Category: Texas Rangers (Page 1 of 24)

2024 World Series Champs

The biggest sports news of my weekend wasn’t that TCU qualified for the four-team college football playoff or that the Cowboys scored a franchise record 33-points in the fourth quarter to complete a blowout of the Colts. The truly earth-shattering, universe-altering, mind-blowing, euphoria-inducing news came down late Friday evening: Jacob deGrom has signed with the Texas Rangers!

deGrom is the best pitcher in Major League Baseball. And he is a Ranger. The 34-year-old, two-time Cy Young Award winner signed a five-year, $185-million free agent contract to pitch in Arlington after a couple of Zoom meetings with GM Chris Young and new Texas skipper Bruce Bochy. What a coup! deGrom brings that 98-mph heater and a winning clubhouse presence to a team that, finally, is making a serious push to win a World Series.

Last offseason it was Corey Seager and Marcus Semien in a remake of the middle infield. Last month it was pulling Bochy out of retirement to manage. They’ve also retained All-Star Martin Perez and traded for Jake Odorizzi. They’ve got top fifty prospects Jack Leiter, Kumar Rocker, and Owen White probably one year away from starting at the MLB level. This team is ready right now to compete in the AL West and should be in the mix for a run or two at the World Series starting in 2024.

Yes, this is exciting. This is bigger than the record-smashing signing of Alex Rodriguez back in the day. The Rangers have a legitimate World Series winning manager, a General Manager who’s been given an open checkbook by ownership, and now they have the best pitcher in the game at the front of the rotation.


Concerning the Cowboys: don’t get too happy about a 54-19 win over the hapless Colts. Remember that the Indy coach, Jeff Saturday, had never coached football at any level before they pulled him out of the ESPN studios last month. Quarterback Matt Ryan looks like he should have retired a couple of years ago. This is a mess of a team – they’re terrible.

And it was a two-point game heading into the fourth quarter. Had Saturday kicked an extra point instead of going for two, it would have been a one-point game heading into that final period. Had they made the two-point conversion, it would have been tied.

Ryan and the Colts turned the ball over four times in that last quarter which led to the most lopsided fourth quarter in the NFL since 1925. But after three quarters at home against one of the worst, mismanaged, dysfunctional teams in the league, Dallas was only up 21-19.


Alabama football fans, you need to sit down and be quiet. You know who you are. Stop it. The Crimson Tide didn’t have anything taken away from them when they failed to make the college football playoffs. They haven’t been ripped off in any way. They simply do not deserve to be playing for a national championship.

If you’re going to be one of the top four teams in the country, you have to be one of the top two teams in your own conference, and Alabama is not. They didn’t even qualify for their own conference championship game. They lost two games. Their best win is a one-point victory over Texas on the last play of the game. TCU beat five ranked opponents this season while going 12-0, including a seven-point win against those same Longhorns on that same field. TCU played in their conference championship game and lost by a field goal in overtime, after being stopped at the goal line on a fourth down run from the one. TCU beat everybody they played this year, having defeated K-State in the regular season by ten in the regular season.

And don’t give me the line that Alabama deserves it over TCU because if those two teams lined up against each other today, ‘Bama would be favored by a lot. Championships aren’t won in Las Vegas; they are won on the football field. And TCU did much more between the lines than Alabama this year.



Take a Pitch!

Whitney and I took a baseball road trip to Arlington this past weekend to take in the Rangers and White Sox at that horribly ugly thing they call the new ballpark. And, of course, we had a blast.


We sang Beatles songs together all the way to Fort Worth. We put on our Rangers gear and ate extra cheesy enchiladas at Pappasito’s, our traditional pre-game meal destination. We arrived at that atrocious barn early enough to take a lap around the concourse and comment on all the things we despise about the Rangers’ new digs. We waved at Chuck Morgan in his bulletproof P.A. booth. Whitney bought a Corey Seager t-shirt and I bought a 50th anniversary edition of the Rangers yearbook. And we watched Texas lose 2-1.

The Rangers scored a run on two hits in the first inning, giving us hope for an exciting game and maybe, just maybe, a Rangers win. But then our boys managed only one hit the rest of the way to lose by one. Texas loaded the bases with two outs in the 8th when the White Sox pitcher lost control. He walked two guys and plunked a batter to put the tying run at 3rd base and the potential game-winning run at 2nd. But Leody Taveras chopped at the first pitch he saw and grounded into the inning-ending and, ultimately, game-ending out.

