Results tagged ‘ Texas Rangers ’

Rays Getting into the College Groove

univdays_baylor_hat-horz

 

I got an email the other day from the Texas Rangers as they were doing promotion for their upcoming “University Day” on July 11th featuring a special Baylor color scheme inspired cap and game day promotions.

Of course I’m a bit biased being a Baylor grad., but after seeing this I visited my own local team, the Tampa Bay Rays website and found out they are also going to show some Rays love to our Florida universities.

uf_hat_300x131The Rays will also have 3 separate college nights in 2014 with the first showcasing the Florida Gators aka “Chomp at the Trop” on Sat., July 26th when the team takes on the Boston Red Sox.  The University of South Florida get their chance on Sat., August 2nd when the Los Angeles Angels come to the Trop, and Florida State has their “Chop at the Trop” event on Sun., August 3rd.

Each event have their own ticket pricing variables from which includes a seat in the Lower Level and a special edition cap featuring your school. USF ticket packages start at $34 and you can use the password: USF1 for your Bulls package. FSU fans ticket packages start at $38 and you can get your special Nole seats with the password: Noles1.  Florida fans can get their $42 packages with the password; Gator1.

usf_hat_300x250If you plan on attending the game with a larger group of 10 or more fans, call the Rays Group Sales dept. at (727) 825-3396 or email them at groupsales@raysbaseball.com and you could possibly see a few more dollars in all of your group’s wallet come game day.

I think it is awesome that the Rangers and Rays have devoted a special game day for colleges within their regional grasp and promote their love for those universities with their own college color scheme inspired Rays cap design. I will definitely be in house on July 29th when the Gator Nation invades the Trop and could help the Rays fans out cheer the sporadic outbursts from the Red Sox faithful.

fsu_hat_300x124My only complaint or hope is that in the future the Rays can provide a more colorful cap more in tune with each school’s color scheme more like the Baylor cap the Rangers will hand out. The Rays caps seem a bit “plain Jane” to me compared to the Baylor cap, and usually the Rays do not go with a plain promotional item, especially one that will be seen around town bearing their trademark “TB”.

Hopefully this is only a beginning and someday each of the M L B’s clubs can one day carry these special college caps in their respective Team Store and promote these school and their Rays ties 365 days a year instead of for one glorious night.

Now if I can figure out a way to get my hands on one of those awesome Baylor caps….

Watching as the Ryan Express Whistles Past Me

 
 
You have to wonder if sometime during the off season in the Winter of 2009 if Texas Ranger Team President Nolan Ryan did not take a secret mission trip to the Middle East, near the site of the old empire of Persia and possibly found a very generous Genie in a lantern during a desert trek. To some within the baseball hierarchy that is the only way this Texas team could have changed their destiny so drastically in the last 365 days. You have to immediately consider an outside influence, or maybe even a few “wishes would have been granted for such a grand unexpected Rangers rise to prominence .

How else could the Rangers have had this purely magical season transpire in 2010 without three huge changes in the team karma, and we are not talking about Rangers pitching Ace Cliff Lee either. There has to be some other form of metaphysical reasoning that the final stamp of approval for change of ownership in the fire sale for the Rangers would have ever levitated towards the Ryan group of investors.

The big bets were placed firmly on the big money mob headed by NBA millionaire Mark Cuban, not Ryan’s posse` If you were a big wheel within the circles of Major League Baseball, or even a judicial member in charge of this millionaire’s garage sale, you had to see the fat and bulging wallet in Cuban’s back pocket and summarize immediately the endless possibilities of another Cuban led success story in sports.

Ryan and his group seemed on the outside like just another smart Texas born “Good Ol’ Boys” network compared to the flashing and high profile Cuban conglomerate that wanted to push the image of this team skyward in a New York minute. There had to be some sort of wishing, praying and possibly rubbing of an old lantern to facilitate such a change of rationale towards the soft spoken Ryan finally getting the final approval to taking over the Rangers.

 

The second item rubbed out by the new Ryan group might have further cemented this Rangers franchise into the MLB bright spotlight for a long, long time right after Ryan announced from the podium of a economic epiphany by the local Fox Sports Network affiliate (FSN Texas) to a thunderous Rangers broadcast package that could be valued as high as $ 3 billion dollar over the length of the deal. It would essentially push a huge wheel barrel load of cash of possibly over $ 80 million a year into the coffers of the Texas club to use as they see fit, or generally guarantee themselves a secure payroll foundation just a touch under the cusp of the “Big Boys”.


