Big D

Big D

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Random Thoughts

I thought I'd go with a change of pace from the recent entries and give my random thoughts on the current sports world and other stuff in the news.

-- This NBA playoffs year has been lackluster at best. I know that I'm sounding like homer because after my team gets bounced I start complaining about the teams still playing. But this entire NBA playoffs year has been rather boring to me. While I do think TNT does a pretty good job covering the games, ESPN has really reached the point of being so bad it's pathetic. Everything has been going basically how the experts predicted (with the exception of maybe Phoenix getting this far), and that has probably been some of the problem. Maybe a spurs-Heat finals will save it, but I have my doubts. Shaq vs. Duncan should be fun at least.

-- Yankees vs. Red Sox was about as entertaining as you can make a series it only being the end of May. When it just about looked like the Yankees may be starting to assert themselves as the class of the AL East again after their 6-3 win on Friday, the red sox responded most emphatically on Saturday with a 17-1 drubbing of the bombers in Yankee stadium. And to really make sure the Yankees knew who still owned this feud until proven otherwise, the red sox beat up on Mussina 7-2 Sunday night with Wells pitching really well after a very shaky first. The two bombs Ortiz hit in Yankees stadium Sunday night were incredible. Especially the 2nd one into "the black hole" in center. That ball was CRUSHED.

To confuse things even greater, the Red Sox riding their momentum from the Yanks series, laid an egg in the series opener against the 1st place orioles losing 8-1. Arroyo looked really bad in the process. While the Orioles are definitely going through some adversity currently ( Bedard, Matos, and Lopez on DL), I anticipate them at least hanging around for awhile since the Yanks and Sox have their own issues to deal with.

-- Congrats to UT grad, Justin Leonard, getting his 2nd win of the year at the St. Jude classic. Granted, he almost blew the biggest sunday lead in tour history, but he was able to salvage bogey on the 18th to win by 1. It took a herculean effort by DAvid Toms shooting a 63 to make it that close. Call me crazy, but I think Leonard has a chance to make some noise at one of the remaining majors.

-- I know this Danica Stewart story is a good puff piece for trail-blazing women in the sports world, which I am always in favor of. But really, jesus christ could be racing in Formula One and no one in the US would watch. Much like I will never understand how NASCAR does so well in the US, I am equally as shocked by the fact that Michael Schmacher is one of the richest athletes in the entire world because of his Formula One racing.

-- UT Baseball ended a somewhat lackluster regular season and big 12 tournament this weekend losing to baylor. I think we were understandably seeded outside of the top 8, and thust not guaranteed to host a super regional unless Ole Miss loses on their side. Regardless, college baseball just got a hell of a lot more intriguing with the added coverage provided by ESPN and its sister stations. At least they are doing something right at the sports leader. THANK YOU hockey.

-- For anyone that doesn't get a chance to catch Rangers broadcasts, you are really missing out on the unintentional comedy provided by our announcers, Tom Grieve and Josh Lewin. I laugh out loud at least 5 times a broadcast when these two do a game. It's quite funny. And don't forget everyone's favorite sideline reporter, Jim Knox. While I get very tired of his schtick during football season, his stories during the baseball season are usually quite funny.

-- No one in baseball should be worrying about finding the next great pitchers after the current greats (Clemens, Maddux, Pedro, RJ) retire. There are plenty of young arms ready and willing to take the torch when these other guys do finally ride off into the sunset. Most notably:

-Jake Peavy
-D-Train -- no more fun guy to root for in the majors right now
-Josh Beckett
-Brett Myers
-Johan Santana
-Roy Halladay

That's all I got for now....................


Sunday, May 29, 2005

Memorial Day Weekend

First off, I'd like to say that I have a rejuvenated purpose in continuing to write this blog, since a few people stated this weekend (well two that I can recall directly - Matza and Owen). Regardless, it's two more people than I thought read this site so at least it's a start. Anyways, great scene this weekend at my old roomate's (Marshy-poo) wedding. Feel free to leave any of your comments at the end of his post because this thing will be 10X more interesting if we have more chatter than just cuyler, Zach, and I's ramblings. Until then, here is my rant for this memorial day weekend.

