Saturday, November 5, 2016

Royal Delivery.

Long time friend, reader, and Royals fan extraordinaire Mark sent me a small group of Rangers inserts from recent sets. Among the cards he sent my way was this 2015 Topps Highlight card of Nolan Ryan. The card recalls Nolan's amazing seventh no-hitter in 1991.

Along with Ryan, Mark also sent along 14 other Rangers inserts. Most of them filled holes in my collection. A few (Prince Fielder) brought back some bad memories but most of them were like this Nolan, they brought to mind why I enjoy the Rangers, most of the time at least.

Thanks a ton Mark. Have a few Royals set aside for you and hope to be able to send a stack your way soon. It won't be as good as the one you sent me but you should enjoy it anyway.

This catches me up on the cards that arrived while I was recently away from the blog. Now I just need to get back to regular posting. The motivation for that is spotty but I will be trying to make the time to get things rolling again here at Texas Rangers Cards.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Package According to the Rule.

Ruben Sierra seems happy on card 355 of the 1990 Upper Deck set. Kind of a rare thing, to see Ruben Sierra smiling.

This card was part of a stack of Rangers cards sent my way by Adam over at Infield Fly Rule. The package made me smile like Ruben. Hopefully not as rare an occurrence as with him but one that was needed nonetheless.

Along with Sierra, Adam sent 35 other Rangers cards. He managed to hit several holes in different team sets. Most importantly, Adam gave me a smile.

Many thanks Adam. I really appreciate the cards and the thought. Hope to be able to return the gesture sometime soon.

Thursday, November 3, 2016


Well, once again it's been a long while since I wrote. Lots going on in life recently and that's interfered with my blog. One of those things was more computer issues. In all the confusion and transferring of data I lost most of the images of cards I have scanned in over the years for the blog. The last time this happened (a few months ago) I took the time to re-scan the lost images. This time I will not. The result may be that you occasionally see cards posted in the future that you have already seen. I apologize in advance for that. I'll be making every effort to avoid that happening but I am on the verge of shuttering Texas Rangers Cards for good so I really can't afford the time to re-scan the lost cards images.

While I was away the mail kept arriving. A few folks remembered me and sent some Rangers for my collection. I will post those packages in the coming days. Also, a few long awaited autograph requests returned as well.

One of the returns was from Charlie Hough. Mr. Hough signed this 1983 Topps card featuring him and Buddy Bell as well as signing a 1984 Topps card of his. I sent both cards out on March 3, 2016 and they arrived back home on Sepember 26th. Also coming home were signed cards from former Ranger Dickie Noles (sent October 28, 2015, returned November 1, 2016) and former Senator Ken Hamlin (sent January 13, 2016, returned September 30, 2016). Many thanks to all three of these gentlemen for taking of their time to sign and return cards for a fan.

Last night the Cubs broke their curse and won the World Series for the first time since 1908. While I was pulling for the Indians to take the crown I have to admit, not too many teams get three chances to close out a championship and still fail to get it done. Congratulations to the Cubbies for the long-awaited ring. Condolences to the Tribe and their fans. I know the pain of seeing your team lose a close one like that.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fences and a Trip to Houston.

Wow! I knew I had gotten busy this summer and slacked off the blog. I didn't realize it has been almost a month since I posted. Lots going on that ate up my posting time. In the meantime the Rangers managed to get their magic number to clinch the American League West down to two games. Looks like they might well clinch in Oakland again.

Perhaps the biggest thing I had going was a fence replacement. This last spring a portion of our back fence blew down. The neighbor and I repaired it but it was obvious the time was short before a new fence would be needed. We crunched numbers and decided to wait until September to get the project done. Out came the old fence and in went the new. At least for about 60% of my yard. Now one of the other neighbors is talking about replacing the fence between us within the next month or so. That's going to take some more time but will almost completely give me a new fence to keep the dog and kids in.

In the midst of the fence endeavor, Spiff Jr and I took a short trip down to Houston to follow the Rangers to Minute Maid Park. We watched the game on September 12th. Took some time to walk around the park before the game. It was my first time in an enclosed stadium and I wasn't really impressed. Not that there was anything just terribly wrong, Minute Maid is a nice park. I just prefer outside baseball I guess. Hopefully the Rangers new enclosed park will be left open most of the time. The other thing that struck me was that there were almost as many Rangers fans there as Astros fans. Hopefully the Rangers can avoid that problem as well. The Rangers winning the contest in extras put a great finish to the night.

Of course, we had to check out the local card shop before the game. I found the Houston Sports Connection online prior to our trip and we made it a point to get there. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't Duane's Sportscards in Arlington. The shop employees were friendly and we picked up some needed supplies. The shop was cluttered though and seemed to be focused on high-end cards and autographed memorabilia. I didn't see a single quarter box or very many common cards at all, even of the Astros. We did manage to find several game-used and autographed Rangers cards though, including the pictured 2004 Leaf Second Edition Kevin Mench auto. The prices on those weren't unreasonable but it didn't take long for Spiff Jr to run through his budget. I think he would have preferred some lower priced cards to take a look at. All things considered, if I am ever in Houston again I will probably try to stop by again.

All in all the trip was great. We had some guy time, hit a card shop, and got to a game. Can't beat that. Unfortunately the fall is just as busy as the summer was. Another fence project, Spiff Jr back to playing ball, and several other family activities could make it a challenge to keep up on the posting. I'll do my best though to stay on top of things and not be a stranger.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Rangers top Mariners.

Last night the Rangers kicked off a three game series against the Seattle Mariners. From this point on, 24 of the remaining 30 games in the season are against other American League West teams. If somebody is going to try to make a move to knock Texas out of first place, it's now or never.

The Mariners had to go through Yu Darvish, shown here on card 125 of the 2013 Topps Heritage set, last night to beat the Rangers. They weren't able to do it. In 6.2 innings Darvish struck out nine while allowing three earned runs. To be fair, two of those runs crossed home after Yu was relieved by an ineffective Jake Diekman with two outs in the seventh inning.

Keone Kela took over from Diekman to end the seventh with no further damage. Kela also handled the eighth without incident. Sam Dyson came on in the ninth and notched his 30th save of the season.

While all that was going on, the offense was not silent. The Rangers scoring charge was led by Carlos Beltran, whom I do not have a Rangers card of. Carlos went 3-for-4 at the plate with a home run, double, and two RBI. Ian Desmond and Adrian Beltre also chimed in with doubles while Nomar Mazara contributed a triple. All told, the Rangers put six runs on the board. Enough for a 6-3 victory.

Always good to down a division foe. Nice effort by Darvish to tamp down the potent Seattle offense. Also a very good night for Beltran to break out of career-worst slump. I was beginning to wonder if he had fallen off the age cliff. Diekman is not really a concern with his troubles, after all it was his third outing in a row. He probably just needs a day or two off to be back to the Jake Diekman Rangers fans are used to.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Darvish did what?

Ok, I know Thursday is normally a game-used or autograph card day. Problem is, I don't have any game-used or autograph cards of Yu Darvish, something I must remedy soon. Anyway, Yu's 2013 Allen and Ginter card, number 74, will be filling in today.

Darvish had a rough night last night on the mound against the Reds. He pitched just six innings, allowing five runs. Only three of those five runs were earned but Yu battled his control as he walked five and hit a batter while striking out five. That's not normal Darvish.

Darvish taking his cuts at the plate is not normal Darvish either but the game was in Cincinnati and so National League rules were in place. It is generally accepted that the American League pitchers come off poorly on offense as compared to the National League hurlers. Last night was the exception as Yu hammered a solo shot in the fifth inning. Ian Desmond followed up with a long ball of his own to go back-to-back with Darvish.

Unfortunately, Yu's control struggles and some defensive miscues by Texas assured that his home run would not be the difference maker in the game. While the Rangers bullpen put up three scoreless innings in relief, the offense was not dependent on Darvish and Desmond alone. Nomar Mazara started off the scoring for the night with a three run bomb in the second inning.

