Author: J. Brackston

The Texas Rangers, Expectations and Lady Luck

The Texas Ranger’s season ended today much like it started. When the spring training started there was great expectations among Ranger players and fans. The season-ending injury to Yu Darvish quickly followed by the injury to Derek Holland combined with Martin Perez still recovering from elbow surgery and those early expectations quickly vanished. April was a horrible time to be a Ranger’s fan, but May was much better, and that was when baseball and Lady Luck took over and gave those expectations a chance to be revitalized. The Rangers played good enough to hang around in the standings through June and July, and no other team in the division played well enough to keep them from doing so. Come August 1st with a record of 50-53 the Rangers could still see the Houston Astros despite being 8 games back in the standings with the Los Angeles Angels also 5 games ahead of them. The thing about baseball and a season that has 162 games is that all it takes is a chance, and sometimes Lady Luck does the rest. The Rangers got hot at the plate, and when the pitching was less than great, they simply outscored their opponents. When the bats went cold, the pitching heated up and won the games that could have went either way. The Astro’s lead shrank, the Angels took a month off, and the Rangers took advantage of those things to close the gap between them and the Astros to 3 games by September 1st with the Angels falling to 6.5 games behind. The Rangers took 5 out of 7 games from the Astros in September completing an amazing run to a Western Division Championship or a disappointing collapse depending on which team you are a fan of. Still the Rangers had to wait until the last day of the season to win the division by beating the Angels while the Astros lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Then came the Toronto Blue Jays and the playoffs. The Rangers won the first two games of a best of five series, and expectations were that they would win one of the next three games. Toronto came to Texas and won two and it was back to Canada for the final game. Lady Luck forgot her passport, the computers for the U.S. Department of Customs went down and the Rangers were on their own. In hindsight, that is baseball. You win some you should not, you lose some you should have won, but in the end the better team usually wins the series. Toronto did that today. Yes Ranger players and fans alike hoped for a different outcome, and the game was there for the taking, and some will argue the Rangers should have won. Maybe it was the pressure, maybe they were fortunate to even be there in the first place, or maybe they just ran out of luck, but one thing is for sure it was a great season for the Rangers considering where they started way back in April. #JustSayin

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Cowboys vs. Falons

The Dallas Cowboys beat the Atlanta Falcons for half a football game yesterday 28-17. Joseph Randle was a one-man show or at least it seemed so. Brandon Weeden was good, not great, but he was getting the job done. The defense was flying to the ball and knocking the snot out of someone when they got to the ball carrier. Everything looked like Dallas would surprise everyone and win the game without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant.

Then the second half of the game started and things turned faster than Randle was hitting those gaping holes in the first quarter. The Falcons scored 22 second half pints and the Cowboys failed to even threaten to score another point in the game letting the Falcons fly home with a 39-28 victory.

What happened in the second half was disheartening if you are a Cowboy fan, and it should have been. Taking nothing away from the Falcons, they played well, Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman led the on the ground and thru the air and in the end the Falcons deserved to win.

Five things that I took away from the game are as follows. Each one kind of preys on the one before it.

First and probably the biggest thing is that someone needs to tell the Cowboy coaches that even without Bryant, you should occasionally throw in the direction of the wide receivers. Did Terrance Williams even suit up?

Second if you don’t play the entire field the opposing defense playing has less ground to cover. Throwing to wide receivers along the sidelines is still legal.

Thirdly no trains or buses are allowed in football, so stop referring to Weeden as a bus driver or train driver. He is a professional quarterback and most NFL quarterbacks can throw a deep ball on occasion. Maybe he is just keeping the seat warm until Matt Cassel gets ready to take over.

Fourth and possibly the most important is that stretching an opposing defense out lets your running game flourish. This is testified to by the results in the first half before the Falcons figured out that Dallas was not going to throw to their wide receivers, and if they did it would be in the middle of the field and very near the line of scrimmage.

Lastly this is a game that everyone expected the Cowboys to lose and the Dallas coaches accepted that fact by not making any adjustments at the half and instead being happy with a moral first half victory that could have been a really big win. #JustSayin

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The Fanily Tree

The Dallas Cowboys are my team, they are not America’s Team, they are my team, fore I am a Cowboy fan. The first time I watched them on television that I can remember was the famed Ice Bowl against Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers. I laid there across my parent’s bed with my Dad and watched as Bart Starr sneaked into the end zone. That day I had no idea why, but my heart was broken. The simple fact was that day I became a Dallas Cowboy fan for life.

