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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Who's the Rangers' Coach?

Haha...well if you ask me that question. I'm gonna ask you to be more specific. Third base coach? Bench coach? Pitching coach? Hitting coach? Well, I think you're asking about the manager and if you're asking about the manager, you must be asking about Ron Washington....

You see, the manager 'manages' the game. Baseball is a game of situations and tendencies. The manager *should* know what strategy is needed for whatever situation arises. He may have 6 coaches under him at any given time. The manager dictates the entire game. All failures and triumphs are on on him similar to any other sport.

<cough> umm steal second yea!

So, just like any other sport the baseball manager is often the scapegoat; the sacrificial lamb when a season doesn't go as planned. This has always been true, even of hundred year old baseball clubs and fifty year old franchises alike. Managers are all but expendable...

Really, Rangers?

What about our Little Rangers? Lets explore our inauspicious history. Well, our first manager was none other than a legend, Teddy Ballgame...Ted Williams, himself...

For our purposes here though, lets ignore semi-legends like (hold for laughter):

Billy Martin

Pat Corrales

Don Zimmer

Haha...yeah yeah no disrespect to what they contributed to the Rangers, I know.

In reality though it wasn't until late1985 when the Texas Rangers, at least for me, became what they would be known as, for a good part of the next decade. It was in the form of one Robert John "Bobby V" Valentine. He took over a fledgling Rangers team and made them relevant! The Rangers would come back to earth as expected, but to even be in the conversation was a victory for North Texas baseball fans. The Rangers in this time period were perpetually in the middle of the pack never quite sniffing a pennant.

* sidenote: This was, incidentally, around the same time that I became a HUGE fan of the Rangers. My pops LOVED the Rangers. I would watch games with him every night before bed when I was a little kid. These are my favorite memories from my youth.

In 1995, the Rangers employed the next great Manager in Texas Rangers history. The dear, departed Johnny Oates.

The following year he led the previously underachieving Rangers to a franchise record 90 wins and first playoff berth AND first AL West title in franchise history. He would go on to lead the Rangers to 2 more AL West titles while only winning 1 game and never advancing past the hated Yankees in the ALDS. I will now post pics of Johnny just because I know we all miss him...

The Rangers retired his number in 2005.

So after Buck Showalter's underwhelming tenure as Ranger's manager, Jon Daniels fired Showalter and then hires Ron Washington. Currently, you'd have no choice but to say Ron Washington is the most successful Manager in Texas Ranger's history. Easily...

So, Ranger fans. Now that I've given you all the history you could ever ask for, the question begs, who would you want managing your all-time Rangers team? (a topic for another 162+ post)

The contestants and their #s


Oates: 506 wins 3 Division titles
Valentine: 581 wins
Wash: 533 (as of tonight) wins 2 Division titles 2 Pennants

Impress me...

Monday, April 15, 2013

5-4-3? What Does That Mean?

As a teenager (I was about 14-ish, I think), I sat on the edge of my bed and watched Ken Burns’ baseball every night for nine innings.  That’s how he broke up the documentary, into nine episodes that he called innings, keeping on topic.  And even then I thought to myself, “I’m the only person I know doing this right now, aren’t I?” and I was; definitely the only person my age and gender.  But I hardly cared…I found the history of the game fascinating…

My boy band consisted of Cy Young, Honus Wagner, Shoeless Joe,
Joltin' Joe (he was the heartthrob), and Roberto Clemente. 
NOT TO FEAR!  I am not gonna go Ken Burns on you.  I just brought it up to say that some baseball terminology is over 100 years old, literally.  And so, some of it makes no sense.  It may have in 1890, not so much in 2013.  

Before I forget, here's a link to the Ken Burns' Baseball DVDs if you’re interested, I swear it’s worth your time. 

What I AM gonna do though, is get you up-to-speed on what the hell we’re talking about here at 162+, because we sometimes have a tendency to assume you know what a 5-4-3 DP is…and other fun terms. 

And without further ado...

Here are some basic terms and abbreviations based on baseball’s scoring system, meaning how the “official scorer” records different happenings throughout the course of the game:

K – Strike out

Backwards K – Strike out looking

It's actually a backward K though; not the words "backward K" Haha.

