Friday, June 28, 2013


Well, I meant to post a card of Derek Holland today and talk about his shutout last night over the Yankees in the Bronx. I picked out the card and fired up the computer. And fired it up again, and again, and again. You get the picture. It looks fatal.

The problem is my laptop (which I am typing this on) won't get along with the scanner. Or the scanner won't get along with the laptop. Depends on which one you ask but the result is the same. No scans.

With no scans it is going to be difficult to post. I have my game-used and autographed cards already scanned but there is a limited number of them and I hesitate to use them up. My plan at this point is to get to work on the laptop and scanner on Tuesday (my day off) to see if I can broker a peace agreement.

If I can do that I will be able to get back to scanning and posting. If I can't get something worked out I will probably go to temporarily posting without scans but that's something I prefer not to do. In the meantime I will have to beg your forgiveness for the disruption.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Week's recap.

Going to start off by saying this 1998 Donruss Signature Series autographed card of former Ranger Fernando Tatis has little to do with the events of the past week. Well, maybe a little but not much.

When I last posted Texas was two games into a four game series with Oakland and still on shaky ground coming off their six game losing streak. have they managed to turn things around.

The Rangers finished up their disasterous home stand by taking three of four from the A's. That was a good turn around but the team was headed to St. Louis to take on the best team in baseball in their home park. That's not a receipe for success.

The Rangers didn't seem to care about the odds. They took three of three to sweep the Redbirds at home. Included in the series was a gem of a game by top pitching prospect Martin Perez. The final game was an over-night affair as the result of a three hour rain delay but the wait was worthwhile. That series put Texas back on top of the American League West. Unfortunately they are sharing the spot with those Swinging A's.

Monday off and Tuesday saw a series in The Belly of The Beast start off against the drama-filled Yankees. Ichiro hammered a walk-off homer Tuesday night to start the series. Last night the Rangers bounced back and grabbed an 8-5 win over The Evil Empire. Today's the rubber match.

In addition to the rally in the standings there has been good news on the rehab front from Alexi Ogando and Joakim Soria. Soria is looking to be on the mound by the All-Star break and Ogando shortly thereafter.

Craig Gentry did get sent to the Disabled List for a stress fracture in his left hand. He won't bee back until after the All-Star break. That injury resulted in Engle Beltre getting the call from Triple A. Not sure how much effect this will really have though since Leonys Martin has been hitting .441 in his last ten games or so. Finally getting used to Major League pitching I guess.

All in all things are looking much better in Texas than they were the last week. Now to see if the team can ride this hot streak into the All-Star break.
1998 Donruss Signature Series - Fernando Tatis
1998 Donruss Signature Series - Fernando Tatis

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rangers Win!!!

Finally, a win to write about! It's been a long couple of weeks in Texas while the Rangers scuffled and watched their lead in the AL West evaporate. With two wins in the last three games it's now looking like the dry spell may be over.

The A's slapped Justin Grimm around last night, he gave up three runs in five innings. Fortunately the Texas offense woke up and returned the favor against Oakland starter Tommy Milone, six runs in 5.1 innings.

Nice to see the Rangers bats finally make an appearance. Ian Kinsler went 2-for-4, Nelson Cruz 3-for-5, Adrian Beltre 2-for-5, David Murphy 3-for-4, and Leonys Martin 2-for-3. Since Beltre was the only one of those guys who had been delivering recently the numbers sure look good.

While the lineup was doing its thing, the bullpen stepped in for the final four innings and gave up just one run. That was better than things have been going and good enough to grab a much-needed win. Final: Rangers - 9, A's - 4.

While Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, and Lance Berkman all had three RBI, David Murphy scored two runs of his own. I also got this signed 2008 Upper Deck First Edition card back from him on June 18th. It was in the first batch of through the mail autograph requests I sent out from my new address. Thanks to Mr. Murphy for signing and returning it.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Best Seasons: John Wetteland - 1998.

