Posted on: June 12, 2012 12:44 pm

LA Kings - 20 Years Too Late

Growing up in LA I became hooked on hockey in the late 70s/early 80s.  Hockey for me was the Triple Crown Line, the Miracle at Manchester and growing up thinking that defensemen really shouldn't mark anyone.  With the Dodgers there was Garvey, Lopes, Russell and Cey and with the Kings there was Dionne, Taylor, Simmer and Fox.  When I started to drive I found out there were $5 student seats to be purchased the day of the game.  In the day of "no GPS" driving to the Forum was an adventure as it's not the greatest part of town.  My favorite story about driving to/from the Forum was being out of gas and getting turned around after leaving the game.  I figured I should just drive straight because at some point I would hit a freeway.  I eventually downtown LA.  The next day I looked at a map to see the parts of town I had driven through around midnight fearing my car would give out.  To this day, that was the only time I had ever been in that part of town.

But back to the Kings.  I continued to follow them through college even though I was in Arizona at the time.  Occasionally a game would come on TV (Prime Sports?) and I would schedule my evenings around them.  Around 50% of the time they would be pre-empted by something Arizona related.  They were just so bad in the mid-80s but then as Dionne and Taylor were fading in came Robitaille and Carson with a slightly older Bernie Nicholls.  I moved to Texas and still tried to follow the Kings as best I could.  Gretzky coming over in 1988 helped but the Marty McSorley stick incident in the Stanley Cup Finals was probably my last Kings moment.  The Dallas Stars started playing the next year and slowly my allegiance shifted.  This year I didn't catch much of the finals but when I did I was watching Dionne snake his way through the defense and Taylor slamming home a shot at the net.  I'm very happy for the city but a bit sad that the same couldn't be done 20 years earlier.
Category: NHL
Posted on: May 17, 2012 11:52 am

Observations - Rangers v A's

Took the family to the ballpark last night to watch Yu Darvish and the Texas Rangers against the Oakland A's.  Here are some observations:

1) Both kids were excited about going.  Very rare that both agree on anything.
2) Rangers announced 45K in the park for a Wednesday night game with school still in session.  Winning + Yu = 45K 
3) Sitting upper deck in the first row between home and 1st.  Nice seats at $20 via Stub Hub.  Still a great place to watch a game.
4) Glance up at the scoreboard and see the averages for the A's players.  They were bad by little league standards!  There were so bad that if I was the opposing little league coach I will tell my pitcher if we get a good lead let some of these guys get a hit.  How are they in 2nd in the division?
5) Speaking of little league, Yu looks like a little league pitcher at times.  Threw a number of pitches at 64 mph.  Of course, he also threw at 94, too.  How many pitchers have a 30 mph difference in their pitches?
6) Yu = Ace.  Would still like to have CJ but I wouldn't trade Yu for CJ.
7) Speaking of trading Yu...not many pitchers I would trade him for straight up considering his age and contract status and what he's done so far. 
8) Fernando is the only pitcher to win ROY and Cy Young in the same season.  This may need to be updated in 5 months.
9) Alberto Gonzalez hitting 2nd for the Rangers?  Wash does put out some weird lineups at times.  Left 5 guys on base in his first three ABs hitting in front of Josh Hamilton.  (Officially only 4 but he hit into a DP on one of those.)
10) 1 1/3 innings of relief.  No hits and 4 Ks.  That will do pig.
11) Switched seats for the 9th.  Went to the lower bowl and found some empty seats to watch Nathan strike out the side.  Oh, to be rich.
12) Fantasy Alert for those in (real) deep AL only leagues.  Brandon Snyder is a player.  Look for him to get more starts against left handers moving forward.
13) Fantasy Alert for shallow leagues.  Josh Hamilton is a good.

Posted on: May 14, 2012 1:30 pm
Edited on: May 14, 2012 1:34 pm

Texas Rangers - 2013

I love me some Rangers.  There is no doubt they are the greatest team EVER in major league baseball history (modern era...I always like when this is added to an who cares).  They are led by the best player in baseball history (a mix of Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Pablo Escobar and Jesus Christ).  They are most likely not going to lose another game the rest of the way.

Well, except for the first sentence that was all crud.  But, it is getting pretty boring reading all of the articles and web sites because it seems that the Rangers can do no wrong.  The players all love each other, Hamilton hits another homer, Darvish is unhittable, minor league system is one of the best, etc.  So, since my little Rangers have the championship all wrapped up, I decided to focus on the 2013 season and see if there is anything of interest there.

