Thursday, July 10, 2008
Ya hadda be there (and we were, sort of. . . )
It's Roy Hobbs! (AP photo)
What an amazing finish to last night's Rangers-Anaheim Angels game in Arlington! All morning on ESPN the lead highlight clip has been Josh Hamilton's walk-off two-run home run to lead Texas to a 5-4 victory.
I hope folks are finally starting to believe in this ball club. I know I do. It took me several years past the debacle that was the A-Rod deal to get me to even want to watch a sports team owned by Tom Hicks. But things are starting to fall into place for the Rangers. . .they've got a little momentum now (playing 4-games above .500 for the first time in two years) going into the All-Star break. And while the pitching still isn't anywhere near where it should be--in fact, it's a horror show--the youth and resiliency and sense of team embodied in this year's Rangers squad should bring big dividends in the future. Maybe not this year, but certainly in 2009 and later. The club is loaded with young hitting and fielding talent, and there's a whole line of 'em coming up in the Rangers' minor league system, too. Hats off to Jon Daniels. And hats off to Nolan Ryan, too, for his leadership in the front office. Not much to hear from Mr. Hicks, which is fine with me.
The Temple at dusk. A magical place. And $1.00 hot dogs to boot.
Chris and son Jake along with the always-in-motion I. and E. Jake's got a borrowed Cubs cap on. By the end of the night, he was sporting a Rangers cap. Another convert!
Our family joined my co-worker Chris Palmieri and his son, Jake, at the game last night. I gave the Rangers no chance of winning last night going into it. It's not too promising when the team doesn't have a starter to put on the mound. Instead, they team opted to use relievers--Madrigal and Rupe to start things off--and to me it had a bruising written all over it.
But Madrigal and Rupe stepped up, pitching a combined six innings and allowing two runs, allowing the Rangers to tie the game at 2-2 by the 6th inning by forcing the Angels' Jared Weaver to walk runners, and having the luck of two fielding errors which set up the Rangers' first two runs.
Rangers reliever Frank Francisco allowed the Angels two more runs in the 6th, and there it stood, 4-2, until the 9th inning, when the Angels' dangerous closer, Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez, came on to close the Rangers out.
It wasn't to be.
Rodriguez walked Vasquez, struck out Kinsler, and Catalanatto grounded out, moving Vasquez to second. With 2 outs, Michael Young sent Vasquez home on a double, bringing Hamilton up to bat with the score 4-3 with two outs. After running the count to 3-1, Rodriguez elected to pitch to Hamilton rather than walk him, and Hamilton drove the pitch deep to right field.
Pandemonium ensued. The crowd went wild, etc. and the Rangers swarmed onto the field to welcome Hamilton on his first-ever walk-off home run. It was electric. I'm sure Josh Lewin's call will be remembered for a long time.
A family photo op. You can see I. is already fidgeting to get to the team store. . .
At least it appeared that way on television. Where were we? Hey, we've got two young boys, and they absolutely needed to visit the team store rather than watch the conclusion to this exciting game. So, off we went to the gift shop (Hey, Rangers were down 4-2 in the 7th inning? What are the chances they'd rally?) While M. and the boys shopped, I watched the game conclude on a television monitor above a display of Ranger's Caps.
"What happened? Is it over?" one shopper asked. "Awww, and we were shopping!" That about sums up the experience. What the hell. We'll catch it on SportsCenter later.
Still, an electrifying win, and the Rangers are now up 2-1 in the series against the Angels. And Hamilton is being hailed as "The Natural" on baseball blogs across the country. "How f-ing awesome can that be?" one writer asked, " to hit a home run in a stadium of cheering fans, fireworks exploding overhead, and the music from 'The Natural' playing? " How f-ing awesome, indeed!
This season is getting more interesting by the moment.
My view of the Hamilton game-winner. I won't let this happen again.
Where Have You Gone, Transistor Radio (a nation turns its lonely eyes to you. . .)
Before headed to the game, and running errands, I thought I'd just stop in a store and buy a small transistor radio to take to the game. Remember those? Back in the days, when World War II vets chomped cigars while watching games in the stands and baseball fields had names like Comiskey and Crosley--not Comerica or Pac-Bell--a transistor radio was an indispensable accessory in adding to enjoyment to a game.
How tough could it be to find one? Pretty tough, I guess. I made four stops and wasn't able to find such a contraption in short-order. Office Depot? I knew that would be pushing my luck, but since they sell Gummy Bears by the tub-full, I thought I'd take a chance. Wal-Mart? Target? No, no, and no. Radio Shack had a fancy model for $39.99 (!!!), and would be "happy to order" a cheap $14 model. No thanks. I can buy it on line cheaper and easier. I just found it strange that one can find all manner of readily-available mp3 players small enough that you could insert one in many body orifices, but the lowly transistor radio--what a personal electronic device was back in the days before "ear buds"--are nowhere to be seen.
Radio Shack. You have questions, we have blank stares.