadium in 1998, when the San Diego Padres started playing "Hells Bells" by AC/DC to accompany Trevor Hoffman's taking the mound. San Jose Mercury News and ESPN.com wrote that the song should be honored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The use of rock and roll for entrance music emerged from the 1989 film, Major League, in which relief pitcher Rick Vaughn entered the game to a cover of "Wild Thing" performed by X. In addition, batters will often select a song to play as they come to the plate in home games.


So, then that's pretty cool if you think about it. If you love baseball, you love baseball movies (a future 162+ post). If you love baseball movies then you inevitably love Major League. So it only makes sense. It's life imitating art imitating life. Oh and by 'batters will often select a song to play as they come to the plate' they mean ALWAYS. 



Can we pretend this is all we remember Charlie Sheen for?


If we delve a little deeper and do more research we find that 65-year-old Nancy Faust is largely responsible for baseball walk-up music as we know it today. She was the Chicago White Sox organist for 41 years before she retired in 2010.

per a 2012 article by:
Kate Kilpatrick
When Faust was hired in 1970 she got a list of each player and his hometown. Since she knew all the state songs, she’d play the appropriate one as the player walked up to the plate or mound...Faust got more creative and cheeky with her organ over the years. If fans told her a certain player was dating Madonna, she'd play the Material Girl. If a rookie player stepped up to the plate, he might hear "Who Are You?" by The Who.


So, it logically it follows, then, that the player himself would dictate the music. I mean, wouldn't you? Who wants to hear "Loser" from Beck when they come up to bat, ya know? Haha...



Now when you're at a home game you might hear your favorite hitter's walk-up song a good 3-5 times. Does it really get him pumped every single time? With some hitters, I actually think it might. Many times it gets YOU pumped up. Take our dear departed Micheal Young, he would always get me pumped with choice cuts over his tenure like, "XXXplosive" by Dr. Dre., "Encore" by Jay-Z, "So Whatcha Want" by Beastie Boys, "Down" by 311. MY was the man. You already know that...





His only real competition is Ian Kinsler with his always awesome...






Pay attention next time you're at the Ballpark and you'll hear Elvis with his "Suit and Tie" by Justin Timberlake or "Locked out of Heaven" by Bruno Mars. No disrespect to Elvis or those songs but, way back when there was this one power hitter for the Rangers. You knew he was the baddest son of a bitch on the block. When I was a teenager, he was larger than life. I mean, he was our Sammy Sosa/Mark McGwire...in a good AND bad way.


What was HIS walk-up music?



It really does NOT get much better than that.


So since we know it began as closer phenomenon started by Trevor Hoffman we have to admit it became especially famous with Mariano Rivera with "Enter Sandman" by Metallica. Which brings us to Joe Nathan! He comes into the game with his patented tune, "Stand up:" by Steel Dragon. "Stand up and Shout" says the lyrics even though all we want do is sit down and pray, even if we aren't relgious haha.



So there you have it. I think about walk up music constantly. I listen for it. The Rangers will even spell out the hitter's songs for you so you can buy them via Itunes...


http://texas.rangers.mlb.com/fan_forum/ballpark_music.jsp?c_id=tex


Here's a worthless website I found during research:


http://www.mlbplatemusic.com/team/rangers



I know you're thinking of  your song right now, too. Twist my arm. I would come out to...





Whats your song?




Do you love walk-up music yet?







52 down







110 to go....

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Throw it back? Do the wave? What are the "rules" here?

So a couple of weeks ago, the Rangers were playing the ChiSox at home.  It was the top of the 7th inning and the Rangers had a commanding 10-4 lead, when Adam Dunn hit a home run into the left field seats.  BOOOOOOOO!  (We at 162+ strongly disapprove of opposing homers)

Well, a guy caught it and gave the HR ball to his kid...who happens to be a really cute kid in all Rangers gear -  the blue jersey, the blue hat, everything.  The kid even had a glove!  So why am I giving you the Eric Nadel description of this kid's outfit?  To illustrate how into this game the little guy was, obviously!  And how heartbreaking it must have been when his big "sister" yanks the ball from him to throw it back onto the field!  (I'd like to mention that 162+ is using the term "sister"  loosely, because this chick was about 20 years older than the kid, so we're not completely sold)

Sister?  COME ON!

Here's the live action in case you're interested:

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=26745955

Needless to say, when the Fox Sports Southwest cameras pan back to the kid after the throw back, he is utterly dejected.  I mean...the look on his face would have made Cruella Deville want to hug him.  Of course everyone's favorite in-stands reporter, Jim Knox saved the day and got the kid a ball!

And by "favorite", we mean "unnecessary"
Anyway, this incident raised some questions about whether we should be "throwing it back" and some other unwritten rules of the game.  So here we are.  (I know, I know, you were wondering when I was going to get to the point).