By the time the eighth inning rolled around the score stood at 5-5. Desmond started off the Rangers rally by getting hit by a pitch. He stole second to advance into scoring position. Adrian Beltre, hero of so many games, came through again for the Rangers with a double that scored Desmond to give Texas a 6-5 lead that they held on to for the rest of the game.

While Darvish's pitching struggles are frustrating, they are not overly alarming. Yu is still on the road back from his Tommy John Surgery and bumps are to be expected. Very good to see the offense arrive early and pick Darvish up. Too often the guys have struggled to score runs with Yu on the mound. Tonight the team kicks off a tough four game set at home against the Cleveland Indians. Cole Hamels takes the mound against the Tribe, who are one win behind the Rangers for the best record in the American League.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

1980 Topps - Eric Soderholm.

By the time Eric Soderholm appeared on card #441 of the 1980 Topps set, he was no longer wearing a Rangers uniform. Texas picked up the veteran third baseman from the White Sox on June 15, 1979 in exchange for Ed Farmer and Gary Holle.

Soderholm played in 63 games for the Rangers. Texas picked him up to help fill in for ailing third baseman Buddy Bell as Bell struggled through his injury-plagued season. All told Eric would appear in 37 games at third base, 14 games as the designated hitter, and two games at first base for the Rangers. He was serviceable but below the league average at both third and first.

In his 166 plate appearances Soderholm walked 12 times and struck out nine times en route to a .272 batting average and a .325 on-base percentage. He scored 15 runs and knocked in 19 RBI. He also hit six doubles and four home runs.

On November 14, 1979 the Rangers traded Eric to the Yankees for Amos Lewis and Ricky Burdette. Neither one of those players would ever make it to the Majors. Soderholm would play through the end of the 1980 season as a backup with the Yankees and see some some action in the American League Championship Series as New York fell to the Royals. Eric would miss the entire 1981 season before the Yanks released him on October 13, 1981.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Back on the Road Again.

Well, recently my family's trusty minivan finally gave up the ghost as the transmission failed. With the 13 year old van at a little over 180,000 miles, it was time for a replacement rather than a repair. It took some looking around, comparing, and shopping but we now have a new (to us) van and are back on the road.

The Rangers are also back on the road, kicking off another road trip last night in Tampa. Texas sent Cole Hamels to the mound while the Rays countered with Matt Andriese. Hamels put on an outstanding performance, chasing a no-hitter through five innings before losing it in the sixth. He had to settle for three hits in 7.1 innings while striking out ten and allowing just one run. A gem. Unfortunately, I have no Rangers cards of Cole Hamels, otherwise he would have been the card of the day today.

Tony Barnette relieved Hamels in the seventh but had problems and lasted just a third of an inning while allowing one run. Jake Diekman finished the game off, keeping Tampa Bay off the board for an inning and a third.

While all that was going on the offense was not silent. Well, at least after the fourth inning they weren't. With the score at 0-0 heading into the fifth, the Rangers were looking for a little offense to back Hamels on the mound. Mitch Moreland led off the inning with a solo home run to break the tie. Ian Desmond followed up with a single that scored Elvis Andrus from first to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead.

In the sixth inning the wheels really came off for the Rays pitching. Adrian Beltre, shown here on card 446 of the 2015 Topps Heritage set, hammered a long ball to lead off the inning. The Rangers reset the table for Nomar Mazara and he shot a single to right field to score Jonathan Lucroy. Jurickson Profar ended the scoring by walking with the bases loaded to force in Moreland. All told the Rangers sent nine men to the plate during the inning.

Adrian Beltre capped off the scoring for Texas for the night when he led off the seventh inning with another home run. It was his second of the night and the third inning in a row the Rangers led off with a home run. Final score: Texas - 6, Tampa Bay - 2.

The Rangers got some good stuff going last night. Hamels was dominant and it was nice to see the bullpen get a bit of a break. Also very good to see the offense show up and back Hamels. If the team can keep the bats going they should be able to have a pretty good trip.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Better late than never.

Going into the ninth inning last night in Denver, the Rangers were trailing the Rockies 3-1. Texas starter Cole Hamels gave up two runs in six innings and Keone Kela allowed Colorado to add a run in the eighth. Meanwhile, the Rangers lone tally came on an Adrian Beltre homer in the seventh.

The Rockies brought in their closer, Carlos Estevez, to pitch the ninth and send the Rockies faithful home happy. The Rangers had other plans. Adrian Beltre singled to lead off the inning. Rougned Odor hit into a fielder's choice that resulted in Beltre being out at second. Jurickson Profar walked to move Odor to second. That brought Elvis Andrus, shown here on card BDPP86 of the 2007 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects Gold set, to the plate with runners on first and second.

Elvis faked a bunt while Profar and Odor pulled off a double steal. That re-set the table with runners at second and third. Andrus shot a single to center. Odor scored easily and Profar turned on the afterburners to add a second run. Just like that the game was tied with Elvis on first base. That was the end of Estevez. In came Boone Logan to try to keep the game tied. The first batter he faced was Mitch Moreland. Moreland hammered a screamer into the right field corner for a clean double. That scored Andrus from first and gave the Rangers a 4-3 lead. Mitch got thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple and Nomar Mazara struck out to end the inning but the damage was done.

In came Jake Diekman for the Rangers. A strikeout and a double play later Texas was celebrating a 4-3 victory. Waiting until the ninth inning and rallying against a closer is never a good option but a late rally is better than none at all.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Minor League Monday - Rob Maurer, 1991 Line Drive.

Realized it's also been awhile since I posted a minor league card. Decided to go ahead and get one up while I am thinking about it. Today we see Rob Maurer on card 312 of the 1991 Line Drive set. Following a pretty decent 1990 season with Double A Tulsa, Maurer got promoted to Triple A Oklahoma City to begin the 1991 season.

Rob appeared in 132 games for the 89ers in 1991, 120 of those games were as the team's first baseman. In spite of the infield designation on the front of his card, he played nowhere else other than first. Maurer's defensive issues continued as he made 16 errors in the course of the season to end with a .985 fielding percentage. That was a tic lower than the previous year.

Offense was another story however. Rob made 564 trips to the plate for OKC and put up a .301 batting average - almost identical to the year before. His on-base percentage jumped up to .420 though, in spite of his 135 strikeouts. Maurer did walk 96 times and that was an improvement over his time in Tulsa. Rob scored 76 runs while accounting for 77 RBI. He knocked 41 doubles, three triples, and 20 home runs.

Maurer's bat caught the attention of somebody in Arlington and when the rosters expanded in September, he got a call to join the Rangers. Rob made his Major League debut on September 8, 1991. He appeared in 13 games total for Texas in 1991. Two of those games were as the team's designated hitter, four other appearances were at first base. In the ten innings he played at first Maurer was flawless in the field. Once again, his offense was another story. Rob made 19 trips to the plate for Texas and struggled to a dismal .063 batting average. He did get his on-base percentage up to .211 but hit just one extra base hit - a double.

While Rob Maurer struggled in his limited time with the Rangers, he put up a solid season with the 89ers. Some stumbles are to be expected when a young player hits the Big Show and the Rangers weren't giving up on Maurer. He would again be assigned to Triple A for 1992.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Senators Saturday - Bernie Allen, 1967.

Have a brother getting married today so I am busy with that and you will have to settle for a pre-scheduled post. Of course, it's been a bit since the last Senators Saturday so maybe it's worked out for the best.

Be-freckled Bernie Allen appears on 1967 Topps card 118 in his Minnesota Twins pinstripes. He had played in the Twins organization since they signed him as an amateur in 1961. On December 3, 1966 the Twins sent Allen and pitcher Camilo Pascual to Washington in exchange for reliever Ron Kline.

Bernie jumped right into a competition with Bob Saverine for the starting second baseman's job. The two ended up platooning for most of the season but by the end of the year Allen appeared to have the upper hand.

