Thursday, August 25, 2016

Baseball Notebook for August 24, 2016

Looking back on my notes, I see why didn’t bother writing for the last two days.  The Chihuahuas lost twice.  They had an over an hour rain delay on Tuesday, which is newsworthy in El Paso.  Steve Kaplowitz was also a guest for a couple of innings.  Unfortunately, it was too brief and on field action was actually interfering with an interesting conversation he was having with Tim.  The Rockies dropped two to the Brewers.  The Rangers lost 3-0 to the Reds, which is so bad, it’s like losing two in a row.  Derek Holland at least had a good comeback start.

Today would be different.  The Yahoo free game was the Rockies vs the Brewers, which was again blocked due to broadcast restrictions.  (Again, the most rest of the state of New Mexico probably gets Rockies games on their cable, we do not here in Las Cruces.  We get Diamondbacks games.)  The TV was also blocked on, but bless them, they allowed the Brewers’ radio feed.

And there he was.  It was the ghostly, disembodied voice of Bob Uecker, calling Brewers games from beyond the grave.  And at this point, I have to explain.  My co-worker, Mike, keeps insisting that Bob Uecker has passed away (and this is actually just part of an even larger running gag).  Unfortunately, he was out to lunch, so I had to explain this to my boss, Ron, and another co-worker, Eric, who then asked, “Who’s Bob Uecker?”  Feeling a little older, me and Ron explained Uecker’s fame.  Eric seemed amused by the story about Bob reading his mail over the air during a game.

In any case, Uecker sounded great and gave an enthusiastic call of the game.  It was great to hear him.  Owing to a light work load, I was able to listen to several of innings.  The game was tied at 1 when I started listening in the 5th.  The Brewers managed to scratch out a couple of runs, before they sent 9 to the plate in 7th inning and scored 4.  I eventually I had to leave, but I left the game running.  When I got back, the game had just ended, 7-1 Brewers.  Mike was back and when he saw me, the first thing he said was, “I thought I heard Bob Uecker’s voice doing the ball game.  Dear old departed Bob.  It must have been a replay of an old broadcast of his.”  Mike also enjoyed the local Milwaukee sponsors for the game, Badger Insurance and Pop's Drive in and Tavern.    

I later took a minute to check the MLB standings.  (I really didn’t have much to do at work this afternoon.)  Kansas City has won 9 in a row, but they’re still 7.5 games back.  I looked at the Run Differential stat that the Sabermetricians love.  The Cubs are unsurprisingly the leaders at +214, about 50 better than anybody else.  The Braves are last at -151.  The Rockies are at +14.

The Rangers are at -2.


I don’t know how they’re leading their division either.
Regardless, there can be only one story concerning the Rangers today.  Yu Darvish went yard.  It was in Cincinnati, well known as a band box, but his homer went to the deepest part of the park, about 406 ft.  Almost needless to say, it was his first career home run.  I literally coughed (if I’d been drinking something, I would have done a spit take) when I was looking over the box score on Gameday as the final inning played out.

I immediately went to the video when the game was over.  (The Rangers winning, 6-5, with Adrian Beltre knocking in the go-ahead run, is almost inconsequential.)  There he was, Yu Darvish smacking a home run.  His batting helmet didn’t even fit his head.  He had to hold on to it while he was rounding the bases.  I’m sure the Reds pitcher must have immediately been taken out of the game and sent down to Double-A.  I couldn’t resist checking out the game thread on Lonestar Ball, a Rangers fansite.  The early posts are convinced that Yu is not just embarrassing himself at the plate, but he’s going to end up injuring himself.  They’re telling him to flat out stop swinging.  Then in the 5th, there’s a long series of inarticulate posts where no one can believe what they just saw.  Oh, baseball is great!

Things got more serious later with the Chihuahuas visiting the Albuquerque Isotopes, their nearest rival in the division (both geographically and in the standings).  The Isotopes were, at one point, 17 ½ games out of first.  Now, they’re 4 1/2 games out with 9 games against the dogs remaining.  Tim Hagerty credited the ‘Topes resurgence to a great crop of reinforcements from Double-A, the Hartford Yard Goats.  No doubt players on that team are playing their hearts out to get a ticket out of that mess.  (Their new stadium still isn’t finished.  They’ve been playing their entire schedule on the road this season.  I don’t even how that would work in scheduling or how the team is making money without any gate receipts.)          

