Saturday, May 18, 2013
Following his dismal 1962 season it was a minor miracle that Joe McClain appeared on card number 311 of the Topps set. Perhaps because they couldn't find Joe, Topps used the same picture on this card as the year before.
McClain might have been hard to find in 1963. He was certainly no longer on the Senators radar, or even in their organization. I wasn't able to find out how it occurred, but he ended up in the Yankees farm system playing for the Triple A Richmond Virginians.
The change of scenery wasn't enough to revive Joe's career. After just ten innings his season ended. That old minor league injury caught up with him at last.
Monday, May 13, 2013
Nick Tepesch returned to his early season form as he allowed just one Houston run to cross the plate in six innings. He recorded eight strikeouts and just one walk while in route to his third run win of the season and the Rangers sweep of the 'Stros.
Meanwhile the offense brought their bats with them. Three home runs helped lead the charge as Texas plated 12 runs. Very encouraging to see David Murphy send one out again. Adrain Beltre, shown here on card 29 of the 2013 Topps Emerald set, was the big bopper of the night. Adrian went 4-for-5 with two runs scored. He hammered a double and a home run to go along with two singles. His four RBI were enough to overshadow his throwing error in the fourth inning.
Nice to see the bats heating up, especially with the trip to Oakland kicking off tonight. Tepesch's start is also an encouragement with Colby Lewis and Martin Perez making slow progress on their rehab assignments.
The second part of the 12-7 score bothers me. For the second night in a row Texas won in spite of a melt-down by the middle relievers. Last night the culprit was Derek Lowe, the night before it was Michael Kirkman. That's a concern. It won't matter how good the rotation or the back end of the bullpen is if the opposing team can drive a Mack truck through the middle relief.
The middle relief stumbles are a concern when you consider 13 games. That's how far the Rangers were up on the A's when Oakland began their run down the stretch. Gotta make sure green remains a color on a Topps card and not the color of the uniforms on the division winners.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
The big news of the night was the monster home run shot by Nellie Cruz in the 6th inning to tie the game up at two. Jeff Baker and David Murphy followed up with their own solo shots in the 7th and 9th innings respectively. That gave Texas a 4-2 lead to end the game.
Amongst the welcome offensive news was a super nice defensive play by Ian Kinsler. Kinsler, shown here on card number SQ-42 of the 2009 Upper Deck Starquest set, made a leaping dive to his right to snag a line drive that should have been a single. That snuffed a 'Stros rally and kept Texas on top.
One concern for the Rangers is starting pitcher Alexi Ogando. Even though he kept the team in the game last night he wasn't sharp. That seems to be the norm this year. Too many walks and not enough strikeouts. It would be nice to see the 2011 version of Alexi Ogando make a return. Hopefully he can work through this rough spot and get it back.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Holland went seven innings and gave up just one run against the Brewers in Milwaukee. He struck out six and avoided the base on balls bug. Somehow he also coughed up ten hits. It's a testament to his nerve that he didn't give up more runs than he did.
Holland's performance was enough to allow the offense to put the game away. Mitch Moreland in particular did well as he went 2-for-4 with a home run. Nice to see Moreland hitting well. Extra nice he is able to do so against lefties. Joining Moreland were Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus (both 3-for-5), and Adrian Beltre (2-for-4). Great to see the offense looking like it's coming around.
With the A's losing on a controversial home run review that gives Texas a 3.5 game lead over Oakland. It's early in the season to be watching the standings but, as we found out last season, every game counts and the A's won't go away. It's never too early to build a big lead over Oakland.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Number 29 on the list is the David Clyde saga. Clyde, shown here on card number 76 of the 1999 Sports Illustrated set, was the number one draft pick in 1973. An extremely talented lefty, he had scouts and sports writers predicting a Hall of Fame career.
Unfortunately David was drafted by a team in serious financial trouble. Rangers owner Bob Short moved the team to Texas in 1972 because he was going broke in Washington DC. In the meantime some of his other investments were falling through. With cash drying up, Short needed to sell the team. When you're last in the American League and putting just 6,000 fans in the seats per game, selling becomes a difficult proposition.