IP - Innings Pitched

ERA – Earned Run Average – The average number of runs a pitcher gives up in 9 innings

BB – Walk

IBB – Intentional Walk

HBP - Hit By Pitch

Did Greinke really think he was going to win that fight?
LOB - Left On Base - As in runners left on base without scoring. *Unfortunately Arlington, TX is becoming LOB City*

WP - Wild Pitch – A pitch that travels past the catcher, due to the pitcher throwing it too high, wide, or in the dirt, allowing base runner(s) to advance to the next base.

PB -  Passed Ball – Also a pitch that gets away from a catcher allowing base runner(s) to move up, only this time, it’s the catcher’s fault and the official scorer deems that the ball “should” have been handled by the catcher

If you're wondering if it's a WP or PB, ask yourself, "Did Tim Wakefield throw it?"
DP – Double Play – A double play occurs when two outs are recorded on one play

GIDP – Ground Into Double Play *We need to create a tune for this...then it can become a ballpark chant for opposing teams!*

5-4-3 Double Play – Each baseball position is numbered for scoring purposes, like so:

So, 5-4-3 means the ball went from the 3rd baseman (5) to the 2nd baseman (4) to the 1st baseman (3) for the two outs.  And a 6-4-3 double playis translated the same way, with the shortstop (6) replacing the 3rd baseman (5)

Here's different group of terms which consists of popular terms that fans/broadcasters use, which are not necessarily related to official game scoring, but are usually universally recognized among other fans and may be more useful when watching the game:

RISP – Runners In Scoring Position – Base runners on 2nd and/or 3rd base 

Ducks On The Pond - Ditto to the RISP *And the Barry Bonds version (on steroids) of "ducks on the pond" is when the bases are loaded*

Elvis letting the bench know that there are now Ducks On The Pond (circa Summer '11)

This one even got so popular in the Metroplex that they made t-shirts!  You have one, don't you?

Hat Trick – 3 strike outs in one game by a single player

Golden Sombrero – 4 strike outs in one game by a single player

Getaway Game – Last game before a team leaves town; generally a day game

Double-Header – 2 back-to-back games played in one day

Day/Night Double – Header – 2 games in one day, but with more time in between the games than a traditional double-header; usually a 1PM and 7PM start or similar

Can of Corn – An easy to catch fly ball *Here's one of the 100-year old terms I was telling you about*

Hot Corner – 3rd base…because the balls come hard and fast at 3rd base *That’s what she said*

Keystone Combo – The 2nd baseman and shortstop makeup your keystone combo.  The bag at second base is the “keystone” or pinnacle of the field in terms of scoring position or defensive plays and the 2nd baseman and SS both record outs there or work together to turn DPs there. 

My favorite Keystone Combo.  (And by the looks of it, they're each other's favorite too)

Battery – The pitcher and the catcher make up the battery

And here is my favorite "battery" in action.  And, YES, the pun is intended.   Assault and battery?  NO?

Rubber Game/Match – The final and deciding game of a series.  *EX:  If Team A wins game 1 and Team B wins game 2, game 3 of the series is the rubber game*

Texas Leaguer –  This is your classic bloop single; a weekly hit fly ball that falls in between the infielders and outfielders

Baltimore Chop – A ball batted straight into the ground in front of home plate so that it pops up, either above the head of the infielder or so high that the runner has time to run it out for a single.

DFA/DFA’d – Designated For Assignment – This means you’re off the big league roster and the team has to decide what to do with you:  put you back on the roster, trade you, or release you.

  There's a reason he's pictured between "DFA'd" and "Mendoza Line"
Mendoza Line – Anyone with a batting average under .200 is said to be hitting below the “Mendoza Line”. *You’ll be happy to know that this measurement of mediocrity is named for Mario Mendoza, a one-time Texas Ranger*

12-6/Uncle Charlie – There are about 1289795 names for a big breaking curve ball, these are two of them.  12-6 as in you’re looking at a clock and the ball drops (breaks) sharply from 12 to 6.
*Don’task me where Uncle Charlie came from…but, it’s the same thing*

Backdoor Breaking Ball – A breaking pitch of any kind (but usually slider or cutter) that looks like it’s going to miss the strike zone initially, but breaks late laterally to catch the outer edge and back-side (or back door) of the strike zone. *Who can forget this gem from the Rangers broadcast team:  "How do you know when you’ve been back-doored?”*