Rangers continue to roll, and I am really starting to get excited about this team. It is clearly a two team race in the west, and I feel like we will have enough to outlast the Angels as long as our pitching holds up. And the signs are there that we will. Let's take a look at the rangers in the month of May.

Batting Average: .276 3rd in AL behind Boston and the Evil empire

OBP: .337 3rd in AL same teams above us

OPS: .838 1st in AL and MLB

HR: 42 most in MLB by 6

ERA 3.56 7th in AL (only 16 homers allowed vs. 42 hit in may)

Looking even deeper into the numbers,

Our starting staff (Rogers, Park, Young, Astacio, and Drese have started every game) has a 4.03 ERA good for 4th in AL. When you consider how poorly our bullpen started with the initial shock of the Francisco and Almanzar losses, this whole pitching staff has really done the job so far this year. Orel Hershiser should be given a key to this city if he can lead us to a world series. He has meant that much to this pitching staf. Let's look at the starters first in rank of impact so far:

Rogers -- Should be the starter for the AL in Detroit at the all star game. 1.69 ERA and has carried this team on its back at times. I really am amazed how he is doing it at the age of 40. I never thought he would be this good, and anything he does for the rest of the season should be considered a bonus. I will happily eat crow as Rogers continues to win.

C-Young -- Tell me how a guy like Young can go from Double-A last year about this time to dominating good teams like the Yankees and White Sox and look very good doing it. I am amazed at what he has done so far at such a young age. As much crap as I give HP, Young could be the guy to change my feelings on that town. Last year, his fastball was barely hitting 90 and this year, he is getting it up to 93 and 94 last outing. It is very impressive stuff considering that his 12-6 curveball is downright nasty at times. This Princeton kid has the potential to be a guy we build our staff around.

CHOP -- As crazy as it seems to be touting Chan Ho, you can't argue with the results this year at least. Bottom line is this, Rangers are 8-2 when Chan Ho starts. That stat alone should tell you how far beyond anyone's expectations (and there were some very bleak expectations coming into the season), he has performed this year.

Drese -- I give this guy an incomplete so far. He has had some really good outings (CG 1-run win against Cleveland), and he has had some really god - awful outings at times. I will continue trust Orel with Drese's sinker until he proves otherwise. This guy really could be the key to our playoff hopes if some other stuff doesn't go our way.

Astacio -- He is what he is. I am hoping he does well, but in the back of my mind I wish I could see Ric-Rod up here. As long as he continues winning, I think he is worth the incentive laden contract.

I'm sure I will talk more about the rangers over the next few days because of our sick 8 game winning streak blinding any worts this team may have. Right now, I'm just enjoying the ride.

More commentary tomorrow on other topics hopefully....


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Ranger Playoff Hopes

Because I am bored at work today, I decided to take a look and see how this Rangers team stacks up against the good rangers (we can't call them great since we got beat by the yankees in 4 or less games each year) teams of the past.

I did a quick analysis of our 2005 team vs. the 3 ranger teams that made the playoffs (1996, 1998, 1999)

1996 -- BA .284 / OBP .359 / SLG .469 Team ERA 4.66

1998 -- .289/.356 / 462 Team ERA 5.00

1999 -- .293 / .362 / .479 Team ERA 5.07

2005 thus far -- .264 / .326 / .456 Team ERA 4.52

It looks like our current team most closely resembles the 1996 team. Those 1998 and 1999 teams leaned very heavily on the offense and not surprisingly struggled mightily in the playoffs. That 1999 offense was really stacked (huge years from Juan-Do, Pudge, and Raffy) combined with some uncharacteristic huge years from the role players (Lee Stevens and Zeile).