Looking at the hitters, we roll out Young, Moreland, Kinsler, Andrus, Beltre, Napoli, Cruz, Hamilton and a (sort of) Murphy/Gentry platoon.  The players not under team control next year are Napoli (uh oh) and Hamilton (ugh).  Two very big holes to fill if they cannot be resigned.  I think for the sake of this blog, Hamilton will not be resigned but Napoli will.  With respects to Hamilton, I get the feeling that he wants to be paid and I believe that some other team will blow any offer for Josh out of the park (further than one of Josh's upper deck home run porch shots at the ballpark).  I think the Rangers will go 5 years at $22m per/year but no higher.  I see him getting 6 years at maybe $25m...he walks.  Napoli is making $9.4m and the Rangers also have Torrealba coming off the books at $3+m.  Combining those numbers I think you get close to what Napoli would take to stay.  This is a no brainer to me.  Without Hamilton, however, the offense goes from great to good.  There are some options in the minors - Julio Borbon, Leonys Martin, Engle Beltre and Mike Olt (could move Moreland to the OF).  None of these guys gives you what Hamilton does but you also save a bunch of money.  I think the Rangers will actually look at upgrading the LF spot (currently manned by David Murphy) then leave CF to Gentry platooning with either Borbon or Martin.  They have a lot of prospects to get this upgrade or they could go the free-agent method (Andre Ethier anyone?).

So, the 2013 hitters remain the same with the exception of Hamilton turning into a Andre Ethier type player and Murphy turning into a Gentry/Martin platoon.  Definitely a downgrade but still a lineup that can take you to the playoffs.

Looking at the starting rotation, the only pitcher not under team control is Colby Lewis (the others are Darvish, Feliz, Holland and Harrison).  I think Colby could be back if he's price is cheap enough, but, in the end, I think he is also gone.  There are just too many options to consider in tying him up for additional years (suffers from a poor hip, too).  Ogando and Robbie Ross (both currently in the bullpen) would get shots to replace Lewis.  The Rangers also have Neil Ramirez and Martin Perez in AAA.  They are getting to the point where they need to be at the major league level or traded to maximize their value.  The Rangers could use the savings from Hamilton and sign a free-agent pitcher (Cole Hamels) but I don't see them going in this direction.  This is nothing more than a hunch because the Rangers have shown they will spend the money on pitching.  I just think we are too deep in possible rotation guys to spend $20m on Hamels.  I think the rotation in 2013 is Darvish, Holland, Feliz, Harrison and Ogando. 

Looking at the main guys in the bullpen, we have Joe Nathan under team control (not counting Ogando as I see him moving to the rotation).  Mike Adams is free and I think he looks for a closer's job on another team.  Koji Uehara is gone, too.  Too much for a fly ball pitcher in our ballpark.  I think the Rangers bring up Tanner Sheppers to fill a role and Robbie Ross gets more responsibility (like Ogando has received during the 2011 playoffs and this season).  Losing Adams and Uehara frees up $8m+ for 2012 and I think the Rangers will be active in the free-agent market with respect to the bullpen.

So, looking at 2013 - Everyday lineup gets worse but is still very strong.  A lot depends on the player we bring in.  If we get an Ethier type player then the drop off is not very large.  If we play Olt at 1B and move Moreland to the OF then there are some issues.  The rotation is stronger in my mind.  The loss of Lewis is more than made up for the extra year of experience by the young pitchers.  Plus Ogando will do better than Lewis straight up.  The bullpen on the surface will get worse, but the Rangers will have a lot of money to fill the holes and the front office will do a good job here.  In the end, I think the bullpen will end up only slightly worse then where they are this year.