The Stretch/7th Inning Stretch – This is an old baseball tradition in which fans stand up and “stretch” between the top and the bottom of the 7th inning.  It’s also when the whole ballpark sings “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” *AND the Cotton-Eyed Joe for Rangers fans*
Shut Down Inning  - When a team scores in their half of an inning and allows no runs in the opponent's half of the inning, shutting them down. * Great way to build or maintain momentum in a game*

Cycle – When a player hits a single, double, triple, and home run in one game.  *It's called a "Natural Cycle" when they hit them in that exact order*
Of course you remember Kins' 6-for-6 cycle night, right?

5-Tool Player
– One that has all of the tools necessary for baseball dominance.  
So what are the “5 Tools”? 

1. Hit for average
2. Hit for power
3. Base running skills
4. Good defender
5. Good throwing arm

If you're bored, Google it...and this will come up:

That's all I got for now.  If you found Baseball 101 easy, be sure and sign up for Baseball 601 for more advanced terms like "the infield fly rule" and "catcher's interference"...coming Summer 2013!

13 down, 149.  Bring it, Cubbies!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

W.W.J.D.D. (haha): Getting to know Jon Daniels...

As the Rangers start a 4 game set against the M's with a victory (against King Felix!) in Seattle (I've always loved the late west coast starts even as a kid), here I am still hacking away at the past. When I'm done, if I'm ever done, you should be able to hold your own with ANY Rangers fan (not named Tom Grieve) out there (haha).

Mr. Ranger

Lets just jump right into this one. Let me paint a picture for you, Ranger fans. The year is 2005. The Buck Showalter* led Texas Rangers had just finished third in the AL West with a mediocre record of  79-83.

*side note: Showalter's claim to fame was anytime he was fired, the team immediately won the World Series the year after. The move to hire him was worth it for this, if nothing else. Haha. It obviously did not come to pass.

Anyway, so players like Phil Nevin, Esteban German, Jason Botts, Mark DeRosa, and Kameron Loe (who got rocked by the AAAstros as a member of the M's this week by the way) were hard at work underwhelming us. Fast forward to October 4th of the same year and John Hart (G.M.) suddenly steps down after agreeing to a contract extension just a year prior. If you remember his tenure (2001-2004) it was nothing to rave about. If you don't remember, the Rangers went 311-337 and never made the playoffs over that stretch. To put that in perspective the current Rangers are an impressive 449-367 since 2008 .


The Texas Rangers replaced him with Jon Daniels at the tender age of 28 making him the youngest GM in baseball history. If you're wondering who Jon Daniels is or what he looks me, you know him.

Now, I won't sit here and tell you that we here at 162+ are G.M. material (though our amateur attempts might tell you otherwise haha) or that we'd even know where to begin, but the cupboard here was by no means bare. JD had some pieces to maneuver/work with; to shape/mold into a winner. We're talking about a roster in 2005 that had Mark Teixeira, Michael Young, Adrian Gonzalez, Alfonso Soriano, R.A. Dickey, C.J. Wilson (I kid haha). Not to mention serviceable players such as Laynce Nix, Kevin Mench (Shrek), and David Delucci. What WAS clear to EVERYONE was that this wasn't a "team".

Yea! Rep that Texas, Sori. Haha..

With nowhere to go but up J.D. made many, many, MANY trades and acquisitions via free agency. Some great. Some downright perplexing. Solid moves and averages moves. Some that I've already described in previous posts (Gagne' for Murphy, The Cliff Lee trade, Millwood for Ray for Molina) So, lets examine beginning with...


He traded away Micheal Young. I'll just start there out of loyalty/principle (haha)

: (

Chris Young, outfielder Sledge and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to the San Diego Padres for pitchers Adam Eaton and Akinori Otsuka, and catcher Billy Killian.

Where to begin. Chris Young went on to fame with the Padres and while he didn't necessarily set the world on fire, that's a guy the Rangers could have definitely used in the years that followed. He's posted a career 3.79 ERA as of today. A-Gon is an elite 1st baseman, 4-time All Star, and 2-time gold glover and current filthy rich member of the Dodgers.
What might have been...

