One of the most formidable tools in a pro baseball pitcher’s arsenal is the consistency of pitching motion when throwing different kinds of pitches. If your delivery looks the same to an opposing batter when throwing a 95-mph fastball, a 80-mph curve, and a 85-mph change-up, well, you’ve really got something there. Texas pitcher Yu Darvish is ripping up the AL this year with a 4-1 record, 1.65 ERA, and 49 strikeouts, which prompted Drew Sheppard to layer five of Darvish’s pitches on top of one another in an animated GIF.
Looks like a four seam fastball, two sliders, a curve, and a nasty screwball. Great, great gif. Can’t believe this hasn’t been linked here yet.
Rangers fans still stung by Josh Hamilton’s off-season jab at Dallas-Fort Worth not being a “baseball town” might have been tickled to see a sparse crowd on hand at the start of the Rangers-Angels game in Anaheim on Monday.
SportsDay’s Evan Grant posted a Vine from the press box showing a sparsely populated Angels Stadium as the home team took the field. The lower bowl seemed about half full, while the upper deck was mostly empty.
Official attendance for the game was announced at 36,192.
Somebody is going to get traded eventually. When you have surplus in one area and a shortage in another, it’s the only sensible thing to do.
“I understand why people connect the shortstop-outfielder and on a low level find a way for that to help both teams,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Friday. “But the reality is we have just gotten to the point we wanted with our farm system — with more elite talent back and set to contribute to the major-league club. I’m not in the mood to start breaking it up.”
Don’t Grieve! Anything you lose comes round in another form!
Well, during the bottom of the fifth inning of the Rangers’ game at Seattle on Thursday night, Rangers television play-by-play announcer Steve Busby went to Fox Sports Southwest’s Dana Larson for an update on the Oakland-Angels game in Anaheim.
Larson reported that the A’s were leading the Angels, currently in last place in the American League West, 3-1.
Larson threw it back upstairs to Busby and Rangers’ color analyst Tom Grieve.
Tom Grieve: ”Evidently there’s been some ‘boos’ toward the Angels out in Anaheim. I wonder what that means. They’re not a football town. They’re not a basketball town. What are they? Evidently they’re not baseball fans out there either.”
The Rangers announced Wednesday that CEO Nolan Ryan will remain with the club, ending a six-week drama in which he considered leaving because he was uncertain of his role going forward after the promotion of Jon Daniels to general manager/president of baseball operations.
“After productive discussions the last several weeks with Ray Davis and Bob Simpson about the structure of our organization, together we are moving forward. In my role as CEO, I am focused on working closely with ownership and with Jon Daniels and Rick George to build on the success of the past five years and to bring a championship to Arlington,” Ryan said in a written statement.
The news release from the Rangers also included a statement from co-chairmen Ray Davis and Bob Simpson:
“We’ve had meaningful conversations with Nolan Ryan over the past several weeks and are pleased that our focus is now on working together to win a championship for our fans. Over the years Nolan has made extraordinary contributions to the Texas Rangers organization, both on and off the field, including providing valuable guidance to Jon Daniels and Rick George. His leadership as our chief executive — with both baseball and business operations reporting to him – has been vital to our success and offers us a bright future.”
Joe Nathan picked up his 300th save on Monday night in the Rangers’ 5-4 win over Tampa Bay.
Well, there was a little more to it than that.
Nathan, who became the 24th all-time member of the 300-save club, may be the first guy to do it on what everybody – even the umpire who initially called it a strike – knew to be a walk.
Home plate umpire Marty Foster called an 82-mph curve ball on the low and outside part of the plate a strike on left-handed hitting Ben Zobrist. After a tirade from Zobrist and Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon, Foster said he blew the call.
“I saw the pitch and, of course I don’t have the chance to do it again, but if I did, I wouldn’t call that pitch a strike,” Foster said after the game. “Joe was not violent. Joe was very professional. He was frustrated and I understand. He acted probably the best he can under that situation.”
Subtract one Vernon Wells, add one Josh Hamilton. It’s all about balance.
So, how did Hamilton respond to being challenged by his former team? Not so well:
First and second with two outs in the second: Three-pitch strikeout.
First and second with two outs in the fourth: Three-pitch strikeout.
First and second with one out in the eighth: First-pitch fly out to left.
Hamilton, 31, went 0 for 4 with a walk, a run scored and two strikeouts in the game, dropping his season batting line to .050/.208/.050. He’s 1 for 20 with three walks and 10 strikeouts in the team’s five games. That’s ... really, really bad.
