Monthly Archives: October 2010

The Yankees? That Was SO Last Season. Hello, WORLD SERIES!

Dear Baseball Gods: Our Rangers, who art in Texas, winners be thy name. The Yanks will come; they will be done, in New York as they will in Texas. Give us this week a series win, and forgive us our bullpen loss as we provoke losses from their bullpen. Lead us not into offseason, but deliver us a World Series title.. For the Rangers are the swingdom, the claw, and the antlers, forever and ever. AMEN!

Ya’ll better believe it, baby! What an incredible night in the great state of Texas. After 39 inconsistent years in Texas, the Rangers- YES, the Texas Rangers- are going to the 2010 World Series for the first time in franchise history. Those 39 years of pain and frustration immediately disappeared when red, white, and blue confetti rained down over the baseball diamond Friday night. Before this season, the words “world” and “series” were not used together in a sentence and most certainly were not used in reference to the hometown baseball team. It’s gonna take a while for this to sink in for Ranger fans, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I mean, let’s face it the Cowboys unfortunately aren’t picking up anybody’s spirits lately… But the fun-loving, charismatic, charming Rangers have not only captured the sports-crazed hearts of Dallas, they have won over the hearts of major league baseball fans everywhere.

The Rangers scorched the defending champs 6-1 last night to clench the American League Pennant and punch their ticket to the “Big Show.” The fifth inning was arguably the most important inning of baseball the Rangers have ever played. In the blink of an eye, a nail-biter turned into a blowout. With Ranger first-baseman Mitch Moreland on third base, the Yanks made the decision to intentionally walk MVP candidate Josh Hamilton (for the second time-on the first Hamilton intentional walk, Yankees starter Phil Hughes sailed one over the glove of catcher Jorge Posada that allowed Moreland to advance to third. How do you let an intentional walk pitch get away from you?!), who has been nicknamed “The Natural” by the TBS commentators, to put runners on the corners and pitch to DH Vlad Guerrero. Baaaaad call, guys. Vlad spanked a double to left center field allowing Moreland and Hamilton to score. Yes, Hamilton scored from first. Antlers, anybody? Nellie Cruz tacked on a long dinger to left-center to make the lead 5-1 and send the fans into an absolute frenzy. All four runs were scored with two outs. And, the controversial 5th inning HBP/Wild Pitch call that allowed the Yanks to tie the score 1-1, didn’t even matter. By the way, the pitch absolutely hit Nick Swisher in the leg therefore deflecting the ball away from Ranger catcher Bengie Molina and allowing Alex Rodriguez to score. But again, not even a bad call could rattle the Rangers. And was that Cliff Lee on the mound or Colby Lewis? With seven strikeouts and a commanding fastball, Lewis only allowed three hits and never really let the Yankees threaten him or his ball club. Elvis Andrus may be the most under-appreciated Ranger of the 2010 post-season. He has hit safely in all 11 post-season games and has been tremendous in the field. Exhibit A: showing off his vertical jump and arm extension to snag a sharp A-Rod liner that could have easily sailed into center field during Game 6. The fresh faced Ranger closer, 22 year-old Neftali Feliz, came in and cooly finished off the game casually throwing 100mph pitches capped with an A-Rod stirkeout to finish the game. A better ending could not have been scripted. Over 50,000 Ranger fans screaming their lungs out, the baby closer on the mound, and the eternally HATED A-Rod at the plate. What made it even better is that he struck out looking. How appropriate. Sorry, A-Rod no heroics for you around here.. and nobody is shedding any tears for you, believe me.

Following that last out, the traditional victory antics ensued. With the crowd going crazy, fireworks shooting off high above the ballpark, and a giant dogpile of Ranger uniforms forming near the pitching mound, ALCS t-shirts and hats were immediately distributed to every member of the organization. The ginger ale bath on the field has become an endearing Ranger tradition honoring their superstar, Josh Hamilton, who was awarded the ALCS MVP award, deservedly so. In his acceptance speech, Hamilton gave credit to his teammates and in his post-game interview admitted to fighting back tears out in center field during A-Rod’s ninth inning at-bat. “I was trying to hold back the tears just in case he hit it to me,” Hamilton said. Michael Young, who has been a Ranger for ten years, happily told the crowd “The World Series is coming to Texas!” Manager Ron Washington had what looked like a permanent toothy grin pasted on his face while he thanked everyone, and I mean everyone. “The hot dog vendor and the parking attendant should feel like they’re a part of it,” Washington said. Everyone has a role and everyone embraces their role, that is what makes this team so versatile and therefore so successful. That’s the Ranger Way.