Allen appeared in 87 games for the Senators in 1967. 75 of those appearances were at second base, the only position he played during the season. Over the course of 601.1 innings at second Bernie committed just four errors. That gave him a .990 fielding percentage, well above the league average .979 and completely blowing out Saverine's .957 fielding percentage.

Bernie made 279 trips to the plate for Washington. True to the Senator's luck with new players, his batting average dropped to .193 with his on-base percentage only getting up to .244. Indicative of the Senator's below-average offense, Allen scored just 13 runs and only picked up 18 RBI. He had a little power - five doubles, one triple, and three home runs; but also struck out more times than he walked (43/18).

1967 had been a mixed bag for Bernie Allen. His defense was outstanding but his bat appeared to have evaporated. With Washington being enamored of slick fielders and Bob Saverine struggling at the plate as well, Allen looked to have a pretty decent shot at second base in 1968. If he could get the lumber working again he might be able to nail down a starting gig for several years.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Another Random Auto.

Since the Rangers lost again last night I decided to go with another random Rangers autograph from the autograph box.

Doc Medich appears today on a signed 1982 Fleer card that I picked up as part of a signed lot off Ebay. I think his expression fits the thoughts of most Rangers fans after the past couple of days losses in Baltimore.

Hopefully the boys can get their act together tonight. It would be a very bad thing to leave Baltimore without a single win. If they can't get things figured out, it will be a very long road trip.

Monday, August 1, 2016


Apparently the Rangers have found their mojo again. Their win yesterday completed a four game sweep of the defending champion Kansas City Royals. Very nice to see the boys back to playing like they were earlier in the season. Maybe the rough patch is in the past.

The Rangers pitching showed much improvement in the series as Cole Hamels and Nick Martinez turned in very impressive performances. Newly acquired starter Lucas Harrell got the nod yesterday. He did well but wasn't overpowering.

Of note, the offense showed up as well. Perhaps the most obvious was Mitch Moreland, shown here on card 97 of the 2011 Bowman Gold set. Mitch hammered four home runs during the sweep. Perhaps the most impressive was his walk-off shot in the bottom of the ninth on Saturday to give the Rangers a 2-1 win. Encouraging to see the offense pick up the pace. Very nice to see Moreland coming through in Prince Fielder's absence. Even nicer to see the division lead get up to five games as a result of the sweep.

The trading deadline hits in just a few hours. So far the Rangers have made just one move, the trade that landed Harrell and reliever Dario Alvarez from the Braves in exchange for minor league infielder Travis Demeritte. There are rumors swirling though. Some link Texas to Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy and others to an assortment of pitchers. I'm a little torn on the idea of any real big moves. Colby Lewis should be back from the disabled list this month and the rest of the rotation seems to be picking up the pace. I think the club might already have the guns it needs to get to the postseason and make a run. That brings up the idea of trading tomorrow for today. This is a young club and the Rangers have a pretty decent farm system. There's no reason not to try to extend the playoff window as far as possible into the future. If there are too many trades from the system, then the window gets narrower. That's the everlasting debate though and Jon Daniels has so far shown he has the ability to keep the balance.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Staying positive.

Another Rangers loss last night. An overworked bullpen coughed up the lead as Texas lost the series to Oakland.

In an effort to keep focused on the positive I am posting this 2008 Allen and Ginter game-used card of Michael Young today. As a note on the card, it is in excellent condition. What appears to be a crease on the right side is a scanner anomaly. Young is slated to be enshrined in the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame before the Saturday game. Many congratulations to Michael Young on this recognition of his fine career.

Hopefully by Saturday I will have a Rangers win to write about.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Beltre bombs A's.

The A's struck first last night as Danny Valencia hammered a two-run homer off Martin Perez in the first inning. Texas scored one in the bottom of the first on a solo shot by Ian Desmond but ended up trailing for most of the game. Indeed, the A's appeared to be firmly in the driver's seat for most of the contest.

Oakland scored three more runs off Perez in the top of the third to run his total to five runs given up over the six innings he pitched. Due to an errant throw by Elvis Andrus in the first, only three of those runs were earned.

Matt Bush came in to start the seventh inning with the Rangers down 5-4. Another fielding miscue, this one by Delino DeShields, allowed the A's to pick up an unearned insurance run. In the bottom of the inning, with the score 6-4 Oakland, Adrian Beltre squeezed in a solo homer down the right field foul line. Texas was unable to add any runs to that through the rest of the seventh and in the eighth inning. Fortunately, Matt Bush matched that and held the A's scoreless as well through the top of the eight. Jake Diekman blanked Oakland in the top of the ninth.

With one out in the bottom of the ninth Nomar Mazara blooped a broken bat single to right field. Ryan Rua came in to run for Maz. Oakland closer Ryan Madson got Desmond to strike out for the second out. That brought up Beltre, shown here on card 444 of the 2013 Topps Heritage set, with two in the mud. Beltre blasted the first pitch he saw over the center field fence for a two-run walk-off home run. Final: 7-6 Texas. It was the first Rangers walk-off in at least a month.

Awesome to see the team hang in there and battle back. Nice job by the bullpen to keep the game close and give the offense a chance to win it. Always great to see Beltre blast two homers in a game. The guys need to cut down on the defensive errors though. Beltre was right when he said in his post-game interview that the defense has been letting the pitchers down and making them work harder. Some better defense might help the pitching staff put things back together that much quicker.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Finding the long-lost W's in KC.

With Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder, shown here on card 136 of the 2014 Bowman set, headed to the Disabled List late last week things looked kind of bleak for the Rangers. I figured the chances were slim of having a win to write about today. Instead the boys won two of three in Kansas City to snap their losing skid and take the series against the Royals. That's some very welcome good news for Rangers fans.

Cole Hamels won the game on Saturday to break the losing streak. Yesterday afternoon A.J. Griffin took the hill to try to get Texas a series win. Griffin lasted five innings and gave up one run. He didn't get a decision. As a matter of fact, when A.J. left the game he was on the hook for the loss.

In the top of the sixth Mitch Moreland singled in Adrian Beltre to tie up the game and get Griffin off the hook. Alex Claudio came in and worked a scoreless inning in relief. In the top of the seventh inning recent (re)call-up Delino DeShields Jr hammered a solo shot home run to lead off the inning and put the Rangers on top. With Keone Kela, Jake Diekman, and Sam Dyson each working a scoreless inning, that was all she wrote for Kansas City. Final: 2-1 Texas.

Couple of things were very heartening about yesterday's game. First and foremost, the pitching. Griffin didn't get as deep as one might like but he also only gave up one run. Four different relievers managed to keep the Royals off the board after that. That's the kind of thing we didn't see much of during the losing streak and it's the sort of performances that the club needs to get going again. Second positive was Delino DeShields. After struggling and getting sent down to Triple A early in the season, Delino had to wait his turn to be called back up to the big club. Now we get to see if his time in Round Rock benefited DeShields enough for him to keep his spot on the roster. Yesterday was a good sign from the young center fielder.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Sample from the autograph box.

With the Rangers continuing their free-fall, Shin-Soo Choo returning to the Disabled List, and Prince Fielder out for the season (if not forever) with another herniated disc in his neck, there just isn't much positive to dwell on for Rangers fans right now. I am really hoping the guys can right the ship and get things back on track before they cough up the division lead to the surging Astros. Guess we just have to wait and see.

Since I don't have a lot to say about the current club I decided to get a random Rangers autograph to post again this week. Strangely, Billy Sample appears for the second time in two days. This time he shows up on a signed 1981 Topps card that I picked up as part of a lot of Rangers autographs on Ebay. Sample is a very good signer and I prefer to get autographs from the player when possible so I didn't buy the lot for Billy's autograph. Can't remember who was included that is a harder autograph. Hope you enjoy Sample and his powder blue uniform today and maybe soon I will have some Rangers wins to write about.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

1980 Topps - Billy Sample.

After the first couple of innings last night I thought I was going to have a win to talk about. However, since the pitching staff managed to blow the game it's a good time to continue with the 1980 team.

