All of the above.
Words cannot express the Rangers performance both last night and honestly in 2008. I am optimistic of the direction this team, but there is plenty of work yet to be done. Let’s look at the numbers as of this morning…
Batting Average = .282 – 1st (2nd is Boston .280)
Slugging = .460 – 1st (2nd is Chicago .447)
OBP = .353 – 3rd (1st is Boston .356)
Home Runs = 147 – 5th (1st – Chicago, 168)
Total Bases = 1960 – 1st (2nd – Detroit, 1860)
Runs = 684 – 1st (2nd – Cubs, 627)
Hits = 1202 – 1st (2nd – St Louis, 1172)
ERA – 5.39 – 30th (29th – Pitt, 5.14)
Hits Allowed – 1228 – 1st ( 2nd – Pitt, 1216)
Runs Allowed - 725 – 1st (2nd – Pitt, 651)
Earned Runs Allowed - 641 – 1st (2nd – Pitt, 612)
Home Runs Allowed – 139 – 3rd (1st – Houston, 158)
Walks Allowed – 487 – 2nd (1st – Baltimore, 492)
Strikeouts – 682 – 29th (30th – Baltimore, 679)
Fielding Percentage - .978 – 30th (29th – Florida, 979)
Errors – 104 – 1st (2nd – Florida, 93)
Total Chances – 4629 – 4th (1st – St Louis, 4754)
So, at the top of every pertinent batting statistic, at the bottom of nearly every pitching and fielding statistic. Amazing. How things change, but never change is truly the curse on this franchise’s head.
The amazing story of scoring 17 and losing …
When the Rangers officially bury their faint playoff hopes – which might just happen before the week is out – there will be no doubt about the cause of the demise.
It always has been and always will be about the pitching.
Ultimately, that's why the Rangers fell, 19-17, to Boston on Tuesday night, fell eight games behind the Red Sox in the wild-card standings and may have fallen much further back in the mental playoff race. On a night when the lineup staged a massive, historic comeback, the Rangers instead walked away as the first AL team in at least 50 years (research does not go back any further) to score at least 17 runs and lose.
After the Rangers took a 16-15 lead to the bottom of the eighth, Kevin Youkilis slammed a three-run homer off Frank Francisco to give the lead back to the Red Sox. They had surrendered leads of 10-0 and 12-2 to the resilient Rangers offense.
"I just don't know how many times you can do this," acknowledged outfielder Marlon Byrd, who went 5-for-5 and reached on an error in his sixth at-bat. "To be 10 runs down, to come back to take the lead and then to lose, it's just too mentally and physically draining. It gets old."
The Rangers are 1-3 on their current road trip. They have surrendered at least nine runs in all three losses. The game they won? They held Baltimore to seven runs. The staff ERA now stands at 5.37, the worst in the AL by more than half a run. The starting rotation ERA is 5.63; since 1900, only 14 teams have finished a season with a higher rotation ERA.
All season, the Rangers rotation has been a mélange of green rookies and struggling veterans.
And it has been full of one complication after another.
The most recent – at least until Tuesday's game started – was the return of inflammation in the joint that connects the sternum and clavicle on the right side of Vicente Padilla's chest. He left the team Monday, received a cortisone injection and is unlikely to pitch Thursday, which potentially throws the rotation into more disarray.
The Rangers had hoped to skip rookie Tommy Hunter, but now it looks like he'll have to pitch. The Rangers weren't thrilled with Kevin Millwood's rehab start on Sunday, but now it looks like they may be forced to activate him.
All those worries were temporarily halted Tuesday and not for a good reason. Scott Feldman, one of the few success stories in the rotation, fell flat on his face. He allowed 10 runs in the first inning, setting a Rangers record for most runs allowed by a pitcher in one inning. He gave up two three-run homers to David Ortiz in the inning.
"It's pretty embarrassing actually," Feldman said. "We know we're never out of a game, and our comeback tonight tells me a lot about our team, but it also tells me that I've got to do a lot better job."
The Rangers did come back, scoring twice in the second, eight times in the fifth and five more times in the sixth to take a most improbable lead. Had the lead held up, it would have tied the club's record for biggest deficit overcome in a win.
They were six outs away and holding a 16-15 lead when manager Ron Washington gave the ball to Francisco, his most reliable reliever over the last two months.
Francisco walked pinch hitter Jacoby Ellsbury with one out, then allowed Dustin Pedroia's fifth
hit of the night to score one run. He intentionally walked Ortiz to face Youkilis, who struck out twice in the first inning but also homered in the fifth. Youkilis drove a 2-0 fastball over the Green Monster.
"I think everybody in the stadium and in Massachusetts thought it was over when they got up 10-0," Washington said. "But one thing I can say about my guys is they never stop fighting. I'm proud of that. We never stopped fighting, but we just couldn't stop them tonight."
You have to wonder if that last sentence will be the epitaph on the Rangers' 2008 season.
This Michael Phelps is something …
Michael Phelps has left swimmers gasping in God only knows how many languages so far this Olympics.
Ejha! Remek! Miau!
Very loosely translated, all mean “holy cow, this Phelps dude is fast” or some variation thereof. Almost every swimmer that has been in a pool with him has experienced this feeling of trying to beat what seems to be an unbeatable swimmer.
On Wednesday morning at the Water Cube, Phelps added a “miraculous” in broken English to this chorus after beating a multinational group of contenders in world-record time in the 200-meter butterfly for his fourth gold medal of this Games.
“It’s a miracle,” New Zealand’s Moss Burmester said. “He’s an amazing guy. He wins eight gold medals; I think so.”
