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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 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 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...

Here's a worthless website I found during research:

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:

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? 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...


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...
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...