It was all a magical Rangers weekend that was going to have the team in 2nd place by the end of the day. And then, baseball happens…
The Bullpen coughs it up, big time …
An hour after the Texas Rangers' bullpen got bombarded in a nine-run seventh inning that doomed them to a 13-8 loss to Oakland, the grounds crew was cleaning up at Rangers Ballpark.
A big cart was parked on the field, loaded with brooms of various sizes and styles.
Amazing that the Rangers haven't been able to put them to good use this season.
They have played 17 series this season of three games or longer. Not once have the Rangers been able to sweep their opponent. That confounding trend continued Sunday as the A's won the finale of a series against the Rangers after losing the first two.
Five times the Rangers have had a chance to complete a sweep this year. They are 0-5 in those games.
"Hopefully it's frustrating to everybody," said Jamey Wright, who had tossed 6⅔ shutout innings in his last four appearances but was shelled in the seventh inning. "It's really frustrating for me. I'm trying to figure out how we can celebrate some sweeps.
"Seems like we've had a bunch of opportunities, and we're just not able to finish them off. We had a great opportunity today, and I was the reason why we didn't finish it off today."
Wright had a 1.59 earned run average over his previous 14 outings, but he gave up two walks, a double and a single to start the seventh and the floodgates took forever to close.
By the time the bullpen finally got the third out, the A's had nine runs on six hits.
"Rough, we just had a rough time out of the bullpen," manager Ron Washington said. "That's the way it goes. You go out there and put five runs up [in the sixth] and think everything is good. But there's nine outs still to get. We had a rough inning."
Lost was a chance to move two games above .500 for the first time since late in the 2006 season. They also could have passed Oakland for second place in the AL West. Instead, the Rangers slid back to even for the season.
The story of Hobbs continues …
Josh Hamilton deserves the daily plaudits and accolades he receives these days.
Every one of them.
There is no better hitter in the American League, perhaps all of baseball, than Hamilton, with his .328 average and league-leading 15 home runs and 63 RBIs.
Besides, America loves a story of redemption.
Right now, there is none better than Hamilton's resurrection from the drug and alcohol abuse that induced his rapid fall from the top pick in the 1999 amateur baseball draft to 180-pound zombie in just a few years.
Following the Rangers' 13-8 loss Sunday to Oakland, Hamilton told his story to more than 500 fans who hung around after the game.
Hamilton and his wife, Katie, who is pregnant, spoke in a question-and-answer format
moderated by the Rangers' team chaplain. The club gets so many requests from church, youth and substance-abuse groups for Hamilton's story that they will produce a DVD of Sunday's session, which lasted about 30 minutes.
Every time you cheer a Hamilton bomb or gasp at a running catch he makes in center field, make sure you give credit to Katie Hamilton, the woman who refused to quit on Josh.
Her strength and fervent prayers inspired him to wage a battle against his addiction.
"I'd get really tired of praying for him, but the Lord was really faithful in renewing my strength," Katie said. "I'd go to bed, I'd swear that was the last time I was going to pray for him. I'm moving on and the next day I'd wake up with a new desire and strength to pray for him.
"The toughest part is being so frustrated and wanting so badly for them to have a productive and wonderful life and them not having the same desire for themselves."
Katie spent much of the first few years of marriage like millions of other folks who watch their loved ones battle substance-abuse issues every day in hopes they will overcome it before it kills them.
In case you have never seen it, here is the story Josh wrote for ESPN the Mag last July …very good read…
I've been called the biggest surprise in baseball this year, and I can't argue with that. If you think about it, how many people have gone from being a crack addict to succeeding at anything, especially something as demanding as major league baseball? If I hadn't been picked up by the Reds after the Rule 5 draft, which opened up a major league roster spot for me, I'd probably still be in A-ball. Instead, I'm hanging around .270 with 13 homers through 60 games with Cincinnati; not bad for a 26-year-old major league rookie. But the way I look at it, I couldn't fail. I've been given this platform to talk about the hell I've been through, so it's almost like I need to do well, like I don't have a choice.
This may sound crazy, but I wouldn't change a thing about my path to the big leagues. I wouldn't even change the 26 tattoos that cover so much of my body, even though they're the most obvious signs of my life temporarily leaving the tracks. You're probably thinking, Bad decisions and addiction almost cost him his life, and he wouldn't change anything? But if I hadn't gone through all the hard times, this whole story would be just about baseball. If I'd made the big leagues at 21 and made my first All-Star team at 23 and done all the things expected of me, I would be a big-time baseball player, and that's it.
Kyle Busch wins in Dover …
No matter how bad the race is, and this one was the snoozer of the season, Kyle Busch and his team find a way to win.
Busch easily won the Best Buy 400 Sunday, his fourth Sprint Cup victory of the year, without making a single on-track pass for the lead.
"We had a third-place car today," Busch said. "But we just had to get out front to beat them."
Quick work in the pits under green-flag stops put Busch out front in the No. 18 Toyota with 163 laps to go. Except for a brief reshuffling for the last green-flag stops, that's where he stayed.
"The guys on pit road did a great job for me all day," Busch said. "This is their win. I just drove a race to pace myself, but they won it for us."
Carl Edwards, the runner-up, couldn't say the same about his crew.
"I'm behind my guys 100 percent," Edwards said. "But we have to get better in the pits. That's the weakest part of our team. I felt we probably had the best car most of the race, but that last pit stop was a little bit slow. Kyle picked up a couple seconds on us in the pits today."