That figure would give them a bit more fiscal stability to possibly resigning Starter Cliff Lee, or even the thought of possibly entertaining a secure long-term deal with a player like Josh Hamilton. Heck, that kind of extra chicken scratch could make someone like Rangers catcher Bengie Molina put off his recent retirement chatter and suddenly decide to play one more season, adding some extra large pieces of cheddar to his retirement nest egg. The revenue could do wonders to solidify a roster that could contend for years based solely on the extra coinage.

Ryan’s third wish by the genie in the bottle might have been the best one of all. It would have centered around Ryan’s new troops getting a chance to showcase their style of pitching and hitting to the baseball World. Because you know Ryan wished for this talented Texas squad to go against the “mighty ones” in the postseason.

Ryan as a pitcher was never afraid of pitching a bit close in on the eyeballs or even dusting you with a 100 mph fastball in the ear hole. With that same reasoning spewing out of his heart for his Rangers wranglers’, you knew that Ryan did not want to skirt taking on a huge challenge in the postseason, and got this wish with flying colors.


 

Ryan’s squad was considered the fourth best option in the American League by most people around baseball even days before the Major League Baseball season ended. For some unforeseen reason, his Texas team was never seen to stand a chance in the postseason or somehow earned the respect due to a team that won the American League Western title. The same Rangers team who initially celebrated before the two major players (New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays) his team faced in the ALDS and the ALCS.


His Texas team firmly sandwiched 5-1 victories between three additional games against the Rays and came away with a Game 5 victory that further established them as the team to watch closely this postseason. Even as their National League Western Division second cousin, the San Francisco Giants were taking their own bit of revenge on some of MLB’s elite, this Rangers squad began to show signs of being a Ryan inspired team that could never be counted out until the 27th out.

Even during their current match-up against the high and mighty New York Yankees, there have been moments over the first 5 games of this series, that showed this young Texas squad was as ornery and feisty as the vintage Ryan to take it to the Bronx set and dish out their own forms of Western justice. But Ryan’s third granted wish did not ends here, it is still evolving and transforming.

There is still another plateau to ascend to yet. Another stage for Ryan and his band of urban cowboys to step onto and accept its challenges. It is a pristine spot where Ryan himself only ventured once during his Major League career. Back in1969 when Ryan was a young pup reliever with the New York Mets was the only other time he has ventured this close to the Fall Classic. Even his bulging resume` of an MLB leading 5,714 punch-outs or his 7 No-Hitters, Ryan could not seem to get him back to this final stage. Another trip at this juncture in his new role running his favorite franchise would just be magical.

The sudden escalation of this Texas franchise in such a short period of time might not even have a single Persian influence after all. It might not come from wishing on a brass lantern or even praying to a higher power for the chance to again dance and celebrate on the green grass of the Ballpark at Arlington with his team. It might just be heralded by so many as just another chapter written in the never ending saga that is Ryan’s baseball World. But his fingerprints and nuances are all over this Texas team. Ryan is the behind-the-scenes sculptor that has molded and kneaded this piece of formed pottery into a cherished Texas heirloom.

I do not know about you, but I am definitely excited to see what transpires as the Rangers and Yankees change their focus from the bright lights and big city environment of New York back to the slower and more cherished home-style cooking of this Texas 25 as they two-step towards America’s heart. Where the mannerisms of claw and antlers will make up the backdrop, and increasing sounds of the homestead crowd should push them towards checking off another item on Ryan’s “Wish List”.

 

Ryan might have dusted off and spit polished his old competitive moniker of “The Ryan Express” and again became the lead conductor on this epic journey towards baseball’s promised land. Ryan has done almost everything imaginable as a player, including his 1999 induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Maybe it is that time in baseball history for Ryan and his charges to also write their names upon the roll of baseball’s greatest surprises and shed that title of “underdogs” forever.


I am pulling inside for Hamilton, Lee and Ryan to get that special gift of moments in the baseball World’s spotlight. To thrust themselves firmly into the minds of all baseball fans around the World, and to possibly bring home a new Tiffany masterpiece for their stone fireplace mantle sitting just under that monstrous 15-point bucks huge antlers. Some say that baseball is entering into a closer version of parity than every before, but I do not see it that way. I think it is just time for some home cooking…Texas style.

My Views on the Steroid News

 

Update


When I first wrote this on Saturday I was not aware of the recent revelation by Alex Rodriguez to his usage of the stimulant from 2001-2003. I do not condone this action by him, nor do I fully condemn him for it. I am not at liberty to know his personal struggles or  mindset before he first injected a steroid into his body. But I do acknowledge the effort and the initial actions to coming clean on the past, and I respect the fact he is owning up to his errors in his past instead of hiding away until it dies down.