Outfielder Billy Sample appears today on card 458 of the 1980 Topps set. Sample was coming off a pretty impressive rookie season in 1979 and the Rangers were hoping to see it continue in 1980. Unfortunately Billy started off the season with an 0-for-10 slump and didn't get his batting average above .200 until late July.

All told in 1980, Sample appeared in 99 games and made 234 trips to the plate. He managed to get his batting average up to .260 by season's end. He walked 18 times while striking out 15 times to move his on-base percentage to .335. Sample scored 29 runs while knocking in just 19 RBI. He did get ten doubles and four home runs but no triples.

Billy's bat probably helped move him into the fourth outfielder role. As the relief outfielder Sample played 257.1 innings in right field over 40 games; 140.2 innings in center field over 19 games; and 71 innings in left field over 16 games. He was flawless in right and left field and committed just two errors in center.

1980 was a let down season for Billy Sample. The Rangers still had high hopes for their young outfielder but he needed to show that 1980 was simply a sophomore slump. If he could get his bat going in 1981, Sample's defense would make help make him an attractive full-time option in the Texas outfield.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Why I was away.

Well, it's been 11 days since I posted and I'm sure some of you are wondering if I fell off the face of the earth, or at least off the Rangers bandwagon. I suppose I owe you an explanation of my absence. I asked 2001 SGA bobblehead Pudge if I did and he shook his head yes so here goes.

On July 7th eleven police officers were gunned down in Dallas, Texas. Five of them died. A few days later a Missouri officer was ambushed and critically injured. Then an off-duty officer was forced to defend his family and home against a home invader. Yesterday four more officers were shot in Baton Rouge, Lousiana and two of them are dead. Frankly, those events have hit me hard. Very hard.

I try not to mention my profession to people I don't know well but, I am a law enforcement officer. I was stunned by the losses these past days and by the vitriol and hate displayed against police by our society. I knew things weren't good and I knew the President disliked us. For the President and others to figuratively stand on the graves of the fallen officers to scream their talking points was beyond angering. That's not up for debate. It was and is. You disagree, you do so elsewhere.

As I tried to shield my children from the news and watched other officers' children mourn for them, my motivation to write about the Rangers drained away. I needed some time to get my thoughts back together. That's where I've been. Thought you deserved to know and I appreciate you sticking around in spite of the lack of recent posts. I'm going to try to get back in the saddle and go back to talking about the Rangers and their cards. It's a manner of relaxation for me and a way to let the stress go a little. That and Pudge says I should get back to it.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Random autograph.

Well, with little to say positive about the Rangers past few games, I decided it is probably better to say nothing at all. Instead I went with a totally random Rangers autographed card.

Looking at this 2007 Bowman Heritage Signs of Greatness card I had to ask the obvious question, why does Johnny Whittleman have an arm growing out of his neck? Not the most flattering photo Bowman could have used. The next question is, who is Johnny Whittleman? Whittleman was the Rangers second round draft pick in 2005 and played mostly third base with a few appearances at first thrown in.

Johnny did all right his first season at Rookie ball in 2005 but his batting average tanked below the Mendoza Line during winter ball in 2006. Texas kept him in the system though but Whittleman had trouble getting his average up over .250. He managed to do so a few times but couldn't sustain the success and never broke the .300 mark. He never got above Double A with Texas and left the franchise after the 2010 season.

Starting in 2011, Johnny spent two seasons in the Kansas City Royals system without making it above Triple A. There is no record of him past the 2012 season. I guess in spite of the signs, Whittleman was unable to deliver on the greatness.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

1980 Topps - Dave Roberts.

Well, not much positive to say about the Rangers last three games. Hopefully the guys can shrug off the double thumpings at the hands of the Twins and Red Sox. Since there's not much to say there, I decided today would be a good time to take another look back at a past player.

Up today we have Dave Roberts appearing on card 93 of the 1980 Topps set. Roberts came to Texas from San Diego in the trade that also netted the Rangers Oscar Gamble. Dave remained with the club longer than Gamble and actually got a card showing him in a Rangers uniform.

As you might assume from the position notation on the front of Roberts' card, he served as a utility player for the Rangers in 1980. Throughout the course of the season he appeared in 37 games at third base. He played 264.1 innings there and committed five errors. That gave him a .930 fielding percentage as compared the the league average .951. Dave's second most frequent position played was shortstop, where he played 107.2 innings over 33 games. He muffed three plays there for a .951 fielding percentage. The league average totaled to .963. As noted on the front of Roberts' card, he also played catcher. Over the course of the 22 games he appeared in as a backstop Dave played 145.2 innings behind the plate. He committed three errors to give him a .973 fielding percentage, once again below the league average of .986. While ten base runners stole on him Roberts did catch eight would-be thieves. That gave him a 44% caught stealing rate - well over the league average 35%. If those three positions weren't enough, Dave also played right field for 25 innings over five games, eight innings at first base in four games, and eight innings at second base in four games. Those appearances were without a miscue. Additionally, Roberts served as the designated hitter in three games.

In the 101 games he appeared in, Dave made 251 trips to the plate and struck out 38 times while working 13 walks. He posted a .238 batting average and a .280 on-base percentage while scoring 27 runs and knocking in 30 RBI. Roberts had some power in his bat - he hit four doubles and ten home runs but managed no triples.

In spite of his less than stellar offensive skills, Dave Roberts was an asset to the Rangers in 1980. A true utility player, he provided coverage at six different positions and filled in at DH as well. That's really a jack of all trades and something that's rarely seen anymore.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Latest Autograph Return.

Well, thanks to a bullpen meltdown last night, the Rangers were unable to take advantage of an early lead and fell to the Yankees.

In order to counteract the bad vibes from the loss last night I will leave you with this signed 1990 Topps Jamie Moyer. I sent this card, and a 1989 Topps card, to Mr. Moyer on January 23rd of this year. He graciously signed and returned both. They arrived home on June 23rd. Both filled holes in team sets I am trying to get signed. Many thanks to Jamie Moyer for taking the time to sign for a fan.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Rainy Day Comeback.

I have to admit, I didn't stay up and listen to the end of the Rangers game last night as they played in New York.

I did listen to the beginning of the game, where Ian Desmond hit a first inning home run to give the Rangers an early lead. I listened as Chi-Chi Gonzalez took the hill for his season debut. He coughed up the lead in the second inning, allowing two Yankee runs. Chi-Chi ended up having a rough night, lasting just five innings and surrendering five runs. Luke Jackson came in in relief but also gave up a run in an inning and a third. Finally, Tony Barnette stopped the bleeding and worked and inning and two thirds of scoreless ball.

Meanwhile, Yanks hurler Ivan Nova wasn't exactly having a cakewalk. Desmond struck again in the third inning with a fielder's choice that scored Robinson Chirinos. In the top of the fourth Shin-Soo Choo singled in Prince Fielder and Elvis Andrus. Rougned Odor ended the scoring I heard with a solo shot home run in the eighth to bring the score to 6-5 in favor of the Yankees.

In the top of the ninth New York reliever Arnoldis Chapman walked Chirinos. Then the umpires delayed the game for rain. The delay lasted a little over three and a half hours. I didn't last that long and hit the sack before play resumed. When it did Kirby Yates came in to pitch for the Yanks. He was wild, hitting Desmond and Nomar Mazara to load the bases for Adrian Beltre. Beltre, seen here on card 81 of the 2012 Topps Archives set, laced a single to left field. The hit score Jurickson Profar (who was running for Chirinos) and Desmond. That gave the Rangers a 7-6 lead but they weren't done yet. Fielder got hit by a pitch to re-load the bases. Up came Andrus. He singled to right field to score Mazara and Beltre.

In came Sam Dyson for the bottom of the ninth and he shut the Yankees out for the final innings. Final score: 9-6 Texas.