I witnessed Bob Lilly throw his helmet when the Baltimore Colts won Super Bowl V. The day when Jerry Jones fired Tom Landry a part of me died, but Jimmy Jones gave me new life. When Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin led the Cowboys to three Super Bowl wins in four years I was on top of the world. The Quincey Carter, Chan Gailey, and Dave Campo years hurt, they hurt bad because the Cowboys were better than that, or at least I thought they were because I was a Cowboy fan.

I still hate to hear about “The Catch”. I long for the success of the 70s’ and early 90s’ and hearing Brad Sham say “Your Cowboys are World Champions”. As a fan I know those days will return to Dallas. Because of these feelings and the way the NFL and our country has evolved over my lifetime I have come to the realization, I am not alone.

The way people of our country move around these days a Cowboy fan can live anywhere, they do not have to live in Dallas. I was born a Cowboy fan and if I moved to Pittsburgh, I still would be. Other fans are no different although I have never given that much thought until this past weekend. That is when I realized I have a “FANILY TREE”.

To be more specific about what a FANILY TREE is, it is the friends I have that are fans of other teams. Much like a family tree these people are important to me, I feel for them, love them, and hurt when they hurt, but for them not for their team. I want them all to feel what I feel when the Cowboys win, just not when they play my “Boys”, and I am sure they feel the same way.

They have similar memories, loyalties, and similar hurts for their teams because they are fans too. This past weekend, my Cowboys beat the Eagles and it felt good. The game was ugly and Tony Romo got hurt, but we won. On the other hand my friend and the biggest Eagle fan I know Kevin Strang had to feel bad, and I hurt for him, not for the Eagles, but for him. Kevin like so many other Eagle fans have to be wondering what is wrong with their Eagles, they have so many talented players.

Another friend of mine Sean Nelson, an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan texted me within minutes of Romo getting hurt offering to cancel a bet we had made on whose team would go the farthest this year. Sean said it was in the interest of fair play, but the truth is, he is on my Fanily Tree, and he knew Romo’s injury hurt me as well.

Later that night I found myself rooting for the Green Bay Packers one minute and the Seattle Seahawks the next because my good friend Rob Sloan(yes that Rob Sloan) is a Packers fan and my cousin David Kinsey is a Seahawk fan. In the end I was happy for Rob, and sad for David.

I know this week my team won, and I know that on any given Sunday they might lose, but that is what makes NFL football great, along with the rivalries, the wins, the heartbreaks, the championships, there is the Fanily Tree. #JustSayin

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Five Take-Aways From Week One in the NFL

The first week of the NFL season is in the books and the results have left some fans shaking their heads in disbelief while others were fist-pumping and high-fiving. The Seattle Seahawks, Philadelphia Eagles, and Indianapolis Colts all started the season with losses when everybody thought they would win.

The Dallas Cowboys won in dramatic fashion when the New York Giants decided not to win even though the Cowboys did everything they could do for most of the game to let them have a victory on the road.

Here are the top five things I took away from opening weekend listed in reverse order.

  • Chip Kelly thinks he is still coaching at Oregon, and thought he had scheduled a Division II cream puff to start the season. This was obvious by his leaving DeMarco Murray on the sidelines when the game was winnable.
  • Sam Bradford quarterbacking the fast-paced Eagles offense is like putting diesel in a Ferrari. The system is fun to watch but the quarterback has to be able to run. Bradford just cannot. Opposing defenses do not even have to think about that, they can key on the running backs. Murray’s nine yards on eight attempts tells even the die-hardest Eagles fans they have a problem, and wishing they had gotten Marcus Mariota who almost out-rushed Murray in week one with six yards to his credit to go along with his four touchdown passes.
  • Peyton Manning may have finally been sacked by father-time. Even on a bad team he should get more than 175 yards on 24 completions, and the Broncos are not a bad team. Only time will tell.
  • Tony Romo despite never taking the snap until the play clock is almost at zero can still move his team and win games against all odds as long as he has Jason Witten to throw to, just ask the Giants. They are probably still thinking about that.
  • Adrian Peterson may be the Tiger Woods of the NFL. When you get caught doing something really stupid and try to change your ways, you just may never be the same, even if you were the best at what you did.

