Monday, November 1, 2010

Message from Chuck Greenberg

The following was written by Chuck Greenberg, Rangers co-owner, originally posted here. He may be from Pittsburgh but he speaks like a Ranger lifer here. Let's go Ranger fans, it's our time now.

Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg posted the following message on his Facebook page.

This season has transcended expectations and transformed the psyche and hearts of legions of Rangers fans across Texas and throughout our country and beyond. At the core of the remarkable journey we have shared together is a ballclub and a community who collectively have consigned the conventional wisdom of the past to the dust bins of history, busting myths and charting a new course previously thought to be unattainable.

Can't pitch successfully in Rangers Ballpark. Wrong.

Can't compete successfully late in the season because the heat will break you down. Wrong.

Fans will lose interest when training camp opens. Wrong.

Fans won't come to Rangers Ballpark after the All Star break because it's too hot. Wrong.

Rangers can't win a playoff series. Wrong.

Rangers can't win a playoff game at home. Wrong.

Rangers can't beat the Yankees in the playoffs. Wrong.

Rangers can't get to the World Series. Wrong.

Rangers can't captivate the hearts and emotions of fans new and old deep into the fall. Wrong.

And on and on and on....

I can't even begin to count the memorable moments we have shared this year thanks to a very special group of players with hearts and smiles as big as Texas, who always pull together, stand up for one another, and who have changed the sports landscape here in the Metroplex forever.

But here is a simple reality. Monday will be the last game played in Rangers Ballpark this year. We all owe it to ourselves, our players and each other, to celebrate with passion, enthusiasm and indefatigable belief from lineup cards to the final out, loud and proud.

The defining team of my young life was the 1979, "We are Family" Pittsburgh Pirates. I have often remarked how much this Rangers club reminds me of that team, with a confident but friendly swagger and an abundance of character and personality.

Now these two teams have something else in common. Both fell behind 3-1 in the World Series. Kent Tekulve, the great closer from the '79 Pirates, texted me after tonight's game to pass along this story. Before Game 5, Willie Stargell told his teammates:

"We are playing in front of the whole world. We may not win this thing, but before we go, let's show the world how the Pirates really play baseball."

The Pirates, playing against a team whose colors were black and orange, won Game 5. Then they returned to Baltimore and won Game 6. Then they won Game 7.

I know our players will show everyone how the Rangers play baseball tomorrow. As fans, let's do the same. We have one final opportunity this season to show the world what we have accomplished together and the passion we all hold for our players and our shared dreams.

The World Series is going back to San Francisco. And then there will be one final piece of conventional wisdom to prove wrong....



Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A kid's dream

So this is what it takes to get me writing again.

You know, it's been pretty tough on Dallas sports fans for a few years now. The Stars haven't been truly competitive for a decade and it's been four years since the Mavs choked in the Finals, beginning their slide to mediocrity. We thought the Cowboys were on the way to playing in the Super Bowl in their own stadium, before we were reminded they are still owned by Jerry and coached (for now) by Wade.

But the Rangers.

For my entire life, the Rangers have been more or less irrelevant in baseball. Sure, they'd score lots of runs, but with no pitching to speak of and the August swoon as a built-in excuse, they never really got your hopes too high. And with Tom Hicks slashing payroll the last few years--why does a top five market have a bottom five payroll?--the Rangers should have been trending down.

But things started changing five years ago, without anyone really noticing what was going on. First Jon Daniels was named GM. If you've been reading here for a while, you know I've been none too complimentary of JD in the past. Don't worry--a proper apology is coming later. After a year, he named Ron Washington manager, and two years after that Nolan Ryan joined the team as president. Along the way, Daniels made several significant trades that stocked the farm system. This year, it all came together, and combined with the eventual purchase of the team by the Greenberg-Ryan group, the Rangers were poised for great things.

And if that's all there was, it would be great. But there is so much more to this team. Simply put, they have "it"--that something that you can't quite put a finger on, but it's there nonetheless. The Red Sox as the self-proclaimed Idiots had it in 2004. The Patriots had it 2001 on their way to their first Super Bowl, just like the Rams two years earlier with the Greatest Show on Turf. It is evidenced by the Claw and the Antler, which some around baseball have mocked. That's fine--we're having fun anyway. But mock at your own peril, because you are mocking It. Maybe you call it chemistry, fate, destiny, desire, want-to. Whatever. Just know that the Rangers have It.

And only those of us who have been through the long, lean years can really appreciate how special that is. I grew up in Dallas as a fan of all three (pre-Stars) major sports teams, but the Rangers were my favorite, for a few reasons. I played little league baseball, so I readily identified with the game. Baseball was on TV more, just by the nature of the long season. But mostly, it was because those were the games I went to. Sure, we went to a Mavs game or two each year, and I went to my one-and-only Cowboys game when I was 21. But I grew up in the 70's as a Junior Ranger. I was at old Arlington Stadium when that logo you see above wasn't retro. I remember powder blues. I had fan giveaways: hats and plastic helmets and shirts and backpacks and pennants. And greatest of all, a red Rangers Louisville Slugger. I went to the top of the bleachers and peeked over the edge at the parking lot. I went to summer clinics where I got to walk out on the field and listen to real pro ballplayers talk about what they did and how they did it. Night of high school graduation? I went to Arlington with some friends to watch the great Nolan Ryan pitch. In high school and college, we'd go to games late, because after the fourth inning they'd let you in for free. I was there on April 19, 1996, when the Rangers batted around three times in an hour long bottom of the eighth and put up 18 on the Orioles, beating them 26-7. My first date with my wife? Dinner at TGI Friday's Front Row Grill and two seats in the Home Run Porch. One of the the last things I did before leaving Dallas? Take pictures out at the Ballpark. This team was a huge part of my life, from childhood into adulthood.

