Texas Rangers Becoming Major Player

Move over New York, Los Angeles and Boston; your aristocratic club just got a brand new member. Yes, I am talking about our Texas Rangers. No, I am not crazy, I have solid proof the Rangers have become a major player in the market and will give New York, Los Angeles and Boston a run for their money every year.

The Rangers made an impression in the market when they won the exclusive bidding rights and eventually signed Japanese sensation Yu Darvish. Nobody outside of the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex expected the Rangers to even have a close bid. The Rangers have proven the last two seasons they can compete with the evil empires of the northeast and west coast on the field. Now this off season, they are proving they can stay with them step for step and dollar for dollar in the marketplace in the quality player hunt.

While Texas is the “New Kid” on the block with all of their recent on field success, it is starting to equate into some exciting moves off the field as well. Nolan Ryan being president (and part owner) has an appeal to a lot of players. But don’t discount John Daniels. He has been a shrewd GM and made moves that have shocked and surprised his staunchest critics. Suddenly Texas is becoming a “hot” destination for quality players. Everyone loves a winner. As the old adage goes, “build it and they will come”. Attendance records were broken this past two years and this will continue.

And don’t forget the loveable Ron Washington with his toddler like grin from the dugout. He is a true player’s manager, and has a passion that runs so deep even a fan in the nosebleeds can feel it emanating from him on the field. Everything is starting to add up for a great chance for the Texas Rangers to make their mark in Major League Baseball. Back to back World Series appearances are a good start.

This all started a few years ago when Nolan and John decided the way to build a winner was from the minors up. They placed their focus on the drafts and built towards a great future. They knew it was going to take time and lots of patience. Well, those were some dark days and everybody around the club wanted “JD” gone. But Nolan kept him around, and brought in some new ownership with a lot of money in their pockets. As soon as the sale was finalized and the old owner Tom Hicks was gone, things immediately got better.

Now the Texas Rangers are “wheeling and dealing” and starting to make themselves a destination for quality players instead of a joke. It has been a long road, and there are some painful memories for the fans, but brighter days are ahead. The Rangers are becoming a player in the free agent market, and have been a big time player in the draft. They have also developed a great group of players in their minor league farm system.

These are great days if you are a Rangers fan, and they only look to get better. As long as Nolan and JD run the show, this team will be relevant. So move over Yankees, and step aside Red Sox and Angels because we are crashing your monopoly and will have you uttering, “We shouldn’t have messed with Texas”.

Please be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Rangers Young quietly get 2,000 hits

On Sunday night, Michael Young joined a very unheralded group of players, when he got his 2,000th career hit as a Texas Ranger. This is normally not a very talked about feat and usually is just a small note in the papers, but there are some interesting facts with which this number has become more special. Michael Young has been the consumate teammate and an on field leader who has been nothing but true class. He has made numerous moves at the request of the organization and continually puts the needs of the team before himself. But even with all of that, there are still people who won’t give Michael Young the credit he deserves, It will not be noted except in the fine print that Young got to his 2,000th hit quicker than the following players, Paul Molitor, George Brett and Ted Williams.

How can anyone sit there and say that this guy is not something special? He has 2,000 hits quicker than the one guy who has been called the greatest hitter in the game of baseball. It is a fact that Young has spent his 11 year career as a Texas Ranger, and through all but one of those seasons, Texas was not a great team. But he has continually played the best he can every day and continues to be one of the driving forces behind the Rangers success. While people will find ways to nit pick and tear down Young, he is continually a .300 hitter and is one of the few guys on the roster who will play everyday if he is allowed.

Part of the Problem with Young not getting any respect is that he has not been on good teams, if he had been placed on a team like the Yankees, then his 2,000th hit would have been an hour long piece on Sportscenter. But then again people would probably want to over rate him at that point much like they do Derek Jeter. I am not saying Jeter is a bad player, or he isn’t deserving of his accolades, but he gets more attention for being a New York Yankee, than he does for being a baseball player. Michael Young deserves more fan fare than he gets and he deserves more respect from the fans and media in the area. It is too common of an occurrence where someone will blast Young for a minor mistake and go on a rant about how terrible he is. All I have to say is how can the guy be terrible if all he does is contribute and help the team win?

There was a point this season where Michael Young was one of the sole offensive contributors in the line up day in and day out. But nobody wanted to credit him, everybody wanted to complain about an error, or complain that he struck out at a bad time. Ranger fans need to look in the mirror and come to grips with reality, because if this team didn’t have Michael Young, then this team wouldn’t be as good as it is. It is time to sit back and enjoy what we have in front of us, give the guy his credit and show him the respect he so much deserves. In today’s game, he is a throwback player who plays the game the way kids do and he swallows his pride and does what he can to help the team. Most players today wouldn’t do that, they would pack their bags and wait to be traded.

Congratulations on your 2,000th hit Michael Young, can’t wait to watch you climb your way up to 3,000.

Major League Baseball at the break

We have finally reached the mid way point of the 2011 season and while there have been some surprises and some standard things that happen every year. One of the biggest surprises that has come out of the first half of the season, is the fact that the Boston Red Sox are in 1st place after starting the season 2-10. Most teams would have lost any hope of being a division leader after than kind of start, especially in the dreaded AL East. But somehow the Red Sox found a way to keep it from ending their season before it began. Once again you have the usual back and forth with the Sox and Yanks, which will get more intense as we near October.