Too bad Gonzalez had such a rough outing. It would be nice to see him step up and fill a hole in the rotation. On the other hand, the comeback was nice too. For the most part the bullpen held the line again and allowed the bats to pull the team back into the game. Coming out after a lengthy rain delay and putting up a four spot is also very impressive. A delay of that length when a team is losing can cause a loss of focus or a resignation to the defeat. Great feeling knowing these guys never give up.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Good news, Bad news.

Yesterday was a good news, bad news type of day for the Rangers.

On the good news side, Cole Hamels dominated the Reds en route to another Texas win. Hamels struck out eight over six innings while giving up just one run. Jake Diekman had an unusual outing and coughed up three runs but otherwise the bullpen was great once again.

The offense picked Diekman up with Ian Desmond and Shin-Soo Choo homering as the bats put up six runs. Final: Texas - 6, Cincy - 4. Since this was a two game series and the Reds took game one, I am not sure if this counts as a series win or loss. Either way a win is always good news.

On the bad news side of the ledger, Derek Holland and Colby Lewis joined Yu Darvish on the Disabled List. Anytime a club has three starters on the DL there is cause for concern. Dutch got put on the shelf with left shoulder inflammation. He is slated to be out at least two weeks but it could be longer. Hopefully in the mean time he can get things figured out. The team has recalled Luke Jackson from Triple A to fill the hole on the pitching staff.

Colby Lewis, shown here on a signed 2002 Fleer card, is an altogether different matter. Not only was Colby having a great year, he won't be back in action for at least two months. Lewis left his last start early and an exam revealed he had a strained lat muscle in his right shoulder. Having Colby down will definitely hurt the Rangers.

A.J. Griffin is due to make his return from the DL on Saturday and Nick Martinez and Martin Perez will have to step up with Lewis and Holland gone. Hopefully they can bridge the gap until Darvish returns from the DL. If they can then perhaps the club can avoid dealing some of their prospects for a starter to keep them in the race.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Choo keeps the train rolling.

Once again, Derek Holland didn't last long enough to get a decision last night against Baltimore. Dutch went just 4.1 innings and allowed three runs before being yanked. That performance was enough to leave the Rangers behind 3-1 going into the bottom of the fourth. Fortunately Shawn Tolleson, Tony Barnette, and Sam Dyson kept the Birds off the board for the rest of the game.

In the bottom of the fourth Texas rallied. Prince Fielder scored on a Bobby Wilson sacrifice fly to bring the score to 3-2 O's. That brought up Shin-Soo Choo, shown here on card TEX-13 of the 2014 Topps Texas Rangers team set. Choo shot a single to right that scored Elvis Andrus and Mitch Moreland. That put Texas up 4-3 and that was the final score.

This game was a makeup from a rain out in April so it counted as a series of its own. The Rangers win gives them ten straight series wins.

On the upside, the bullpen has been unbelievable recently. After some struggles early, the relief core has been lights out and is directly responsible for several of the wins on the recent road trip as well as last night. Also good to see the offense working. Seems a different guy comes through every day and that's key. Depth and versatility is what is keeping this team rolling. Very exciting to see their come from behind ability.

Of course there is always a shadow. In this instance it's Derek Holland. Dutch needs to get whatever it is wrong figured out and fixed. The wheels have really come off the wagon for him this year. Fortunately for the team, the rest of the rotation has picked things up. That won't make much difference for Holland when the front office patience runs out. Judging by how fast he's been pulled his past two appearances, he's now on a very short leash. That likely puts him on a short list as well and he could be looking at the bullpen or being designated for assignment if he can't pull things together.

Monday, June 20, 2016


The Rangers finished up a ten game road trip last night in St Louis by putting up a second come-back win in a row against the Cardinals.

Texas started Martin Perez while the Cards sent Mike Leake to the hill. The Rangers struck first with a run in the first inning but the Redbirds came back with a run in the second and one in the third to take the lead. A Mitch Moreland home run in the fourth tied the game up and a Nomar Mazara long ball in the 6th gave Texas a 3-2 lead.

Unfortunately, Perez stumbled in the bottom of the sixth and allowed a run before leaving the game with the bases loaded. Tony Barnette finished the inning but not before a second Perez base-runner crossed home. That left the Rangers down 4-3 with three innings left to play.

After coming up empty in the seventh, Texas managed to load the bases after Moreland hustled into an overturned out call at second. If Mitch hadn't been really moving, the inning would have been over. That brought up pinch-hitter Jurickson Profar, shown here on card FN-5 of the 2014 Topps The Future is Now subset. This year seems to be Profar's future and he continued the trend by lining a single into center. The hit scored Rougned Odor and Moreland. That gave the Rangers a 5-4 lead.

In came Matt Bush and Sam Dyson to keep the Cards bats quiet in the eighth and ninth respectively. The Texas victory resulted in the first at home series sweep for St Louis since 1983 and gave Texas an 8-2 record for their road trip. It also pushed the Rangers to 20 games over .500 and gives them a 8.5 game lead over second place Seattle.

The run by the Rangers so far this season has been unbelievable. Before the club broke training camp, I thought this team had a chance for something big. Now I am starting to get real excited. Probably more so than for any Rangers squad since 2011. Barring something unforeseen occurring, the rest of this season is going to be an exciting ride for the Rangers and their fans.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Powering up!

Today we have former Ranger Hank Blalock featured on card ST-HB of the 2005 Fleer Showcase Swingtime set. The card includes a piece of one of Hank's jerseys and is numbered 56/610. Other than picturing a power hitter, it has little to do with today's post. That's what happens when I'm about out of game-used or autographed cards of the current roster.

Last night the Rangers played game three of four in Oakland. The A's are always tough at home and since Sonny Gray was on the mound I figured it was going to be a rough night for Texas. It was for most of the game.

Opposing Gray was the recently unpredictable Derek Holland. Dutch is becoming more and more like the Mother Goose rhymes girl with a curl in the middle of her forehead. When she was good she was very very good; but when she was bad she was horrid. Holland was good through two, allowing no A's runs. However, he fell apart in the third as the A's put up three. Two more Oakland runs in the fourth convinced Jeff Banister to pull the plug before it got worse. Five runs, four earned, in 3.2 innings counts as horrid. In came the bullpen. That's been a portent of doom for Texas this year, but not last night. Martin Perez hurled 2.1 scoreless innings. Matt Bush, Jake Diekman, and Sam Dyson all followed with a scoreless inning each.

Meantime the Rangers offense took on the task of coming back from a 5-0 hole with Sonny Gray still on the hill. Sonny kept the Texas bats quiet until the sixth inning when a five run outburst drove him from the game. Interestingly, the Rangers scored those five runs on just twenty pitches. Part of the comeback consisted of home runs by Rougned Odor and Robinson Chirinos. Robinson's was a solo shot while Rougie's was a two-run blast. The uprising tied the game.

In the seventh inning Chirinos hit his second home run of the game to give the Rangers a 6-5 lead, the first lead they had all night. Not to be outdone, Odor hammered his second shot of the game in the eighth to take the tally to 7-5. That's where it sat when the Rangers recorded the 27th out to end the game and take the win.

All in all it was a wild night. Nothing like a pitching melt down and a dramatic comeback against to make for a good night in the end. While Holland is concerning, it was very nice to see the bullpen manage 5.1 innings of scoreless ball. It is also great to see Odor and Chirinos powering up. Now to get the rest of the offense on board this afternoon to back Colby Lewis as he finishes out the series.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

On and off the DL.

Well, the Rangers lost big last night to the A's due to a pitching meltdown. About the only good things to mention from the game are Mitch Moreland, Ryan Rua, and Shin-Soo Choo going deep.

That's right, Choo is back from the Disabled List. He was originally slated to get activated today but Texas brought him back a day earlier than expected. Good thing too, Adrian Beltre hasn't been back in action since encountering a hamstring issue in Seattle. No word on when he'll be back. Choo led off and went 1-for-4 with a walk and his solo homer. Nice to have him back and good to see some power in his return.

