Tagged: Nolan Ryan

Former Ranger Gets Foot In Mouth Disease

Our top story: Jon Daniels is a “sleazeball.”

That, of course, according to the dearly departed Ian Kinsler, now plying his wares for the Detroit Tigers. In a story for ESPN: The Magazine, Kinsler was quoted as calling Daniels a sleazeball and expressed his hope the Rangers would finish 0-162 this season.

Needless to say, it was bound to make the national headlines because of the old axiom: “Thou shalt always complain when athletes and managers use manager-speak but thou shalt complain even louder when a player or manager doesn’t use manager-speak.”

We fans just love to complain about everything and our wonderful media folks are more than happy to feed our appetite for complaining. Ian Kinsler, thus, was a gift from God.

But really? This is all we have to complain about?

Sure, Kinsler said his comments about Daniels were taken slightly out of context. That was proven as bunk when his exact words were played back today on Buster Olney’s podcast. Still, what’s the big deal here? I like the job Jon Daniels has done in building the Texas Rangers franchise to a year-in, year-out contender. Daniels is not 100% infallible, though. He subscribes to the notion you should get rid of a player a year too soon than a year too late. Thus he’s burned bridges with quite a few players over the years: Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, CJ Wilson, Nelson Cruz, Mike Napoli. All felt disrespected by the Rangers GM when their times came. It’s the nature of the job. So when someone who signed a club-friendly long-term deal, only to get traded in the middle of it, it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest to see them miffed at their former boss. Maybe he shouldn’t have called him a sleazeball publicly, but I’ll bet there’s no shortage of players in major league baseball who haven’t felt the exact same way about a GM they once worked with.

Then there’s the wish for the Rangers to go 0-162. So what? I’m a Rangers fan and I would love to see the Angels finish 0-162. The Mariners, A’s and Astros too. Probably the Yankees as well. It ain’t gonna happen but it’s a fun thing to wish for.

Kinsler opened another tempest in the article, putting himself square on the side of Nolan Ryan and against Jon Daniels and said it was Daniels’ ego that caused the rift that eventually led to Ryan’s departure from the Rangers. That brought both sides of fans on that debate back into the open debating each other and calling each other names. For what? Why is it so hard for Daniels fans to acknowledge that Ryan had at least a little to do with the growth of the Rangers organization to where they are today. And why can’t the camp of Ryan supporters give props to the work of Daniels and the scouting department for their role as well? I like Daniels, I liked Ryan. They both did and have done great things for the Rangers. They don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

If you’re a Rangers fan, what you should really get upset about with Kinsler is the comments he made about Michael Young‘s leadership, the change in the clubhouse in 2013 and his own lack of desire to fill the leadership void left by Young’s departure. I get that there are some people for whom mentoring and leadership come naturally. For others it’s hard. For Kinsler it was hard. Ian won’t ever be a Michael Young type in the clubhouse, but to say he just wanted to focus on playing hit me the wrong way. Josh Hamilton was (and probably still is) the same way. Every team needs at least one person who helps bring the group together. Michael Young was once that player- always mentoring, comporting themselves in a professional manner and even motivating others by example by getting the absolute most out of his physical abilities day in and day out. Kinsler didn’t like that role. The problem with that is, if everyone has that attitude, there’s nothing to help glue it all together. If that’s truly the way Kinsler feels, I’m kind of glad he isn’t a Ranger anymore. I don’t want someone who refuses to switch positions for the betterment of the team. Be upset about it, sure. Even tell us you don’t like it. But be a TEAM player in the end. Someone helped you when you got to the bigs. Pass it on. ESPECIALLY when it’s best for the team.

I don’t blame Kinsler for his feelings about Jon Daniels or his wish for his former team to fall apart without him. Just don’t tell me you don’t want the responsibility that comes with being a veteran. That’s the area where Ian Kinsler needs to grow up.

Bye Bye Nolan

Nolan Ryan

Nolan Ryan (Photo credit: phoca2004)

It was both unexpected and expected. The Texas Rangers announced Nolan Ryan is retiring as CEO of the Rangers, effective October 31st.

It was unexpected in that Nolan’s status with the club really hadn’t been discussed much in recent weeks (or even months). It was expected in that there’s been a lingering feeling (fueled in part by a recently retired sports radio host) that Ryan was feeling unloved and unappreciated by Rangers’ ownership when they promoted Jon Daniels to GM and President of Baseball Operations. Nolan reportedly sulked throughout Spring Training before deciding to continue in his capacity as CEO, even though he no longer had any authority to veto any of Daniels’ player personnel decisions.