Peterson looked slow to make cuts, slow to hit holes, and he looked to go down easy compared to years gone by. He did however look like Tiger does on occasion when made a great spin move to gain eight yards on one run. Like Tiger however when he hits an amazing old-time shot, one good run won’t return you to greatness if you keep missing the cut. Attitude is everything when it comes to being the best, and Peterson last year, like Woods in 2009 found out he was human.

Of course these observations come after only one game and they could change as more games are played. Everyone has a bad day at work every once in a while, just ask Eli Manning.

 

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Hope Springs Eternal for NFL Teams and Fans Alike

Alexander Pope in 1732, wrote “An Essay on Man”. In that thoughtful and insightful work he coined the phrase, “Hope Springs Eternal”. Almost 400 years later those words still hold true for the fans of the 32 teams in the National Football League.

Thursday, September 10th, the Pittsburgh Steelers take the field against the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots led by quarterback Tom Brady of “Deflategate” fame. Pope’s poem highlighted that man must have a balance of good and evil to flourish, possibly this is why Brady’s suspension was vacated after months of battling it out in the court with the NFL, to let hope spring eternal.

Every fan of every team has high hopes when the season begins. They want their team to win, not by a single point but by 50 if they can, and not to win one game but every game including the Super Bowl. The reality is that is just not going to happen. Only once in what is called “The Super Bowl Era” has that ever happened, Hall of Fame coach Don Shula led the 1972 Miami Dolphins to a perfect record of 17-0 finishing the season by beating the Washington Redskins 14-7 in Super Bowl VII.

Those hopes will be crushed when or if injury strikes a star quarterback such as Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers or Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts because without those players neither team can hope for anything but a decent season. The Dallas Cowboys without quarterback Tony Romo would be hopeless, as would the New Orleans Saints without Drew Brees leaving each of those teams to struggle just to reach a winning record.

Great running backs like Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson and Kansas City Chief Jamaal Charles give both teams and their fans hope, but injury to either and the season comes crashing down as recent history shows neither team can win without them on the field.

Some teams do however have a chance to win if tragedy strikes a star player, simply because they are built different. The Seattle Seahawks can still win if either quarterback Russell Wilson or running back Marshawn Lynch goes down, not both, but one or the other, because they have a defense that can carry the load if needed, a defense that can win games instead of lose them. The Philadelphia Eagles may also be a team that can overcome an injury to a star player due to roster depth and an offensive scheme that does not depend on any one player.

As with every year there will be hope that Cinderella will come to the dance, maybe this is the year the Miami Dolphins return to relevance. Possibly Jameis Winston will show a maturity in Tampa Bay that he so horribly failed to show at Florida State. If the stars align, either the Buccaneers or Dolphins will be the best football team in that state once again. Arizona Cardinal fans surly have hopes that a Carson Palmer led offense can give balance to a team that has so heavily relied on defense to win games in the recent past.

The Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers fans have hope for an end to the statewide drought of having a winning team they can be proud of, on and off the field. Chicago, Cincinnati, and Cleveland have great fans, all with high hopes that will no doubt be left out in the cold of winter as the season unfolds. New York fans with two teams to follow have twice as much hope as any other city, but they could have those hopes dashed early and often this year.

Yes, without doubt hope springs eternal for teams in the NFL and the fans that so passionately cheer for their teams, even if it is only for a few games until the reality of losing sets in.

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Football and It’s Fans Have Changed

The National Football League and the Super Bowl are the largest thing in sports in the United States without debate. Traditionalist may argue baseball is the “American Past-Time” and in days gone by that may have well been true, but those days are long gone.

Fans of the professional football have changed in recent years. The days of a player playing an entire career for one team are no more, the days of a fan rooting for one team over their entire life-time may also be gone, along with the fan loyalty that came with those things.

With the emergence and explosion of fantasy footballs popularity even the casual fan know the players from teams they never watch and how these players are performing. Fans with no knowledge of the storied history of some teams can tell you those teams running backs names, they know who the quarterbacks are, who the wide receivers are, and they even know who the kickers are.