 

 

I have been thinking about this issue for a few days now, and either you will agree or disagree with me totally here. I really did not want to write anything pertaining to the Alex Rodriguez situation because I have  been guilty of the same crime, and I  was not proud of it at the time. I am not saying I am a steroid user for a long period of time, I only did it once like so many other athletes did in the mid 1980’s to just see what all the fuss was about.  I did it like some teenagers try alcohol before they are 21, for the reason that it was not okay and to see what all the fuss was about with it. At the time it was not condemned yet in the NCAA or even the professional ranks and was lightly viewed as a bad thing.
 

 
I am not going to try and justify anything he did in the past, or even try and justify my usage. Mine was out of ignorance and not education at the time. In that period of my life I was looking for an edge, a advantage over my competitors. I tried it that one time and then decided to flush the rest of the vial down the toilet. It did not seem to me to be an advantage. It seemed more mental that physical. My addiction was for more speed. To be faster off the line and stay with that gazelles that were playing in my league at the time. I also decided that it would effect not only my on-field life, but harm my off the field life if I used it for any amount of time.



 


 
 
This is my blog to say I understand the pressure and the yearnings and wanting to be the best year in and year out. But it  has always comes with a price. Alex Rodriguez is beginning to see that price in the headlines, blogs and the attention to everything he has done on the field since that 2003 positive test. I got lucky enough to stop myself before it got out of hand or was discovered, but A Rod now will  have to weather a pretty heavy hailstone storm of controversy and accusations for a long time. I was not a MVP type of player by a long shot, but he is, and will suffer for many years for his mistakes and people will always question his ability because of it all.
 

 
The person, or persons who will be hurt most by this is not even A-Rod. It is the little kids or teenagers who have idolized the guy for years, or who want to play just like him. I hope they discover the fact that this man made a mistake and we can learn from it and not venture into the same realm of confusion and misguided intentions.  But the reality is that some younger fans will find a justification for maybe trying them and then put themselves on a bad path to either ruin or major injury. The common fan has wanted to be like him for years, and with this positive test it brings with it a credibility for the choice to try, or even maintain a usage of the illegal drug.
 

 
The guy will not be the same after this, and he has no one to blame but himself.  The youth of this country already have enough role models who have failed them, this is just another long line of athletes who wanted the top spot and took their chances.  How many young girls idolized our  female Olympic hero Marion Jones before she was found out to have enhanced her abilities by using steroids. Baseball has been plagued with this demon for a while now, and if you really think about it, who are the other 103 members who failed in 2003 also. Could some of them be the hero’s and stars that we looked up to and enjoyed watching play the game, and are they just as tarnished by their tests.
 

 
 
 But will it  all of this make a young kid think he needs it too.  Will there again be a market in the lower levels of education that will sell and distribute these drugs to our kids. And will there be a justification now that steroids are the answer to playing at a top physical level? 
 


 


I really hated writing this. More for the fact that I am exposing myself and the  80’s culture I grew up with as underlying confused people who tried to find an answer in a vial of unknown substances. I know the pain it has caused me to wonder if I did the right thing, and if I didn’t, would the world shun me for it. I have come to the reality that it was wrong long ago and consulted with my coaches’ back then for their opinion. It was told to me if that was the only time, then forgive myself and work harder to gain the edge the right way and things would even out in the long run. That by working hard the right way I would cleanse my mind and soul in the long run. That consultation now seems a bit weird and vague to me, but at the time I only wanted to get back on the right path.
 

 
But can A-Rod even be granted the same treatment. I think his location in New York city will be the worst location to even expose or come clean with this revelation. It is going to ruin whatever credibility he had with the local media and also destroy any hero worship he ever had with the young baseball fans in America.  I have not heard the extent of his usage with the drug, and I do not want to know about it. I just hope that he can come clean and admit the mistakes, like Andy Pettitte, and hope for the mercy of the media and fans. No doubt there will be signs that say “A-Roid” up in the new Yankee Stadium on Opening Day this year, and he will have to cope with the rumors of the past.
 

 
It is for this reason I can not cast a stone at him. I have been in that situation once in my life, and because of it, I am guilty too. I can feel for the pain and misery he will feel in the next few months and into the season. But if he is true to himself and the world, he will again get back on track and be the best in the game. The worst part of all of this is even his years in Seattle as a young shortstop will be questioned. All the records and the accolades he has received during his career are all being cast in a shadow of doubt now. And you know even his Hall of Fame appointment might be rising and falling like a barometer right now………..with a low pressure right now because of the impending storm of controversy to hit him for a long, long time.
 

