Saturday, May 30, 2009

Two for two.

Sorry about missing the last three days. Between work, overtime, and a kiddo's doctor appointment things got a bit busy. Hopefully work will be back to somewhat normal by the end of next week. Until then I will continue to try and post as often as possible.

Ok, let's see. A lot has happened in the past three days. A win against the Yankees then a loss. A day off and then beating the A's in both games of a double header yesterday. At the end of it all the Rangers are now 4.5 games ahead of the Angels. Hopefully the team can take the A's today and tomorrow as well for the series sweep.

In spite of losing the series to the Yankees, it is good to see the Rangers add to their lead within the division. Very nice to pick up a game and a half in one day like they did yesterday.

C.J. Wilson gets today's card due to his performances against the A's in the twinbill. Wilson, seen here on card #679 of the 2008 Upper Deck set, pitched in both games. He tossed two innings total allowing no hits and no runs. That was good enough for a win and a save on the same day. Nice to see C.J. putting it together.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Odds and ends.

The Rangers need to recover from last night and hammer the Yankees. Kevin Millwood takes the mound this evening to try and stop Mark Teixeira, seen here on card #UH147 of the 2005 Topps Updates and Highlights set, and the rest of the Yanks.

Speaking of Mark Teixeira, are there any Rangers fans out there who miss having him on the team? I know I don't. Chris Davis is just about as good defensively and seems to be a lot better in the clubhouse. Hopefully his offense can catch up. Even if it doesn't, there is a lot to be said for a team that plays as a team, not as a bunch of prima donnas who happen to wear matching clothes.

Anyone think that the team got the short end of the trade that sent Tex and Ron Mahay to Atlanta? With Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Beau Jones, and Neftali Feliz coming in return, I am thinking that the Braves got scalped. Twice at least. Once by the Rangers and then by Teixeira himself when he refused to consider re-signing with them and forced a second trade.

Statistically teams who are in first on Memorial Day have a 60% chance of making the post-season. Are the Rangers in that 60% this year?

Jim Sundberg and Rusty Greer will represent the Rangers at this year's draft. I can't find anything on players the team might be looking at. Anyone have more information?

Quick programing note. The next two weeks I am working a bunch of mandatory overtime so my posting may be infrequent. I will make my best effort to continue daily posting but if I am unable to at least you know there is a reason.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ugly, and the game wasn't pretty either.

Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees made their first appearance in Arlington since A-Rod admitted his steroid use. The crowd greeted him with boos when he was introduced and every time he batted. Alex apparently didn't let it bother him as he went 5-for-5 with two doubles and four RBI.

Ugly, but not near as much as the rest of the game. The Empire manhandled Texas pitching while the Rangers' offense was never able to get off the ground.

Nelson Cruz was the lone bright spot for Texas with a home run in the ninth to avoid the shutout. He was also the most dangerous Ranger hitter, going 2-for-4.

Well, every team has to suffer a blowout on occasion. Now that we have that out of the way perhaps the bats and pitching will get back on track. The next two games would be an opportune time.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Nellie nails the Astros.

Texas took the second game of the 2009 Silver Boot series from Houston today. Nelson Cruz added two more homers and four RBI to his season total. That performance, coupled with his tenth inning home run to win yesterday, garners Nelson today's card. Here we see him on his 2007 Topps Chrome Xfractor card, number 241 in the set.

In addition to Nellie being hot, the Rangers also got some good pitching from Scott Feldman and the bullpen. This gives Scooter his third win since breaking into the rotation earlier this season. More timely hitting from Blalock and Vizquel also contributed to the win. David Murphy seems to be shaking the last vestiges of his slump off as well.

I was sitting down in front of the computer yesterday to watch the game numbers come in when my wife surprised me with an early anniversary gift. She had subscribed to the Game Day Premium on This allows me to listen to the Rangers games either as they occur or on delay. Just in time for my weekend off and the Houston trip. Needless to say, I am very thrilled about it. Having the Rangers in contention is just icing on the cake.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Padilla to DL - Hamilton, Francisco back.

Vicente Padilla, seen here on his 2007 Topps Gold card numbered 558/2007, is on the DL as of yesterday. Apparently he tweaked his left shoulder taking batting practice.

That leaves tonight's start in Houston up to rookie Derek Holland. This will be Derek's first start in the major leagues. He is a starter but has been in the bullpen since coming up earlier this season. Holland's last appearance was his melt down against the Angels in Arlington. So far he seems to be doing better tonight, no runs in four innings so far. Hopefully he can keep it up.