Players not teams may now be the focus of fan loyalty in the so-called modern era of football. In the mind of fans “The Lombardi Trophy” may not be as important as fantasy statistics and winning their own league.

Some younger fans may have no idea what teams came from the old NFL or which teams came from the old American Football League when the two leagues merged to become the present NFL.

The Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers, New York Giants and Oakland Raiders all have better all-time winning percentages than the New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos, as do the Minnesota Vikings, but most fantasy football fans probably would be unaware of this fact. Some would be inclined to argue this fact due to the recent success of the latter group of teams.

When Jordy Nelson of the Green Bay Packers tore his ACL and was lost for the season, not only Packer fans hurt for him, every fantasy coach who wanted him on their team this season were left scrambling for an answer to his replacement and they anguished for Nelson.

More fans probably felt worse about Nelson than for Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson when he threw away last season’s Super Bowl on the last play of the biggest game of the year.

The NFL has evolved, but not as much as its fans.

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ESPN Ranks the Texas Rangers as the Best in Baseball

ESPN has the Texas Rangers ranked atop the Major League Baseball world. Many fans and pundits around the league thought when the Rangers had what appeared to be a lackluster offseason that the Rangers would fall back in the pack. Few if any outside of Arlington had the Rangers finishing better than third in the American League West.
Thirty-one games into the season nothing could be further from the truth. Ranger pitching has been exceptional for the most part. Yu Darvish won five games in April and flirted with a perfect game against the Houston Astros. Rookies Justin Grimm and Nick Tepesch have stepped in and pitched like seasoned veterans, with Grimm being named Rookie of the Month for April. The bullpen has an ERA of 2.80 through 83.2 innings giving the Rangers staff as a whole a league leading 3.02 ERA. The Rangers are the only American league team that has allowed less than 100 runs so far this season with 98.
The Rangers love home cooking, at the Ballpark in Arlington, the Rangers are a major league leading 11-4 and just finished a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox. Adrian Beltre made the Red Sox pay for playing the percentages walking Lance Berkman to pitch to him in the bottom of the ninth. Beltre lined a single to right-center driving in Elvis Andrus from second base for the 13th walk-off hit of his career.
Good old fashioned baseball is the kind the Rangers play. Good pitching, timely hitting, and speed on the base-paths combined with fundamentally sound defense are new to the Rangers and Rangers fans. Teams gone by could hit, but not pitch, they could pitch, but not hit, for the first time in my memory at least, the Rangers are playing complete baseball every time out.
One thing the Rangers could improve on in my opinion, the uniforms. Ian Kinsler started the trend, wearing traditional pants with the leggings showing. Craig Gentry, Robby Ross, and David Murphy have all got on board going with the traditional look, more players need to follow suit. Granted a few of the players look natural in the longer pants, Adrian Beltre or Nelson Cruz for example, but the traditional style better suits the way the Rangers are playing.

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Josh Hamilton Still The Texas Rangers MVP on Opening Day at The Ballpark

 

The Texas Rangers opened the 2013 baseball season at home Friday afternoon before a sellout crowd, with a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels. Unlike many sporting events that have so much pre-game publicity, this game lived up to the hype.

From the emotional first pitch by the father of Emily Parker, a victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, to the last pitch by Ranger closer Joe Nathan who recorded his 299th career save, it was riveting. Josh Hamilton made his long-awaited return to Texas after trashing the hometown fans in a television interview earlier this spring. Hamilton was by far the MVP of the game as far as the Rangers were concerned on this afternoon.

Hamilton’s presence kept the crowd alive and energized all afternoon. Starting with the pre-game introductions the crowd booed Hamilton loudly and often. The crowd was cheering wildly for Ranger pitcher Derek Holland in the second inning, when Hamilton struck out on four pitches. Holland pitched well for the Ranger on this afternoon, giving up only six hits in seven innings while recording five strike outs.

A. J. Pierzynski drove in Nelson Cruz for the Rangers first run of the season at home on an extremely generous scoring ruling on what should have been a double to right. Hamilton misplayed the ball off the wall allowing Pierzynski to advance to third on what was ruled a triple.