Pictures  on today’s blog acquired from Getty Images and http://www.NewYorkYankee.com
 

I Would Love to See Michael Young with the Rays

 

 
 

When Jon Daniels signed Michael Young to a five-year, $80 million extension two years ago, he said he hoped it would help the Rangers keep his good friend Mark Teixeira. Big Tex is long gone. Michael Young could be on the way. Young revealed over the weekend that he asked to be traded after a breakfast with Daniels a few weeks ago turned ugly when, Young said, Daniels gave him an ultimatum to move to third base

 

As a brand new third baseman, Young probably wouldn’t be the league’s best any time soon. And whereas Young committed 11 errors at shortstop in 2008,  heir apparent to the shortstop position, Elvis Andrus committed 32 in the minors. Throw in second baseman Ian Kinsler’s error totals, and the Rangers might give up even more runs this year than they did in 2008. 
 
 

I personally love it sometimes when great baseball players are asked to change from their All Star positions because they are blocking the path of some upstart rookie ( Elvis Andrus ) who is the future star of the franchise. But what is most upsetting in this situation is the fact that Young is being viewed as an afterthought even though he is  one of the best at his position in the American League. I have heard a few people say that current Texas Ranger Michael Young is being a baby for complaining about moving further to the left in the infield and now playing third base for the team. Hey, the guy has established himself on a team that fights to hit .500 every year. He has moved before for a player, and might just consider it a way for the team to get him close to the dugout, then out the door in Arlington.

 

 


 


Now let me see here, the guy was an All Star at second base and he was holding up Ian Kinsler from being able to play in the major leagues, so he moved over to shortstop to make the transition and the  second base spot opened up magically for Kinsler to move  faster through the system to the majors. Now that is the sign of a great team-first attitude guy. He moved over to another position to get another big bat to the lineup. That is the kind of guy you want on your squad, right?

 

So  here we are in 2009, and the Rangers are again trying to convince Young to move a little more to his left and become the team’s third baseman. Is this an indication that they are going to give up on the Hank Blalock at third experiment and hope that Young can find happiness at his third position while he has been in the majors. Now I agree that the first time he was a perfect gentleman in moving over “for the good of the team.”  But it seems like this time he has every right to not want to move over for another guy again.


Something to take into consideration here, Young has played a total of 8 innings, not even an entire game at third base in his career. So by asking a player to switch his position just before the season, or a trade happens is rare, but in Texas there is a previous action that can be deemed for the move. People tend to forget that 8 years ago, when Alex Rodriguez agreed to switch to third base to be traded to the New York Yankees, he also was not familiar with the position for an extended time. Considering he was a better defensive shortstop that Derek Jeter, A-Rod did the team oriented thing and manned up and switched to the Hot Corner.


If you remember right, the Rangers kind of forced out Rodriguez late in the off season, and the Yankees made his position switch a prerequisite to the trade.  Why would you move a guy who has been an All Star at his position for the last 5 years to another more skilled and reflex-oriented position and bring up a 20-year old rookie who has only played below double-A ball. Let’s not forget that when A-Rod was traded for Alphonso Soriano, it was thought that Soriano would be the Rangers everyday shortstop, and not go to the outfield.  Because Young switched to shortstop at this moment makes the idea that he is not willing to move an inaccurate statement considering his history in the past. Or could it be that when Young signed that $ 80 million dollar extension, there were already seeds planted to make this move and were not brought up in the negotiations at all. 

 


 


Come on, the guy is an All Star at his position and is considered one of the best shortstops both hitting and fielding in the American League. Put the fact that he finally got some real recognition this past season by getting his first Gold Glove and you want to move him? Are you serious here guys. You want to bring up a rookie and pop him into the shortstop position and are not aware of the growing pains you are going to place not only on your first baseman, but on your entire team concept.
 

Well, I have a solution for you Texas. Since you do not seem to know what you want to do with Mr. Young, why hot trade him to the Tampa Bay Rays for a few missing pieces in your lineup and pitching staff.  I am here to offer you  a starting pitcher who has already pitched at the major league level, a infielder who can play third base, and an outfielder to make the deal an all around success. Now with the starting pitcher, you have a nice selection of ex-Rice star Jeff Neimann, tall reliever/starter Jason Hammel, and Mitch Talbot. 
 