I guess not posting yesterday cost me the chance to comment on the Rangers Monday win. Looks like I might have a win to comment about tomorrow. On the heels of last night's loss let's take another look at T.R. Sullivan's list of the the Top 50 Best Seasons in Rangers history.

Clocking in at Number 25 on the list is John Wetteland's 1998 campaign. Wetteland, shown here on card number 333 of the 1997 Score set, was the Rangers closer from 1997-2000.

In 1998 John got the call from the bullpen 63 times, he would finish 59 of those games. 42 of those finishes were saves. That's almost half of the team's 88 wins that year.

Wetteland's ERA tallied to 2.03 and his WHIP to 0.984. He struck out 72 opposing batters en route to a 5.14 strikeout to walk ratio.

That's some pretty dominating numbers and definitely helped push the team into the playoffs for the second time in franchise history. Along the way Wetteland was also selected for the All-Star team and garnered some MVP consideration. Unfortunately John saw just one inning of action as Texas got swept from the first round of the postseason.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Minor League Monday - Everett Cunningham, 1990 Charlotte Rangers Star.

Maybe if I just ignore this homestand it will go away.

Everett Cunningham, shown here on card number 6 of the 1990 Star Charlotte Rangers team set, earned his promotion to A+ ball with his 1989 performance at Single A Gastonia. What he needed to do in 1990 was keep the proverbial ball rolling.

Staring off with the Charlotte Rangers, Cunningham kept things moving right along. He made 11 starts and pitched 75.1 innings. He registered drastic reductions in ERA (2.15) and WHIP (1.035) while compiling a 6-3 record. His strikeout to walk ratio ticked up to 2.04 as he recorded 57 strikeouts and allowed 28 walks.

Those numbers were good enough for a mid-season promotion to Double A Tulsa. Everett would not see the same level of success in his 17 appearances with the Drillers. In 78.2 innings he saw his ERA climb to 4.35 and his WHIP to 1.576.

The 1990 season started off well for Everett Cunningham but ended on a somewhat sour note. He would need to make adjustments quickly in 1991 if he wanted to avoid stalling out at Double A.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Senators Saturday - Claude Osteen, 1964.

Another ugly game last night. The only bright spot was the Seattle win over Oakland to keep Texas within two games. On to Senators Saturday.

Claude Osteen appears on card 28 of the 1964 Topps set. As I have run out of un-posted 1963 Topps cards, it's time to move up a year.

Osteen had been a Senators mainstay in 1963 and was looking to establish himself as the team ace in 1964. That he was able to do.

Claude appeared in 37 games, all but one of them as a starter. He tossed a team leading 257 innings. He also led the team in strikeouts (133) and wins (15). His 3.33 ERA and 1.245 WHIP were the best in the starting rotation.

Claude Osteen locked down his position as team ace during the 1964 season. At just 24 years of age his future looked bright. Bright enough to attract attention from the west coast. The Dodgers were looking to place a good arm behind Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. Claude looked like that arm. Desperate to improve the team, Washington made the trade. On December 4, 1964 Claude Osteen and John Kennedy headed to Los Angeles. Arriving in return were Ken McMullen, Phil Ortega, Pete Richert, Dick Nen, and a big guy named Frank Howard.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Decisions: John Burkett.

In an effort to avoid discussing the train wreck in progress that is the Rangers current home stand I will be returning to T.R. Sullivan's Top 50 Decisions that have shaped the franchise.

Number 30 on the list is the August 8, 1996 trade that brought John Burkett, shown here on card 213 of the 1997 Score set, to Arlington. Texas was looking to make a run and sent Ryan Dempster and a player to be named later to Florida for Burkett. Rick Helling made the trip to Florida in September of that year to complete the deal.

Sullivan maintains the acquisition of Burkett was the pivotal move that put the Rangers over the top on their way to the division title in 1996, the first in team history. Much like the Cliff Lee deal in 2010.