Another surprise out of the first half is the fact that the Cleveland Indians have been one of the best teams throughout the first half. They cooled off a little bit as it neared the All Star Break, but for a while they were running away with the central. Now that things have tight-end up, it should be interesting to see how a youthful team like the Indians handles the pressure cooker than can be September and October. The Pittsburgh Pirates have been a surprise team also with the leadership of new manager Clint Hurdle. They are in the hunt in the NL Central being only 1 game back from St. Louis and Milwaukee.

Unfortunately tragedy has struck fans in Major League Baseball this season with two deaths from fans falling out of their seats while trying to catch a foul ball. It happened in Colorado earlier and then more recently in Texas. This is something that has happened without any real casualty for years and  years, but this season two deaths has to make executives in the MLB wonder what needs to be changed. I am not going to sit here and blame MLB, or the teams themselves for some fans who went to an extreme to catch a foul ball. But at the same time, everybody needs to brainstorm and see if there is a possibility to find a new safety feature to add into ball parks to prevent this from happening. One thing I would suggest is do an announcement before the game and have a strict warning for fans who sit in the upper sections, that reaching over the railing could have dangerous or potentially fatal consequences. Will it stop someone from trying? I doubt it, but it will at least put it in the front of their mind and people may let the ball go if it isn’t easily accessible. Because a baseball isn’t worth a life.

While this is the mid point of the season, there is a lot of games to be played and there is a lot that could happen right now. Should be a fun run through the summer and into the early fall. But to me the All Star Game is slowly becoming a joke. The big name players get voted in regardless of their season and now you have some stars who have opted out of attending the game at all. This whole game is becoming a farce and I don’t think many fans really care to watch it. Can we just hurry up and get back to the games that matter. Last thing I want to say is a congratulations to Derek Jeter for reaching the Milestone of 3,000 hits. But in reality Jeter is nothing more than an over hyped player who gets a big spotlight for being in New York and playing for the Yankees. Place him on any other team and he would just be one of the nameless guys who is consistent. Now, lets strap in and prepare for the 2nd half of the season and enjoy the ride into October.

Who cares about the “Silver Boot”?

 Every summer when it comes around to inter-league play in Major League Baseball, there is always one date that they will try to get everyone excited about and that is the date when the Astros and Rangers meet in the “Silver Boot Series”. This was a concoction that was dreamed up by the two previous owners of the two Texas franchises. But it really seems like everyone in the fan base has really not cared about the trophy itself or even the series.

There are two schools of thought here, the first one being that the two teams play in two different leagues and anytime they do play is for no real prize. If they were to eventually be in the same division and leagues, then there would be incentive to build a rivalry then. Until that happens there is no real rivalry to be built. The second school of thought is that the whole trophy or deal is just very childish for two professional teams to try and incite a rivalry. You don’t have any trophies between the Yankees and Red Sox, but you do have a blood hatred that can’t be touched in professional sports.

As a fan and a baseball enthusiast, I would implore the two franchises to do away with the trophy and childish advertising to try and create a non-existent rivalry. This is professional sports, and there is only one trophy that matters to the fans, and that is the World Series Trophy.

Sports Brain seepage Vol. 2

Once again it is that time to round up a series of stories and blast them out as my sports brain seepage happens again. This time there will be some stories that may hit a bit of a nerve, so I will preface by saying this. These are my opinions only, I respect that not everyone will agree with me, but don’t try to bash me for the way I feel about something.

Yankee Discourse:
For some strange reason there has been an ongoing story that really doesn’t seem to be a story at all to me. The story of Jorge Posada asking to not play one day last week has become a huge issue with a piece on Outside the Lines on ESPN. It probably has gained a lot of traction because Derek Jeter had to go and stick his big ole nose into the fray. But whether or not the guy wants to play or refuses to bat 9th in the lineup shouldn’t be an issue at all, and it should never become a major story for everyone to read.

Suns President steps “Out of the closet”:
Earlier this week, the Suns president and CEO Rick Welts decided to announce publicly that he was gay this week to the media. While this is somewhat shocking to most fans, and has sparked a mass debate about homosexuals and sports. There have been a few former athletes who decided to come out and admit they were gay, but that has always been after the fact. And in reality most of the ones who “came out” were just spare part players, no real super star player has ever made that kind of announcement, and would it make big headlines if one happened to admit to being gay? Simple answer is yes it would make very big headlines and it would blast this debate through the stratosphere.

This story will make the rounds for another week or two and then it will disappear. But this has opened the debate, Are we as a society ready to move into a forward thinking stance and be ready to accept homosexuals into sports without any prejudice? Some would like to think that this would be a yes and that we are open enough as a society to not hold any bigotry or hatred. But the truth of the matter is, as a whole fans and even the athletes themselves are not ready to make that leap. Nobody will come out to the forefront and say it, but it is the main reason that nobody active in sports has ever admitted to being openly gay. Even the story about the Villanova player who came out to ESPN the magazine admitted that he only told his room mate and that was it. Will someone with a position of power, who is actively in the sport, start to change that thought process? Only time will really tell if that happens or not, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he isn’t in his current job within a couple years and this is all gone and forgotten within the next 5 years.

Heat tie up series at 1 a piece:
The Heat tied up the series with the Bulls last night, which now sets up for a great series. This series has the potential to go the full seven games and it would excite fans to see this type of quality series to play them all. The NBA is experiencing one of it’s best playoffs in recent memory and a seven game series for the Eastern Conference Finals would help cement that. But I still think the Bulls will take this series.

[box]Kody’s Sports Korner is on Twitter: @kodysportskornr[/box]