There are many folks in one camp who will be celebrating Nolan’s departure. There are a substantial number of others who think it should be Daniels and not Ryan leaving. Call me wishy-washy but I like both of them and I’m sad Ryan will be leaving.

Nolan Ryan - Texas - 1991 Road

Nolan Ryan – Texas – 1991 Road (Photo credit: BaseballBacks)

Jon Daniels helped build the Rangers team into perennial contenders. Ryan was the one that helped make the entire organization, under multiple owners over the years, relevant. Seriously, the Rangers were seldom anything more than an afterthought in the American League until Ryan came along in the 1980’s to finish out his career. There were years Texas might be on the fringes of a pennant race but it didn’t really matter. People weren’t going to the games. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex was Cowboys Country and pennant race baseball in September might interfere with Tom Landry‘s boys. In 1989, though, the Rangers took a chance and signed a 42-year-old Nolan Ryan to a free agent contract. Most people thought he only had a year or two left. Why wouldn’t they at age 42?

Before the arrival of the Ryan Express, the highest the Rangers had ever finished in attendance was at 1.7 million. In Ryan’s first year, Texas topped the 2 million fan mark for the first time.

Ryan helped bring fans to the ballpark as a player, then made his presence felt as an executive. Then owner Tom Hicks hired Ryan as the team’s president prior to the start of the 2008 season. His influence on the club’s fortunes cannot be understated. On the field, Ryan was a big proponent in starting pitchers going longer in games and helped lay the course of making pitching a priority in building the ballclub, where hitting had been the focus for so many years. Nolan also was an astute businessman with a variety of interests, including minor league ballclubs (in Corpus Christi and Round Rock), a cattle ranch, a restaurant and a bank. Ryan is credited with changing the fans’ ballpark experience for the better.

Most importantly, it was Ryan who served as the “face” of the group looking to buy the Rangers as they went into bankruptcy due to Tom Hicks’ overspending ways. Had Ryan’s group not succeeded in purchasing the Rangers, they would be owned today by current Astros owner Jim Crane. Fans of the Rangers are perfectly happy with this ownership group, thank you very much.

Nolan wasn’t perfect. Some still think he shouldn’t have fired Josh Lewin as the TV voice of the club. To this day, many fans will watch the games on TV while listening to Eric Nadel do the play-by-play on the radio. Whatever faults he may have, there’s no denying that when Nolan Ryan says something, people listen. There aren’t many people who have the gravitas of a Nolan Ryan. Skilled as he is at his job, Jon Daniels doesn’t have it. I expect that to become a big challenge for the organization in the next few years. The ownership group likes to stay in the background. Will Daniels become an effective “face” of the franchise? Only time will tell.

For now, I choose to salute Nolan on a job well done, both on and off the field. He will be missed.

Nolan Ryan's signature.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A New (Old) Business Partner For The Rangers?

English: Owner Chuck Greenberg, announcer Chuc...

Chuck Greenberg (left), announcer Chuck Morgan, and Rangers blogger Jamey Newberg pose for fans at a Rangers watching party in Arlington, TX (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember Chuck Greenberg? He’s the guy who teamed up with the Ray Davis/Bob Simpson/Nolan Ryan group and put together the deal that beat out the Mark Cuban/Jim Crane partnership to become the new owners of the Texas Rangers when previous owner Tom Hicks went bankrupt. He’s also the guy that reportedly got Ryan to tell Davis and Simpson, “Either he goes or I go” during the failed free-agent courtship of Cliff Lee after the 2010 World Series.

When the new ownership took over, it was Greenberg they named the team CEO, a job he apparently wasn’t quite ready for. Having heard him at the 2011 Texas Rangers FanFest, Greenberg certainly was good on the business side and making fans feel important. When the new ownership took over, he introduced such things as nightly concession specials that proved extremely popular, probably an offshoot of his previous experience running minor league baseball operations (more on that to come). It was on the player personnel side where Greenberg came off as a bit overzealous and unwelcome. Without discussing things with folks like Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan, Greenberg made a special extra trip to Arkansas to woo Lee. That’s what led to his ouster and his return to just being the owner of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, which had recently become the Rangers new High-A affiliate- coincidentally after the new ownership group put together by Greenberg took control.

This past weekend, Chuck Greenberg did a little travelling from his Myrtle Beach base of operations and took in a little minor league baseball action in Oklahoma City and Frisco. Oklahoma City is the home of the Houston Astros AAA affiliate while the Rangers’ AA Texas League team is in Frisco. Why is this interesting? Because both teams happen to be on the selling block by its current ownership group, Mandalay Sports.