I joined the game during the National Anthem.  It was a great rendition done by a saxophone player.  Tim seemed seriously intense during the broadcast.  He was into every play on the field.  The crowd there was big and equally involved.  The crowd mic had no trouble picking up their every reaction.  The whole town was even interested in the series.  Tim mentioned a Chihuahuas player in town had gotten the business from an Uber driver coming to the park.

It certainly played out like a playoff game.  The game was scoreless for 5 ½ innings.  Given the high-scoring teams involved and the high altitude of the park, that’s nothing short of amazing.  In the bottom of the 6th, an Isotopes’ home run gave them the lead.  It was short-lived.  In the top of the 7th, the pups got two runs, one off an error and the other from a wild pitch.  In the bottom of the 8th, the Isotopes tied it up again.  The 9th would not produce a winner, so on to extras.  The Isotopes threatened in the 10th and 11th, but couldn’t get a run across.  In the 12th, the Chihuahuas finally broke out with a pair of runs and would win 4-2.  We can only hope the next 8 games are this intense between these two teams.      

Monday, August 22, 2016

Baseball Notebook for August 19, 20, 21, 2016

The MLB Network was showing the Red Sox at the Tigers, and it was the Tigers team broadcast.  I wanted to hear more of Kirk Gibson, so I was watching.  Him and Rod Allen had an interesting discussion about whether a batter should be given a green light to swing in a 3-0 count.  Depends on the hitter, and if they’ve practiced that situation or not.

I didn’t have a lot of time to watch.  One thing’s for sure, the starting pitchers, Fulmer and Porcello, desperately needed new hats.  Those were hardcore nasty-looking pieces of headgear.  The Tigers’ fielders had some good coordination.  On a popup, I saw the shortstop call off the 3rd baseman, who was in turn called off by the left fielder.  And then later, the shortstop was again called off by the left fielder on a short fly ball.  I appreciated how effortlessly they gave way to each other, since, when that doesn’t happen, comedy often ensues.  I had to walk away to do some work for 15 minutes.  When I got back, the Red Sox had doubled their score.  The painful final was 10-2 Red Sox.

They didn’t listen to me at  They were putting up the no-hitter alert for Cole Hammels in the 6th inning against the Rays.  Of course that jinxed it.  That’s okay though.  It was a 6-2 win for the Rangers anyway.

Rain canceled the Chihuahuas game versus the Colorado Sky Sox.  Given the way the pups are playing, this might have been the best thing for them.  At this point I don’t know if or how they’d make up this game given the tight Triple-A schedule and that there’s only a couple of weeks left in the season.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get to hear Tim calling the game off, only that they were in a delay.  Unsurprisingly, the Rockies in Denver are also in a rain delay.  Given that they’re playing the Cubs, a visiting team that draws really well, I’m sure they’re going to make more of an effort to get the game in.

Since I have a minute, let’s see what else is going on.  The Indians won on a walk-off, or rather run-off, inside the park home run against the Blue Jays.  The O’s started off their game with four home runs before making an out.  Didn’t help.  They lost 15-8 to the Astros.  The Giants win two in a row for the first time since the All Star break.
Okay, they are playing tonight in Denver after a two-hour rain delay.  I check out Game Day at work (I noticed David Dahl hit a lead-off home run) and then pick up the game on the radio when I get home.  The announced attendance was 43,000, though many chased away by the delay.  They’ve had over 2 million visitors so far this year.  Hey, I was one of them!  In with the temperature in the high 40’s, it still sounded like there were a lot of people there, and they were rooting on both teams.

The Rockies fell behind in the middle of the game, but kept the Cubs from piling on and slowly chipped away.  They managed to tie it on a successful sac fly by Arenado.  (Well, after a successful challenge after a bad call by the ump.)  The score remained tied after 9.
In the 10th, the rain came back as a steady drizzle, no doubt to comfort of the remaining “real” fans.  Being after midnight and tired, I felt like one of them.  With extra innings and unfamiliar players entering the game, Jack and Jerry on the broadcast had some trouble pronouncing the names of new Cubs players.  The Cubs media guide gave helpful advice on some names, “it sounds just like its spelled.”  Right.  (AR-enado.)  Both teams had runners in scoring position in the 9th and 10th, but it wasn’t until the 11th that the Cubs managed to push across a run to take the lead.      