Somebody, some say Short, some say Clyde, proposed David make two starts before heading off to the minors. On July 27, 1973 David Clyde made the jump from high school to the Major Leagues. Clyde lasted five innings and beat the Minnesota Twins. He also attracted over 35,000 fans and sold out Arlington Stadium for the first time since the Rangers came to town. His second start came against the Tigers and was another win.
Bob Short overruled manager Whitey Herzog and declared Clyde to be a permanent member of the team. With Billy Martin replacing Herzog as manager, the last protection for the young arm was gone. So was Clyde after just two seasons and one appearance in 1975.
David Clyde never reached his full potential with the Rangers or with any other team. In large part that was due to Bob Short holding him in the Majors and Billy Martin over using his arm. Without the seasoning and instruction in the minors Clyde was not prepared to face Major League hitting.
What Clyde did do was sell tickets. When he pitched in 1973 he drew 20,000 fans on average. That was well above the norm for a team that lost over 100 games that season. The revenue enabled Short to convince Brad Corbett that baseball in north Texas was a viable business. That got the team sold and Short out of baseball. That was good news.
Clyde also influenced the Rangers and baseball in another way, the way young prospects are treated. Promotion from high school to the Majors is almost unheard of and young players are expected to spend some time in the minors. The way the Washington Nationals have handled Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg is a good example. The refusal of the Rangers to rush young pitching in recent years is another. Even with financial and contention pressures arguing for quick promotion, the specter of David Clyde's ruined career exerts an opposing pressure. Nobody wants to be responsible for the next David Clyde.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Moving on in the 1977 Topps team set we come to card number 103, Mike Bacsik. This would be the elder Mike Bacsik.
Texas signed Bacsik as an amateur free agent in 1973. He got a look with the big club in 1975 and saw some serious work in 1976. By 1977 he was hoping to land a spot in the bullpen.
That wasn't going to happen. Mike spent most of the year at Triple A Tuscon. In 30 games he pitched 115 innings as a reliever and swing man. Whether starting or relieving Mike got hammered. He allowed 16 home runs and 96 earned runs. That helped tally his ERA to an unsightly 7.51 and his WHIP to 1.930.
Somehow Mike got a cup of coffee with the Rangers. I'm not sure if it was at the beginning of the season or due to an injury to another player but he appeared in two games for Texas. Mike's 2.1 innings of relief made his minor league season look like a walk in the park. Opposing teams scored five runs off him for a horrific 19.29 ERA and a bloated 3.857 WHIP.
1977 pretty much sealed the deal for Mike Bacsik. He would spend 1978 in the minors. In December of 1978 Texas dealt him to the Twins for Mac Scarce.
Monday, May 6, 2013
Bert over at Swing and a Pop-Up shot me a note that he wanted the Red Sox. That was a team I didn't have a large number of but I cobbled together a small package for him and off it went. He mentioned he wanted to send a few cards in return. Bert's got a great blog but he has trouble understanding the word "free". I like guys who have that trouble and I really liked the nice package Bert sent my way. Among a treasure trove of wantlist hits was this 1993 Select Jose Canseco, number 364. This card finished off my 1993 Select set. It was one of three or four sets Bert put to bed. If you get a chance you ought to send Bert free cards, he just might send you back some free cards. I think that's a trade and it's definitely something I'm going to try again sometime.
In to snag the Angels was reader Jeff. Jeff's easing back into the hobby after a layoff of several years and thought the Halos I was off-loading would be a help. Off they went to California. Taking a cue from Bert, Jeff returned several hits from my wantlist in a nice package. (Any package containing multiple Sportflics is nice.) Glad you enjoyed the cards Jeff, I'll let you know when I get some more Angels built up.
What both Jeff and Bert did helped remind me that it's been awhile since I updated my wantlist. Almost a year in fact. Not that it was terribly inaccurate. It just didn't have some of the more recent releases included. That spurred me to spend part of this afternoon updating it. It's still not perfect but at least it's updated and I feel like I'm back in business. Next up: the tradelist.