Now let’s take it a step further. When Jim Crane bought the Houston Astros, he hired Nolan Ryan’s son, Reid, as the team’s president. Included in the deal was Ryan making the Astros the de facto owner of the Corpus Christi Hooks AA team, previously owned by the Ryan-Sanders Baseball Group. Ryan-Sanders also owns the Rangers’ AAA affiliate, the Round Rock Express. The Express once was the Astros farm club, but became a Rangers affiliate when the Nolan Ryan group, led by Chuck Greenberg, took over the Rangers. The Astros did not like ceding part of what they considered as their territory to the Rangers. They grudgingly moved their AAA affiliate to Oklahoma City, which had been the Rangers’ team for many years. Confused yet?

Let’s add some more spice.  The Rangers’ affiliation agreement with Round Rock ends at the end of the 2014 season. The bet here is there will be a Battle Royale between Texas and Houston for who will get the rights to call Round Rock their AAA home. On one side you have Nolan Ryan, who has an ownership stake in Round Rock as well. On the other you have his son Reid. Like Houston before it, Texas won’t give up the Austin area easily. But what if Houston wins the bidding war? What then?

Ah, that’s where potentially Chuck Greenberg comes in. Say he successfully works out a deal with Mandalay Sports and assumes ownership of Frisco and Oklahoma City. Now suddenly, the Rangers have a potential partner who would own the last three steps before the big leagues for Texas prospects: Myrtle Beach at High A, Frisco at AA and Oklahoma City at AAA.

Jim Crane has talked about eventually having a system where he not only owns the Astros, but all of their minor league affiliates as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rangers ownership group sees the value in that as well. If they do, what better person to help make that happen than the man who put together the deal that put them in charge in the first place? None other than Chuck Greenberg. Keep watching folks. This next year in the minor leagues could get very interesting.

Beards

Things haven’t been going to well in Texas Rangers land of late. Since Ian Kinsler went on the disabled list, the club has gone 11-13. Now they were a pretty decent 9-7 until Mitch Moreland joined Kinsler on the walking wounded list. With both players out, Texas has gone 2-6 in its last eight games.

So the heck with losing streaks and disabled players (Kinsler should be back Monday!). Let’s talk about beards!

I may be old but I’m not a prude. There are many beards I like. There’s this one:

Abraham-Lincoln-9382540-2-402

OK, that makes me seem even older than I really am. From a show business angle, there’s certainly no beating these beards:

jk12 1107 zz top 079

So I’m not against beards per se. I am, however, enough years past my hippie days to feel like today’s era of major league ball players are taking the beard thing a little too far.

Yeah, Brian Wilson of the Giants (not the Beach Boys one who had a pretty impressive beard at one time in his day) really started the trend of ball players beards behaving badly.

Brian Wilson & The Beach Boys circa 1968

Brian Wilson & The Beach Boys circa 1968

Since then, we have been treated to chin after chin of hair that is not only unshaved but really unkempt as well. I don’t mind a nice trim beard like Scott Feldman has. Sure he looks like he’d fit in to Weird Al Yankovic’s “Amish Paradise“, but at least it’s neat.

Scott Feldman

The Rangers aren’t immune to the Hatfield and McCoy look. Recently recalled Kyle McClellan has a prodigious red goatee that is even more horrific than this photo shows:

McClellan 2

Former Ranger Mike Napoli and Dale Thayer of the San Diego Padres look like they haven’t set foot outside a (man) cave in years now.

"<strongMike Napoli

Dale  Thayer

Did I mention I don’t like this Neanderthal look? Seriously, what if Rangers management decided they were going to emulate today’s players? Can you imagine what they’d look like?

Fortunately, you don’t have to. I’m here to show you. I may not be a Photoshop expert, but I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express once. Thanks to that, I can show you what Rangers bench coach Jackie Moore would look like with a Jonny Gomes beard:

Jackie Moore with the Jonny Gomes Look

Jackie Moore with the Jonny Gomes Look

How about Rangers manager Ron Washington sporting a Josh Reddick monstrosity:

Wash Sporting the Josh Reddick

Wash Sporting the Josh Reddick

Heaven forbid Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan should show up to work one day deciding  Jayson Werth was one dude worth emulating:

Nolan Ryan is Jayson Werth-esque

Nolan Ryan is Jayson Werth-esque

And if Rangers GM Jon Daniels decided Brian Wilson was right all along? We’d be wondering if Fidel Castro had defected to the United States:

And Jon Daniels as "The Leader"

And Jon Daniels as “The Leader”

And what if Mike Maddux

 Mike Maddux

You know, never mind. Even guys can appreciate how much Maddux rocks that look.