In summary, the 2013 Rangers lose Hamilton, Torrealba, Lewis, Mike Adams and Koji.  They resign Napoli.  They find another strong hitter in free-agency (or a trade), fill in the rotation loss from within, and use $8m+ to replenish the bullpen.  Can't wait for 2013 to get here!  Can't they just mail us the 2012 World Series trophy now so we can get this started?
Posted on: May 7, 2012 12:59 pm

Tidbits - Dumb & Dumber

Not being a Phillie fan, I really have no sense of what Cole Hamels is all about.  From the outside looking in he seems like a guy that is all about the money and getting the respect that he (as well as a lot of athletes) believes comes with it.  (I mean how much you make has everything to do about what kind of person you are, right?)  So when he obviously hits Bryce Harper in the back last night I really didn't know if there was a build up to this or not.  As it turns out I guess Cole was just sending Bryce a message that he doesn't like the way he plays.  Cole was going old school on he's ass (or back as the case may be).  At some level I'm fine with this although I'm starting to think that Cole may have one of the biggest egos in the world (next to Bryce, of course).  But then this morning I read that Cole admits to hitting him on purpose!  A+ for honesty but come do know you'll get suspended, right?  I guess the Phillies are leading the division by so much the team is good with this (side note to self, please check division standings as I'm not really sure the Phillies are in first).  Just dumb.  I know Cole is a free-agent this offseason and there is some talk about my Rangers being a destination.  I think I would pass.  We've had the Kevin Brown's and the Kenny Rogers'...and this just seems like more of the same.

I'm not a huge Mavericks fan.  I want them to win but I grew up a Lakers fan and never really took to them as much as I did the Dallas Stars or Texas Rangers.  I do love Mark Cuban and think he's done a wonderful job with the franchise...BUT, coming out of the lockout Mark decided to go a different direction with the team.  Out were JJ, Butler and Stevens and worst of all...Tyson!  There isn't anyone outside of the Mavericks' front office that liked this idea (with respect to Tyson Chandler) when it happened.  The reasoning seemed to be that the new CBA penalizes teams a lot more for being over the cap and the team wanted to get under the cap to go after Deron Williams and Dwight Howard.  Now after being swept in the first round we can look at Phase I of this decision.  It was dumb.  Superman is hurt and resigned for another year.  The team really only has one aging star in Dirk and does anyone really think that Deron is excited about that?  That will be Phase II but I don't have much hope here.  The greatest center the Mavericks ever had was Chandler and he was here for a year.  He brought a defensive mindset to the team and he was a vocal leader.  Plus, by resigning him, they could have amnestied Brendan Haywood, which is an addition by subtraction.  AND...they never would have fallen for the Lamar Odom trade!  (That last part is really unfair...but it is true.)  Look, I'm hoping it works out for the little Mavericks but Mark outsmarted himself here.
Posted on: April 27, 2012 2:37 pm

Tidbits - Cowboys Draft & Jesus...I mean Josh

Boy I hate the Cowboys.  Although I really don't want this blog to center on this, it does permeate the soul of my existence and will undoubtedly find it's why out at times.  So on draft day, I'm oddly fascinated by the Cowboy's pick.  Sort of like watching a traffic light malfunction and you stick around to see the car crash that will follow.  The one thing I wish for by the Cowboys is a trade because this either eliminates picks and the chance they might luck into someone or get them picks, which they will certainly use to pick-up a 3rd string kicker or a guy they like because he plays special teams.  It also eliminates them from the draft position where they spent the most time trying to figure out which guy to take.  But now I have mixed feelings.  They did exactly what I wanted but they picked a guy (Claiborne) I actually like.  Of course, I take comfort in the fact that they never talked to him prior to the draft and they are now desperately trying to trade Mike Jenkins.  Good signs that they did their homework!

Reading the local Fort Worth paper today there was an interview with Josh Hamilton where he stated that in Minnesota there was a "12-year-old kid calling you a crackhead..." and later says "These are the ones lashing at Jesus when he was on the cross."  Now, my first thought was that I'm pretty sure this 12-year-old kid wasn't alive when Jesus was nailed to the cross but maybe I'm taking the quote too literally.  I started thinking what I would do if my son heckled (lets say Ryan Braun) about his possible steroid use.  At some level I would actually be quite happy that he has the sense enough to know what's right and wrong.  Rather him heckle Braun then to praise him (apologies to Shakespeare there).  Of course, this is the same son (and father) that cheer for Josh daily so does my family support crack use but draw the line at steroids?  I guess I should be happy we draw the line somewhere.  And what of this Jesus comment?  It really seems like Josh is comparing himself to Jesus.  Now it may be true that Jesus can't launch a ball to the top of Green's Hill at the Ballpark but when looking at the complete package of His accomplishments I'm pretty sure He didn't smoke crack.  I guess what I'm saying is that if comparing yourself to Jesus helps you deal with the random crackhead comment then more power to you but maybe some of your problems (at the root level) have to do with your own self worth as a human.  Or to put it a different way, just go hit me another homer.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or