Of course, the game might have gone differently had Yu Darvish, shown here on card 351 of the 2014 Donruss set, made the start. The game was Darvish's regularly scheduled spot. However, he got pulled early from his last start with neck and right shoulder stiffness. Yesterday the Rangers placed Yu on the the 15 day DL. A MRI apparently showed no structural damage to his shoulder or neck but he will remained shut down until the stiffness subsides. Hopefully this is just a hiccup in his return from Tommy John surgery and not the beginning of becoming injury-prone. If Texas can ever see Darvish and Cole Hamels active in the same rotation the results could be nothing short of amazing.

Monday, June 13, 2016

15 over!

Well, once again I have no unposted cards of the players who most deserve to be featured from yesterday's game. That means Mitch Moreland, shown here on 2015 Allen and Ginter card 326, gets the nod. Mitch made some noise yesterday and contributed so it's not a reach to have him up here.

Yesterday afternoon was the rubber match of a three game series in Seattle. With the Mariners mounting the most current challenge to Texas in the American League West, the series carried weight. Cole Hamels took the mound for the Rangers still looking for his 2,000th strikeout.

Cole got some offensive support in the fourth inning as the Rangers put three on the board. Two of those runs came via a Moreland longball. Another three spot in the sixth accounted for the rest of the Rangers scoring for the day. Of note, Elvis Andrus, who has struggled in day games this year, went 3-for-4 with a double, two runs scored, two RBI, and a stolen base. Ian Desmond also got in on the action as he went 2-for-five with a pair of RBI as well.

Hamels ended up going a strong seven innings while giving up just one earned run. He also struck out five to reach the 2,000 level. Hamels left the game with a 6-1 Rangers lead. Unfortunately the bullpen stumbled, as they have been want to do this season, and the Mariners managed to push three runs across before the end of the game. In the bottom of the ninth with two outs Robinson Cano hammered what appeared to be a RBI double into the right field corner. Fortunately for the Rangers, Cano assumed he had second easily. Nomar Mazara had other plans. He played the ball off the wall, turned, and fired an unbelievable 220 foot laser to Andrus. Elvis slapped the tag on a surprised Cano to end the game. Seattle fans left the park in stunned silence. Rangers manager Jeff Banister later said that Mazara should have been credited with the save.

Great to see the guys leave Seattle with the series win. The victory also puts them 15 games over .500 for the first time this season and creates some breathing room in the AL West. They now have the best record in the American League and are tied for second best in baseball. Of course, they are slated to begin a four game set in Oakland tonight and the A's have always been a tough nut at home.

Thursday, June 9, 2016


Well, the Rangers lost 3-1 to the Houston Astros last night. It was the first Houston win in seven tries at Arlington this season. Fortunately Texas had a cushion in their lead over Seattle in the American League West.

To add injury to loss, the Rangers saw Yu Darvish leave the game in the after five innings. He experienced tightness in his right shoulder. A preliminary exam didn't reveal any damage to the shoulder and Yu said he felt like he could play catch today. There will undoubtedly be a follow-up exam though so nothing is certain yet.

In the eighth inning another potential disaster struck. Adrian Beltre, shown here on card GMR-AB of the 2014 Gypsy Queen Relics set, called for a trainer after running from first to second. He ended up being taken out of the game with tightness in his left hamstring. He will be reevaluated today, which was supposed to be his regular day off anyway.

Jeff Banister was non-committal on the injuries, saying he was waiting to see how the follow-up evaluations went before making any comment. Hopefully his comment will be that both players are fine and just needed a little extra loosening up. The Rangers really need both Beltre and Darvish at this point in the season. For Rangers fans still suffering nightmares from 2014, the potential injuries are triggering concerns.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


Well, the computer issues are not yet fully resolved but I now have a borrowed computer and most of the scans I lost have been replaced. (Big thanks to Jim From Downington for the scans of Senators cards he sent my way to help out in a time of need.) Hopefully I am back to regular, or at least semi-regular posting.

Yesterday would have been my first post back but I got a call from my brother. He's in the area on military leave and thought a Rangers game sounded good. Since last night was $11 tickets to welcome Yu Darvish back, we thought so too. Got the family loaded up and met my brother and his family at The Ballpark to see the boys welcome in the Houston Astros.

The stadium giveaway of the night was a Rangers cap with a Hawaiian print brim. Spiff Jr, being partial to his mother's home state, was impressed. Unfortunately, the giveaway was limited to those fans 14 years of age and older. At 11 years old Spiff Jr fell under the cutoff. Undaunted, he took his last $5 and went in search of an Astros fan whom might want to part with their cap for snack money. Hitting up anyone with 'Stros colors, he met with some initial rejection but persisted until he found a gentleman who said he did not want his cap but would not sell it. He would only give it to Spiff Jr free of charge. An extremely nice gesture and one that really put a smile on a young Texas fan's face.

As things turned out, Rangers fans had much to smile about last night. Rougned Odor was the star of the game but I don't have any cards left of him that I haven't already posted. Since Jurickson Profar, shown here on card TEX-11 of the 2014 Topps Texas Rangers set, made the first noise I will post one of his cards instead. The Astros got a runner to second in the top of the first but weren't able to get any runs scored. Profar led off the game for Texas with a triple. Ian Desmond singled to score him. Nomar Mazara singled. Adrian Beltre struck out then Desmond scored on a wild pitch. Odor singled and Prince Fielder (batting sixth) singled as well to score Mazara and pick up a RBI. Just like that, the Rangers had a three run lead.

Colby Lewis held off Houston until the top of the third when his own error set up a three-run homer by Jose Altuve to tie things up. Rougned Odor led off the Rangers third with a solo home run to again give the Rangers the lead. Houston scratched out a run in the top of the fourth to re-tie it. The teams traded runs in the seventh to keep the game tied. Headed into the ninth I was beginning to think maybe extra innings. Sam Dyson disposed of the 'Stros quietly in the top of the ninth. Desmond struck out to start off the Rangers half of the inning but then Mazara singled to get things going. Mazara got erased on a ground ball from Beltre but then Odor saved the day by doubling off the left field wall to score Beltre and end the game on a walk-off.

All in all, it was a great day at The Ballpark. A Rangers win and some great family time. Also saw some folks from church and they ended up moving mid-game to join our group. As we arrived at home we got the good news that the Mariners had lost, moving Texas up to a four game lead. Nice cap to the day.

Thursday, May 26, 2016


Well, I made it through my sister's wedding but my computer did not. Apparently the hard drive died and took a lot of my data with it. Needless to say, I am pretty frustrated right now. I am using a borrowed computer and will be trying to get things rolling again as soon as possible. Thanks for your continued patience.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Senators Saturday - Jim King, 1966.

Got a wedding to attend today so your going to get a pre-scheduled Senators Saturday post featuring Jim King on card 369 of the 1966 Topps set.

1966 was King's sixth season with the Senators. Jim needed a better season than he got in 1965 to hold on to his position as the club's starting right fielder.

While still technically the starting right fielder for Washington, King was being challenged for playing time. He played in just 85 games in the field in 1966, all in right field. Over the course of the 670.2 innings he played on defense, Jim committed just two errors. That gave him a .987 fielding percentage, significantly higher than the league average .979. True to form, King's range was higher than average as well.

Jim made 350 trips to the plate over 117 games. He put up a .248 batting average and a .330 on-base percentage. The average was a nice increase over the previous season but the on-base percentage fell seven points. King scored 41 runs and accounted for 30 RBI. He walked 38 times and struck out 41 times. While he did suffer a power decline, there was still some pop in Jim's bat. He knocked 14 doubles, two triples and ten home runs over the course of the season.

1966 had been a mixed bag for Jim King. He maintained his great defense and gained some back with his bat. Of course, he also lost some power on the offensive side of the game and that was troubling. There were still challengers knocking at the right field door and it was looking like Jim's remaining time in Washington might be limited.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wallach comeback.

A while back I sent out several Tim Wallach cards to Stack22, the owner and writer of the Tim Wallach blog. In case you are unfamiliar with this blog, it is the chronicling of Stack's attempt to collect every Tim Wallach card. Not one of each, every one ever printed. All of them. The man is crazy but he's my kind of crazy. In an effort to help out, I sent him the few Wallach cards I had sitting around.