As a fan, I urge today’s MLB players to start trimming back on the facial hair. If you don’t do it for me, think of the endorsement fees you’re probably missing out on looking like a troglodyte. In the meantime, my beloved Rangers, you think you could start winning a couple of games now and then?

There Must Be Some Misunderstanding

Rangers Ballpark In Arlington is a mere 8-hour drive from my front door, so you’ll forgive me if I’m not seen at a Rangers home game more than a few times a year. In fact, it’s now been over a year since I saw my last Rangers game live. Yes, I sometimes feel sorry for myself but fortunately, the Astros’ games are no longer on Fox Sports Southwest, so I can pretty much watch any Rangers game on TV save for the Friday night games which are only shown locally in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

 

What I’m trying to say here is I won’t be at RBiA tonight to see the opener of the Texas Rangers and the defending American League Champion Detroit Tigers. I live too far away, I don’t have enough scratch to make the trip and there have been no wealthy benefactors offering to pay my way there.

 

Here’s what I can’t understand, though. This isn’t just the first game matching up the last two American League Champions. It is also a match-up of two of the best starting pitchers playing in the game today. Yu Darvish vs. Justin Verlander. One’s a Cy Young Award winner, the other is pitching like he wants the CYA this year.

Appointment Pitching Match-Up

Appointment Pitching Match-Up

 

As much of a Rangers fan as I am, I also know I cannot watch each and every game of the season. Besides the aforementioned Friday night games, this year I’m now forced to accept my age and retire for the night before a West Coast game can reach its conclusion. Family and work responsibilities get in the way of a number of other games. Believe it or not, sometimes I’d rather just watch something else on the tube instead of the Rangers game.

 

There is, however, a time when I will move heaven and earth to make sure I get to see my beloved Rangers play, and that is a game in which Yu Darvish takes the mound for Texas. It has literally been almost 20 years since a Rangers pitcher has compelled me to watch a game whenever he took the mound. The last pitcher from so long ago? Nolan Ryan.

 

Over the years, Texas Rangers baseball has been appointment viewing for me because of hitters like Ruben Sierra, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, Josh Hamilton, even Pete Incaviglia for a short while. A pitcher? Only twice. Ryan and now Darvish. Had I lived in Texas back then, perhaps Fergie Jenkins might have elicited a reaction as well.

 

The variety of Darvish’s pitching repertoire, the movement he has on some of his pitches and the prodigious number of strikeouts makes Darvish appointment television for me all of 400+ miles away from the site it’s occurring in. Then, when you add Justin Verlander to the equation as the opponent on the mound, this is a must-see event only slightly below a playoff game in importance.

 

I say this because, as of this writing, tonight’s Darvish-Verlander match-up is shaping up to have the lowest attendance of any game in the 4-game set. I know it’s the only game of the four not being played on the weekend, but for goodness sake, IT’S DARVISH AGAINST VERLANDER!!! I’d let my kids and grandkids miss school the next day to see a pitching match-up like this. If it were a day game and I were a teacher, I’d set up a TV in my classroom to let my students see it. If my wife threatened to leave me tonight, I might even consider asking her to wait a couple of hours so we can talk about it after the game (I really wouldn’t, but you get my point).

 

Darvish vs. Verlander and as of lunchtime today, there were almost 10,000 tickets still available for the game. Is the American Idol finale really THAT important??? I guess fans don’t care about pitching match-ups as much as they used to. What a shame, because this could be one of the better games any fan could see this season.

 

 

 

Yu Got Great Stats!

 

 

Yu Darvish

Yu Darvish (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

 

Yu Darvish ERA by Innings, 2013:

 

1st: 11.57

 

2nd: 1.29

 

3rd: 0.00

 

4th: 0.00

 

5th: 1.29

 

6th: 3.00

 

7th: 0.00

 

8th: 0.00

 

9th: 0.00

 

Translation: Get to Darvish in the first or don’t get him at all.

 

Here’s one I love- Yu’s Strikeout to walk ratio in leverage situations:

 

Low Leverage: 7.20

 

Medium Leverage: 2.89

 

High Leverage: 10.00

 

Translation: When things look their worst, Darvish is at his best.