Yu Darvish saw the ball skip between his shins, dashing his chance at perfection. Immediately, several Texas Rangers came to the mound to console him.
“I think my teammates were more disappointed than I was,” he said through a translator.
Darvish was one out from a perfect game when Marwin Gonzalez grounded a clean single through the pitcher’s legs, and Texas beat the Houston Astros 7-0 on Tuesday night.
The celebrated right-hander from Japan struck out a career-high 14 and was in complete control before Gonzalez smacked the first pitch up the middle. Darvish was unable to get his glove down in time and the ball skittered into center field well beyond a desperate dive by shortstop Elvis Andrus….
Using his dizzying array of pitches, including a fastball that topped out at 97 mph, a slider, and 95 mph cutters, Darvish bedeviled the mostly inexperienced Houston hitters.
“When I tell you we threw everything, we threw everything,” said Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who caught Humber’s perfect game for the White Sox last season. “We threw the kitchen sink tonight, but Yu has the ability to do that and he’s special.”
CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman reports that the Rangers and shortstop Elvis Andrus have agreed to an eight-year, $120 million extension.
Andrus’ current contract ran through 2014, so the extension locks him up through 2022. Heyman reports that the combined remaining value of the current contract and the extension means the Rangers are committed to paying Andrus $131 million over the next 10 years.
They’re in far different places, the Rangers and Astros, these two franchises that will open the 2013 Major League Baseball season Sunday night at Minute Maid Park at 8:05 ET on ESPN. The Rangers are constructed for the short term, hoping to win now and knowing that anything short of another World Series would be a bitter disappointment. Life is really simple for the Rangers in that way.
Even after an offseason in which Josh Hamilton and others departed via free agency and Michael Young was traded, the Rangers believe they’re good enough to win. Their lineup has been solidified by the signings of Lance Berkman and A.J. Pierzynski, and if right-hander Yu Darvish has a breakout season, the Rangers probably are good enough to play deep into October.
There are questions about the quality of the rotation and the reliability of the bullpen in front of closer Joe Nathan. Young’s departure significantly shifts the clubhouse dynamics, and after last season’s late collapse, the Rangers could use a good start to change the conversation.
But they’re good, and with a very good farm system, they’re likely to hang with the A’s and Angels in an American League West race that’s expected to be extremely competitive.
For the Astros, this is a season of transition, beginning with their move to the American League, complete with new colors and a new logo. They’ve got a rookie manager in Bo Porter and see this Opening Day as the next step in the reconstruction of a franchise. They believe they’re doing it the right way, building from the ground up, predicting that once they’re back that they’re back for good.
“Clearly, when you’re moving from one league to another, that’s a monumental change,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “To have the opportunity to showcase our new uniforms, our new manager, our new staff, a lot of our new players on the national stage like that against a powerhouse like the Rangers is a good thing for baseball and a good thing for the Astros. Hopefully, people will see something they like that night and decide they want to come down to the ballpark.”
This season’s success won’t be measured strictly in terms of the won-loss record. But there’s also a quiet confidence inside the organization that they’re going to be far better than people think and that they’re going to be competitive sooner rather than later.
For those of us so desperate for baseball we’ll even watch the
Rodriguez on the five starting pitchers from any era that he’d pick for his starting rotation:
Nolan Ryan, Justin Verlander, Stephen Strasburg, Randy Johnson and David Cone.
Rodriguez on Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS when Cubs fan Steve Bartman attempted to snag a foul ball that prevented Cubs left fielder Moises Alou from making the grab for the second out of the eighth inning:
“That wasn’t the game there. … Chicago fans always think that it was his fault. For us, it was great. He had a lot of trouble in Chicago and he couldn’t go on the streets, (so) we bring him to Florida. I’m not kidding. (Morgan: “Did you give him a ring?”) Yeah. He was a firefighter. They fired him from his job and all that, and I say, ‘Poor guy.’ This is a true story. What we did is contact the guy and we moved the guy to Florida. He lives in Florida right now. He works in the same job in Florida. He’s a fireman over there. We got a home for him and he lives a normal life.”