All come with their own fantastic positives, but all have been to the big club level and need  more appearances to make their presence know in this league. With your young staff, such a luxury of getting a young savvy starter  would help Ranger G M Nolan Ryan move quickly to transform his rag tag pitching staff into a well oiled machine. I am willing to throw in a great up and coming infielder who I think will be a great star for you this season. Willy Aybar might be under arbitration right now, but the guy has pure upside and is one of the most underrated infielders in the league.

 
 


 


His ever increasing power and his ability to play the hot corner give you an instant solution to the “Young” situation, and he can play there for years until you develop or sign a young third baseman in the future. I do think tho, that Aybar could be your man for the next 5 years in that spot. And to round thing off, let’s include a young outfielder with a lot of intelligence and major league ability. Justin Ruggiano is a outstanding fielder who is currently stuck in his own logjam at the major league level with the Rays. By acquiring this young star, you can have an ample fourth outfielder who can play the corner positions without a problem.
 

If this is not enough, we might be able to include or exclude or even piece together the right package to get this deal done as soon as possible. Just be sure to let me know where your thinking is on the matter and we can respond accordingly.
 

Seriously here, this deal would be a total plus for the Rays. Hey, we might even be able to just give up a pitcher or Aybar and then give them current Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett as a throw in so they can trade him to Boston or another team looking long and hard for a able shortstop. This is not to say I think that Bartlett is not the shortstop for the Rays, but if you can make a major upgrade like this, in a year that will be faced with more pitfalls and holes than in 2008, then why not make the move.

 


 

 

To put an All Star like Young next to a young gun like Evan Longoria makes that side of the infield almost the Great Wall of Tampa Bay. The power solution is almost off the charts here too. Think about the offensive firepower of such a move.  You could have 3 guys who could hit 30 homers in a season in 3 of your 4 infield positions in the tightest division in baseball. And you would not be paying New York Yankee prices to get that offensive firepower. Young is on the hook for $ 16 million a year, but wouldn’t the offensive fireworks be worth the effort?
 

And let’s not forget that Young would be flanked by Akinori Iwamura, who might just be coming into his own in 2009 at second base. After 1 season getting used to the position, Aki might just propel his defensive numbers again skyward and prove to be the next All Star for the Rays at his position. And combined with his speed and clutch hitting, makes a great pairing in the lineup. 
 

But the biggest piece is that Gold Glover at first base for the Rays. Not only is he a offensive power, but he was a defensive marvel in 2008 to help Bartlett look even better on paper by leaning, jumping and blocking everything throw within range of him.  Not only can Pena do it with his maple bat, but he is the best option at first base in the American League. Think of the nice defensive numbers Young could put up with a guy who sacrifices his body for the ball and will go above and beyond for the team and his team mates.

 


 
 

Seriously think about the possible firepower and the defensive grip such an infield could have on the American League East.  Every team in our division has a solid third baseman, but non have a shortstop except for the Yankees who could even reach the potential of Young.  He could come into a situation with this team to be a major winner in a short period of time. Young has never been to the postseason while with the Rangers. If this trade were to somehow manifest itself, could he be holding up a nice gleaming piece of hardware in October?
 

I know this is pure fantasy. The Rays have already committed about $ 60 million to their payroll for 2009. Such a trade would have to be a wish list offering by Andrew Friedman to owner Stu Sternberg as the final piece of the puzzle to repeat and take that next step in 2009. I can not see Friedman make that kind of request first off, but then again, he has pulled off a few under the radar trades that have been internal blockbusters to the Rays. In comparison, if they would pick up Young, the Rays would be paying him the almost the same as the combined salaries of left fielder Carl Crawford and Pena ( $ 16.25 million).  But in all reality, Young might end up in the American League East, but not with the Rays. There are a few teams on the horizon who could scoop up Young without a problem with their 2009 payroll.


 

 

 

You have to know that by now,  Red Sox G M Theo Epstein is burning up Nolan Ryan’s cellphone minutes offering what he can to fulfill a nice trade to bean town. But the fact might be that Young might not want to go to Boston. But the nice part of who ever gets Young is that he is signed until 2013. That give a huge amount of security to whoever takes his contract. It might mean a set $ 16 million is gone every year upfront, but it also gives you the stability to know what you payroll will be even after your last game in 2009 for the following year.
 

I would love to see such an infield in Tampa Bay, but I know that it is illogical for Friedman to pull off such a great trade. The money involved with Young would be the deal breaker, but just for a moment, think of the offensive juggernaut that would make the Rays coming into 2009. It would put the team firmly up there as the team to beat in 2009, even without consideration of their young and talented pitching staff.



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