The Yankees? Psh. That was SO last season. The Yankee mystique and playoff magic that tried to creep into the minds of the Rangers during the Game 1 -8th inning meltdown was never a real factor in this series. The Rangers have started a new era and hey, maybe they created some October baseball magic of their own. I don’t care bout the 27 World Championships and the 40 trips to the World Series, throughout the serious there was no doubt who was the more dominant and cohesive team. Ranger victories came in the form of landslides: 7-2, 8-0, 10-3, and 6-1. Anyone wanna argue with me about who was the more commanding team? I didn’t think so. Even the Yanks’ game five victory didn’t pose a concern. Sorry New York, money can’t buy team chemistry. The Rangers looked like playoff veterans throughout this series and outperformed the Yankees in every aspect of the game. They had more hustle, more strength, more heart, and more love for each other, the game, and the experience. Magic shmagic. When asked about the usual Pinstripe Playoff Aura following the game, Ranger second baseman Ian Kinsler (who is absolutely precious, by the way) promptly responded: “We’re really going to talk about that? I don’t really care about the Yankees right now honestly. We just defeated them. It’s over. We’re better than them.” You tell ’em, Kins!

In a state where football is religion, “America’s favorite past-time” has emphatically replaced “America’s Team.” It seems like it was meant to be. Magic. Washington’s admittance of using cocaine once during the 2009 season could have sunk the Ranger submarine, but the organization stuck by him. When the Rangers acquired Cliff Lee back in July, the pieces started to fall more and more into place. “Dude, we got Cliff freakin’ Lee,” Michael Young said to Josh Hamilton. Finally, in August when Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg became the official owners of the ball club, things certainly seemed like they were meant to be. Who better to have at the helm than arguably the best Ranger that has ever taken the field? And now, the Rangers are going to the World Series. Ace Cliff Lee will take the mound next Wednesday against an ace from either the Phillies or the Giants. Personally, I am hoping for the Giants. Who would have ever thought? Rangers-Giants World Series? Thanks to my parents, I am flying home next weekend to witness the first ever World Series game to be played in Arlington, and I could NOT be more excited about it! Whoever their opponent may be, the Rangers will bring their swagger, smiles, claws, and antlers to the field. Pinstripes be gone! Have a nice off-season Yankees, we’ll still be playing baseball.

Check out these AWESOME celebration videos… It’s been a long time coming… gives me chills:

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“Cliff”ord the Big Bad Pitcher Helps Rangers Make History!

UnbeLEEvable. You can mark October 12, 2010 down in the history books as the day the Texas Rangers won their first playoff series in franchise history. And they did it in in sparkling fashion due much to the history-making, lights out pitching of lefty Cliff Lee who looked like a god pitching against mere mortals. Stepping on to the mound in a Game 5 “win or go home” situation Cliff Lee was, well, Cliff Lee. While leading his team to a 5-1 victory, he looked all the part of a superhero on the mound (without a cape, unfortunately) confusing batters with his wicked pitch selections while pitching all 9 innings complete with 11 strikeouts and no walks bringing his series numbers to staggering heights. With 16 innings pitched, 11 hits allowed, 2 runs scored, 21 strikeouts, 0 walks, 224 pitches, and 166 strikes thrown you could make a serious case for Cliff Lee being the Rangers’ ALDS MVP. His 21 strikeouts (without a walk) were the most in a playoff series ever and his 11 Ks in Game 5 were the most in a “winner take all” situation in playoff history. Oh and by the way, he tossed 120 pitches last night… 90 of them were strikes. Are you kidding me, Captain Consistency? Not only did Cliff dominate the mound, but his pitching counterparts overachieved throughout the series as well: Texas pitchers struck out 55 batters over the course of the five game series, a record for a division series. And while we’re talking about making history, it was also the first time in playoff history that the visiting team won every single game. Just complete madness. The record books were definitely re-written last night and I’m glad it happened at the hands of the Rangers.