In the third inning, Hamilton continued to be the “Old Josh”, striking out on three pitches with a man on first base. Again, after the strike out and while Hamilton strolled back to visiting dugout, the crowd loudly cheered for Holland.

In the fifth inning, after the Angels catcher Chris Iannetta singled following a single by Alberto Callaspo, Holland picked Callaspo off second base. 2012 Rookie of the year followed two batters later with a run scoring double. When Holland recorded the third out by getting Erick Aybar to hit a ground ball to Elvis Andrus stranding Trout on second base, again the crowd cheered loudly for Holland.

The start of the fifth inning gave Hamilton a chance to re-energize the crowd when he and Aybar allowed a Lance Berkman fly ball drop between them for a double. Nothing on the field came from it, but the crowd was re-energized by the opportunity to give Hamilton more grief. Adrian Beltre tied the game at 2-2 with his 1st home run of the season in the seventh inning, giving Holland a chance to leave the game after seven innings, with a 2-2 tie after a pitching performance exactly like the Rangers needed from him.

In the Rangers half of the eighth inning Craig Gentry singled to right in front of Hamilton, and then Gentry stole second base giving Ian Kinsler a chance to electrify the crowd. Kinsler singled to right with two outs, and again Hamilton helped the Rangers by one hopping the throw to the plate while Gentry slid head first in with the eventual winning run.

Yes, baseball is back in Arlington, and on this opening day an opposing player was the Most Valuable Player on the home team’s field. Hamilton going 0-4 while seeing only 10 pitches, striking out twice, committing an error that was generously ruled a triple, and then one hopping a throw to prevent the winning run all helped the Rangers win. More than all those things combined Hamilton energized the crowd and made them put last year’s collapse in Oakland that Hamilton was such a large part of, behind them. The fans of Arlington are baseball fans. They are knowledgeable and they know how to cheer and support a winner, and they know how to boo a quitter. Hamilton did that on the Rangers and their fans, and he deserved what he got Friday in Arlington and so did those fans.

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Yu Darvish Nearly Perfect

Yu Darvish almost made history last night, taking a perfect game into the ninth inning against the Houston Astros. Houston’s shortstop Marwin Gonzales broke up the perfect game with a hot-shot with two outs in the bottom of the ninth that went right between the legs of Darvish. To his credit, Darvish reacted like a true professional, smiling at the result, and tipping his hat to the crowd as he left the game.

While Darvish almost gave the Rangers the sixth no-hitter in the team’s history, he did give Ranger fans a look at what the season will be like. To win the American League Western Division, the Rangers will need good pitching, timely hitting, and some steady defense in the field. That is exactly what Darvish and his teammates gave fans last night.

Darvish made pitches when he needed to, striking out 14 Astros in his 8.2 innings of work. Elvis Andrus added some timely hitting with two triples, Craig Gentry added a triple, and a double, Ian Kinsler hit his first home run of the season, and DH Lance Berkman went 3 for 4 while driving in two runs.

The game last night was exactly what Ranger fans should expect this season. Yes, there will be some home runs along the way, but mostly it will be timely hitting and speed on the base-paths backing up good pitching that carries the Rangers to the pennant.

Not every game will feature a pitching performance like the outing Darvish turned in last night, and Ranger hitters will not get six extra base hits every game that is a fact of baseball. Ranger fans do have a fun season to look forward to, this style of baseball is exciting. Yu Darvish showed us all that last night, and I along with all the fans at the game, stood up and clapped as he left the game last night.

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Comparing the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels

Baseball teams and fans are getting ready for the upcoming start of the 2013 season. Like every year, expectations for the home team are high. Every fan wants this to be their team’s year to win the World Series. Some will get their wish. Injuries, slumps and unexplainable shoddy play will crush the dreams of others.

Pundits, experts, and so-called baseball experts all have opinions. They broadcast from elaborate television sets, from ballparks, and explain why they think this team will win, and why they think this team will lose. Some, if not all of these experts forget one thing.  Fans want to have hope, fans want to root and cheer for the home team and let things play out on the field.

Being a baseball fan is one of the greatest things ever. Baseball brings friends and enemies together. Discussions about this team or that team over a beer and pizza, at a poker table, at a party, even at work are some of the things that make baseball “The Great American Game”.