On negotiating his own deal in 1997 with Rangers team president Tom Schieffer because he didn’t want to get traded to the Yankees:
“This is the best place to play baseball. (The fans) are there every day supporting the team. That’s the reason I made my decision. For me it wasn’t a hard decision because I wasn’t going through a good time. I wasn’t focused on baseball (because of the contract). I was driving everyone crazy in my house. … I didn’t want to go (to New York). Too many yellow taxis there. I had a good home and Texas is a nice place to be. So I signed. … I think that was one of the best decisions I ever made.”
We’ll be together forever…forever and ever more Angels fans…
Jimmy Sanderson, assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Clemson University, and Elizabeth Emmons, a doctoral student in the College of Communication and Information Sciences at the University of Alabama set out to examine forgiveness within Parasocial interaction. Using Hamilton’s situation as an example, the two researchers analyzed 474 fan comments featured on a Texas Ranger forum.
“Josh Hamilton is a perfect example of a transparent, likeable athlete with a lot of support from fans,” Emmons said. “With his well-known struggles with alcohol and other addictions, he has disclosed personal aspects that people can relate to, and thus when he falls short, people have an avenue to respond to him through digital media.”
The findings revealed that Hamilton’s supporters forgave him through offering support, “addiction is hard” narratives, human condition attributions and justification. Another majority claimed they were incapable of forgiving Hamilton due to his apparent character flaws.
Surprisingly a large segment of the forum’s contributors expressed feeling closer to Hamilton because of his endeavors. One fan commented: “You are just like all of us because we all stumble, fail, and have to get back up and recover from our bruises too.”
In the 11 days since someone in Ryan’s camp leaked to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram his dissatisfaction with the Rangers’ new power structure that took away his title of team president, all Ryan has mustered publicly is a statement that said absolutely nothing, a hubristic response unbecoming a CEO whose organization is in crisis mode. Meanwhile, ownership has bowed to the altar of his Nolan Ryanness, saying pretty, pretty please stick around. President of baseball operations Jon Daniels, who was promoted to that position from general manager in order to give bigger titles to his consiglieres and keep them with the Rangers, has talked about what a pleasure it is to work with an icon. And all the people wanting to speak the truth have bit their tongues because revealing it amid Ryan’s tantrum would be hypocritical.
Since no one else seems inclined to say it, then, here it is: Nolan Ryan is acting like a big baby.
If you’ve seen one Q-switched laser shot you’ve seen them all.
Let’s start with what’s not so crazy. A semi-healthy Berkman is not so different from the semi-healthy Hamilton this team has featured.
Over the last five seasons, Berkman’s OPS (on base-plus slugging — the single most defining offensive stat in the game) was .913. Sixth in the majors.
Hamilton’s .912 over that span ranked eighth.
While Hamilton hit for more power (142 home runs to Berkman’s 101), playing home games in Arlington certainly aided his numbers. And Berkman made up for some of that difference with superior on-base percentage. As a two-strike hitter, it’s not even close, with Berkman batting 57 points higher with men in scoring position.
Drawing walks, working counts — these are Berkman’s strengths, whereas Hamilton is a hit-or-miss free swinger.
On top of that, Berkman loves trying to educate the younger Rangers in the ways of the game.
“I get the biggest enjoyment from helping the other guys,” Berkman said. “I’ve been around great pitchers, great base runners. Even if I can’t do those things, I have a wealth of knowledge to pass along.”
WARNING: YOU MAY NOT WALK AWAY FROM THIS ONE!...As Twitcher of the Death Nerve Strikes Again!
This is the problem plaguing our game. I have all the respect in the world for these young front office people that come out of Harvard or Yale — or in Daniels’ case, Cornell. I respect them when they know what they are good at: business, finance, or organizational skills — those sorts of things.
Where I tend to lose respect for them is when they decide they know how to evaluate baseball talent better than people like Nolan Ryan! When they so that, they do their players a disservice, as well as their fan base and the entire organization.
...I don’t know Daniels, but the way that Michael Young was treated there was just wrong. Young changed positions four times for the good of the team. He became an All-Star at three different positions, then demanded a trade after the signing of Adrian Beltre.
I spoke to Michael about this, and that conversation will remain between us. One thing I can say for sure is that as soon as a GM starts to think he can evaluate talent better than someone like Ryan without anywhere near the baseball background, he is giving himself too much credit.
...In my opinion, you are only ignorant if you try and tell someone how to do their job if you aren’t qualified to do that job. I don’t think I’m going to get to many people calling me to do their taxes or represent them in court. Just as I am not going to argue with someone who does a job that I have no clue about.