Going back and looking at it, the 1996 team really did give the yankees a good run in the playoffs and predictably that team had a much better pitching staff than the 1998 or 1999 teams. If you look at the '05 team, this pitching staff looks even better than the 1996 team, so that is a good thing. Unfortunately, I don't think we will even approach the 1996 team as far as offensive production unless we add a big bat at DH or Laird gets called up.

One area where you can tell more offense will come is at home. If you look at our home splits so far: .263/.321/.480

You have to figure that the BA and OBP #'s will increase as the temps continue to rise, and our offense definitely has the potential to reach that of the '96 team. Anyways, not sure if anybody cares about all this. It was fun for me to go back and look at those old clubs since I was partying like a rock star back in high school when the rangers used to be good. Ok, not really.


Sunday, May 22, 2005

Changing of Seasons

Well another action packed sports weekend has passed and as one season closes another one starts to blossom. It was a quite a weekend to be a sports fan in this crazy sports landscape known as the metroplex. We really are lucky to have so much going on in our back yard as far as sports go.

With that said, let's discuss the mavs first to get it out of the way. What can you say? The Mavs lost to a better team. You can come up with any laundry list of excuses as to why Dallas couldn't win it all this year (Nellie's retirement, not even rookie coach, Dirk's inability to take "the leap" to superstar, or our inability to stop any of phoenix's athletes), but what it boils down to is the suns were better than the mavericks this season.

The sub-plot with Nash playing his old team (Cuban as a cute secondary figure) made this series more interesting than it reallly was. I like the mavericks just as much as anyone, but we need to regroup this offeseason (i just picture Cuban spending 72 straight hours mulling acquisition and trade options). And I think we will.

Future is bright for this team:

--Dirk is going to be pissed all offseason.
--Josh Howard is going to be a good player in this league for a long time.
--Dampier will be at least adequate as a big man
--Avery is the right guy to coach this team and use his Popovich and Nelson to tutelage to win a championship.


Now, onto better news. This weekend couldn't have been better for Rangers fans. Not only sweeping a team at home, but you get to make fun of every sorry person associated with Houston the whole summer. The stros just stink. There are no two ways around it. I understand rebuiliding can hit you really quickly all of the sudden. It happened back in around 2000 when the Rangers playoff runs ended. The rangers became a really old team that relied on old veterans to win games. And they didn't win many. I vividly remember the Caminiti, Gallaragga type acquistions that were doomed from the beginning. I don't think the astros are as screwed because they have a better farm system, front office situation than those rangers teams. But rebuilding is never fun. Unless you are a Dallas fan who enjoys seeing Houston suffer, whatever the endeavor may be. I kid. I kid.

Moving back to the Rangers for a minute, this team really has some potential to be putting something special together. It may not be this season, shoot it may not even be 2006, but sooner rather than later the Rangers are going to be competing for a championship. First off, the west is automatically easier to win just by the fact it's the only 4 team division in MLB. So by default, you have a better chance to make the playoffs.

Combine that with the knowledge and experience of a Buck showalter and a great young nucleus of players to build around (Coco, Myoung, Blalock, Tex, Nix, Mench, CYoung, etc.) and you have something special working. These guys play the game the right way and it is just a matter of time before we put it all together.

Not to sound too major league cliched, but the rangers really excited me in a good sort of Major League way.

See in the pecking order of sports movies, Major League just is in that other level as far as funny sports movies. I like Caddyshack just as much as anyone, but Major League has always been funny to me on all levels.

From the fat guy running out twice on the end celebration scene, to bob uecker as harry doyle, "this guy her is dead", it's all great stuff. I feel that way about the rangers. For whaveter reason, there is something about this club that appeals to my emotional heart.

So to the Texas Rangers, you are my Major League.

I'd like to end by giving a special award to my buddy Marcus (he's 26) who ended up running the bases (apparently this happens at some rangers games) with all the kids after the Rangers 2 nuthin shut out of the stros. He even cut himself diving into homeplate. If you have never met Marcus, you are really missing out. The guy is a true one of a kind.