Much to my surprise, an envelope arrived in my mail box on May 7th from Stack22. Inside was an assortment of Rangers inserts, including this 2015 Topps Archetypes card of Nolan Ryan. All told there were six cards in the envelope, only one of which I already had.

I don't remember how many Tim Wallach cards I sent Stack22 but it wasn't enough to justify the return he sent my way. Many thanks for the generous return Stack, I'll keep any eye out for any additional Wallach cards and send them your way. As for the rest of you, if you haven't gotten your Tim Wallach cards sent out to Stack then check out his blog and get those cards in the mail.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Rougie Rumbles.

Well, Spiff Jr and Grandpa made it out to Saturday's game. They watched Bobby Wilson hit his second grand slam of the season, Shawn Tolleson blow the save, and Drew Stubbs hit a walk-off homer to end the game with a Rangers victory over the Blue Jays. Oh, and they also picked up the Rougned Odor giveaway bobbleheads. Not a bad night at the ballpark.

Yesterday Odor, shown here on card 213 of the 2014 Topps Chrome set, was again a featured name. This time it wasn't due to a stadium giveaway. The Rangers jumped ahead of the Jays for the final time in the game as Texas scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh to set the score at 7-6. That's what it would be at the end of the game.

In the top of the eighth Jose "Bat Flippin" Bautista came up to bat for the final time against the Rangers during the regular season. To that point there had been no retaliation against Bautista for his theatrics during the playoffs last year. This time Matt Bush hit him.

Little aside here. I don't agree with the man-child Bryce Harper that baseball is old and boring without displays like he enjoys putting on. I also hold no hard feelings against a player who can beat the Rangers, just because they win. What sticks in my craw about Jose Bautista is the little act he put on during the playoffs. The bat flip and stare down were over the top and unnecessary. If, after his MLB service time, he didn't know that he needs to learn. That brings up a second point: if you're going to show people up, don't cry when they settle your hash. Harper routinely whines about retaliation and Bautista did so after the game last night, calling the Rangers cowardly for waiting until his last at bat. Really? The games (except one) between the teams have been close. This game was as well but this was the last chance to send a well-deserved message to Jose. He would have been well-advised to receive the message and move on.

Of course, Bautista is of the breed of prima-donnas who don't receive messages and move on. When Justin Smoak hit into a double play Jose performed a now illegal takeout slide on Rougned Odor. Baurista, being the entitled entity that he is, came up and barked at Odor. Roughie shoved Jose and then punched him right in the face. If you haven't seen it, it is probably the most solid punch I have ever seen a player land on the diamond. Buatista's helmet and sunglasses went flying and he went down before being grabbed by Adrian Beltre. The benches cleared and Odor gave some of the same treatment to Josh Donaldson when he tried to get involved.

I'm sure there's some fines and maybe other punishments coming. The immediate result though was an automatic double-play and the ejections of Odor, Bautista, Donaldson, and Rangers bench coach Steve Buechele. Prince Fielder led off the bottom of the eight and was hit by a pitch from Jesse Chavez. That resulted in Chavez and the Jays bench coach being tossed from the game. Their manager was gone before the Bautista/Odor dust-up. After that things settled down for the remainder of the game.

In a way I enjoy on-field brawls as much as the next guy. In another way I hate to see them. I think they detract from the game, just like bat flipping and show-boating do. However, a team has to stand up for itself or things will just get worse. Bautista needed a lesson and hopefully he got one. He strikes me as a slow learner though and I wouldn't be surprised to see another team follow Rougie's example and let him know he's out of line at some point.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Senators Saturday - Dave Stenhouse, 1965.

By the time Dave Stenhouse appeared on card 304 of the 1965 Topps set, his Major League career was over. After injuries derailed his 1963 season, his 1964 campaign was not the bounce-back season it needed to be. The front office was not impressed.

The Senators sent Stenhouse to the minors to begin 1965. He spent the season bouncing between the double A York White Roses and the triple A Hawaii Islanders. Dave actually had a decent season with York and turned in a 1.50 ERA in two starts with Hawaii. That didn't earn him a return to the Bigs but did ensure he would start the 1966 season at triple A.

Stenhouse appeared in 36 games for the Islanders in 1966, only seven were starts. Apparently the Senators thought they needed some relief help and decided to try Dave in a reliever role. The role didn't seem to matter as Stenhouse struggled to a 5.28 ERA and 1.635 WHIP over 104 innings pitched. As you might suspect, he did not get the call back to Washington.

1967 was another season in Hawaii for Dave, but he would only appear in eight games for the Islanders. All of Stenhouse's appearances were in relief and he tossed just 16 innings. He ended the season with a 3.94 ERA and a 1.312 WHIP.

I don't know if the Senators released Dave Stenhouse early in the 1967 season, if he decided it was time to go, or if he suffered another injury. Whatever the reason, his abbreviated 1967 season marked the end of Dave Stenhouse's pro career.

Thursday, May 12, 2016


Well, the computer problems have never been fully resolved and any scanning I can do is hit or miss. It's looking like late this month before I can get the problems fully fixed. I will try to scan and post as I can but, as I said, It's problematic at this point. Thanks for your understanding.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Senators Saturday - Ron Kline, 1965.

Well, Spiff Jr's Little League season winds on today. Since I have work and a ballgame to attend to, you'll have to settle for a pre-scheduled Senators Saturday.

Today Washington reliever Ron Kline appears on card 56 of the 1965 Topps set. 1965 was Kline's third season with the Senators and he had won himself a spot in the bullpen with his consistent performance in 1964.

Ron appeared in a team-leading 74 games for the Senators in 1965 and pitched a total of 99.1 innings. He struck out 52 opposing batters while walking 32. His ERA and WHIP edged up from the previous season to 2.63 and 1.289 respectively. While those numbers were slightly higher than in 1964, Kline still led the bullpen in ERA. Solidifying his role as the Washington closer and go-to guy, Ron notched a league-leading 29 saves and ended the year with a 7-6 record.

While Ron Kline's numbers slipped a little in 1965, the year was a success overall. Kline was the ace of the Senators bullpen and was good enough to received attention from outside the city. He was even given a few MVP votes. Clearly Ron had a spot in the pen for the foreseeable future, as long as he could continue to come in and shut down the opposing batters.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Looking for a win.

Two losses in a row to the despised Blue Jays. Ouch! Hopefully the boys can get it together and take the series finale tonight. That would at least give them a split with Toronto. A split wouldn't be the best but at least it keeps the Jays from chattering.

With ongoing computer issues and no wins to talk about, I decided to go with a random game-used card for today. Thinking maybe this 2001 Fleer Platinum Clubhouse Collection card of former Ranger great Ivan Rodriguez might bring the team luck. At least it won't hurt. Looking forward to the guys getting the ball rolling again so I will have something more to post on.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Well, I thought I was back to regular posting. Then when I went to post yesterday I ran into major computer trouble. Things seem to be stable right now but if I disappear again, you'll know why. Anyway, with the Rangers extra-innings loss last night I think the thing to do is the post I had on tap for yesterday.

On the day he was named the American League Rookie of the Month for April, Nomar Mazara stole the show in Toronto. Mazara hammered a home run to center field in the eighth inning to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead. In the bottom of the eighth Mazara caught a fly ball off the bat of Troy Tulowitzki for the second out. Michael Saunders attempted to tag up a score the tying run on the play but Nomar fired a laser to catcher Brett Nicholas (the other home run hitter of the day for Texas) and caught Saunders at the plate to preserve the lead and end the inning. Oh, and there were seven other Rangers playing as well.

I gotta admit, I'm usually pretty slow on the rookie bandwagon. Still not just over the moon about Mazara but he is impressing and I like his style of play. If he can keep it up I think he will be making a big impact for the rest of the season and for several years in the future. Since I have no cards of Mazara I am filling in with another popular Texas outfielder of years gone by, Rusty Greer. The Red Baron appears today on card 64 of the 2002 MLB Showdown Trading Deadline set.