As a baseball fan, who occasionally writes about baseball, here are my thoughts on what could be this year’s biggest rivalry in baseball’s American League Western Division. The Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels are both good enough to win the west, only one of them will in my opinion. I have compared the teams, using past performance, age, fan support, and of course opinion to decide how I think the two teams match up.

Below is a comparison of the starting line-ups, pitching staffs, and management of each team. Taking all of these things into consideration, I have projected how each player and team will do this season. Make no mistake, I am a Ranger fan. I have tried to be objective as possible knowing some fans will agree with me, and some fans will not. Feel free to comment either way, remembering baseball brings friends and enemies together.

The Starting Line-ups        projected batting average and who has the edge in bold.

Texas Rangers                                                       Los Angeles Angels

1st Base      M. Moreland    .260                                                          A. Pujlos   .300

2nd Base     I. Kinsler    .265                                                               H. Kendrick   .285

3rd Base     A. Beltre     .310                                                              A. Callaspo     .250

Shortstop    E. Andrus   .280                                                              E. Aybar        .285

Left Field     D. Murphy    .280                                                            M. Trout         .300

Center Field   L. Martin/ C. Gentry   .260/.280                                   P. Bourjos        .250

Right Field    N. Cruz    .265                                                               J. Hamilton      .290

Catcher       A. Pierzinski         .275                                                   C. Iannetta   .240

Designated Hitter    L. Berkman   .290                                               M. Trumbo   .260

Pitching Staff and Bullpen including projected Wins and ERA

1. M. Harrison   20/.300                                                           J. Weaver   20/2.90

2. Y. Darvish     20/3.20                                                           C.J. Wilson   15/3.50

3. D. Holland     15/4.00                                                           J. Vargis    15/4.00

4. A. Ogando     14/3.50                                                          T. Hanson    12/4.00

5. M. Perez        10/4.00                                                           J. Blanton     10/4.50

Closer     J. Nathan    40 saves/2.00                                      R. Madison    35 saves/2.25

Bullpen        20 wins/3.5                                                         19 wins/4.00

Managers    

Ron Washington                                                                     Mike Scosia

General Managers

Josh Daniels                                                                            Jerry Dipoto

Owners

Nolan Ryan                                                                             Arte Moreno

The Overview

The Texas Rangers will be the better team on the field. I know on paper the Angels look like the better team we have all seen that before. The Rangers are younger, faster, and have the better pitching staff from top to bottom. Weaver is a dominant pitcher without a doubt, but once you get past him, the rest are all projects. Vargis may emerge as the number two starter, on this team before the end of the season.

When it comes to hitting the teams, are closer than it appears. The Angels will hit more home runs, but they will also strikeout more often. The Rangers will take more walks and pressure the opposing pitchers with their speed. Mike Trout will be facing the “Sophomore Jinx”, and Josh Hamilton may or may not show up. Pujlos is getting older and coming off knee surgery while the Rangers are younger and healthier.

The management team of Washington and Daniels have the edge over Scosia and Dipoto in my opinion. Yes, Dipoto signed Wilson, Pujlos, and Hamilton in the past few years, but what did that get the Angels? While Dipoto was raiding the free-agent market, the Rangers were playing in back to back World Series. The only place the Angels finished ahead of the Rangers was in payroll.

Washington made it through the Hamilton era in Texas, now it is Scosia’s turn. From what I have seen of Scosia over the years, he and Hamilton will bump heads sooner rather than later. Scosia is a baseball man, a team guy. Hamilton is not, the last season in Texas proved that.

What fan would not want Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan as the owner of their team. There is no way you can be around baseball, and have the career Ryan had, and not know the game. Look what the Rangers have accomplished since Ryan took over, two World Series appearances, and over 3.5 million fans came to watch baseball at the Ballpark in Arlington last season. Those results are not too bad for a “FOOTBALL TOWN”.

The Rangers will finish ahead of the Angels, winning 99 games to the Angels 91. The Rangers pitching staff will better ERA 3.90 to 4.00 for the Angels. The Ranger as a team will hit .270 while the Angels will hit more home runs, but only hit .260 as a team.  The Angels will again be making tee-times in October, and the Rangers will be headed their third World Series in four years. Optimistic I know, but that is the glory of being a baseball fan, the start of the season and new hopes for the home team.

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