Padilla may be gone but Frank Francisco is back from the DL and available for tonight's game. Josh Hamilton is also back. He started in center field tonight.

Andruw Jones started at first base, his first ever start at that position in the Big Leagues. Apparently Ron Washington decided that Jones' bat in the lineup was worth more than Chris Davis or Hank Blalock at first. Andruw has an RBI so far so it seems to be working thus far.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Triple play is not enough.

The Rangers need to get out of Detroit as fast as an auto manufacturer. Two straight losses this series. They are looking at a second sweep there this season if they can't win this afternoon. I don't know what it is about Motown but things just aren't going well there this season for Texas.

One bright spot of last night's loss was provided by former Ranger Gerald Laird, seen here on card number 836 of the 2006 Upper Deck set. Gerald did the team a favor and hit into a triple play to help pitcher Matt Harrison out of a jam. It wouldn't be enough though as the Rangers fell 5-3.

One last game in Detroit this afternoon and then it's back to Texas for a weekend series with the Astros in Houston. The 'Stros are 18-20 on the season so there is a chance the guys could have a good series there. Texas needs to use that series to pick up momentum as they head into a midweek face down with the Evil Empire.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

1978-79 Rangers Team Issue - Koenig.

Texas lost last night in Detroit to snap their win streak. Dontrelle Willis pitched a great game and the Rangers came within one hit of being no-hit. That would have indeed been an embarrassing end to the streak.

With the loss I decided to take a look in my odd-ball binder for today's card. All of the cards in this binder are either over-sized or smaller than normal cards.

Found this 1978-79 Team Issue card of Fred Koenig. It is part of a lot that my wife picked up for me because it included the Jon Matlack. The cards are about the size of postcards and have no numbering or information on the back.

I really couldn't recall ever even hearing about Fred Koenig so I had to turn to the Internet for information. It seems that Koenig never made it to the majors as a player. His highest level of play was Triple A. The last season he played was in 1963.

Following that, Fred turned to coaching. He managed in the minors for the Cardinals and Angels. The Halos eventually named him as a Major League coach for 1970 and 1971. After the manager was fired, so was Fred. He then went back to the Cardinals as a minor league manager and director of player development.

It was back to the Bigs in 1976 as a coach with the Cards. From 1977 to 1982 Koenig coached with the Rangers. After that he spent a season each with the Cubs and Indians. He finished up after working in the minors for the Braves.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

1972 Topps - Toby Harrah.

Yesterday was an off day for the Rangers. Tonight they are in Detroit to face the surging Tigers. Hopefully the guys can help out the Royals and get the Tigers stopped.

With no game to recap and no roster moves to talk about, I decided to return to 1972 for today's card. As I was looking at the cards, number 104 jumped out at me. Here we see a young Toby Harrah in the same odd angle photo that so many of his teammates fell victim to. What caught my attention is that, from this angle, Toby looks quite a bit like Ian Kinsler. At least to me he does.

Toby played shortstop for the Senators and Rangers in two stints. He came up with Washington in 1969 for a look and then in 1971 for good. He moved with the team and stayed with them until after the 1978 season. He was then traded to Cleveland for Buddy Bell. Before the 1984 season the Tribe dealt him to the Evil Empire. He played one season there and then the Rangers rescued him in a trade. Two seasons with Texas and then Toby hung it up.

Harrah was one of the players my grandfather talked about quite a bit as I was growing up. He was a pretty big star in the early years of the franchise and a lot of fans were glad to see him come home for his swan song.

Monday, May 18, 2009


So Texas won on Saturday and again yesterday to get the sweep of the Angels. I was hoping for a win or two. I'll take the sweep though. Yesterday's win puts the Rangers 4.5 games up on the Halos.

There is a lot to talk about from the two games: Ian Kinsler's defense, Josh Hamilton's defense, John Lackey's insanity, the Rangers playing small ball when needed, the bullpen doing it in spite of Frank Francisco's absence.

The best note though was that the starting pitching held up. Scott Feldman, pictured here on card number 978 of the 2007 Upper Deck set, started yesterday's game. He went six scoreless innings before handing the ball over to Jason Jennings. Another nice outing from Scooter even though he got a no decision.

As noted above, Frank Francisco is out. The team placed him on the DL retroactive to the 7th. He will be available to come off on Friday. To replace him they called up Warner Madrigal. This is a real bummer since Frank was doing so well. I have no faith in Madrigal but at least the rest of the bullpen is among the most rested in the Majors.