Bottom of the 11th, there’s momentary delay with a bird on the infield.  Not sure if he had a ticket, but this late they should be letting anyone in, but not on the field.  Aroldis Chapman came in to close for the Cubs.  Nick Hundley gets on with an opposite field hit.  Ryan Rayburn knocks him in thanks to a misplay in the outfield to tie the score.  Rayburn ends up scoring the winning run as an errant throw goes into the dugout and he’s awarded home.  Rockies win, 7-6, on the old walk-off error!  It’s like the Rockies say at home, “Whatever happens in the game, we get the last at bat.”  That was worth staying up past 12:45am for.      

Rangers vs Rays.  Eric was commenting on the small crowd in Tampa of 16,000.  Later, Matt was talking about Roogie’s two-strike troubles and how likely he is to strikeout.  Odor proceeds to hit a home run.  Matt says afterward, “I hope that since there are so few people in here that Roogie didn’t hear me.  ‘I’ll show you a two-strike approach.’”

It was a good game for the Rays, but not anyone else.  Even the umps had a bad game with two overturned calls in one inning.  It was close, but the Rangers self-destructed in the 7th inning.  Bad play, bad decisions, and bad pitching all showed up.  In the 9th, Mazara hit a contested home run, caught by a Rangers fan in a jersey, accused of interference.  When the call was upheld, the fan then taunted the crowd.  That was about the only thing to cheer for as the Rangers lost, 8-2.

The Chihuahuas are back in town to play the Salt Lake City Bees.  (Their washed out game in Colorado Springs won’t be made up.)  It’s a Saturday night, there’s fireworks after the game, and Tim Lincecum is pitching for the opposing team. Little wonder it was standing room only at the stadium.  There was even a helicopter flyover before the start of the game.  Let’s run down Timmy’s resume: two Cy Young awards, two no-hitters, four time All-Star, three rings.  Little wonder fans were watching him like a hawk in the bullpen.

Not to say it was all serious.  There was a dog delay in the 2nd for a wiener dog race on field.  That got a smile out of Timmy.  His first batter right after that was Hector Sanchez, catcher of one of his no-hitters.  Hector got a hit.  Rod Barajas, Chihuahuas manager, actually got two hits off Tim when he was playing.  He let everybody know about it.  Timmy’s line was 6 innings and 1 run.  Pretty good.  

Unfortunately, the rest of the Bees suck.  They couldn’t score more than an unearned run themselves.  As for their relievers, well, in the 7th, the pups scored a run off a wild pitch during an intentional walk.  That tells you all you need to know.  5-1 dogs win finally!  


Rangers vs Rays.  Once again, the crowd size in Tampa was an issue.  Frankly, were it not for three trips a year by the Yankees and the Red Sox, I’m not sure they’d even have a viable franchise.  Of course, this just makes it more aggravating when the Rangers lose to the Rays again.  These two losses have really stung for me, since I was here at home, not doing anything else, and was able to listen to the games without any distractions.

So, it was an 8-4 loss.  In the 4th, the Rays sent balls flying everywhere for five runs.  They even sent a bat flying through the netting, which hit a cameraman with a camera on a stick.  “They sell those at the State Fair?” quipped Eric.  The Rangers made an effort to get back in it, but a couple of tack-on runs by the Rays ended that.

Later, the Chihuahuas played the Bees in El Paso.  Brandon Johnson (ha, I caught the name for a change) did a stirring rendition of the national anthem on electric guitar to start the game.  Tim Hagerty had a couple of guests in the 3rd inning.  Freddie and Jonathan (I caught a couple more names, I was really on the ball until the radio signal started fading) from Chico’s Kids Club each sat in for a half inning.  Freddie got a pleasant grilling from Tim for a long top of the 3rd.  The bottom went in about two minutes, so Jonathan got cheated.  Tim was clearly having a good time at least.  This interlude did delay an explanation of the play that ended the 2nd.  Batter Nick Torres (I’m on fire with the names) grabbed what he thought was a dead ball at the plate and was called out for Batter’s Interference.  
It was a tight game.  There was the usual premature talk of a no-hitter and even winning without getting a hit, after the Chihuahuas scored an unearned run.  In the end, the dogs held on for a 2-1 win.  (You can guess I was getting bad reception in the later innings.)  It’s good to see that the team is able to win these close ones.    