Following the trade, Burkett made ten starts for the Rangers while pitching a total of 68.2 innings. In spite of posting a 4.06 ERA and a 1.325 WHIP he won five of his starts while losing just 2. Additionally, Burkett grabbed the Rangers only post-season win until 2010.

Based on John's numbers alone one has to question the validity of his inclusion on the list. However, once the numbers of the rest of the starting rotation are considered the case becomes a bit more convincing. Of the five other Texas pitchers who made more than 10 starts in 1996, three had ERA's over 5.00 and one over 4.50. Ken Hill and his 3.63 ERA were the only bright spot in the rotation. Once that is taken into account a 4.06 ERA looks better and the impact can be seen more clearly.

The impact on the franchise of Texas' appearance in the 1996 playoffs cannot be underestimated. For the first time winning the division and making it to the post-season was not a far-fetched dream, it was reality. The players, fans, and front office got the taste of October baseball and liked it. That would result in two more trips to the post-season in 1998 and 1999 as well as a vision that would lead to the World Series in 2010 and 2011.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sizing up the swoon.

Not much to report today so I'm going to go with this 2001 Leaf Rookies & Stars Statistical Standouts game-used card of Ivan Rodriguez. Been awhile since I posted a game-used card. This has to be one of the odder game-used cards in my collection, a piece of an on-deck circle. Not exactly sure how that relates to a single player but there it is.

The Rangers June swoon continued with another loss last night to the Indians at home. The A's are now a full game ahead and showing no sign of slowing down. Is it time to hit the panic button? Time or not there are some who are hitting it. I'm not inclined to just yet.

Several reasons why I am not in despair mode. First is that it is still early in the season. We aren't even to the All-Star break. It is conceivable the Rangers will be back in first and might even have a game or two lead by the break. They will need to take advantage of the A's being here for four games and the last series before the break against the Astros.

Second reason is the return of some injured players. The last time Texas had their full roster available was in Spring Training. Ian Kinsler should be back by the end of this week and Mitch Moreland is healing up nicely. Matt Harrison started a throwing program. He is still looking at September but at least he's making progress. Now to get Colby Lewis back on track. If some of these guys can come off the disabled list and make an impact the team could start streaking.

Third is that you can't figure the offense will be down forever. Lance Berkman could be done (it's doubtful, but it could be). A.J. Pierzynski, Adrian Beltre, David Muprhy, and Nelson Cruz aren't and should be able to locate their bats again soon.

Fourth reason is that while the offense has been struggling of late, the pitching seems to still be on track. Subtract Michael Kirkman's performances and a couple of recent rough starts and the staff is still dominant. That will keep the team in games late and give the scuffling offense chances to break out.

So it's not time to panic. Yet. That time is on the horizon though and could be closer than it appears if some things don't change soon.
2001 Leaf Rookies and Stars Statistical Standouts #SS-3 - See more at:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Took me out to the ballpark...

Sorry about no posts the past couple of days. I really don't have an excuse for Monday. Yesterday however, I was pretty busy. Mrs. Spiff and the kiddos will be gone this coming weekend visiting family. Due to that she suggested an early Father's Day observance.

That suggestion led to a game at the Ballpark in Arlington yesterday. That's the reason for my running out of time to post yesterday and for you getting a scan of the program from the game today.

Had a pretty good time. Got in early because we expected a large crowd, we were right. Official attendance was 45,200. Because we were early we got a pretty got parking spot. Unloaded kids and supplies and made the short trek to the park. Still love walking up on it.

Long lines but orderly and once the gates opened we moved right along. Got through the First Base Gate and counted noses. All present. Everybody had their Yu Darvish bobble head giveaway (thus the crowd). Seats were on the third base side. Nice walk around the concourse and then up two escalators. Up a large collection of steps to the seats. One row from the top of the stadium. I don't think I've ever sat that high but it was pretty nice. Shade from the roof and a nice breeze. We hardly broke a sweat in spite of the temps being in the upper 90's. The family even got an appearance on the video board just before the game started. All were impressed except Bug who wasn't real sure what to think.