Josh Hamilton left the game yesterday after his awesome leap into the wall catch to save at least one run. Word is that the problem was a groin muscle. He is claiming that he will be back tomorrow as the series in Detroit kicks off. If you haven't seen video of the catch you owe it to yourself to find it. Wow is the only description I can give.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Kinsler krushes two.

Texas tried to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory last night but were ultimately unsuccessful. Starter Kevin Millwood turned in a decent performance as he went six innings and gave up only two runs to Anaheim. Not spectacular but with the score 7-2 it appeared that it would be enough.

The Rangers added three more runs after Millwood's exit while the Angels could only come up with one. That made it 10-3 headed into the ninth. Two quick outs and it seemed that the Rangers would easily sew it up. Then Derek Holland melted down. Five runs later, C.J. Wilson would come in and get the third out to give Texas a 10-8 victory. Nasty, but it still puts them up 2.5 games over the Angels. It also puts the team's winning percentage at .600.

Ian Kinsler was a bright spot though. Kinsler went 2-for-3 with two walks and three RBI. Ian's two home runs were both off Halos starter Joe Saunders. That performance earns Kinsler today's card, his 2005 Topps Gold card, number 302 in the set and serial numbered 1422/2005.

In spite of Kinsler, Young, and Hamilton doing well, the Rangers are going to need some pitching this afternoon in order to win again. John Lackey is coming off the DL today to face the Rangers. It would only be considerate if they welcomed him back with a pounding and a loss. Vicente Padilla has been lights out his last two starts. Hopefully he can remember where the switch is and keep them off.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Davis gets out the broom.

Texas managed another walk-off win yesterday to stay 1.5 games ahead of the Angels. The hero was Chris Davis, seen here on his 2008 Topps Heritage card, number 671.

Chris crushed a two run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Rangers a come from behind 3-2 win over the Mariners. That completed the three game sweep. This was Davis' 10th long ball this season and his first walk off homer. He had been really struggling at the plate recently and it is nice to see him come through in the clutch.

Chris wasn't the only well-performing Ranger. Pitcher Matt Harrison had his scoreless innings streak snapped at 22 innings when he gave up two runs in the fourth. He steadied though and came back to shut the Mariners out for the rest of the game. Great performance.

Getting a complete game from a starter headed into a series with the Angels gives the Rangers a jump coming out of the gate. While the Texas bullpen rested up, the Angels took 12 innings to win and used five relievers. That combined with the travel and the home field advantage could work to Texas' benefit. If the Rangers win just one game of the next three they will still be a half a game ahead of the Angels. If they can win two they will move to 2.5 games ahead. I like that option better. A three game sweep seems too much to hope for but they have to beat the Halos head-to-head in order to be considered legitimate contenders.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hank hammers a win.

Today's card is number PP-HB in the 2003 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects set. It features a piece of Hank Blalock's bat.

Last night's game featured a piece of bat work by Hank. With one out in the 11th inning he smashed a two run double that gave the Rangers a come from behind victory over the Mariners. Gotta love happy endings.

Brandon McCarthy and C.J. Wilson both struggled in the game but Darren O'Day and Eddie Guardado did well. Michael Young had a throwing error that led to a run but redeemed himself by being one of the runners that Blalock drove in.

While I like these extra inning walk-off wins, I find them somewhat disturbing if they happen too frequently. Things just don't always work out well in those scenarios. Tonight is the last night of the Rangers/Mariners series and then the Angels come to town. Frank Francisco is supposed to be back in action for Texas. John Lackey should be starting the second game in his first appearance coming off the DL.

Time to get the hatches battened down. The Rangers have to be able to beat the Angels head to head in order to compete in the A.L. West. Hopefully they'll be able to do so this weekend. With only a 1.5 game lead, they have to in order to stay on top.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

He's back!!!

Josh Hamilton, seen here on card number 95 of the 2008 Upper Deck X set, returned to the Rangers' lineup last night. While he wasn't the on base machine that Michael Young was, he still launched a two run homer. Nice way to announce his recovery after being on the DL.

Michael Young was also back after sitting out a few days with a sore back. He celebrated by going 3 for 3 with a pair of walks thrown in to make things interesting. Chris Davis also went yard with a solo shot. Kinsler, Byrd, and Salty all doubled.

On the defensive side of things Jarrod Saltalamacchia caught Ichiro Suzuki stealing. Elvis Andrus made a phenomenal catch on a sinking line drive to possibly save a run. Good to see plays like that.