Adam Eaton was a joke. I have no other way to describe him. I remember his first start as a Ranger like it was yesterday. It was at home against the Yankees. He had the Yankees hitless through 3 innings. He never made it through the next inning and his tenure as a Ranger more or less was over in my mind (haha). He pitched a measly 65 innings that year going 7-4 posting a 5.12 ERA in his ONLY year as a Ranger. Aki Otsuka filled a role as closer, I suppose. I seem to remember him taking cues from his 'mentor' Trevor Hoffman and entering games to "Hells Bells" by AC/DC. That's about all I care to remember there. He easily fits in the joke category as well.

YOSHA!!! Many props if you remember what that means.


The Rangers acquired Brandon McCarthy in exchange for John Danks.**

B-Mac was another joke of a pitcher for the Rangers, living on the DL while only pitching 100 innings once and never posting an ERA under 4 in his 3 years with the organization. He finally left for greener (no pun intended) pastures and semi-blossomed with the rival A's to some extent in 2012. Danks went on to be a great, reliable pitcher for the White Sox organization (though missing most of 2012). Yet another arm that the Rangers could have used in the years that followed.


Edison Volquez ** to the Reds for Outfielder Josh Hamilton

Jesus and his Disciples.

We'll leave it at that with no further explanation.

Carlos Lee and Nelson Cruz from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Kevin Mench, Francisco Cordero, and Laynce Nix.

Carlos Lee did next to nothing for the Rangers in his less than half a season. He would go on to sign (what I believe was?) the richest contract in Astros history. HOWEVER, one of the compensatory picks the Rangers received from his departure became Blake Beavan (a key piece in the much celebrated Cliff Lee trade of 2010...he also got rocked by the AAAstros this week, by the way haha). What really made this trade a success was the rise of Nelly Cruz despite the current stigma surrounding him.

You're not seeing things. This clown actually WAS a Ranger.

Alfonso Soriano to the Washington Nationals for Brad Wilkerson, Terrmel Sledge, and Armando Galarraga

While this looks bad on the surface, Soriano leaving freed up a spot for a nice little player you might know...

I'm sorry that I even know the name Brad Wilkerson. Armando Galarraga can hardly be considered a Ranger and is more famous for his Perfect Game that never was...


One of the centerpieces and maybe the absolute centerpiece of the current Rangers rise to prominence AND actual purpose for this post...

I like to call it the "Great Train Robbery". If you're a Cowboys fan it reminds you of this (even though it hasn't nearly paid the same dividends...yet)

Mark Teixeira and relief pitcher Ron Mahay for catching prospect Jarrod Saltalamacchia and minor leaguers Matt Harrison, Elvis Andrus, and Neftali Feliz. 

Wow. Well injuries forced Matty into the rotation in 2008 where he went on to flourish. He added an All Start campaign in 2012. While being paid like an 'Ace' (5 years 55 million) he got the nod as 2013 Opening Night starter a mere 13 days ago. After 2 starts he has since has gone on the DL as a precautionary measure. He's still a crucial piece of this Rangers rotation. 

Elvis. What can you say about Elvis that isn't said for him constantly. Elite shortstop. 100 million dollar man.

Neftali Feliz. Do you remember the Rangers storming out of the gates in 2010 against the Blue Jays and Mariners only to have Frankie Francisco blow 2 saves in 5 games!? Enter Feliz. The rest is history. All Star. Rookie Record for saves (40). Rookie of the year. I guess we'll always second guess whether Wash should have sent him out for the bottom of the 10th in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. Even though Feliz was always envisioned as a starter for us I feel like that experiment went awry. When he returns from the DL in 2013 I'm sure it'll be in a reliever role. Whether or not that should be the case going forward is up for debate.

I'll always find an excuse to post any version of this pic. Haha...

Salty never quite panned out and was traded away in mid-2010. He was responsible for the walk off win on opening day of that same year if my memory serves me correctly. That's something, right? Haha...Tex meanwhile bounced from the Bravos to the Halos before finally winning a ring with the Yankees (yawn). To say the Rangers got the better of this deal from the Braves is an understatement.

Here are some notable Free Agent hits and misses for JD. I'll let you sort (haha)...