Got everyone settled in and ready for baseball. Unfortunately Derk Holland couldn't solve the Indians and the offense couldn't solve Tribe starter Cory Kluber. A.J. Pierzynski did hit a solo shot in the 9th inning and David Murphy drove in Jurickson Profar with a double in the 8th but it was too little too late. Final: Cleveland - 5, Texas - 2.

Oakland won later to catch up again.

In spite of the loss it was an enjoyable day. As they say, a bad day at the ball park is better than a good day a lot of other places. Hadn't been to a game in too long so it was very nice to get out and hear the crowd and the crack of the bat.

Only one small question about the whole experience. No God Bless America in the seventh inning, or any other time for that matter. I could swear I heard it earlier this season during a radio broadcast. Anybody know what's up? Are the Rangers the only team that doesn't do this at every game any more?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Senators Saturday - Dave Stenhouse, 1963.

Ok, so I really have nothing positive to say about the Rangers loss of the game and first place yesterday. My mother always said if you can't say something positive don't say anything. I won't then. On to 1963.

Dave Stenhouse shows up on card 263 of the 1963 Topps set. Not sure what is wrong with his uniform in this picture. Maybe he's melting or maybe this is a poor airbrush job. Not sure why any airbrushing would be needed though since Stenhouse was with Washington in 1962.

Dave Stenhouse was coming off a solid 1962 season at the beginning of 1963. He was a mainstay in the Senators' rotation and hoped to remain there. Unfortunately injuries hampered his plan.

Dave appeared in just 16 games for Washington in 1963, all as a starter. After leading the team in complete games the previous season, he finished just two of his starts and tossed only 87 innings all season. That was over a hundred innings less than in 1962. His ERA jumped almost a whole point to 4.55 and his WHIP rose to 1.552. Stenhouse struck out just 47 batters while walking 45. That was an unfavorable move in his strikeout to walk ratio and less than half the K's he notched in 1962.

Clearly Dave Stenhouse was struggling. After a promising year in 1962 he watched 1963 be ruined by injuries. He needed to spend the winter healing up and come back strong in 1964 to stay in the starting rotation for Washington.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Gloomy week.

Not a good news week for the Rangers or their fans.

Started off with Nelson Cruz being on a list of 20 players looking at PED suspensions. That will hurt the Texas offense but it's needed. If MLB is serious about getting steroids out of the sport it is going to have to toe the hard line.

Next up was news that Colby Lewis suffered a set back in his rehab. Now he's been taken off his rehab assignment all together. No firm timetable as to his return now.

Two losses to the Reb Sox. One a shelling and the other a Michael Kirkman melt down. Should stop commenting on Kirkman melt downs and only mention the effective outings - they're rare.

While the team was losing to Boston, the A's kept winning. Texas now has a half a game lead in the standings only by a mathematical fluke. The Rangers have one less win than the A's but two less losses so they stay on top. That's not very encouraging.

Mitch Moreland is on the Disabled List. He was having a great year defensively and seemed to be moving right along at the plate. The injury stint will slow the team down. hopefully it won't slow him down.

Two small bright spots amid the gloom. First is Alexi Ogando. He returned strong from the DL and helped pitch the Rangers to their lone win against the Red Sox this past week. Good to finally see some re-enforcements arrive.

The second bit of good news was the election of former Ranger Ivan Rodriguez, shown here on card BBC37 of the 1992 Baseball Cards Magazine set, to the Rangers Hall of Fame. I personally doubt Pudge stayed away from PEDs his whole career but he was a long-time and much loved player who was something special before anyone ever thought of steroids. Congratulations Pudge.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Odd Moments: Fingers.