While all of that was going on, Scott Feldman went 6.1 innings and allowed the Mariners just one run. Derek Holland came on in relief and went 1.2 scoreless innings and Eddie Guardado tossed a scoreless ninth to end the game. I am getting spoiled talking about the good pitching the Rangers have been getting. I could get used to it though. Is this how Boston fans feel all the time?

Final was 7-1, Rangers over Mariners. Thanks to Boston's comeback victory in Anaheim, this gives Texas a 1.5 game lead over the Angels. It would be nice to see them pick up another game or two before the Halos come to town on Friday. Still a wide open race but at least the Angels aren't just walking away with the division the way they did last year.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Odds and ends.

Not much to cover today. Last night was an off night for the entire A.L. West so there was no change in the standings. Tonight the Rangers kick off some division play against the Mariners in Arlington. Word is that Josh Hamilton and Michael Young will both be back in the lineup. That is definitely good news.

Today is also Yogi Berra's birthday. In recognition of the fact, I have posted a card of one of his most capable successors. I always liked Yogi, in spite of the pinstripes. His ability to work hard and still keep things in perspective is a challenge. He pulled the balance off perfectly and managed to be one of the game's greatest backstops ever. Hope you enjoy your day Mr. Berra.

Another reason that I posted this 1993 Topps card, number 360, was that I just got it today. It came in a surprise package from John in the U.K. While I didn't need this particular card, I did need about half of the ones he sent. Very good ratio for a random stack. I do feel a bit bad about this one though since I have never reciprocated John's last mailing. With my work schedule I haven't been able to pick up any packs for him and am still working on getting a Red Sox stack together. Sorry about that John. Thanks a bunch for the package. I'll try to get something out to you soon.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Shutting them down.

Wow! Saturdays sure seem to be getting hectic around here lately. I just couldn't seem to to find the time to post last Saturday with working third shift, helping with a fundraiser, and mowing the lawn. Sorry about that.

During my posting absence the Rangers managed to hold on to first place so that is good. Kevin Millwood turned in a strong performance but didn't get any run support and fell to 3-3. His record should be better.

Matt Harrison tossed a complete game shutout under the direction of Taylor Teagarden who seems to have become Matt's personal catcher. I'm cool with it as long as it works.

Vicente Padilla won his second of the season yesterday against the White Sox. He lasted seven innings and allowed just one run and one hit. Meanwhile the Rangers unloaded on the Sox and smashed seven runs across the plate. But for a wild pitch, the lone ChiSox run would not have scored. Even with the wild pitch and the resulting run, that is a nice day on the hill.

What makes the win noteworthy though is that it was the second game in a row Padilla allowed just one hit. That makes Padilla, seen here on card number 229 of the 2007 Upper Deck set, the first pitcher in Rangers' history to do so. Not sure if that is a comment on Padilla or Rangers' pitching but I'll take the wins anytime.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Manny, take a lesson from the Little Professor.

Sad news today all over in spite of Texas hanging on to first place.

Manny Ramirez got suspended for failing a performance enhancing drug test. Not really surprised there. I never had any reason to suspect Manny of using. I also never had any reason to suspect him of having the character to not use either. The test failure fits with Manny being an immature and classless dolt.

The saddest news was the passing of Dom DiMaggio. Dom was a great player who was somewhat overshadowed by his brother, Joe. He put up some great numbers of his own though and is considered by many to be a borderline Hall of Fame candidate. He was also the last of the three DiMaggio brothers who played in the Majors. Baseball has lost a piece of its fabric with the passing of this class act and fan favorite. Ramirez could have learned a lot from the Little Professor had he ever taken the time while he was with the Red Sox.

Since Dom was never associated with the Rangers I decided to post a card of one of his former teammates. Here we see the late Ted Williams on card number 510 of the 1972 set.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hello first place!

Texas downed the A's last night to claim sole possession of first place in the AL West. Been a long time since that has happened. Special thanks to the Kansas City Royals for slapping the Mariners around to help the cause.

Scott Feldman pitched well in the win, allowing two runs in six innings with three strikeouts. Derek Holland also did well as he tossed two scoreless innings. Elvis Andrus got the Rangers on the board in the first with his second career homer.

Perhaps the highlight of the night was Frank Francisco, seen here on his 2004 Donruss Elite Extra Edition card. This card is number 277 in the set and this particular one is serial numbered 467/1000. Frank's season saves are numbered 9/9. He has a 0.00 ERA on the season and has yet to blow a save opportunity.

Texas needs a good closer to compete and Francisco seems to be filling the bill. Very nice to be saying good things about Ranger pitching. Unusual but nice.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

International trade.

