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Virginia Giant

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  1. Virginia Giant
    There is nothing more American than drinking beer and watching baseball, likewise there is nothing more Japanese than drinking Sake and watching baseball or more Latin American than drinking Tequila and watching baseball. Basically if you want to be truly (insert nationality here), than pop open a bottle of whatever the locals are drinking and turn on a baseball game.
    I discovered the game by accident, early in my life my BFF told me he'd be playing for his dads team and I should play. I figured there would be nothing better than to play this game of balls and bats with my BFF so I had my mother enter me. Some how or another, i ended up on the opposite local team than my BFF, no problem, I'll still get the thrill of being a part of a team with one common goal, getting through 7 innings of grown ups yelling so we can go to McDonalds. That train of thought though, is apparently not conducive to winning. As my team floundered and blazed its way into a last place finish, my BFF's team was the pride of the town easily winning the championship with my BFF himself being elected as an all star.
    Still, life couldn't have been better. I had just played a dozen games, even made a couple Willie Mays-esque catches in center and had discovered my first love in life. Baseball. I guess I became a Rangers fan around 1989, the year the great Nolan Ryan became a Ranger. I knew one day I'd be standing on that same hill in Arlington Stadium that Nolan stood on. Twenty years later, athletically on par with my 8 year old self and no closer to Arlington Stadium or the Ballpark in Arlington (technically farther, but hey, screw the technicalities), I still root for the Rangers and I'm starting to wonder if Nolan could be talked into a comeback.
    As a fan of the Texas Rangers, you learn to be cautiously optimistic the team will be competitive and you appreciate the individual achievements. You appreciate the MVP years of Juan going, going, Gone-zalez and Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez. You appreciate four straight years of 200 hits for Michael Young, 50 homers by Alex Rodriguez, the home run off the head of Jose Canseco, well, you appreciate the laugh you got off that. You are THRILLED! by the AL West division championships in '96, '98, and '99. But you never, ever expect great things. you hope for a wild card birth, you expect to fall just short.
    Still, even with these low expectations, the 2007 season may cause a mass suicide by Rangers fans everywhere. When you have one starting pitcher with a sub 6.00 ERA (Brandon McCarthy 5.90), you ponder the value of life. If there is one thing Rangers fans know, its bad pitching. We know bad pitching like Bo knows, well, everything. But when your entire starting staff is allowing more runs than the Boston marathon, you clutch your chest and hope its heart burn.
    Through 44 games, we're 16.5 games out of first place, our compensatory individual achievements this year? A good bullpen which will probably be traded away a piece at a time and Sammy Sosa's 600th career home run.
    Is it 2008 yet?
  2. Virginia Giant
    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.
  3. Virginia Giant
    Well, it's early February, pitchers and cathers report today and I find myself with new hope. The Giants just won the super bowl, LSU won the BCS Championship in Janary, and thats got me all excitable. I bought Athalon's 2008 baseball preview mag, and quickly dismissed it as garbage when I read they had the Rangers finishing 3rd in the West. Impossible I thought. They got their Center Fielder, upgraded the corner outfield spots, Blalock is healthy, Salty is gonna be a monster, and Kinsler is the next big thing.
    Then i remembered I did a couple blogs here, so i went back and re-read what my thoughts were at the end of '07.
    Oh yeah. Pretty dismal stuff, sad in a shake your head in shame kinda way. After reading it, I removed the rose colored glasses and took a fresh look at the roster.
    I'll start with the rotation...
    We return out two aces, Millwood and Padilla. man those guys were great in '06, in '07? Eh, not so ace-ish. But we got this dude Jason Jennings, he was the 2002 NL ROY and in 2007 he was 2-9 with a 6.45 ERA, oh, and he's coming off and injury too. But we also got Kason Gabbard last year from the Sox, and the dude was real solid, it's just he has a history with arm problems. But at least out other starting pitcher managed to only be hurt about 1 month.
    Now the infield.
    The infield is led by the face of the orginization, Michael Young. Tough, gritty player who plays every day and selflessy switched positions a few years ago to accomodate Soriano. Beside him is a true up and comer in Kinsler, 20-20 guy last year and shows all the signs of being among the top 5 2B in the entire league. On the hot Corner is Blalock, I love Hank, myfavorite player and even though he missed most of the year, the injury shouldn't be a nagging problem and when he played, he crushed the ball. At 1st there is the immortal Ben Broussard, I'm sorry who? Ben Broussard. Dude played 99 games and managed to bat 275 with 7 home runs and 29 rbi's last year? We trade an allstar silver slugging golden glove winning first basemen (which I was all for BTW) and the best guy we could find to replace him with is a dude who couldn't swing his way out of a wet paper bag?
    Catcher? Salty might start might nt, could play first, could not, but he does have a really long name, this we know for sure.
    OK, so this looks to be the mos improved lot of the bunch. Hamilton was a stud last year, forget about his injury and drug abuse filled history, strong arm and big bat, I salivate at this future right fielder. Who needs a base swiper when our CF can drive em all in with one swing of his mighty bat? Milton Bradley, he played 140 games once, 5 years ago. econd closest was 101 games, 6 years ago. t no other time has he managed to duct tape and gorilla glue himself together enough to play in 100 games. But aside from his attitude problems and injury filled past, when the dude in on the field, sometimes he's pretty good. Marlong Byrd will start in left, he was good last year, props to Byrd. Murphy backs up all three outfield spots, as does Cat. Murphy is going to be a real good player, Cat? We'll see, wasn't terrible last year, but played under expectations in my ind.
    The Pen
    The pride of Texas, CJ wilson should close, if he doesn't, i will personally bitch slap Ron Washington.
    All in all, I forsee many a drunken nights watching the Rangers call up tons of minor leaguers since half the team is on the disabled list.
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