Well, here we are, September, the greatest time of year for sports fans. Thats is, unless you're me. September for most sports fans means the playoff race in Major League Baseball and a fresh start in the NFL. It's nearing the end of the month, the 21st to be exact, and that number has some significance, because thats exactly how many games back from first place my beloved Texas Rangers are. We are fresh off a four game losing streak (actually we've dropped nine of our last ten), with very few bright spots mixed in. Sure, some of the younger guys give us of those stupid enough to keep rooting for this team some hope for a brighter future, but looking back, hasn't that always been the case with the Rangers? Every year in Arlington, or wherever you may find a Rangers fan (Clear Brook, VA for those looking), you hear the cry of "We'll get 'em next year". Well, next year has been nearly a decade coming, and guess what? The Rangers are actually regressing. After 3 years of finishing third in a four team division, 2007 has us ending the season in last place. the team we finished just ahead the last three painful years, the Seattle Mariners, have made remarkable improvements and look to end the season in second place within the AL West.
I know what you're saying, new manager, young GM, solid nucleus and some nice additions at the trade deadline. Give 'em time Mark, they'll turn it around. Well, I'm 29 years old, not old by any stretch of the imagination, but I have been waiting a long time too see my Rangers do some damage in the playoffs. I've watched the solid nucleus of Blalock, Young and Teixeira for what, 8, 9 years? (and yes, I know Tex is now in Atlanta). What i mean is, there is one thing we have always lacked, starting pitching. So, someone with any observatory skills would say, "Hey, lets get some starting pitching". Not our team, nope, our history has us playing the, "lets win 15 to 13" game. I admit, even though both have struggled this season, adding Millwood and Padilla a couple years ago was a step in the right direction, after all, Millwood was the AL ERA leader before he came to Texas, and padilla won, I believe, 15 games his first year with us. Keeping Padilla was a good move, and i believe will work out for us. What about Zito though? Forget his 4.50 + ERA in the NL this season, no one had any idea he wouldn't be his normal dominant self going into the season, we should have payed whatever we had to to get him. Not only would we have been adding a dominant left handed starter, but we would have taken him from an AL West rival, and yes, i am saying we should have over payed for him, screw the Chan Ho park fear we all have, Zito was a proven commodity.
It's this kind of lack luster attempts at shoring up our starting staff that drives me crazy. Also, what about Matsuzaka? I understand the Sox and Yankees were competing for him, but as a team with little starting pitching, we have to make a ridiculously high bid for him BECAUSE the Yanks and Sox were competing for him. I am sick and tired of the Rangers coming up just short when it comes to free agent pitching. In a couple years Johan Santana will be a free agent, what will our excuse be when we are just beat out for him? Maybe Hicks should concentrate less on English soccer and more on American baseball, either that or sell the damn team to someone who has a burning desire to win (Mark Cuban anyone?)
But i do have one problem, i am eternal optimist, so I will be the ring leader at the "we'll get 'em next year" rally, I'll talk to all my baseball loving friends and explain tom them why the Rangers will surprise the league in 2008. I'll continue to make excuses why we have actually taken a step back instead of a step forward. I'll tell them Salty is the next great Texas catcher, that Blalock will return to his all star form,that Ian Kinsler will be an all star second basemen, etc etc etc, and i will and do believe all that, but when it comes to our starting pitching, what will I say? Will i point out our big free agent acquisition at the position, or say we made a fair offer but fell just short?
Thats enough baseball talk, lets move on to the NFL, oh wait, I'm a Giants fan, who are 0-2 and head in to Washington to face the 2-0 Redskins. At least I have LSU football to keep me off the ledge for now.