If the Rangers lose Ryan, they will be headed back to where they were before he got there.
Yes, there’s been a shift of power in Arlington, which may or may not be the same as a power struggle, but the end result is the same.
Either way, Jon Daniels wins and a guy named Rick George wins, because the ownership group of the Texas Rangers decided that was the direction to go.
And the loser in all this?
All the above is a surprising development, and a risky development — I also say it’s a stupid development, because why jack with what has worked so well — but all of the above has been thoroughly sourced.
The Rangers owners are now on the edge of a local PR disaster with a large segment of the fandom.
Except Bob Simpson denied on Sunday that all of the above is the way the situation has unfolded, particularly concerning the possible exit of Ryan from the team, an exit that sources say is coming, if it happens, sooner rather than later. Like possibly by the end of spring training.
...Ryan does have three years remaining on his current contract with the Rangers. But is that contract still valid now that a young GM and some guy in the front office have been deemed by these Rangers owners as more important than Nolan Ryan?
That’s a legal question, admittedly. But the power shift in Arlington is a fact. Nolan Ryan has been stripped of his power.
Breaking news: The Rockies, Astros, and Rangers are not interested in me either. Well, the Astros might be if I’m willing to play for less tha minimum wage.
A source has told CLNS Radio that 9-time All-Star Vladimir Guerrero is attempting to make a comeback to the major leagues, and is currently in the process of reaching out to many teams to see if they are interested in him.
Guerrero, 38, has sent a video of a recent workout to many teams, and will continue to reach out to teams throughout spring training. So far, the Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, and Texas Rangers have indicated that they are not interested at the moment.
A team in China has also reached out to Guerrero and made him a well-paying offer, but he will not be accepting it and is looking for a job in the United States.
Haven’t seen such pained expression over a tattoo since Serafina Delle Rose.
The odd injury train keeps rolling on. Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reported earlier today that Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus was scratched from the lineup today because of a new tattoo that was apparently still very sensitive and creating some issues in regards to comfort.
Andrus posted a picture on Twitter of his newly-inked left arm last evening, featuring his deceased father along with some related imagery.
It’s some pretty nice work on the arm of the shortstop, regarded as one of the better defenders at his position in baseball despite never winning a Gold Glove award. It doesn’t look like the ink drops below his elbow, which is something that could require him to wear long sleeves on the diamond, so it shouldn’t be an issue once the season begins.
Payroll wise, how are you doing this year? Have you been told to expect a jump in the payroll budget as the new TV deal kicks in, or are the owners subsidizing the budget until the deal starts (and therefore the budget remains in the area it currently is)?
Our payroll will be up from where it was last year. We had approval from ownership to take it further than where it currently sits, but we didn’t find the right situations to extend ourselves on. The new TV deal actually doesn’t kick in for a couple of years still - ownership has increased payroll to the higher levels in the meantime because they are committed to fielding a championship club year in and year out. They have been unbelievably supportive of our baseball group.
A lot of questions about why we didn’t sign certain free agents. Let me address that generally. Our commitment to you (the fans), our players, our ownership group, and ourselves, is to keep our window to win open for years to come. We expect to win. We don’t want to go back to the lean years. We’ve shown we’ll trade prospects (Cliff Lee, Adams, Uehara, Dempster, Molina, etc), sign our own (MYoung, Kinsler, Harrison, Holland, etc) and sign free agents (Darvish, Beltre, Nathan etc) when the time and fit is right. It’s a balancing act in some regards. The surest way for us to short circuit what we’ve got going on is to get an old club with a bloated payroll. That sometimes means letting a player go if the contract might hold us back elsewhere, or if we feel the back end of the deal doesn’t fit for where we are. In the end, I’m confident that as long as we continue to win, our fans will embrace the club. We genuinely like the team we’re going to field this year - and we’ve got a lot of flexibility to adjust as we go.
They mean an actual horror movie, not a comeback with the current Royals.
Former Royals outfielder and Blue Springs High School graduate Brian McRae is set to appear in a horror movie called “Gravedigger.”
Couldn’t be that Brian McRae, right? The International Movie Database (imdb.com) cast list includes that McRae, who played for the Royals from 1990-94, before going to the Cubs, Mets, Rockies and Blue Jays.
McRae won’t be the only former major leaguer in the flick. Billy Sample, who played seven of his nine seasons in the majors with the Texas Rangers, will star as mayor Benjamin Barnes. Jim Leyritz, who spent nine of his 11 seasons in the major leagues with the Yankees, also has a part in the movie.