Last week, there was a story that Commissioner Manfred was thinking about implementing some more changes to the game next season.  I’ll take them one at a time.  First, he wants to put in pitch clocks in the majors.  Seems like a good idea to me.  From listening to Chihuahuas games for a couple of seasons with it, I think it’s improved the pace of play.  Unfortunately, the Players’ Union may be standing in the way of this one, but if the NL were to put in the DH in exchange, maybe.

Second, he wants to eliminate defensive shifts.  For all of the work that goes into setting up a shift, I don’t think the numbers actually bear out how useful they are.  The Sabermetricians will bring up numbers to justify shifts, but teams are still able to score on them about the same as they were before.  There’s no point in putting in a rule against them.  I think the trend will be towards getting more athletic players.

Lastly, Manfred wants to limit the number of relief pitchers in an inning.  Common sense says that this is a bad idea.  The reason why this is such a time waster is because of the commercial break every time pitchers are changed.  We can bet those commercials won’t be going away for any reason.  However, right now a pitcher coming into a game is required to pitch to at least one batter.  What if a pitcher was required to pitch to at least two batters, or until the inning ends, whichever comes first?  To make it a bit more fair, the batter in the on deck circle when the previous batter’s at bat ends, has to come to the plate, unless the inning ends.  

Friday, August 19, 2016

Baseball Notebook for August 18, 2016

I keep missing the big story.  When you watch games on TV you miss so much, for example, Orbit doing a rhythmic gymnastics routine during the Cards/Astros game Wednesday.  I tell you, as much as I like Chico and Pistol Pete, Orbit is da bomb.  He ends up on the MLB video roll all the time for a good reason.

The MLB Network game was the Cleveland Indians vs. the Chicago White Sox.  I’d been wanting to see the Indians ever since I said something about them being the anointed ones.  I can almost see it happening for them, if the plane carrying the Cubs crashes into Lake Erie.    

“I love you, Jason!” some guy yelled out during Kipnis’ 6th inning at bat.  While there may have only been 13,000 for the game (it looked reasonably full, except for the upper deck), they were quite vocal at times.  (And the guy with the drum was there.)  Properly inspired, Kipnis whacked a unique double.  The ball wedged into the space above the left field wall cushions and the video board.  I’d say it was the most improbable shot ever at the Jake (the team’s misfortunes started when they sponsored the stadium), but I think I saw another ball in there and the announcers didn’t seem too fazed by it.

Oh my God, is that Mike Napoli!  I couldn’t believe that was him at first base.  The man’s dropped like 30 pounds.  Not sure about the beard though.  It’s so thick, it looks like there’s a fake, plastic beard glued to his face.  Then there's Tyler Saladino on the Sox with the worst mustache ever.  It's what a handlebar mustache looks like if its not waxed.  Messy as hell.  Regardless, the Indians did not disappoint.  Though they went down 3-0 early, the Tribe managed to claw back into the game and won it on a sac fly in the 9th, 5-4.

While all this was going on, I was missing the finale of the Chihuahuas and the Sky Sox in Colorado Springs.  After the 1st inning, it was 5-4 Sky Sox, and there were three pass balls.  In the 3rd, it was 9-4 Sky Sox.  In the 8th, it was 13-5 Sky Sox, at which point I decided I didn’t want to know what the final score was going to be.  (That was the final.)  Right now, the only thing in the dogs’ favor is that there’s only a bit more than two weeks left in the season and their opponents are going to have to win for a week straight to beat them out of the division lead.
The Rangers and Rockies were off today.  They deserved it.  