 

Opponents Batting Average in Yu’s first 25 pitches is a pedestrian .382. After 25 pitches? A meager .111

 

At his current pace, Darvish would end 2013 with 349 Strikeouts. That would be the most since Randy Johnson K’d 372 in 2001 and would rank 6th in all-time season performance. It would also be in only 33 starts. The highest K total in 33 starts or less is currently Pedro Martinez, who struck out 313 batters in 31 starts in 1999.

 

The best single season strikeout per 9 innings pitcher was Randy Johnson’s 13.41 in 2001. Darvish is currently on a pace of 14.2 K/9.

 

In just 36 starts over the course of one season and a month, Darvish is already third on the Rangers’ all-time list for games with 10+ strikeouts with 12. In second is Bobby Witt, who accomplished the feat 24 times over 10 seasons. Nolan Ryan tops the list with 34 times over a 4-year stretch.

 

Translation: Yu Darvish is one impressive dude.

 

 

The Stupendous Awesomeness of Yu Darvish

Prediction: Yu Darvish will be the American League starting pitcher in this year’s All-Star Game.

Deutsch: Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those who follow Derek Holland on Twitter know Dutch has been known to unleash torrents of of 140-character phrases letting us know the utter fearsomeness of one Chuck Norris. Chuck can do no wrong in Derek’s eyes. If you take the first five starts of 2013 and combine them with the last month and a half of the 2012 season, a case can be made for substituting the name Yu Darvish in place of Chuck Norris. Darvish is not only winning, he’s often making opposing offenses look silly while doing it. It wasn’t just the near perfect game in his first start against the lowly Houston Astros. Darvish was golden last week against the Seattle Mariners in a 7-0 win. Wait, you might say. Aren’t the Astros and the Mariners notoriously bad offenses? You can’t count them. First of all, the Astros offense isn’t as bad as it looked the first week of the season. The Mariners also are an improved offensive team from their previous two seasons. Even if I were to grant you your point, though, last night’s gem against the Los Angeles Angels should dispel any doubts you might have had. The Angels sport the most dangerous line-up in the American League with the likes of Trout, Pujols, Hamilton and Trumbo. All Darvish did against them last night was fan 11 batters in six innings of work. Darvish has not given up a run in three of his five starts. The two starts he gave up runs, he was bothered by a blister in his throwing hand. His current scoreless streak is at 18.1 consecutive innings. He’s faced 13 batters this year when he’s gotten ahead 0-2. Ten of them subsequently struck out. Darvish has an arsenal of up to ten different pitches. He can throw them all at varying degrees of speed. The second time he faced his old teammate Josh Hamilton last night, Darvish started him off with a sub 62 mph curve ball. Hamilton flailed helplessly at it. The very next pitch, though taken for a ball, was a 98 mph fastball. Try adjusting to something like that regularly. In this case, it’s funny because Darvish lost that battle with Hamilton, but the hit Josh got was a little nubber on the infield that may have been an out had Darvish not stumbled when he arrived at the first base bag.

Yu  Darvish

Yu Darvish (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

There’s so much wonderfulness to see of Yu Darvish. The link below shows batters swinging and missing at five different pitches in Yu’s arsenal, all superimposed on each other:

http://i.minus.com/i3SXAH4AAxtWS.gif

This, courtesy of the Rangers: Darvish is the only pitcher since 1916 with 3 starts of 6 IP, 10 Ks or less and 3 hits or less in his 1st 21 games. Then there’s this gif showing all of Darvish’s K’s against the Angels last night, this one courtesy of shutdowninning.com. Note especially the bender that froze Mike Trout:

http://shutdowninning.com/uploads/2/8/8/9/2889029/4171046_orig.gif

And yet another link.  Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports wrote this about Darvish, with comparisons to Pedro Martinez:

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/rangers–yu-darvish-angels-victory-strikeouts-043922291.html

Since August 28th of 2012, Yu Darvish has gone 9-2 for the Rangers with a 1.77 ERA, a o.79 WHIP and 98 strikeouts in only 76.1 innings pitched, a rate of 11.55 K’s per 9 innings pitched. Opposing teams are hitting a putrid .147 in that time. He’s only given up one home run in that span. Yu Darvish is truly the first starting pitcher the Texas Rangers have had since Nolan Ryan that I would stop whatever I’m doing just to watch him pitch. He has talent, he has charisma, he has a chance to become the most dominant pitcher ever to come out of Japan. I’m pretty sure I’m glad he’s pitching for the Texas Rangers, too.