Archive for the ‘The National Passtime’ Category

Feel the tectonic shift and pull out your wool socks

June 3, 2010

I’ve never been a fan of instant replay in sports…until tonight. The umpires have changed my mind by the strength of the evidence. Baseball must develop a way to integrate review of disputed or significant calls in all situations.

So what am I talking about anyway? A young pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, Armando Gallaraga, carried a perfect game into the ninth inning and got the first two outs. One more out and he would have the perfecto. He induced a ground ball to second, and the throw was in time to beat the runner, but the umpire called the runner safe. The ump apologized later and made a public statement that he had erred, but there is no recourse in that situation and that is no longer acceptable at the highest levels of the sport.

If we were inventing baseball now, in the 21st century, we would certainly be using some form of imagery to deal with disputed calls. The only reason that it isn’t there now is because baseball has such a strong sense of tradition. A more important tradition is getting the calls right, and for all their talk about self policing, the on field officials almost never overrule one another and rarely even ask for input from another umpire on close plays.

Baseball has gone from being top dog to third place among professional team sports in this country during the span of my life. If they want to keep from sliding further from the attention of the ADD generation, adding the right amount of technology to supplement the on field officials in crucial situations just might help.



August 13, 2008

The Rangers have just lost a ballgame in which they scored 17 runs.  That’s right.  17  Grammatically, I can use 17 instead of seventeen.  That’s how crazy this is.

Let’s think about this for a minute.  How can you lose a game in which you score 17 runs?  You can give up four (4) grand slams and still win a game in which you score 17 runs.  You can give up two runs each inning for the first eight (8) innings and still win a game in which you score 17 runs.  You can have three of your pitchers give up five runs each and still win a game in which you score 17 runs.  If you prefer, you can have five of your pitchers give up three runs each and still win a game in which you score 17 runs.

Can we please stop talking about a playoff run for this team now?  I love these guys, most of ’em anyway, but the pitching just isn’t there.

And the crowd goes wild…

April 11, 2008

I’m going to go out on a limb here and declare this the greatest day in DFW sports history.  There have been singular accomplishments of greater import, but the totality of this day’s successes is pretty much unparalleled in the history of our professional sports franchises.

The Mavericks won a nail biter on an unbelievable shot by Dirk Nowitski with 0.9 seconds left in regulation.  This win combined with a loss by the nearest team in the standings assured the Mavs of a playoff berth.  They had a huge late season slump that has only just shown signs of relenting as the team fights for a chance to compete in the post season.  Dirk, playing on one bad ankle with a bad knee and an elastic bandage the size of Rhode Island on one elbow, willed the team to a critical victory tonight.  The cardiac kids label has been passed to the Mavs for a while.  It should be an interesting ride.

After laying a complete omelet with poor pitching and worse hitting on opening day, the Rangers came back with excellent pitching and timely hitting to sweep a double header today.  The wins were important for this team as they try to craft a new identity as a group that will compete better with more consistent results than in years past.  The starting pitching has been excellent overall this year and the signs of life offensively could mark a turning point.  Baseball has the most demanding season by sheer dint of numbers and the extreme changes in playing conditions from day to day.  In other words, it’s far too early to read too much into what we’ve seen so far; but the results are much more encouraging this year than we’ve been accustomed to seeing of late.

Playoff hockey is generally characterized by strong physical play and tight defense.  The Stars saw half of that tonight in Anaheim.  The Ducks didn’t seem to be mentally ready for this contest and tried to make up for that by physical aggression.  The Stars made them pay for that by cashing in on four of their seven full power play opportunities.  Dallas hadn’t won the first game of a playoff series in a number of years, and by doing so tonight they have improved their chances of advancement quite a bit.  Now all that is required is that they win their home games and the second round is theirs.  They played to win tonight instead of playing not to lose.  I hope they bring that philosophy to the next game and continue that approach indefinitely.

Texas Rangers Update – Winds of Change

November 26, 2006

I’m really happy to see Frank Catalanatto returning to the Rangers.  I can’t be too upset about his leaving in retrospect because we picked up Michael Young in the trade and the team would be nothing without him, but I liked Catalanatto and welcome his return.  I believe that he’ll excel by working with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo (although in all fairness I believe that about everyone because Jaramillo is so good).

I’m quite distraught about having lost Gary Matthews Jr. to a division rival.  The real question is whether last season was his high water mark or the first year of the best phase of his career.  Referencing earlier comments about Rudy Jaramillo, I believe that he would have continued to be a strong offensive force in Texas, and would have been the long term answer to our center field problems.  Matthews departure weakens us in a significant defensive position and greatly strengthens an opponent who has finished higher than us in the division standings for the last four years.  Granted that Matthews can’t pitch and that is still our greatest weakness, I don’t see how this is positive.  I don’t buy the speculation that the Rangers have their eye on free agent center fielders in next years’ class.  They won’t be any cheaper than Matthews would have been and this team has never paid well for that position even though they continually stress its importance.  As usual, actions speak louder than words.

I’m also disturbed by the loss of Mark DeRossa.  He added a blue collar work ethic that the team really needed and finding a suitable utility infielder with his attitude should be a priority.

The tale of the upcoming season will be, as always, just how well the starting pitching staff does.  The sad truth is that if we can find four starters with an ERA under 4 who will pitch six innings per start consistently, we’ll have the best starting staff that we’ve ever had and a significant upgrade over what we’re trotting out now.  I had reservations about trading Chris Young to San Diego at the time, but I supported the move tentatively because we needed to shake things up.  He sure would look good on our mound now, and Adrian Gonzalez would look really good at third base.  Oh well, looks like I was just as wrong as Jon Daniels.

Texas Rangers Baseball Update

August 24, 2006

After losing three games in a row to the second worst team in the American League, I hereby declare the Texas Rangers to be dead meat in the division race. It is now Oakland’s to lose and I expect the Rangers to finish no better than third in a four team division.

For a season that began with several false starts it’s actually been a fun ride. Michael Young continues to develop as a leader and watching Gary Mathews develop as a player has been very enjoyable. I hate having to write the obituary for this season so soon, but the truth must be observed and that is that this team is less than the sum of its parts.

Last year I said that the Rangers needed to make three personnel moves to improve their chances in the division. Unfortunately those personnel include the owner, the general manager, and the field manager. The general manager has since resigned his day to day activities to concentrate on his golf game and continue cashing the team’s paychecks. The owner, who is still writing checks to a player that he overpaid to come here and ‘traded’ to the Yankees two years ago, is unlikely to leave. The field manager is still a source of hope for me. He’s not really a bad guy, but he hasn’t had a history of leading teams to success personally and I think that he is so fond of his own decision making abilities that the team suffers.