Ugly game last night. At least for the Rangers. The Red Sox seemed to enjoy scoring 17 runs. The A's probably also enjoyed moving to within a half a game of Texas. About the only bright spot for the Rangers was David Murphy's eighth inning of scoreless relief.

Probably a good day to take a break from the current team. Got a three part installment in the 50 Top Odd Moments in Rangers history. On to T.R. Sullivan's selections.

Number 32. Injured fingers - Charlie Hough started the 1986 season on the disabled list due to a broken pinkie finger. Charlie was saying goodbye to a friend at a bar near the end of Spring Training. The finger fractured during the final handshake. Oddibe McDowell, shown here on card number 23 of the 1986 Fleer League Leaders set, missed several games after he sliced open a finger at the 1987 Welcome Home Luncheon. Kevin Brown did the same reaching into his shaving kit for a razor.

Number 33. Sticky fingers - The Rangers hosted the All-Star game in 1995. The Arlington Police Department was on top of the scalping issues. Unfortunately one of the suspected scalpers cuffed by the PD was Rangers pitcher Ed Vosberg who was trying to resell tickets for a relative.

Number 34. Getting the thumb - for two long years Chuck Greenburg did the heavy lifting to put together a group to buy the Rangers from Tom Hicks. He finally got it done and saved the team from bankruptcy in mid-season 2010. Seven months later during Spring Training 2011 he resigned and sold out his share of the ownership group. The departure was unforeseen and unexplained.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

1977 Topps - Bert Blyleven.

A game and a half. That's the Rangers lead as the A's keep charging. Got hairy in a hurry didn't it? Hope the guys can get it going against the Sox in Boston tonight.

No game yesterday though so it's time to take a look back at 1977. Bert Blyleven's up today on card number 630 of the 1977 Topps set.

Blyleven had an outstanding season in 1977. His 14-12 record was more indicative of the run support he received than the way he pitched.

Bert made 30 starts and pitched 234.2 innings while completing 15 games. Five of those complete games were shutouts - a team best. He struck out 182 opposing batters (most on the team) while walking just 69. His ERA tallied to 2.72 (best in the starting rotation and second best on the team) and his WHIP to a team and league-leading 1.065.

At 26 years of age Bert Blyleven still had plenty of potential. He might not have been the pitcher with the most wins for Texas in 1977 but he was the most effective in the starting rotation. When Bert took the hill the team had a chance to win.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Catching up.

So I saw where Nolan Ryan, pictured here on card number 250 of the 1990 Score set, and George Brett exchanged lineup cards during this weekend's series against Kansas City. The idea was to re-create the original exchange of lineup cards they both took part in at the beginning of their final game. 20 years ago. Hard to believe it's been that long.

It hasn't been twenty years since I last posted but it feels like it might be close. Sorry for the abrupt interruption. Switching shifts at work and trying to keep up on things around the house meant the blog got away from me.

While I was gone things just kept rolling. The Rangers kept winning but so did the A's. Oakland has won 14 of their last 16 and whittled Texas' lead to two games. Not much hope Milwaukee will knock off Oakland today so I am thinking the lead will go to a game and a half. Anaheim is 10.5 games back and still under .500. I said Oakland was the team to watch out for.

Ian Kinsler's stint on the Disabled List got extended due to a stress reaction. Not sure exactly what that is but it is serious enough to keep him from playing for a while longer.

Not that Jurickson Profar minds. He's building his credibility and living up to the hype so far. Smashed a seventh inning home run in yesterday's game to put Texas on top.

Yu Darvish continues the strikeout parade and continues to get no decisions or losses. Right now he's on track for over 300 whiffs on the season.

Adrian Beltre is day to day with hamstring issues. Not good since his hamstrings seem to be his weakest link.

Alexi Ogando is slated to start tomorrow. Hopefully he can come off the DL hot and contribute right away. The pitching staff is needing re-enforcements.

I think that's about all the big news. Hopefully now that I'm caught up I can stay on top of things and keep the posts coming.