Friday, September 21, 2007

Down To the Wire

I, along with, I'm sure, thousands of other Red Sox fans across the nation, are extremely nervous right now. We're watching a nightmare that is similar to last season's collapse. Except this time, everyone except Manny is healthy.

I'm not sure what's going on with this slump. Last night, the Sox had a rest day. Apparently, so did them that shall not be named. I'm sincerely hoping that this day off gave Tek and Company a chance to breathe and regroup. Neither team has a particularly hard schedule to close out the season.

The interesting thing this season is that, if you look at the big picture, only two of the 6 division of the MLB have "magic numbers" of less than 9 or 10. The AL West, in which the Angels clinched at least a tie last night, and the AL Central. The other four divisions are going down to the last game. What an exciting, nerve-wracking finish. In fact, in the NL, if you count the three teams in first place, there are a whopping NINE teams still in the playoff race! Wow!

In the meantime, the other team that I watch, those pathetic Rangers, has managed to lose 9 out their last 11 games, to the point that a .500 season is now "dust in the wind." Sadly, at the end of their last home stand, they were something like five games under .500. Now, I think they are at least 11.

There was one night this week, in which both the Rangers and the Sox had one of those "what were they THINKING??" nights. The Red Sox were beating Toronto and they let Eric Gagne pitch in the bottom of the eight inning. Now Gagne was doing great as a closer for the Rangers. But, frankly, he is doing horribly in a Red Sox uniform. That night, he gave up 3 runs in the bottom of the eighth, and the B-Jays went on to win 4-3.

The same night, the Rangers were losing 4-2 to the Twins. It was the top of the ninth and the Rangers were down to their last out (they were playing in Minnesota, "Don'tcha know"). I was listening to the radio on the way to work and heard Eric Nadel say that Brad Wilderson was in the on deck circle, getting ready to pinch hit. I believe I almost lost control of my van at this point. Apparently, Ron Washington has paid no attention to the season at all. Apparently, he has not watched Brad Wilderson bat. The wisdom of this managing decision (or lack thereof) totally escapes me. Wilkerson has had the nickname in my family, "King of Strikeouts" for the whole time he has been a Texas Ranger. And he certainly lived up to that nickname this fateful night. Of COURSE he struck out! That's what he DOES in clutch situations! Egad!

And they've extended Washington's contract for another year. Fortunately, Wilkerson will be a free agent after this season, and I'm pretty sure the Rangers have no interest in trying to keep him.


Looking forward to next season, there are some crucial things that need to happen. First and foremost, Tom Hicks needs to sell the Rangers to someone who gives a flying you-know-what about WINNING! Second, Jon Daniel, the "boy wonder," has got to go, too. The only decent trade he has made since he has been GM was the Gagne deal, for which we got Kason Gabbard and David Murphy, and some guy named Elvis. We haven't seen him yet. Third, we need a first baseman, darn it! Obviously, we haven't had one since they traded Teixeira. We've had a mediocre catcher playing first base, or a mediocre outfielder playing first base. That doesn't work. Management had better go after a real first baseman during this off season. Last, and certainly not least, pitching, pitching, PITCHING!! The only winning pitcher on the staff has been Kason Gabbard. Vicente Padilla needs to GO!! He is a serious liability to the team's morale. Besides the fact that if he's pitching, you can count on a four hour game! And several hit batters. Millwood, the alleged "ace," is inconsistent at best. He has 5 good innings. Problem is, you never know when those 5 are going to start. Sometimes they don't start until inning 3, when they are already so far behind they can't catch up. McCarthy can't stay well. Kameron Loe, as much as I like him, just isn't starting material. Heck, let's go after Curt Schilling next season! He will likely be a free agent. He's struggled this season, but he's still got some good stuff, and, hey. He fits one of the criteria that the Rangers have obviously adapted in their accquisition philophy of late...he's over 40!

So there you go. I'm not an expert. But I've been watching baseball off shoes)...over 40 years. I think that gives me a little bit of knowledge of the game, and what can make a winning team. The Red Sox have had it year after year (except for last year, but that was all circumstances that were uncontrollable). The Rangers have not had it. Not since their brief flirtation with champtionship in the mid nineties, with Johnny Oates at the helm, God rest his soul. And the Rangers will not have it. Not without some fundamental changes in management/ownership and managerial philosphy.

Oh. I almost forgot. One more thing that needs to happen before next season. They need to can Ron Washington and just eat that contract. Then they need to hire Trey Hillman. He's coming back home from Japan, where he has won multiple championships. I bet he could do good with the Rangers.

Stephie and I are going to all three games this weekend. All against Baltimore. I'm hoping we get to see Michael Young make another 200 hit season, for his fifth consecutive year.

TTFN, y'all!