The Chicago pitcher was on the ropes. He was wild. He had walked two and hit one. And with the bases loaded, down one run, in the bottom of the 8th, Taveras didn’t even take one pitch. He didn’t even look. He swung away and bounced it to short. And the game was over.

But I was with Whitney. And a bad day at the ballparkĀ  – even a bad ballpark – is still better than a good day almost anywhere else.



Facing Nolan

I highly recommend you spend 110-minutes this weekend to watch the new documentary on Nolan Ryan. If you’re in a bigger city like Dallas or Houston or Austin, find a theater that’s showing it and see it with a friend or two. If you’re in a smaller town like Midland or Amarillo or Tyler, pay the $4.99 and stream it on the biggest TV in the house with somebody else. Do not watch it alone. It’s too good. It needs to be shared.

If you’re a baseball fan, watch it with another baseball fan – you’ll talk about it together for weeks. If you live in Texas, watch it with another Texan – it’ll scratch so many of your Texas pride itches. If you’re married, watch it with your spouse – it’s a beautiful love story about Nolan and Ruth.

It’s incredible to think that Nolan pitched in the major leagues for a full 27-seasons and holds 51-different major league pitching records. It’s mind-boggling to realize that most of Nolan’s records will never be approached by anyone else, much less broken. As Randy Johnson points out halfway through the film, “I’ve got the second most strikeouts in major league history, and I’m a thousand short of Nolan.” It’s humorous to watch the greatest of the greats like George Brett, Dave Winfield, Pete Rose, and Cal Ripken, Jr joke about how they had no chance against Ryan. It’s mesmerizing watching Nolan mow down batter after batter with his 100 miles-per-hour-plus fastball and paralyze them with his 12-6 breaking pitch. It’s fascinating to understand he holds all those records, including the record for lowest ever batting average against, and he never won a Cy Young Award. It rings so true and authentic when Nolan’s granddaughter attempts an impression of her famous paw-paw’s understated aw-shucks Texas drawl. It’s tragic that Robin Ventura refused to participate.

Naturally, the movie is nostalgic for me. I was fortunate to see the Ryan Express pitch dozens of times at the old Arlington Stadium. I watched him take a no-hitter into the 9th inning, leading 1-0, record one out in the 9th, and then give up back-to-back doubles, get pulled, and lose 2-1. Up until Game Five of the 2011 World Series, it was the most exciting thing I had ever experienced as a lifelong Rangers fan. I hung on every pitch of his 5,000 strikeout game and his record seventh no-hitter as Mark Holtz and Eric Nadel called it on WBAP. I was privileged to interview Nolan several times once I began working for KRLD, the Rangers’ flagship station in the early 2000s. As KRLD’s Sports Director, I was honored to be a voter for the inaugural class in the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame and, yes, Nolan received my vote and everybody else’s. The day it was announced that he was going to be inducted, I interviewed Ryan privately, one on one, right after the press conference. I ran into Nolan at Love Field seven or eight years ago while returning from the Pepperdine Lectures and he pretended to remember.

Check out the movie trailer here. Now, take my recommendation and watch the movie. It’s about baseball. It’s about Texas. It’s about love and marriage and family. And character. And legendary myth. Check it out. And then come back here Monday and let me know how it hit you.



Sports Joy

Baseball season has begun and the Rangers have a cool new logo to promote this as their 50th Anniversary Season. I love the logo because it incorporates the old cowboy hat from their very first logo in 1972, still my favorite Rangers logo of all time. Never mind that this is the Rangers’ 51st season – the Cowboys pulled the same math miscalculation in 2010 with their 50th anniversary patch during their 51st season, and nobody seems to care. It’s a neat little design that highlights a milestone moment for a beloved baseball team.

And it’s probably going to be the highlight of the season.

This is still the same ol’ Rangers. What other team can average seven runs per game and still be 1-3? What other team can be up 7-0 in the 4th inning and lose 10-8? What other team places its ace starting pitcher on the injured list with a finger blister three innings into Opening Day? What other team loses in extra innings on an overturned illegal slide video replay call from New York City?

I watch and cheer for the Rangers mostly out of duty. They’re my team. I’ve been with them for all fifty years. Rooting for the red dot in three stadiums. “It’s baseball time in Texas!” Sunny, Pudge, and Chad Krueter. Feliz versus A-Rod. Nellie Cruz’s drop. Chan Ho Park. Expectations are low and nobody gets hurt. It’s an obligation for me. There’s not a ton of joy.

