Forget Elvis Andrus‘s spark, forget Cliff Lee and his mastery, forget Josh Hamilton and his MVP pursuit, forget Ian Kinsler’s cockiness, Michael Young’s sticktuitiveness, Ron Washington’s redemption, C.J. Wilson’s return, Neftali Feliz’s dominance. . .even (for now), forget Nolan Ryan, Jon Daniels and the amazing resurrection of this band of Castaways posing as dominant, exciting MLB franchise. Even try to forget this organizational breakthrough that had football-sick Dallas even forgetting about the Cowboys and their slow start. . .
The Rangers absolutely exciting win last night was best exhibited by the legendary, ageless Vladimir Guerrero – his mad dash home from second base on the would-be double play, coupled with his gazelle-like yet gawky slide into home, just barely beating the tag was something to behold. . something that baseball fans nation/worldwide should remember as an indelible image not just for the team, the city and the man – but the Sport in general.
What a thing of beauty – check it out in frame-by-frame from the moment he slides in to home through the dramatic safe call by umpire Jeff Kellogg.
That is baseball, folks. And that, in a nutshell, is the man they call Vlad.
Bytheway, Angels fans – how do you feel about that decision last year to let the man leave?
The focus this past week has been on the AL West, as two of the three contenders acquired Ace-caliber pitchers; the Texas Rangers giving up uberprospect Justin Smoak to acquire Cliff Lee, and the Angels abandoning Joe Saunders and prospects in favor of Dan Haren.
Both acquisitions provide front-end stability, consistency and legitimacy. Though Lee, the former Cy Young award winner, is the superior pitcher of the duo, Haren has pitched successfully in the AL West (A’s, 2005 – 2007) and will help offset the Angels’ recent offensive issues. . .in this new era, pitching & defense win ballgames – so additional pitching, specifically ace Ace, will help during the proverbial dog days of summer. . .which brings me to the upstart Rangers.
Though most experts thought the Angels would run away with the division,a few saw the glimmer of breakthrough potential with the addition of Vladimir Guerrero and the maturation of Neftali Feliz, Tommy Hunter & Elvis Andrus. The question was the pitching, however, and with Scott Feldman, CJ Wilson & Colby Lewis (as well as Hunter) anchoring the staff. . .there were indeed many questions. Lewis just returned from Japan, Feldman and Wilson had bounced between the bigs & the minors throughout their careers, and Hunter is a rookie.
At this point, the Rangers have the third best ERA in the American League, and the addition of Lee only bolsters that staff. But a larger, and deeper question arises – the climate. Texas Rangers pitchers have a history of wilting in the subtropical humidity and litany of 100+ degree days in August. Experienced pitchers are conditioned to conserve, pitch to contact and withstand the atrocious conditions, but can these youngsters keep up the solid performances? Or will they melt down quicker than the sweat glands on Vicente Padilla, former Texas Ranger ace, who was known to sweat through “three or four” jerseys per game on days he’d pitch.
Time will tell – and so will Haren & Lee. Should be a great – and scorching – summer out West.