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Baseball Notebook for August 18, 2016

I came into work and brought up the Cardinals vs the Astros as the MLB.TV free game.  There was a potential no-hitter in progress for the Cards.  Please stop doing “No-hitter” alerts in the 6th inning  Don’t even bother until the 8th.  The birds won handily, but I doubt they’re going to the playoffs since I don’t think the Cubs are going to lose again until the World Series (against the Rangers).  The Astros are falling off again.  Look for management to start blaming the manager.  Meanwhile the Giants are swept by Pirates.  Who knew that all the Dodgers really needed in order to win was for them to lose their two best pitchers (Kershaw and Greinke), send down Yasiel Puig, get rid of some other cancerous elements on the team, and for the Giants to collapse?   
I again missed the story from Tuesday’s Ranger game.  Lucas Harrell came out of his start early and injured.  I don’t think they can afford to lose any more starting players.  Jon Daniels is likely looking for a waiver trade a lot more seriously than he was a week ago.  I was almost afraid to look in on Wednesday’s game versus the A’s, but leading 6-2 to in the 9th, I thought I’d chance it.  Matt Bush struck out the side to end it.  That’s a three-game sweep.  I’d be tempted to anoint Bush the new closer, but it’s probably really more a matter of the bullpen guys getting overused and being constantly put into pressure situations that’s burning them out.  Yu Darvish pitching 7 innings and Ian Desmond and Jonathan Lucroy driving in all 6 runs (3 apiece) to provide a cushion had to help.      
Tim Hagerty was in much better spirits for the Chihuahuas game in Colorado Springs tonight.  Strangely, it seemed like the conditions at the stadium were what changed his attitude.  First, he had bad encounter with the concessions people.  Tim took time to praise the El Paso vendors for their friendliness.  (He’s right.  They’re been very nice when I’ve been there.)  Then, there were only a bit more than a 1000 people there for the game on a fairly pleasant night.  There were people enjoying the hot tub in the outfield.  I didn’t know there was a hot tub there.  Now, I’m really sorry I didn’t get to see a game when I was there in May.  And then, he needed to buy a light so he could see inside the dark pressbox.  In short, Tim may have come to the conclusion that since the Chihuahuas had a superior baseball organization, they will prevail.  And indeed they did tonight, 5-3, breaking their losing streak.  OKC even helped out by coming back in the 9th to beat the Isotopes.
Tim had a great story about a minor league player during the game.  The pitcher had been informed that he was going to be released after the game.  He ended up coming in as a reliever.  When the manager started out of the dugout to take him out of the game, the pitcher tossed his glove and the ball, took off his shirt, walked off mound, left the stadium, and drove away.  But I’m sure he really loved his job.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Baseball Notebook for August 17, 2016

Okay, another day and another loss by the Chihuahuas.  This time it was an 11-3 loss to Colorado Springs.  (I didn’t get to see them when I was in Colorado in May.  I wonder how they’re doing with the fans there, since the Sky Sox aren’t an affiliate of the Rockies anymore.)  Tim Hagerty is trying to be brave, but he’s getting worried and depressed.  That’s pretty easy to get when the team gets clobbered, stops hitting, and commits three errors in the game.  Worse, the game seemed to take forever to play out, even with the outcome not in doubt.  They’re up like 7 games on the Isotopes, but have 9 games with them remaining, 5 of them in Albuquerque.
I missed the big story with the Rangers on Monday.  Shin-Soo Choo’s arm was broken and he’s out for the season.  Choo and Prince being out so much this season has at least gotten several other players significant major league playing time.  Let’s hope they’re up to it.  Joey Gallo still lurks in the shadows.  If he’s capable of getting hits without striking out ¾ of the time, now’s a good time to start showing it.
This was one time when watching the game playing out on Gameday, without TV or radio, was still really exciting.  In the 9th, the Rangers had a 1 run lead over the friggin’ A’s.  (Yes, I’ve decided to tag these guys like I have the “hated” Angels.)  Another blown save.  The Rangers really need to explore the concept of the insurance run.  In the 10th, the A’s knock in two runs to take the lead.  In the bottom of the frame, with the bases loaded and one out, Beltran singles to drive in two and tie the game.  Nice game for Carlos, 4 for 5, 3 RBI’s.  Adrian Beltre, who’d burned the A’s so badly yesterday, was given a free pass to reload the bases.  And the first pitch to Roogie hits him.  I’m sure he didn’t even feel it.  Rangers win 5-4.
Thanks to a two-hour rain delay, I was able to catch half of the Rockies/Nationals game on the radio when I got home, and I had good signal.  The rain had chased off the four-legged fans, who had come for Bark at the Park.  Wet dog smell and thunder and lightning doesn’t work well with a bunch of dogs in attendance. 
The game was tied at 2 in the 5th.  I arrived just in time.  DJ LeMahieu hit a triple and was driven in by Nolan Arenado on a grounder.  DJ had a heck of a game.  In the post-game, I heard the dramatic call from earlier, as he hit a monster home run into the wind, rain, and lightning.  David Dahl came in as a pinch hitter in the 7th and drove in two runs on a double.  Dahl’s consecutive game hitting streak was broken, but he’s still gotten a hit in 21 of 22 games he’s been in.  Rockies win 6-2.  Two notes.  Nolan drove in two runs making outs while I was listening.  That’s a professional team player who wants to win.  The new higher fence at Coors Field kept in two potential homers for the Rockies.  I don’t know if this is good or bad.  If they just had some pitching (and Trevor Story hadn’t gotten hurt), they’d be winning the division.  Sigh.  Yeah, that news came in during the game.  The Giants lost and are a ½ game out of first to the Dodgers.  They’re 9-20 since the break; the worst in the MLB.          