I've been away from Dallas for eight years. I go to Orioles Sunday home games all season at beautiful Camden Yards. I enjoy the games there. They're having a rough time on the field, but it's a great organization that takes care of its fans. Still, I miss the Rangers, and nothing can replace that. I've got too much history in Arlington.

I've waited nearly 37 years for this magical run at the World Series, and I've never enjoyed sports success so much. Not the Cowboys' Super Bowls or the Stars' Stanley Cups. Not even the Longhorns' National Championship. The plus side of all those Rangers lean years? The last few weeks have been a string of Firsts. First playoff series win. First home playoff win. First American League Pennant.

Up next: First World Series Appearance by the Texas Rangers. It's been a long time coming, and it's all the sweeter for it.

It's time.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Return to blogging: MLB predictions and Ranger questions

I haven't posted in a long time. Having a toddler, a full time job, and being in school part time will do that. Does this mean I'm back posting a lot? Probably not, but I had some Ranger opinions and MLB predictions I wanted to throw out there before the season started.

First, my Ranger concerns.
I am a Ranger homer if there ever was one. I always have hope that this year will be different and we will relive the glory days of the late 90s when the Rangers won a playoff game. Ahh, memories. In fact, even on this blog, I have spouted unvarnished optimism that only a true rose colored glasses wearing homer could say. Finally, it seems this may be the year. Listening to podcasts and reading some of the national writers, many believe Texas could actually breakthrough and make it back to the playoffs. So why am I worried? I'll give you a list.
1. The rotation is deep, but full of question marks. Scott Feldman- can he do it again? He will probably regress a little, but how much? Rich Harden has looked terrible in spring training. CJ Wilson hasn't started since 2005 and he was terrible then. Can be a true #2 like he is listed in Ranger rotation? Colby Lewis was terrible the last time he was starter, too. He was great in Japan, but can be good here? Spring training stories like Matt Harrison (best shape of his life, added velocity, etc) are a dime a dozen. Does it mean anything? Is Tommy Hunter anything more than a #4 starter? Is Brandon McCarthy ever going to make us stop throwing up whenever John Danks does something? When is Derek Holland going to be ready?
2. The lineup has question marks: Chris Davis was terrible last year, so can he better? Will Ian Kinsler be able to stay healthy (not so far this year)? Will Elvis Andrus progress offensively? Will Michael Young regress? Can Hamilton stay healthy? Will Borbon's poor walk rate kill the Ranger offense? Will either catcher be any good?
3. The bullpen without Wilson is a concern. I wonder if the Rangers gain enough in moving CJ Wilson to the rotation to make up for what they lost in the bullpen? Darren Oliver is their only lefty right now. Who will close if (when) Frankie Francisco gets hurt?
4. Is Ron Washington's cocaine use last year really no big deal?

I still have hope, but for some reason, my blind optimism just isn't there.

Here are my picks
AL East: Yankees (FAIL! FAIL! FAIL!)
AL Central: Twins
AL East: Rangers (disregard everything I just wrote)
Wild Card: Rays (I just can't in good conscious pick the Yankees and the Red Sox)
AL Champion: Yankees (suck)

NL East: Phillies
NL Central: Astros (Just kidding... I'm picking the Cardinals. The Astros will probably loss 100 games)
NL West: Rockies
Wild Card: Braves
NL Champion: Braves (A wild card team goes to the World Series all the time. Why can't I pick one as well.)
World Champion: Yankees (I'm picking them to win because my predictions are never right. Even in the 2nd chance bracket for the NCAA tournament, I got exactly ZERO in the Final Four. I'm trying to reverse jinx the Yankees)

AL Cy Young: Jon Lester
AL MVP: Joe Mauer
NL Cy Young: Roy Halladay
NL MVP: Ryan Howard

Monday, March 15, 2010

110 Percent Madness 2010

The bracket is set and 110 Percent invites you to pick against our 'pros' in our third annual Pick 'em challenge. Click on 110 Percent Madness Tournament Challenge to play.

Here are the details:
Group name: 110 Percent
Group ID# 78381
Password: teameffort

This is hosted by Yahoo!, so you will need a Yahoo! ID to play.

We have a tweak to the scoring this year. In addition to the standard scoring (1 point for first round, 2 for second, 4 for third, 8-fourth, 16-fifth, 32-championship), there are also bonus points up for grabs. All you have to do is pick the upsets. For a correct upset pick, you will get bonus points equal to the difference in the seeds. For example, if you correctly pick a 10 seed over a 7 in the first round, you will get one point for the win and three bonus points for the upset (10-7).

Also, we'll do some crazy brackets like last year--coin flip, free throw percentage, that sort of thing. If you have an idea you'd like to try for a crazy bracket and have an extra email account, go ahead and give it a shot, naming the bracket appropriately (ex: Coin Flip) so we all know what brainless method is schooling us. Please, though, only one serious bracket per person--any extras will be deleted.

Good luck and let the madness begin.