Winning races in the pits isn't what NASCAR had in mind with the new car. The problem is simple. The car out front is almost impossible to pass.
Things improved from the All-Star race at Lowe's to the Coca-Cola 600 one week later, but it was worse than ever Sunday at Dover.
"Clean air is king," Greg Biffle said. "The car four or five lengths back from the leader just can't get any closer."
It's the same thing we've heard 100 times this season. The new car has it's moments when it provides close racing, especially at short tracks and restrictor-plate races.
Then you see a yawner like Sunday and the questions start all over again.
Vegas posts the over/under numbers for the NFL season …
Vanderslice turns up in Canada …
Kicker Mike Vanderjagt, abruptly cut by the Cowboys during the 2006 campaign after signing a big-money (for an idiot kicker) deal in the offseason, has been unable to find work in the NFL since then. And so he's apparently giving up.
Vanderjagt reportedly will sign with the Toronto Argonauts, returning to the team for which he played through 1997, before jumping to the Indianapolis Colts according to Profootballtalk.com.
Vanderjagt, who kicked West Virginia University, is the most accurate kicker in NFL history. But he also has a history of missing key kicks, including the one he put into the Gatorade bucket against the Steelers to punctuate a stunning 2005 divisional playoff loss.
This is Old, but worthy: Chuck Morgan honored in So Ill in the paper …
In a booming voice that is so familiar to Texas Rangers baseball fans attending the games, Chuck Morgan announces, "Now batting for the Rangers, the shortstop, No. 10, Michael Young."
Chuck Morgan, or Chuck Gulledge, which is his real name away from the ballpark, has been the public address announcer for the Rangers since 1983, with the exception of a one-year stint in Kansas City in 2002.
Earlier this month, the seasoned veteran of the microphone worked his 2,000th consecutive game.
"Chuck's the most passionate Rangers fan I know," said Jim Sundberg, executive vice president of communications for the ballclub. "Besides his field announcing, he does a tremendous job with in-game entertainment. He puts his heart and soul into it."
Sundberg said working 2,000 straight games is no small achievement for Morgan.
MMA’s big show on CBS was not very good, IMO …
It sounded like such a good idea when the news broke a few months ago that CBS would broadcast a series of mixed martial arts cards in prime time.
But after watching its effort on Saturday’s Elite XC show from the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., the good news might be if CBS opts not to do another show.
These were supposed to be the professionals who would show the amateurs at the Ultimate Fighting Championship, who do their own production, how it’s supposed to be done.
And while neophyte play-by-play man Gus Johnson acquitted himself well and analysts Mauro Ranallo and Frank Shamrock didn’t embarrass themselves, the broadcast dragged on interminably.
There was more chatting than “The Tonight Show.” Fighters were introduced as they made long, slow walks to the cage, then were introduced again once they hit the cage. Given that the show went 45 minutes over its allotted time, what do you want to bet the ring walks will be eliminated if there is another show on CBS?
For some reason, particularly early in the broadcast, CBS chose to use its overhead camera to repeatedly show Elite XC’s skanky-looking cheerleaders doing nothing more than shaking their butts.
This wouldn’t have been so bad had there actually been a fight on the air every now and then. But after the show had been on the air for 32 minutes, there had been 61 seconds of actual fighting. When it was 70 minutes into the show, there had been just 2:12 of fighting.
The whole show was built around Kimbo Slice, the Internet-generated star whose street fights made him into something of a mythical figure in the sport before he’d ever faced a serious opponent.
Slice’s name and face was everywhere in the days and weeks leading up to the bout. Considering the way this dragged on, though, you have to wonder how many folks were still awake when the bell rang to begin Slice’s bout with James Thompson at 11:27 p.m. ET, nearly a full half-hour after the show was supposed to have been over.
While it was mostly C-level talent on display, the fighters by and large held up their end of the bargain.
And the ratings were pretty solid ….
The MMA Saturday Night Fights Elite XC event action scored 4.3 million viewers between 9pm-11pm, but it wasn’t enough to topple FOX’s dynamic Saturday duo of Cops and America’s Most Wanted. The MMA bout had small total viewer numbers but it hit the target with the coveted 18-34 youth, particularly the elusive 18-34 year old male television viewer.
The event had 1.9/6 18-49 rating (36% higher than the crimetime drama repeats) , a 1.9/7 among adults 18-34 (more than twice the season average .9 rating ) and a 2.6/10 rating among men 18-34, more than triple the season average of 0.7. In the 25-54 demo the fights had a 1.9/6 overall and a 2.6/8 among men.
CBS is bound to be pretty happy. I wonder if more young people would watch the CBS Evening News if Kimbo Slice was the anchor. Kidding. Kind of. Actually as our friends at the Silicon Alley Insider noted, Sumner Redstone isn’t particularly thrilled about the matches being aired on the broadcast net.
As alluded to earlier, the primary bout (Slice/Thompson) took place after 11pm, so the final numbers will be even bigger (and again are not included in these numbers) as that was no doubt the most watched portion of the fight. We’ll know the full numbers for the entire airing by tomorrow.
The NHL Stanley Cup Finals matchup where the Pittsburgh Penguins lost game 4 to the Detroit Red Wings to go down three games to one had 4.31 million viewers and a 1.6/6 in the demo, tying FOX for first.
Have you considered Octagon Global Recruiting …through the Dharma Initiative….
Genius of Gnarls Barkley – 2 years later
Chris Cooley’s Wedding