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.