Kevin Millwood
Sammy Sosa
Andruw Jones
Kenny Lofton
Milton Bradley
Vicente Padilla
Vladimir Guererro
Mike Napoli
Yu Darvish
Joe Nathan
Eric Gagne'
Adrian Beltre

** side side note: Edinson Volquez, John Danks along with Thomas Diamond were the vaunted "DVD" trio of Rangers pitching prospects. If you remember back that far, these guys were supposed to be the saviors of the franchise in those days.

So what is that you've learned from this exposition, Rangers fans? Well, what I really HAVEN'T illustrated is JD's willingness to spend money. We were very much in the mix for Greinke and Prince Fielder over the winter. The Rangers' name comes up in just about EVERY big move you can name. When Giancarlo Stanton's name comes up they'll be involved. When David Price's name comes up they'll be involved. Other teams see names like Martin Perez, Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt, and they're willing to listen. Why is that? For better or for worse everything Jon Daniels has done has brought us here. You can't discount what Ron Washington has done either. He deserves his own post much like the real 'Big Tex' does.

Speaking of, now that the Nolan Ryan situation has seemingly worked itself out we can now get back to focusing on the product on the field. Something that's not lost on Nolan Ryan I'm sure, nor Ron Washington, nor the fans. Certainly not Jon Daniels...

"Everything we are facing is a competition. How are you going to help us win today?"

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Signs that your friend who’s a Rangers’ “fan” is not actually a Rangers fan

Opening day/week and all its start-of-the-season  excitement brings Rangers fans out of the woodwork!  So do playoffs and/or the possibility for playoffs.  All of a sudden, a guy at work tells you he's tailgating for Opening Day (Are you going to the game?).  And your new girlfriend shows you her new Rangers t-shirt (it's bedazzled!).  And the cashier at the grocery store sees your ball cap and 12-pack and asks if you're going home to watch the game (They're good this year!)...and...okay, you get it.  So how do we know if they are Rangers fans or Rangers "fans"?  

Fortunately, 162+ is here to help.  Here are your signs that the Rangers "fan" you know, is not actually a Rangers fan:  

1.  They ask “Do the Rangers play today?” – EVERYDAY.

It's a 162-game season...chances are YES, they do play today.

2.  They also ask “What channel are the Rangers on?” – EVERYDAY.

- There are only, maybe five (at most!) options here.  And for most games, it's just two options.  ALSO, don't you have a guide function on your cable box?-

3.  They think Nolan Ryan has always “owned” the team.

 Dubya, anyone?

4.  They wonder “Arlington Stadium?  Are they building a new park?”

It was kind of a hole, wasn't it?  You could get loud on those metal bleachers though.

5.  They think Mike Napoli is the best catcher in Rangers history.  

Mike Napoli...yeah, ok...

6.  They think Nelly Cruz was nicknamed after that hot dog.

The man was NOT named for a hot dog.  He just wasn't.

7.  You mention Kenny Roger’s perfect game and they ask you, “The country singer?”

No, not him.


8.  So then you mention “The Red Baron” and they start talking about WWI…or worse…Snoopy.

Rusty freaking Greer; The Red Baron.

9. When calling/texting you during a game, they ask you how many “points” the Rangers have.

-There's almost nothing to say here.  Your best bet is to just tell them the score and walkaway.    FOR-EV-ER.-

And the topper of all toppers:

10.  They ask you when halftime is!  

- See #9.-

Honorable Mention: 
  • They ask you why there's no game clock, OR
  • They ask, "When will the game be over?" - before it starts
  • They think the Washington Senators are a team in another sports league

It's all fun and games until it happens to you.  And I promise you, all of the above things have happened.  TO ME.  Save yourselves and get out at the first sign of trouble. 

OR...send 'em over to 162+...we'll guide 'em to the light.

7:05 is game time.  The youngster Tepesch is on the hill.

155 to go!  Let's go get 'em!

(So, yes, there is a game tonight...and it's on FSSW).

Monday, April 8, 2013

Of Unis and Logos...

Since 9 days (albeit a very successful 9 days) aren't much of a sample size (in my book) I figured I'd shift gears and briefly talk about the opulent majesty that is (most) baseball uniforms and logos, specifically pertaining to the Rangers. Here's to hoping the Rangers do this well all season so much so that we HAVE to find other topics to discuss in depth (haha).