Throw back home run balls?  Two answers:  1.  I'm totally okay with anyone throwing a ball back if they want to.  (that also means, if you don't want to, keep the damn thing)  2.  Adult rules don't apply to kids!  And kids should never be pressured into playing by the adult rules (that we made up - so back off "sister"!)  

I read somewhere, after this whole "sister" incident, that "throwing it back" was a Cubs tradition and "we" shouldn't be subscribing to it.  Terrible argument.  I mean, if you don't want to throw it back, don't.  But don't NOT throw it back because it's "Cubs tradition".  That's crap.  Yes, throwing back opposing home run balls started at Wrigley Field in the 70s-80s.  But, singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" started as New York Polo Grounds 7th-inning stretch entertainment in the 30s.  It's sung in every park now.  Everything starts somewhere.  And I'm perfectly happy to throw a ball back myself on an opposing home run.  But I really couldn't care less if you don't.

What about The Wave?  Can we do the wave?  One answer:  NO.  (also see:  NEVER)  

Be the guy in red.  ALWAYS.
Why do people do the wave?  Why?  I don't actually have an answer for you here.  That was more rhetorical than anything.  I think people may just be trying to entertain themselves.  But, I have a newsflash for you Walter Cronkite:  THERE'S A LIVE MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL GAME GOING ON!  That should be entertainment enough.

You think you're too cool for school?  Well...you aren't.
So, back to the original point:  The Wave.  Just DON'T do it.  Ever.

And just one more thing I'll touch on here regarding the ballpark rules:  

Can we BOO former players when they visit our ballpark?  This is a more complicated answer.  Technically you can boo whoever you want.  But, when does it makes sense?

I think there was some confusion when the Reverend Josh Hamilton returned at the beginning of the season.  Some people were saying we can't boo Hamilton because he played lights out for us for five seasons.  That's true.  The guy is really good at baseball.  And I don't think anyone can argue what he accomplished in Texas.  He won an MVP for goodness sake.  On the opposite end of that spectrum was the "Silence for Josh" movement; basically this was the sect of fans so disgusted with Hamilton that they wanted to pretend he didn't exist during his first at bat back at RBiA.  

They read newspapers while Josh hit.
And that was the last time the Dallas Morning News sold so many print copies in one day.
So, what's the official 162+ ruling?  Well, first let's clarify that nobody wanted to boo Hamilton because of his five year performance in Texas.  Although, I will bring up the fact that things began to sour during September/October of the 2012 season when Hamilton basically gave up and played like he didn't care.  Who can forget this:


Obviously, the Great Meltdown of 2012 wasn't all his fault, but his performance during that period really didn't help.  Fast forward to the off-season when he said:

"Texas, especially Dallas, has always been a football town.  The good with the bad is they're supportive, but they also got a little spoiled at the same time, pretty quickly.  You can understand a really true, true baseball town.  There's true baseball fans in Texas but it's not a true baseball town".

Now, I realize that some were highly offended by this remark.  But, I tend to agree.  Not in the sense that there are no true baseball fans here, because there are tons and even Hamilton acknowledged that.  But, definitely in the sense that football is the Metroplex's sports priority.  It always will be.  Texas=Football.  And I love the Dallas Cowboys, so that's okay by me.  I have, though, always been more of a seam head than anything.  So I tend to notice when I walk into a sports bar and the Rangers are NOT on...during the season.  And football insider shows are on.  And that's happened many, many times.  Over many different years.  At many different bars.   

The part about Hamilton's statement that irked me though...was that he signed with the LA Angels of Anaheim (or wherever the hell it is they play).  LA?  You want to play in  a "baseball town" and you go to LA?  LA wouldn't give a shit about baseball if Tom Hanks was the commissioner, Kim Kardashian threw out every first pitch., Justin Bieber sang every national anthem....and Tom Cruise blessed the game through his magical Church of Scientology powers.  (I think you see what I'm getting at here).

...use your witchcraft to get the fire off me!!
Anyway, all of this on top of his repeated bad mouthing of the organization got the crowd primed to boo.  And I was ready too.

But, generally, I have nothing against former players that come back.  They have to try really hard to make me want to boo.  Mission accomplished, Hamilton.

We won't even get into the opening day post-game press conference when he compared himself to Jesus right now.  Mostly because the Angels won't be back in town until the end of July and that's a long time to wait to boo.  But, in case you forgot what he said, it went something like this:  "Where was Jesus got-after the most?  His hometown.  Baseball-wise, this is my hometown."  

Well, that's all for now.  

Late West Coast start again tonight.  Holland on the hill.  24-14.  

38 down, 124 to go.











Thursday, May 9, 2013

Do the Rangers have a rival or rival(s)?