Let’s be clear about one thing, the Rangers whole-heartedly earned their Game 5 victory. Their first 3 runs in the game were manufactured by sheer alertness, speed, and aggressive base-running. It was all about the hustle and therefore it was all about the infamous antlers for the Rangers. Elvis Andrus stole second base and then made a run for third with Josh Hamilton at the plate in the first inning. Andrus ended up scoring easily thanks to the distracted play of Rays picther David Price and first baseman Carlos Pena. Hamilton ended up earned an RBI without even getting a hit. Nellie Cruz’ speed after an off-the-wall double in the fourth caught the Rays off guard for the second time. Cruz took off to steal third and catcher Kelly Shoppach’s attempted throw to tag Cruz out went sailing over third baseman Evan Longoria’s head into left field, allowing Cruz to score easily. Vlad Guerrero scored from second base in the sixth inning on a ball that didn’t make it out of the infield. Wait, what? Guerrero got a jump off of second base as Ian Kinsler hit a dribbler towards second base. The Rays tried to turn a double play, but Kinsler beat the tag at first. As pitcher David Price, who was covering first base, turned to argue the call with the first base umpire, Vladdy took off for home and slid in just ahead of the throw to home. Even notoriously slow Rangers’ catcher Bengie Molina (I would be slow too if I sat crouched all day long too, Bengie) earned a stolen base, his first since 2006. Ian Kinsler’s two-run homer in the ninth sealed the deal. Lemme tell you, there were plenty of antlers and smiles to go around in the Rangers dugout during the duration of the deciding Game 5. Embrace the antlers.

When Rays outfielder BJ Upton popped up for the final out of the game Cliff Lee didn’t even turn around to watch. He just started walking towards Molina as the two joyously embraced somewhere between the mound and home plate and were soon mobbed by the rest of their delighted teammates. My heart swelled when replays revealed manager Ron Washington scurrying over to another coach in the dugout and putting his arm around his neck in anticipation the second Upton made contact with the ball. When Andrus made the catch to end the game, the two happily embraced and started jumping up and down like little kids. The camaraderie this team has built is something rare and is a thing to behold in professional sports. From their claw and antler hand gestures, which are usually accompanied with a toothy grin, to their childlike prancing around in the dugout after big plays, these guys look like Little Leaguers first experiencing the joy that baseball can bring to a young boy. After Kinsler’s dinger in the ninth that essentially iced the game, cameras panned to him and Hamilton playing in the dugout. Kinsler pulled out his imaginary flaming guns (his thumb and pointer finger on both hands), blew on them, and re-holstered them on the belt of his uniform as Hamilton was playfully jabbing him in the ribs. Seriously, how cute are these guys?! I love it. The boyish charm, family-like unity, and their genuine love for the game and each other is more evident than I have ever seen on another professional team and it brings a smile to your face.

And if you’re questioning the classiness of this group of guys… I’m about to put that to rest. The Rangers put their own spin on the traditional post-game lockerroom champagne popping celebration. The first round of celebrating was done with ginger ale last night so that MVP candidate Josh Hamilton could feel comfortable partaking in the festivities. Hamilton, whose previous battles with substance and alcohol abuse were well-documented in the media, missed out on the celebration when the Rangers clinched the AL West because he wanted to stay away from the alcohol running freely in the lockerroom. He dressed quietly in a side office and swiftly left his teammates celebrating to speak to a church group about his life. Last night, that was not the case. The Rangers made sure of it by sacrificing the traditional booze-fest for the love of their superstar teammate. They impatiently waited for Hamilton to arrive after a post-game interview and promptly doused him with ginger ale upon his arrival. “They were waiting on me out there. They came around the corner, they doused me with the ginger ale. I had no idea they were doing that. It says a lot about my teammates, them understanding the sensitivity of my situation and not wanting to send the wrong message to other people out there.” In today’s sports world of egotistical, fame obsessed, power hungry athletes this was one of the classiest acts I have ever witnessed. These guys have made it impossible not to fall completely in love with them even if you aren’t a hometown fan like myself. The unwavering love, unity, and class is what has made this ball club what it is. Bring on those damn Yankees! 

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Got My Sports Shorts On!

Apologies for the delay since my last blog, but we finally started classes here at UCLA so my responsibilities have exponentially risen over the past few weeks! I feel like I am running 200 MPH all day, every day! SO… I’ll do my best to keep up with the real world throughout the school year. And by the way, my definition of the real world is the sports world. Here are my thoughts on what has been going on in the wide world of sports over the past couple of weeks:

RANGERS: Holy Texas Rangers, batman! As the only major league team who has never won a playoff series, The Rangers are making the most of their 2010 opportunity. After putting a 2-0 chokehold on the Tampa Bay Rays this afternoon they are well on their way to the next round of the playoffs, a place they have only heard stories about. Going up 2-0 on the impressive Rays while playing in Tampa and heading back to Texas for Game 3 and Game 4  is HUGE. Cliff Lee was incredibly dominant in Game 1 and CJ Wilson only allowed 2 hits through his 6 1/3 innings of work today. The defense was stellar featuring Josh Hamilton (per usual) and the Rangers loaded lineup stepped up to the plate and delivered including third baseman Michael Young getting his first post-season hit of his career, a three-run homer in the fifth to crack the game open for the Rangers. While watching the last few innings of the game from my trusty elliptical in our training room, I was laughing out loud watching Wilson and Hamilton clown around with each other in the dugout once the game was firmly in their grasp. Josh was making faces at the camera while CJ was lurking unknowingly behind him throwing up bunny ears and the infamous antlers. It was an awesome display of how much genuine fun these guys are having soaking up every second of what could potentially become the franchise’s most successful playoff run to date. Well, what am I saying? They have already won a playoff game, so they have already upstaged their Ranger predecessors. I just love watching professional athletes when it’s clear that they REALLY ENJOY PLAYING. It’s not about the money or the fame for these guys… It’s about the game, hanging out with each other, and winning games. How refreshing! Keep it going boys, lemme see your claws and antlers! 

COWBOYS: As outstanding as Dez Bryant has been on the field thus far, he finally got his pay back for his refusal to carry Roy William’s pads during pre-season training camp (See: “Dear Dez, You Have to Fit In Before You Can Stand Out”). During the bye week Bryant invited the offensive players out to dinner, on him of course, to (literally) pay his dues as the star rookie on the team. Much to Bryant’s surprise, not only did the offense show up…. so did the defense, on a special personal invite straight from Roy Williams. This was obviously the perfect opportunity for  the revenge that William’s spoke of a few months back. And he took full advantage of it. The ‘Boys ordered nearly every item on the menu at Pappa’s Steakhouse including numerous bottles of expensive bottles to go. Apparently the price for not carrying a veteran’s pads is, drumroll please… $55,000. AWESOME. Oh, and the Cowboys are 1-2. Meh.

BRUINS: I could definitely get used to this whole winning football games thing. The Bruins took care of business last weekend against the hapless, toothless Washington State Cougars winning 42-28 in front of the hometown crowd at the Rosebowl. It would have been easy to have a football hangover after the emotionall victory over Texas, but the Bruins scratched and clawed their way to a somewhat sloppy victory, which in my opinion probably wouldn’t have happened in previous years. Richard Brehaut got the start in place of Kevin Prince, who was experiencing some knee swelling following a hit during the Texas game, completing 12 of 23 passes for 128 passing yards and was poised under pressure scoring the go-ahead TD on a QB keeper in the 4th quarter. The lightning and thunder one-two punch of Jet Franklin (216 yards) and Derrick Coleman (185 yards) made their substantial contributions to the Bruins 437 rushing yards. I’m PRETTY sure we have found a solid identity in our running game, don’cha think? Kai Forbath made two field goals bringing his collegiate total completions to 80, just five behind John Lee who holds the school record with 85. A Bruin win, an SC loss, and a Stanford loss made reason for celebration on Saturday evening in Westwood! Hard work, positive attitudes, and guts are paying off. Let’s take it on the road to Cal this Saturday, Bruins baby!

RANDOM THOUGHTS:

  • The “Year of the Pitcher” has evidently carried over into October post-season fun. Timmy Lincecum gets 14 Ks tonight and Roy Halladay tossed the second no-hitter of MLB playoff history yesterday. What an animal. If not for one pitch, he would have had his second PERFECT GAME of the year. That’s just filthy. I’m not gonna lie… if it gets to the point where the Rangers are playing the Phillies… I’m gonna be a little nervous. And by a little nervous, I mean A LOT nervous. What a way come out for your first playoff start ever, congratulations Roy!
  • Randy Moss is on the move, people. Back to the Vikings he goes. A few weeks ago he made it clear that he felt unwanted/under-appreciated in New England. The Pats solved that problem real quick. I’m sure Grandpa Brett will be happy to have Moss in the Minny endzone since Sidney Rice is still out after hip surgery and poor Percy Harvin seems to still be suffering with his bouts of migraines. Come MNF we’ll see how Moss looks in purple… again.
  • The Texas Longhorns are suffering on the gridiron… and that’s an understatement. After losses to UCLA(!) and Oklahoma, UT has fallen out of the AP Top 25 for the first time in 9 years. It happens to the best of us, but it’s just so weird to have a Top 25 without the Longhorns in it. Interested to see how they rebound and if they can get it together after a bye this weekend.
  • Our head gymnastics coach, Valorie Kondos-Field, was inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame this weekend. What an amazing accomplishment! Just wanted to give her a shout out of mad congratulations. We’re all so proud! Senior class with Miss Val:
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