Now, I feel like on a national level the Rangers don't necessarily impress in this category. I do remember national outlets/blogs blasting this batting helmet gem once though...

Alright, alright that's not very aesthetically pleasing, but it's not terrible (perhaps). In this way I feel like the Rangers, typically, neither impress nor stick out like a sore thumb. This god awful gem comes to mind...

Haha! Sorry! Had to...

We *might* be a little biased here at 162+, but I feel like we've ALWAYS had great logos/uniforms. For our purposes here I'll focus on the highlights (not that the list is lengthy or transitory). Examples:

1972 (first year of existence you should know this) and 1970s highlights:





Closer look at the cap:

The above have experienced a revival of sorts in recent years (especially last year during the 40th anniversary celebrations). I even attended a game last year (that we lost haha) where the giveaway was a 1972 replica cap (one of my fav giveaways I've EVER gotten).

I'm also a big fan of this look from that era though I've heard some negative comments from non-Ranger fans (blah):

They technically wore these until 1982.

Here's the official description from the early years:
With double knit-fabrics in vogue, the Rangers became the first Major League team to have never worn the old flannel fabrics. The Rangers nickname was derived from a historic tradition in the Texas and appeared on the chest of the home and away jerseys. The red, white and blue colored uniforms featured built-in waistbands and blue as the primary trim color. The cap was blue with a red-trimmed "T" on red bill. Road uniforms were gray and blue-gray.

1980s to early 1990s highlights (next most recognizable looks and logo, I'd say):



The Cap (I want one of these and I smile anytime I see someone on TV with one)

This look is more or less the earliest Ranger "look" I remember. The cursive, slanted script Rangers logo across the chest is one of their most recognizable. In 1984, the player number was also shown on the front for the first time in team history (a look that was revived in the 2000s). According to " the end of 1985, the Rangers followed a trend of conservative and conventional uniforms to a plainer and cleaner "Dodger look" free of striped trim and a belted trouser. (1987-1993) The "Dodger look" retained the "Rangers" script lettering on the front of the home jersey, but dropped the number on the front and sleeve emblem. The road uniforms looked similar but all gray. The road jerseys featured "Texas" across the chest in blue block letters."

1994-1999 RANGER RED!!!

Logo (my absolute freakin' favorite):

3 whole years that bad boy lasted :( then segued to this (once secondary) logo into the early 2000s...

The uniform (my absolute freakin' favorite):


ESPECIALLY the road jersey (I still own one):

Juan Gone..

The cap (my absolute freakin' favorite haha):

Not much more you can say about these awesome, awesome looks other than it happened to coincide with the first real success in Texas Rangers history. The look was gone for the entirety of the 2000s and came back in 2010 and even though it's not exactly as it once was it is great to see it back.

2000 to the present

The current logo (starting in 2003):

The uniforms have been kind of a mixed bag since 2000. We had an updated version of a classic Rangers look with the new Texas flag logo on the sleeves that I really like.

Can't remember the last time I saw "Rangers" on one of our jerseys

Who remembers the sleeveless look with just the "T" logo?

More to come on this clown/Yankee in a future 162+ post

All blue jerseys:

Remember me?

Recently all red jerseys:

Come back, MY!

To the current look:

I do really like how the current home whites have red and blue trim so depending on what cap they decide to wear either color will pop. Interesting that all jerseys now feature only "Texas" on the front. As of 2012, only two teams wear their city/state name on their home uniforms, the Texas Rangers and Miami Marlins.

It was awesome seeing the Rangers honor some of these classic looks last season in celebration of 40 years.

One man left standing.

Another cool thing the Rangers do is 'alert' the fans as to what jersey the team will be wearing at home games so they can 'color coordinate'. Some are set in stone; Saturday nights for instance, but 'Jersey color is subject to change without notice.' Haha...

I intended to include great 'looks' from current teams and teams throughout baseball history in this post, but you'd be here all day and night (as would I haha), Baseball is rife with tradition and the uniforms are no exception. You could literally discuss it for hours (copout, I know haha)...

Well, I suppose now you're almost all caught up on the last 40 years of Rangers baseball (or least what we'd like for you to know haha). I promise posts pertaining to these 2013 Rangers are coming (haha). Forgive me for being thorough!

7 games down...

155 (+?) to go...