Category Archives: Texas Rangers

WINNER TAKES ALL? – I DON’T THINK SO

I often think that “winning  it all” is overrated in professional sportsimages-1 today. Like many of you perhaps, I am aware of the Vince Lombardi and Leo Durocher’s of the sports world, but really – is Winning (with a capital W)  all that necessary? 

When, for example, we gather our kids together to start Little League baseball…..what do we say to them?  We (hopefully) say – “Go out there and have a good time and just try your best”. Simple. We cheer their victories and console their losses by often pointing out what they did right during the game.

Why does this all of a sudden get lost when things turn to professional sports? Do we say – Hey, they’re getting paid all this money and they’d better win! No, that is missing the point. These players are being paid to entertain us in the same way that Paul McCartney or Taylor Swift is paid for delivering a concert for our enjoyment.

Would you say, for example, that the Pittsburgh Pirates images-3were not “winners” this past season – when they finished with the second highest win total in the Majors? How about the Cubs……are they Losers too? images-2Not to mention the poor Mets who ran headlong into a perfectly synced team in the Royals. And the list goes on……the Yankees exceeded all expectations. The Rangers, the Astros…….what can be said of them? Did their season mean nothing?

I kind of get it in football because they have such a short season and virtually every game played is do or die. But even there, it’s entertainment pure and simple. Well maybe not so pure given the propensity for NFL  players to be arrested for everything from murder to wife beating……but still if the Jets could beat the Patriots just once…..that alone should give every Jet fan a thrill and a moment to enjoy – in the same way every Met fan should tip their hat to “their” team and say “Thank you, job well done”.

98 WINS AND PRESTO….THEY’RE GONE!

If MLB is going to insist on playing a prolonged schedule of 162 games, they should at least do everything they can to insure that every game played “counts”.  1371As things sit now, you could have a good argument in saying that the REAL season 150px-Houston-Astros-Logo.svgdoesn’t begin until August 1st when the trading deadline has passed and teams have tweaked their roster to the point they believe they need to be at to make “a run” to the finish and steal a Playoff  spot in spite of how they have performed until then (hello Rangers and Blue Jays).

The Pittsburgh Pirates won 98 games during the regular season, and yet they have vanished from the Playoffsimages-3 following a one game playoff against the Cubs and Jake Arietta images-2who pitched the game of his life with a “Namath like” guarantee beforehand.  I’m not taking sides here because if the Pirates had won, the Cubs  would have gone home with the third best record in the Majors with 97 wins.

The point is this…….only two of the three teams with the best  record over the course of the season are still in the hunt. The teams in the National League Central are being punished for being really good because they are the powerhouse Division right now. But, that can change as it has over the past few years when the American League East was stacked with the same kind of talented teams.

I’m not a mathematician and I don’t get paid to do this, but surely the suits at MLB can figure this out so we have a better chance of seeing the best of the best in the Playoffs and (ultimately) the World Series. 

In the meantime, the Yankees images-14who won 87 games over the course of the season and would have qualified  (with more wins than – for example – the Rangers) for a “Playoff” spot under different circumstances as well as the aforementioned Pirates who have packed their bags and are  heading home. 

MLB images-31 and specifically Rob Manfred (right) has tweaked the Playoffs before, most recently with the addition of two Wild Card teams who play a one game shootout at High Noon. Very dramatic ( a real show in prime time for television $$$),  but does it really do the game justice………or….. (and they’ll never admit this) is the April through July “season” merely an extension of the Spring Training season. It’s a valid question and it needs to be answered.

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THE 163rd GAME – BASEBALL’S CRAPSHOOTI

In less than a month, after concluding a six month 162 game season, four teams will take the field for the 163rd time. Two of those teams will be heading home – their season over a mere three hours later. For the other two teams, they’ll be boarding a plane to the next city to meet one of the Division winners in a best of five series away from their home field. One game decides their season – sudden death as they say in the NFL – do or die. 

This may work for the average fan and it’s destined to be a ratings bonanza for the television networks……….But is it really good for baseball?

If the regular season ended today, the Texas Rangers would visit Yankee Stadiumimages-4
images-14 to play the Yankees. Cole Hamels would be the “no brainer” starter for the Rangers. Meanwhile, Joe Girardi will have to choose between Tanaka (a proven big game winner in Japan ) and Evaldi, a fourteen game winner so far, but with a somewhat bloated over four ERA. No matter, for both teams it’s a crapshoot.

Meanwhile, over in the National League the Pirates would fly to Chicagoimages-2images-3 to face the Cubs. In this matchup, the Cubbies winter addition of Jon Lester – the man hired to put them over the top- would be tested as he will be pitted against the ace of the Pirates staff – Garrett Cole. A suspense driven game to be sure…….but consider this…….

If not for the greed of owners and baseball itself, there are better ways to end a six month season. However, it would involve shortening the season to (perhaps) 154 games. This would allow for a two of three series to decide which of the wild-card teams move on.

The loss of revenue for those eight games – but really only four home games for each team – is easily offset or at least reduced by the addition images-31of two extra games for the TV networks to fight over. But the real bonus is that baseball will revert back to their original 154 game schedule and there would no longer be a need to argue about whether Roger Maris really broke the Babe’s record in the coming years. The asterisk would be gone.

Rob Manfred  (upper right) has a vision for baseball. His agenda should include adding a new format to the playoff schedule. Owners will resist but fans will rejoice…….and isn’t that what it’s supposed to be all about……the Fans…..or am I mistaken in that?