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Baseball Notebook for August 2016 Part 4

The Yahoo game was Royals vs Tigers.  While I like this service, I don’t think I can take that Katie Couric promo much longer.  It’s about the same with any baseball coverage on any media.  If you’re listening to a local minor league radio broadcast, you’re going to hearing the same commercials every inning for the whole season.  The best you can hope for is that none of them are too annoying.  I remember once on a mid-season Diablos broadcast with Matt Hicks and his co-host, the station wasn’t able play the commercials.   During a break, they started to do the spots word-for-word as a joke.  The station manager likely immediately stepped in and told them to knock it off.  TV isn’t much better.  Viagra anyone?

Anyway, I was happy to see the Royals, even if the Sabermetricians are going to be right about their record this season being lousy.  Of course, they were only totally wrong about them the last two seasons, and the only reason they aren’t contending now is because of a season-long series of injuries to key players.  This was the Tigers’ team broadcast.  I was surprised to hear Kirk Gibson as the color commentator.  I wonder if this means he’s been totally bounced out of managing?  He doesn’t have the best voice for a speaking gig, but his knowledge and resume always make Gibby worth listening to.  Rod Allen is still with the broadcast as field reporter.  I used to listen to him and Greg Schulte everyday doing Diamondbacks games on the radio.  They were pure “homers,” but Rod had definitely toned it down when he went over to the Tigers.        

KC wins 3-1, but the story was the praying mantis on their dugout.  The cameras were watching it like a hawk.  Like a bunch of little kids, the players were trying to catch it.  I think I missed the story behind why they were doing this.  Something about a “rally mantis.”  The players managed to corral it into a cage and kept it under close guard.  Only in baseball.

Here’s how you break out of a 24-inning scoreless streak: Adrian Beltre hitting a grand slam.  (Actually, Elvis Andrus drove in a run the inning before, but that wasn’t dramatic enough for the lead of this paragraph.)  Even over the drought, Beltre’s been getting his hits.  It was just a matter of somebody getting on in front of him or driving him in.  The Rangers beat the friggin’ A’s 5-2.  Though they’ve been beating them on paper, the A’s have been giving the Rangers fits this season.  

The Chihuahuas were still in Oklahoma City and clearly wished they weren’t.  The final was 8-1.  It wasn’t even that close, as that one run came in the 9th.  The opposing pitcher had a complete game and a no-hitter into the 7th.  That’s a four-game sweep for the OKC Dodgers.  No wonder Tim sounded so down during the broadcast.            

Things got too quiet at work without a game on, so I impulsively found the Albuquerque Isotopes’ broadcast on the MiLB site.  I might be visiting them later this month, so I wanted to check in, and they’ve been in the news lately.  Tim had surprisingly mentioned that the ‘Topes were tied in second place in the division behind the Chihuahuas (apparently the Las Vegas 51’s have also faded).  Albuquerque was so bad earlier this year with a double-digit losing streak that the Chihuahuas broadcast was actually doing updates on their games and pulling for them to end it.  Now, the pups have gone 3-11 in the month of August (it’s finally happening, they’ve had too many good players called up to the Padres), while the Isotopes have had an 8 game winning streak.  They’ve picked up 6 games in the standings.  However, they lost tonight to end the streak, and they’re still well below .500.  I’m not worried yet.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Baseball Notebook for August 2016 Part 3

This is out of order, and I missed this when it happened.  Brandon Crawford got 7 hits in a 14-inning Giants win.  We’re going to have to polish these little bright spots, because it hasn’t been good for the Giants after the All-Star break.