Not quite as funny as Howard Stern cutting Soupy Sales’ piano wires though. (number one in the cars!)
Whether he’s a master self-promoter or just a kind-hearted soul who won’t refuse a request for his time, Holland has been told to try toning down the act and to put more attention on baseball.
The left-hander has bought in, and is trying to do his best to just say no more often.
“It’s less of the interviews and those kinds of things,” Holland said. “It’s taking a different approach to it, just carrying myself a little bit better.
“I’m still going to be the same guy I was before, just with more of a serious approach, turning things down, keeping more of my focus on the field.”
To say that Holland doesn’t take his day job seriously is simply uninformed, though easy to reach based on his 2011 mustache that took on a life of its own and a fondness for Chuck Norris.
...To those who think that his Harry Caray weather report or his radio show or his prolific Twitter posts have affected his performance, Holland is trying to prove that perception isn’t reality.
“I don’t want people saying, ‘Oh, that’s why he’s not pitching well because he out doing this,’” he said. “That’s not what it comes down to. There’s a lot of work that people don’t see, and they want to judge on what they do see. It’s upsetting.”
As Aristotal Baseball points out…“No one loves the ballplayer whom he fears”
On if he’s every had a run-in with A.J. Pierzynski:
I’ve never had a run-in with him. The first time that I saw him, he was catching for the Minnesota Twins and I fell in love with him. … I like his attitude, I like the edge that he brings, I like the fact that he upsets the opposing team with the way that he goes about his business. But it’s all about one thing: winning ballgames. That’s what we’re about here in Texas, winning ballgames, and we brought in a guy that’s about winning ballgames.
On if Lance Berkman is ready to be the No. 3 hitter:
Without a doubt. He’s been handling those situations all his career. The thing is, we want to get him in here and make sure we get out of spring training with him healthy, and if we get out of spring training with him healthy and he can be in the middle of that lineup, he will definitely make a difference.
I understand Nolan Ryan’s warblin’ Pat Buttram-speak can be tough at times…but Jerry Kuzman and Bill Sanger?
Q: What was your favorite pitching rotation to be a part of during your playing days? Not necessarily the best, but your favorite?
A: “Its hard to say. I would have to say probably when I was with the Mets, pitching alongside Jerry Kuzman and Tom Seaver. Those guys were definitely the most talented pitchers I’ve ever pitched with. But when I was with the Angels, Frank Tanana and Bill Sanger was a pretty strong rotation.”
Q: Last question, off the top of your head, if you could sit down and eat dinner or have some drinks with any two famous people, dead or alive, who completes your ultimate dining and conversation experience?
A: “(Laughing) Good question, you know Condoleeza Rice would definitely be one of them because I really respect her and the job that she did. And then here, it’s John Wayne. Growing up and watching his career and being here in Texas, I just really respect him a lot.”
The Mets want this resolved, or else they will issue a Bourn ultimatum.
Maybe the New York Mets can pull the whole thing off and sign free-agent center fielder Michael Bourn without losing their first-round pick.
David Prouty, executive counsel of the players’ union, told The Boston Globe that he is in talks with baseball regarding the Mets’ desire to keep their pick if they sign Bourn.
One source with knowledge of the discussions said the team stands a “decent” chance of winning its argument that its first-round choice should be protected.
(The Mets had the 10th-worst record in the majors last season but fell to No. 11 — the first unprotected pick — when the Pittsburgh Pirates did not sign their first-rounder and, as compensation, moved back into the top 10).
Yet, the Mets’ path to Bourn still might not be clear.
Other clubs might have greater interest in Bourn than is being reported currently — and those clubs could sign Bourn without needing to wait for the union and baseball to resolve the draft-pick question, potentially in arbitration.
The Texas Rangers are more popular than the Dallas Cowboys. That doesn’t sound right, does it?
Probably because it isn’t; or at least, the evidence is a single survey showing that, by a single percentage point, more D/FW folks watched a Rangers game last year than a Cowboys game (and remember that the Rangers play ten times as many games).
I could not find the complete survey results, but basically there are a lot of cities where about as many people see a pro football as a pro baseball game each year. The one interesting outlier is St. Louis, where evidently 81% of the population saw a Cardinals game last year as opposed to 48% watching the Rams. Now that’s “more popular.”