Received a small package of cards today from Charles over at Blue Jays Cards. Charles had contacted me a little while back and asked about a trade. Following some easy negotiations we agreed on a trade and I sent some Jays on their migration North.

In return I received a nice group of 12 or so Rangers cards, several of which I did not have. One such card was this 2009 Upper Deck First Edition Jarrod Saltalamacchia, number 288 in the set. A nice looking card with Jarrod in his "Pudge stuff." Out of curiosity I read the back of the card. It talks about Salty's first career grand slam in 2008. A good card to be getting the day after his second career grand slam.

Along with Salty, there were several other First Edition, a regular 2009 Upper Deck, and a 2006 Fleer Ultra card that I needed. The cards were well packaged and arrived safely. If you ever get the chance to trade with Charles, I encourage you to do so.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sinking Seattle.

Difficult task today to decide which card to feature. There have been several guys who have kept things going for Texas the past two days against Seattle.

Last night it was Frank Francisco closing the deal and Elvis Andrus making a highlight reel play to save Kevin Millwood's bacon.

Tonight it was a tenth inning rally sparked by Andruw Jones' two out single and capped by Jarrod Saltalamacchia's grand slam. Six runs in the tenth inning on one out. Wow!

I decided though to post a scan of Vicente Padilla's 2008 Topps card, number 659 in the set. Padilla didn't get the win tonight but he deserved to. He went eight innings while giving up only one hit and one run. Nice to see that kind of pitching. Gives the bullpen a rest and is what you need in order to compete. In this case it helped the team pick up a game on the Mariners. Now they are just a half a game out of first as they head to Oakland for a visit.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Catching up.

Sorry about the lack of a post Saturday. The family got up early and went garage sale shopping and then ran some errands before heading home.

Normally while attending garage sales I hope for cards and just kind of hang out. Trying to keep amused while playing driver for Mrs. Spiff. Occasionally though, something will catch my attention. That did not appear to be the case this time when Mrs. Spiff handed me the paper with the list of garage sale ads and asked me to mark the ones I wanted to get to.

I quickly scanned through most of them. Clothes, clothes, shoes, and clothes. Great. One listed baseball equipment. Probably just a Wiffle ball set or something. Oh well. I marked it anyway.

When we arrived at the sale, I noticed two large duffel bags sitting next to a plastic tub of aluminum bats. Spiff Jr. also saw the bats and trotted over to take a look. I looked inside one of the bags. Batting helmets. Already have a couple of those. On to the next bag. Catcher's gear.

Spiff Jr. looked into the bag. "Pudge gear!" he exclaimed. "We should get this, then I can do everything Pudge does." He picked up a shin guard and held it up to his leg. It was way too big. He needs another five or six years. What caught my attention though was that he was holding it up correctly. An older boy came up and started looking. "This is Pudge's gear." Spiff Jr. proclaimed. The boy looked at him and started to goof off with the gear. He put the chest protector on wrong and made a comment about robot legs while holding a shin guard. Genuine pain in Spiff Jr.'s eyes. "You have it wrong. The chest pad goes the other way. It's not a robot leg, it's a shinguard." The boy shrugged, dropped the gear, and walked off. Spiff Jr. started to carefully put it back in the bag.

I grabbed the bag and dumped out the gear. Three chest protectors, three sets of shin guards, a mask, and a mitt. All in pretty decent shape. I grabbed the best looking chest protector, and shinguards. Scooping up the mask and mitt I turned to my wife. In spite of previous insistence that catching is not a job for her boy, she nodded in agreement and asked the lady how much she wanted for the gear. "Uh, $7.00?" was the answer. Sold, I said.

The gear is still too big and may never be worn. On the other hand, there is a dream that lives big in one four year-old's heart. To be "a pudge." To catch with his hat on backwards and his mask over his face. To wear shinguards and squat behind the plate. It seems that $7.00 is a small price to put down on a dream.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Called up.

Texas put Josh Hamilton on the Disabled List today. To replace him on the roster they called Max Ramirez up from Triple A. Ramirez, seen here on his 2008 Bowman Draft Picks Gold card, is a heavy hitting catcher. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is suffering from eye irritation in both eyes so Max will be backing up Taylor Teagarden. Hamilton is expected back on May 12.

Ramirez got a taste of the Bigs last year when Laird and Saltalamacchia were both injured. He is considered a top prospect but needs some work on his defense. His bat is not a concern. In 2007 he hit .304 with a .504 slugging average. This stint in the Bigs could be a nice opportunity for him. No word on if he will stay around until Hamilton comes back of if he will get sent back down when Salty is ready to get back to work.