Steve Kaplowitz joined Tim Hagerty in the Chihuahuas’ booth for the game versus Fresno.  This is always a good time as Kappy loves talking baseball, but isn’t able to do it on his own local afternoon sports talk show very often.  Two topics that stood out for me were the discussions of ERA of infinity (a pitcher comes into a game and gives up runs without recording an out) and that Shea Stadium was a dump.  Tim kind of stood up for the place, but he’d never been there.  Kappy had.  The pups win 5-1 and are up 8 in the standings.

The Rockies host the Rangers for a day game in Denver.  Again, the Rangers come from behind late.  It was 5-2 in the 8th when the Rangers scored 4 to win 7-5.  For the Rockies, Arenado had two RBI’s and David Dahl extended his rookie hitting streak with two runs scored.

The Rangers do it again to the Rockies, this time in Arlington.  Down by a run in the 8th, they come back and win 5-4.  Lucroy gets another RBI for the Rangers.  David Dahl gets another hit and two RBI’s.  Of course, the big Ranger news was the injury retirement of Prince Fielder.  For a fan, he’s been good and he’s been frustrating.  For the team, he was a good guy that was well-liked in the clubhouse.  For management, his contract was insured and the Tigers are still paying part of his enormous salary.  If he wasn’t able to play at a high-level, this was probably the only possible good outcome for the team.  For Prince, his and his kids’ press conference tears obviously meant he still really wanted to play.  He’s only in his early 30’s after all.  The one good thing about just being a fan, we always get another season.  The players don’t.  And, Brandon Crawford hits a walk-off homer to win for the Giants.  BC for MVP!     

It was 100+ degrees in Arlington and I presume with high humidity.  What a better time to play a four-hour day game for the Rangers.  Their new retractable roof stadium cannot be built soon enough.  I got to hear a couple of static-filled innings before I went to work.  After three come-from-behind wins against the Rockies, the Rangers kind of had today coming.  While they had a big 7th to take the lead, the Rox had a bigger one in the 8th and won 12-9.  Beltre, Odor, and Blackmon had great offensive games.  David Dahl’s rookie hitting streak goes to 17 games in a row. 

The Chihuahuas had a rare night off.  (Triple-A teams get like one day off a month.)  The game of the day was the Brewers vs the Braves.  Not that it was particularly significant, or even close as it was 11-3 Brewers.  More rare than a perfect game, the Brewers managed to score in every inning they had an at-bat.  This was only the 16th time this had ever happened in MLB history.  There’s a lot of 1 run innings, and they got some help off of errors, and they only had to bat for 8 innings, but yikes!  Apparently, everything has to go your way for this kind of event to happen.  

It took awhile, but I finally remembered an oddly reminiscent incident to Chris Sale’s attack on the White Sox throwback uniforms.  Somewhere in the late 90’s or even early 2000’s, the Dodgers briefly experimented with a solid blue top.  Yes, I know.  Hersey!  It’s like when the Yankees tried out a sliver-billed hat.  (Yes, it was in the regular season, not a Spring Training game.)  Don’t mess with a classic.  In the Dodgers case, I think they lost every time they wore the alternate top.  You know how superstitious ball players are.  The whole thing ended with high-priced, low-performance free agent Kevin Brown making his only contribution to the team.  Him and some others took the tops behind the bullpen and set them on fire before a game. 

I watched a Yankee game.  The Chihuahuas were on, but they were getting blasted in OKC.  The Rangers/Tigers game was in a delay.  Okay, I had to see A-Rod’s last game.  The Yankee announcers were fans, but deeply ambiguous about this event.  The fans in New York weren’t.  They stood and cheered for him for every appearance.  Alex Rodriguez goes 1 for 4 with a double and an RBI.  His last AB was a groundout to Short.  In the 9th, with the Yankees up 6-3, Alex was put out at third for one batter and then taken out, so he could get a send-off coming off the field from the crowd.  After the game, he got a big ovation and grabbed a handful of infield dirt to take with him.  Afterward, he thanked the fans and apologized in general for his scandals.  So ends the A-Rod saga. 