Phelps followed that by joining his American teammates, Peter Vanderkaay, Ryan Lochte and Ricky Berens, in destroying the 4x200 meter freestyle relay in a world-record six minutes and 58.56 seconds. Or better than four seconds faster than anybody has ever gone.
Russia, which finished second, was almost five seconds behind.
So golds No. 4 and 5 for Phelps? Check.
Three to go to best Mark Spitz? Working on it.
Become The Greatest Olympic Athlete Ever? Done, by winning more gold medals (11)
than any previous Olympian. He now has more gold medals than anybody else.
“I think I’m kind of almost at a loss for words,” Phelps said. “I think growing up I always wanted to be an Olympian … and now, to be the most-decorated Olympian of all time, it just sounds weird saying. I have absolutely nothing to say. I’m speechless.”
He had called this “a pretty big morning” going in. And he was not without challengers on Wednesday. Burmester stayed with him for a long portion of that 200. He had to have Phelps at least be thinking. “I tried pushing,” Burmester said. “He’s too fast.”
and now, a look at the Olympic Ratings …
Three words for NBC's Beijing coverage so far: boffo box office.
Forget the kind of dramatic time zone difference with the U.S. that hampered ratings for Sydney's 2000 Summer Games and Nagano's Winter Games in 1998. And enough about how the Internet age makes taped TV sports obsolete: Just because life in other galaxies can find out what happened in various events before NBC airs them on tape in prime time doesn't mean people — or perhaps aliens — won't watch.
First, the numbers: After drawing 17.9% of U.S. households in prime time Sunday — up 16% from comparable coverage of the 2004 Athens Games — NBC's prime-time average so far is 17% of U.S. TV households. That's like a rating for a really big college football bowl game or a late Sunday afternoon NFL game.
That three-night average also is up 21% from the 2004 Games and the highest three-night average for a Summer Olympics held outside the United States since the 1976 Montreal Games.
Michael Phelps might be in a position to get NBC to promise he can be Jay Leno's replacement in return for continuing to show up for NBC's live prime-time races. If that's what Phelps wants.
And — for a moment, anyway — NBC is challenging the notion that today's TV landscape is inevitably fragmented. NBC says it drew 107 million viewers for its Olympic coverage Sunday, up from 91 million for the first Sunday of the Athens Games. (But it shouldn't get too cocky: The research firm CSM Media Research/TNS Media estimates 184 million viewers in China tuned in for the U.S.-China men's basketball game Monday.)
NBC says its research shows about 90% of Olympic viewers watch only on TV, with the remaining 10% watching online as well. With NBC offering the first live online Olympic action ever in the U.S. — outside of a single hockey game during the 2006 Winter Games — it's still hard to gauge online impact, which will become apparent this week as office workers look to goof off. Through Monday afternoon, NBC's online video coverage had drawn 11.1 million streams — including 1.1 million streams of the dramatic U.S. swimming victory in the men's 4x100-meter freestyle relay — a 405% increase over total streams during the 2004 Games.
NBC lucked out by getting all swimming finals as well as men's and women's team and individual gymnastics finals live for the 82% of U.S. households in the Eastern and Central time zones. West Coast viewers get the so-called live action on tape — despite the "live" onscreen logos — as they did during the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Games, when West Coast affiliates didn't want to air live coverage that would cut into local news and would not draw as many viewers as prime-time coverage.
And golf appears to miss Tiger ….
The PGA Championship took a double hit over the weekend: Tiger Woods wasn't there to defend his title and the tournament went up against NBC's Olympics coverage.
Golf's fourth and final major earned a 3.0 rating/6.0 share Sunday on CBS, a 56% decline from 2007. Saturday's broadcast from Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Township, Mich., was down a whopping 78% from the Saturday broadcast a year earlier, but that's because bad weather canceled much of the day's action.
With Woods recovering from surgery following his victory in the U.S. Open in June, networks carrying golf are taking a big ratings hit.
Padraig Harrington's wins in both the PGA and British Open are not resonating with audiences. Harrington's triumph at the British in July registered a 15% decrease from last year's British, despite the comeback story that saw Greg Norman making a run for the title.
Other events this summer shedding viewers were the Buick Open (down 12%) and the AT&T National in suburban Washington, D.C., a tournament Woods hosts and participates. His absence this year meant a 48% drop in the final round.
So sad …so very sad….
Brett Hull properly honored as a good American …even if he is Canadian…
Brett Hull, who decided to play for the United States at the 1986 world championships because his native Canada didn't invite him, heads the 2008 class for the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
Hull, whose 741 goals are third best in NHL history, is joined by former NHL stars Brian Leetch and Mike Richter and pioneering women's player Cammi Granato. Granato will be the first female among the Hall's 138 members.
The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame is located in Eveleth, Minn. The Hall of Fame induction
will be Oct. 10 in Denver.
Hull had two dominant seasons at Minnesota Duluth, scoring 52 goals in 1985-86 as a
sophomore -- a total not reached in college hockey since. Despite being born in Belleville, Ontario, the dual citizen played for Team USA at the 1986 world championships because he was invited, and spent the rest of his career playing for U.S. national teams, including the Olympic silver medalists in 2002. Hull was the NHL's MVP in 1990-91 with St. Louis after scoring 86 goals, was a nine-time All-Star and won Stanley Cups with both Dallas and Detroit.
Email from my buddy, after we tried to remember who the Cowboys took instead of Zach Thomas in the 2006 Draft:
So after breakfast I was curious about who was drafted ahead of Zach Thomas (in the fifth round) in 1996. Just for fun, here they are:
Kavika Pittman (DE)
Randall Godfrey (LB)
Clay Shiver (C)
Stepfret Williams (WR)
Mike Ulufale (DE)
Georgia and Russia on the Rugby Field – they don’t like eachother much