I'm not sure about every other Rangers fan, or every other baseball fan for that matter, but I tend to scoreboard watch my division from opening day until it's pretty much all said and done. So, this night being no different from any other, I'm predictably keeping on eye on the AL West. On this particular night: the Rangers notched a victory behind our reliable losing streak stopper (lately) Derek Holland, the 2nd place A's dropped a game against the Tribe, the M's pulled one out in interleague play against the Pirates, and the lowly Astros defeated the Halos for the second night in a row (by the way, should the hapless Astros sweep the Angels tomorrow night they will both have the same sad 11 wins).





We watch these teams closely, like in any sport, for its effects on the standings. The baseball season, being as long as it is, allows for long prolonged stretches of games wherein you can make or break your season. Unless you're on a record pace for losses (Astros) you're almost always one hot month away from being back in the race. I don't need to remind you that the Oakland A's were never in first place in the 2012 season until the only day that mattered...the final day of the season.



Not without a little help...


Anyway, my ultimate point here is really to beg the question, do division foes automatically equal rivals? Allow me to use the Dallas Cowboys as an analogy, as I expect most Texas Rangers fans to be Cowboys fans. The Cowboys' current (and traditional) division foes are the Giants, Eagles, and Redskins; division foes AND blood rivals, I might add. Now the NFC East might be a special case, but I'm not so sure the M's, A's, Halos, and definitely not the Astros (as I've described in a prior post) can be considered blood rivals. Have the Rangers EVER had such a rival? Lets examine:




Well, first of all, we're forced to admit that baseball is game of just a few HUGE (and historical) rivalries for the most part. Just a couple of which being...



Yankees/Red Sox of course:




I HAD to. Haha...



Dodgers/Giants:






So what about our Texas Rangers? They joined the A's, White Sox, Twins, Royals, and the then California Angels in the AL West in 1972 (and finished dead last). The Mariners joined in 1977. Since the Rangers were never really major players in the era before realignment, it's tough to say whether or not we ever had a bonafide rival in the West or even the American League for that matter. Then, came the aforementioned realignment in 1994 (first year of existence for the Ballpark in Arlington by the way).



Beautiful, isn't it?



The Ballpark and the new AL West ushered in an era where, I, myself officially and genuinely began to HATE certain opposing teams. Now, just to clarify, this isn't blanket hate for these organizations and players to the present day. There has definitely been an ebb and flow. Just for fun, then, lets arbitrarily begin with:


The Seattle Mariners:








and Guilty Parties:




I swear this SOB was the biggest Ranger killer ever! Without looking at the numbers...



Joey Cora:



The king of the bloop/cheap hit and he looks like some kind of alien...
Worthless
Double Worthless


Edgar Martinez:


Damn hitting machine

Even freakin' Jay Buhner:



Man, this entire freakin' team got under my skin!



Sure there are, of course, others through the years: Randy Johnson, Ichiro, King Felix etc...but when the Mariners decided to continually visit the AL West basement on and off again over the last 15 years or so; my hate also subsided.



Then came the magic year: 1996.






The Texas Rangers finally got over the hump and won the AL West setting the stage for what would be the next team that would become a thorn in our sides. The most obvious team in the world to hate: the muthafreakin' New York Yankees. You remember the story by now. 1-9 Postseason record against them in '96, '98, and '99. The Yankees having won the World Series in each of those years! Do you remember the names and faces though? Man, oh man, do I wish I didn't. Rivera, Pettitte, B. Williams, Cone, Gooden, Boggs, Jeter, Clemens, Posada, blah blah blah blah blah blah


this guy too:


Our All-time saves leader no less...




Alright, alright. I've tortured you enough even just with names.



The Yankees are too easy to hate though. I said in 2010 and I'll say it again...we exorcised those demons already...


Told you I'd keep finding excuse to post variations of this moment! Haha...



I'm over it.





So as I write on this day, in the year 2013, I'm gonna have to say the Angels are the only actual team I've ALWAYS hated. From their goofy logos:






to dumbass movies:





to silly mascots:





To their plain refusal/inability to designate the simple damn location of the team. Are you the California Angels? Are you the Anaheim Angels? Oh no wait. NOW, you're the Los Angeles Angels OF Anaheim? Get the fuck outta here...



Let's not forget players over the years I've hated like...







Chili freakin' Davis
Who remembers Vlad's 44 game hit streak against the Rangers? 44!!



I could keep naming these clowns, but it's making me angry. So, you get the idea (haha), and I haven't even mentioned our old friends yet...



So, whilst in their current slump we still have 13 games to play against the Halos. Lest we forget we haven't even played the also slumping Oakland A's this season. We underestimated them all of 2012 and it came back to haunt us. So, while we revel in the Angels' misery, lets make sure we determine what the 2013 A's are made of next week and dispatch of them. The last thing we need, at this point, is a new rival that poses an actual threat...




34 down...



128 to go...