Thanks to a two hour, 40 minute rain delay, I was able to catch about half of the Rangers game when I got home.  (Strangely, it was also raining here.)  I joined the game with Rangers up big.  By the 6th, after a Carlos Beltran home run, it was 8-1 with bases loaded and no outs.  However, they didn’t score any runs.  In the 7th, Rangers’ starter, Yu Darvish, ran out of gas, or alternately ran out of the patience after a bad error, and got run out of the game.  The team’s defense unfortunately didn’t improve and the Tigers scored 4 runs to make it interesting.  Thankfully, Sam Dyson came in in the 9th and locked it down.  Rangers win 8-5.  Awkwardly during the game, Sean Tolleson and Prince Fielder are still doing commercials for the team, though they are not with the club anymore.  

This was a poor Saturday.  Unfortunately, the baseball didn’t help.  The Chihuahuas were still in Oklahoma City playing the Dodgers.  I’d missed last night’s game.  Apparently, Yasiel Puig went 3 for 4.  He’s hitting well, but still has baseball acumen issues, such as getting thrown out at home in the 1st

Annoyingly as usual, the Rangers were on at the same time.  I flipped over to listen to the first half of the game.  Cole Hammels didn’t have his best stuff and kept getting into trouble.  Unlike last night, the defense behind him was stellar.  In the 4th, Profar got his first outfield assist and then Choo threw out a runner at home to end the inning.  Around the 6th, I lost signal on the El Paso station as the sun went down.  I heard the Tigers score, breaking the 0-0 tie, but not how many runs they scored.

Back to the Chihuahuas.  In the 7th, OKC takes the lead.  Puig gets thrown out trying to steal home.  The Chihuahuas lose 4-2.  By this time, I was able to pick up another Texas station, and I’m in time to listen to the Rangers lose 2-0.  The Tigers get two runs on 14 hits.  I completely forget about the Rockies game this evening, but it was likely just about over by the time I’d be able to get KOA anyway.  Ironically, I had just bought a Rockies pennant today at Hastings.  (They’re going out of business.  It’s pretty sad going there.) 

While flipping radio stations, I got a Dallas station and was able to amazingly hear the end of the post-game, loud and clear.  I even got to hear Jared Sandler doing his post-game call-in show finally.  A Cowboys pre-season game had knocked the Rangers off FM and onto AM.  I could have heard the game on a much clearer signal.  Sigh.  I also wish I could have heard the call-in show after a win where presumably there might have been callers.  Once again, no recap of the day’s other games.  It’s just weird that they won’t give out all of the scores after a game, just division opponents.  I hope tomorrow is better all the way around.

I should have appreciated Beltran’s home run Friday night more.  I didn’t realize it was going to be the last time I was going to hear the Rangers score this weekend.  After three day games and no days off last week, the team may be fatigued.  Their defense certainly showed signs of a lack of mental and physical sharpness again today. 
Given a 21-inning scoreless streak, you might infer that the Rangers lost today.  The Tigers won 7-0 as their pitcher, Michael Fullmer, threw a complete game shutout.  The Rangers didn’t show up at all, but at least the game went quickly.  Come out to the ballpark later this week for the Elvis Lan-drus-rissan Star Wars bobblehead giveaway.  It’s sure to be a fan-favorite.

The Oklahoma City Dodgers manager took the blame for Yasiel Puig getting caught trying to steal home yesterday.  It was part of complex situational play that Puig apparently didn’t understand when the manager called for it.  So, Puig isn’t stupid because he tried to steal home; he’s dumb because he didn’t understand the signs.   

After a couple of close calls from foul balls, the pressbox finally took a direct hit in the 5th.  Much like a couple of years ago in Iowa, there was a sound of crashing and then ominous silence for a few seconds.  Finally, a slightly shaken Tim Hagerty resumed calling the game.  He gave a thumbs up to the crowd, who applauded his valor.  There was a knocking sound on the window that confused him for a moment.  A guy in the suite next door was asking for the ball. 

It was that kind of game in OKC today.  A Dodger runner scored from second on a bad throw to first.  A ball fouled off at the plate, bounced up and hit the Chihuahuas batter on the top of the helmet.  The Chihuahuas lose 13-2.  There’s nothing to talk about.  It’s been a crappy baseball weekend.

Hey, show up at the Cohan Stadium next month for Beerfest.  Bring the kids.  Yes, the old Diablos stadium is still in use.