Over the past couple of months, I have become really excited for the Mavericks and their sure-to-be deep playoff run that starts this weekend. They have the second best record in the NBA since January 1 and they’re playing as well as anybody in the league. They’ve secured home court advantage for the opening round of the postseason for the first time since they won it all back in 2011. And they’re not facing the Clippers! I’ve been enthusiastically following this team and looking forward to these playoffs for weeks.

But Luka strained his calf in the second half of the season finale Sunday night and he’s questionable for Saturday’s tip-off against the Jazz. If he can’t go, this is a quick series and it’s one-and-done, again, for the little Mavericks. That excitement is now gone.

The Stars are barely hanging on, backing into their NHL playoff spot via the wild card. Hard to get too excited about that.

My sports hope this spring and summer is in the Midland RockHounds. They will be my sports joy. The AA affiliate of the Oakland A’s and our new hometown team plays their home opener tonight against Corpus Christi and we’re there. They are also celebrating their 50th anniversary season with updated logos, featuring a more anatomically correct Rocky the Hound and including a cool paw print made up of five drops of oil. They’re off to a 2-1 start after opening the season on the road in Amarillo, atop the standings in the Texas League South Division.

We show up early, we wear the gear, we cheer for the players by first name, we toss dollar bills when they hit homeruns, and we always have a great time. I can get pretty excited about that.



Ranger Hangar

It’s not really baseball if it’s played inside a dome.

The girls and I took a quick five day vacation to a couple of our favorite places in Texas last week, wrapping it up with our first visit to the Rangers new ballpark in Arlington – the hideous dome they built to replace the most beautiful stadium in the state. It’s an awful thing. It looks like a massive airplane hangar. It looks like a gargantuan temporary metal building somebody erected over a weekend so they could sell knockoff Nikes or bootleg T-shirts. Situated directly across the street from the gorgeous Ballpark in Arlington, the contrast between the two venues is striking. And terribly sad.

Yes, the seats are cushioned in the new place and, unlike with Jerry’s Death Star next door, they’re all a bit closer to the on-field action. And it’s cooler, of course. It was 94-degrees outside and 70-degrees inside. I wasn’t sweating. Carley reported feeling a bit chilly. Yes, it was very, very comfortable. But it didn’t feel like a baseball game. Walking around the concourse felt more like getting ready for a hockey or basketball game, or a concert, not a baseball game. Aren’t you supposed to be sweating your lips off at a Rangers game? Isn’t that part of what makes the Lemon Chill so great?

And no fireworks. It was a Friday night game, but you can’t do fireworks indoors.

But they still do the wave. I was hoping the new stadium would be wave-less. It’s not. New stadium, same wave-happy fans.

It turned out to be a really fun night. Before the game, I had the great joy of introducing Whitney to longtime Rangers Public Address Announcer Chuck Morgan. The inventor of the dot race. The voice of Arlington Stadium, the Ballpark, and now this Ranger Hangar. We met him in his PA booth right behind home plate and he autographed Whitney’s hat with his famous, “It’s baseball time in Texas!”

The Rangers went hitless through five innings but then scored three runs in an explosive sixth inning to beat the A’s 3-2. A good, clean, well-played baseball game. In a dome.

And they didn’t play Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “If the House is a-Rockin'” after the final out. I was puzzled by that. We lose the song but we keep the wave? Who made that call?

The rationale offered to the public for this abomination has been two-fold: that the summer heat wears the team out so they’re not as strong down the stretch of a baseball season and that more people will attend Rangers games if it’s more comfortable. These are loser arguments from a loser mentality. It’s so disappointing. My response continues to be 1) a winning organization uses the local weather to its benefit. You don’t see the Chicago Bears or the Green Bay Packers putting roofs on their stadiums. They wear short sleeves in sub-freezing blizzards and intimidate the opponent. The weather is part of the home field advantage for an outfit with a winner’s mindset. And 2) it’s not the weather keeping fans away, it’s the inferior on-field product. When the Rangers are winning the division and contending for the pennant, the stadium is packed even in 100-degree heat, even in 88% humidity. I don’t care how cool it is inside the dome, nobody’s coming to watch a last place team.



Play Ball!

The name change from Fox Sports Southwest to Bally Sports Southwest would make more sense if they carried any teams that were worth betting on.

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