Off the field the Rangers reacquired catcher Bobby Wilson from the Tigers yesterday. Detroit got minor league pitcher Chad Bell. To make room for Wilson the club designated backstop Chris Gimenez for assignment. This afternoon Texas reached a deal with Cleveland that sends Gimenez to the Indians in exchange for cash.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Minor League Monday - Jeff Frye, 1991 Line Drive.

My apologies for the lack of recent posts. Had family in last week and things got away from me. Back in the saddle now though, just in time for the Rangers to lose yesterday. Well, looks like a good time for another installment of Minor League Monday.

Today we have Jeff Frye appearing on card 579 of the 1991 Line Drive set. After being drafted by the Rangers in 1988, Frye worked his way up the minor league ladder fairly quickly. He spent the 1990 season with the Single A Charlotte Rangers before being moved up to Double A for 1991.

Jeff played in 131 games for the Tulsa Drillers in 1991 and made 583 trips to the plate. He adjusted well to the new level of play, posting a .302 batting average and a .388 on-base percentage. Both were actually increases from the previous season. Frye scored 92 runs and knocked in 41 RBI while putting up 32 doubles, 11 triples, and four home runs. He also stole 15 bases while getting caught eight times. Continuing his tradition, he walked more than he struck out - 71 passes compared to 60 whiffs.

Defense had been Jeff's struggle with Charlotte and it continued with Tulsa. In spite of the designation on the front of his card, Frye played only at second base for the Drillers. He committed 26 errors in the 127 games he played there and ended the season with a .957 fielding percentage.

While Jeff Frye still needed a lot of work on his glove, his bat and plate discipline remained constant. The Rangers liked that and figured they could get Jeff's glove to come around in time. He would be assigned to Triple A Oklahoma City for the start of the 1992 season.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


So, former Ranger Alexi Ogando doesn't have anything to do with last night's win over Houston. However, I don't have any game-used or autograph cards of the key players from last night. Alexi was part of one of the best Ranger bullpens ever. There is a connection there as the win last night was in large part due to the bullpen.

Cole Hamels took the hill last night looking for his tenth straight win. Pitching in and out of trouble, Hamels lasted 6.2 innings and allowed just one Astros run - a long ball in his last inning of work. A lot of Cole's success was attributable to nice defensive work behind him.

Meanwhile, the Texas bats were largely ineffective against 'Stros starter Doug Fister. Rougned Odor was an exception to the rule though. In the second inning Rougie parked a ball in the right field stands to score two runs. That would be it for the Rangers.

Hamels left the game after hitting a batter in the foot in the seventh, it was his third hit batsman of the game and a career high for him. None of the hit batters appeared to be intentional. Sam Dyson came in and finished out the seventh with no runs. Dyson started off the eighth before giving way to Jake Diekman with one out. Diekman fanned both batters he faced to send the game into the ninth still 2-1. Shawn Tolleson gave up one hit in the ninth but otherwise shut Houston down to pick up his fifth save of the season as Texas came out on top by a hair.

Great to see the guys secure the series win and string together three wins in a row for the first time this season. Also extremely encouraging to see the bullpen back to clicking after their early struggles and hold the lead in a squeaker. This pen was projected to be one of the best in baseball this year and, if Texas is going to go anywhere, they are going to need to live up to their potential.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Start of the Silver Boot.

Well, the Rangers and Astros kicked off their season series last night as the 'Stros came to Arlington. As usual, the winner of the season series gets the somewhat coveted Silver Boot trophy.

Prince Fielder welcomed the visitors to town with a two-run home run in the first inning to start off the scoring. Ian Desmond singled in Adrian Beltre to give the Rangers a three run first.

Houston came back with two runs off starter Derek Holland in the top of the second. That would be all the runs Dutch would surrender as he battled through five with a high pitch count. Derek also picked up five strikeouts while issuing just one free pass.

With the exception of Keone Kela surrendering two runs in the seventh and Shawn Tolleson one in the ninth, that was all the Astros' scoring for the game. Meanwhile the Rangers put up a run in the third, two in the sixth, and a final run in the seventh. The final Texas run came on a solo home run by Mitch Moreland, shown here on card #TEX-16 of the 2014 Topps Texas Rangers set. Final: 7-5 Texas. Kind of neat to see the scoring begin and end with home runs.

Nice to see the offense clicking and putting some runs on the board. Also good to see Holland keep the team in the game in spite of obviously not having his best stuff. With the exception of Kela, the bullpen seems to have tightened down as well. Kela is a point of concern though. His ERA is now at 7.11 and he has not been consistently effective in relief. Hopefully he can pull it together before too much longer.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

1980 Topps - Mickey Rivers.

Well, with the rain out on Sunday and the day off yesterday, there isn't much current Rangers news to talk about today. The club did announce a two-year extension for third baseman Adrian Beltre. That's good news for sure but I would prefer to save my Beltre cards to post when the team is playing.

Going to take the down time to knock out another card in the 1980 Topps set, number 485 today. Mickey Rivers came to Texas in a mid-season trade on July 30, 1979. The Rangers sent Oscar Gamble to the Yankees in return. Several minor leaguers also went back and forth between the two clubs as part of the trade.

Nailing down the center field job in 1980, Rivers would appear in 147 games for the Rangers. He played center field (his only defensive position in 1980) in 141 of those games and served as the designated hitter in four more. The remaining appearances were pinch-hitting assignments. In the 1200 innings Mickey played in center he would lead the American League with eight errors. That left his fielding percentage at .979, four points lower than the league average. While Rivers might have led the league in center field errors, he also led the league in double plays turned from center field with four.

Making 661 trips to the plate for the Rangers, Mickey posted a .333 batting average (team best and fourth in the AL) and a .353 on-base percentage. He struck out more than he walked - 34 whiffs compared to 20 walks but his 210 hits led the team and were third best in the American League. He scored 96 runs while bumping in 60 RBI. Rivers had a little power as well, he knocked 32 doubles, six triples, and seven home runs. He also had a little quick left in him as he stole 18 bases while getting caught just seven times.

All in all, 1980 was just the sort of season the Rangers wanted to see out of Mickey Rivers. Mick didn't have to carry the weight as a lead-off hitter anymore, Bump Wills had that covered, but the team wanted him to be able to provide some speed and power at the top end of the lineup. He did that admirably and looked to continue as the Rangers center fielder in 1981.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Senators Saturday - Jim King, 1965.

Well, another Little League game today so you'll have to make do with another pre-scheduled Senators Saturday post.

Jim King, shown here on card 38 of the 1965 Topps set, was entering his fifth season with the Senators. He was one of the few remaining players Washington got in the expansion draft. King suffered a bit of a power and defense dip in 1964 and was looking to rebound and keep his starting spot in right field.

Jim appeared in 120 games for the Senators in 1965, he played in the field in 88 of those games. All of his playing time in the field was in right field. Both the number of games he played in and the 589.1 innings he logged were significant drops from the previous season. Using his limited time to the fullest, King committed just one error all season for a .993 fielding percentage. That was well above the league average .978 fielding percentage. Jim also had much better range than the average American League right fielder.

King made 309 trips to the plate for the Senators in 1965, a drop of 169 plate appearances from the previous year. He saw his batting average drop 28 points to .213 while his on-base remained about the same at .337. Jim still had some power left in his bat though. He hit ten doubles, two triples, and 14 home runs. He walked 44 times while striking out 50 times. King bumped in 49 RBI while scoring 46 runs of his own.

While 1965 had been a decent season for Jim King, it had not been what he needed it to be. Facing challenges for playing time from several other players, he had not been able to put together the standout year at the plate he needed to keep from losing playing time. The drop in batting average was also significant and concerning. Jim would likely face more challengers for his job in 1966 and really needed his bat to return if he wanted to keep his spot in the Washington outfield.