Monday, April 6, 2009

Just a Game

"Baseball? It's just a game. As simple as a ball and a bat, yet as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes. It's a sport, a business and sometimes even a religion." - Ernie Harwell

Who are my all-time Top5 Texas Rangers? Hmmmmmm........

I am what you call a "Die-Hard" Texas Ranger fan. Some might consider this to be quite peculiar given that I only casually follow other sports. The only other team that I will watch is the Dallas Cowboys and sometimes I find that to be trying on my time and patience. It has never been that way with the Rangers. Opening Day was about a week ago and with the dawn of a new season comes the optimism that maybe this is the Rangers'year to go all the way. I've had these feelings of blind hopefulness at the beginning of each season for the past 20+ years. You would think that I would have learned my lesson by now. I haven't...despite C.J. Wilson's best efforts.
For a guy who always "demands satisfaction", my team has often left me drowning in the vast seas of disenchantment. In the two decades that I've been a fan, I have definately endured more than my share of disappointments. From watching my team miss the playoffs every year since the turn of the millenium, to being sassed by shortstop Jeff Kunkel at a baseball card convention (I was 9 yrs. old, you pr__k!), there have been some trying times. There have been so many nights where I foolishly stayed up until the early morning hours only to witness the Ranger bullpen blow a 3-point lead and lose the game 15-14. Instead of enjoying my third peaceful hour of sleep, I remained awake, strangling my pillow and cussing Cordero's name."Why CoCo, why?"
As a life-long fan, other bad memories would include:

- Nolan Ryan's no-hitter bid shattered by Toronto's Nelson Liriano with one out in the 9th
- Hideki Irabu
- The 1996 team's loss to the New York Yankees in the playoffs despite Juan Gonzalez's dominating performance (viva Senor Octubre!)
- R.A. Dickey
- Sammy Sosa traded for Harold Baines
- Mike Heneman
- Jose Canseco traded for Otis Nixon
- Matt Whiteside
- Finding out that Rafael Palmeiro tested positive for steroids
- Chan Ho Park
- Witnessing my brother receive a verbal scolding from 3-time all star Jim Sundberg

True, there have been some bad times that have almost jaded my otherwise optimistic outlook on each new season. But to be fair, the Texas Rangers have given me countless memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Most of these memories involve my chilhood hero, Nolan Ryan.

There have been many great memories such as:

- Nolan Ryan's 6th No-Hitter
- Kenny Rogers' Perfect Game
- Josh Hamilton captivating the nation in the 2008 Home Run Derby
- Geno Petralli going 5 for 5 against Roger Clemens
- Witnessing Nolan's 5,000 strikeout from my seat in the right field bleachers
- My Uncle Jimmy (shoutout)telling pitcher Bobby Witt that he hopes he can straighten things out the next year (Witt responded with 19 wins the following year...a career high)
- Nolan Ryan laying the smackdown on Robin Ventura
- Nolan Ryan's 7th No-Hitter (my favorite moment in baseball history)

O.K., so what happened with Jeff Kunkel? After asking for his autograph, I told him that I was going to be at the game that night and wondered if he would throw me a ball. Kunkel gazed to his left and then to the right as if he was looking out at thousands of fans that would be packing the stands. And with a roll of the eyes, he sarcastically said, "Will I throw you a ball? Sure, kid....if I see you at the park I will throw you a ball." Reading his response does not accurately depict the amount of condescension that filled this verbal exchange. Granted, it wasn't as bad as former Boston Red Sox's leftfielder, Mike Greenwell telling my brother to "git" (as in "get away from me"), but it still stung quite a bit.
In conclusion, although the Rangers have frustrated the heck out of me for years and years, I will stick with them no matter what. I have to. That's what Die-Hard's do.
So who are my Top5 Texas Rangers? Lets see:

5. Brian Downing
4. Pete Inclaviglia
3. Juan Gonzalez
2. Will Clark
1. Nolan Ryan

Shoutout to Ian Kinsler

P.S. I forgot one more memory. I have been trying to upload a video of an undeserving member of my family who won $25,000 in the Sonic Slam Inning. I've tried and tried to upload it but it wasn't meant to be. Maybe my Webmaster will be kind enough to showcase it in the Top5 Drive-In someday.

Until next time...
Demand Satisfaction,


an alienated twin said...

and just think how much I was looking forward to your next jive.....

Waits said...

5. Rusty Greer
4. Ivan Rodriguez
3. Michael Young
2. Juan Gonzalez
1. Nolan Ryan

Dishonorable Mention - RA Dickey

Years after the Rangers rid themselves of Mr. Dickey's services, I fly to Seattle to visit a friend. We decide to go to a Mariners game, and as fate would have it, who is starting for Seattle? None other than RA Dickey.

Lazy Eye said...

5. Michael Young
4. Rusty Greer
3. Ivan Rodriguez
2. Steve Buechele
1. Nolan Ryan

Dishonorable Mention

5. Ron Washington
4. Chan Ho Park
3. Brad Wilkerson
2. Gary Matthews Jr.
1. Mark Teixera

The constant dissapointment from a franchise that seems to breed failure is what keeps me coming back for more. I think that is what fuels my list of favorites, in that these are the guys who can take a lashing day after day, year after year, and still be proud to be part of the organization.

Christopher said...

In retrospect, "The Red Barron" Rusty Greer should have made my list. It's a shame that his career was shortened b/c of his hard-nosed approach to the game. I suppose I should have a dishonorable mention list...excluding Jeff Kunkel. Here we go:

5.Royce Clayton
4.Benji Gill
3.Chan Ho Park
2. C.J. Wilson
1. Mark Teixeira

I would also like to add that Kenny Rogers would have made my list of Top5 favorites had he not flipped out and destroyed some poor videographers expensive camera.

an alienated twin said...

No Ruben Sierra? I though you guys were Rangers fans?

The Franker said...

5.(Pete Incaviglia
4. Juan Gonzales
3.Mickey Tettleton#
2. Will Clark
1. Nolan

*Ian Kinsler is tough to leave off but is still new and doesn't carry the nostalgia of some of the others.

#I know Tettleton wasn't here long, but I liked him a lot as a Detroit Tiger so I was really excited when he came here briefly.

-Harold Baines (Hall of Famer and all time great but I thought he was mad to be here and played like it)
-Mark Teixera

-Almost every Rangers relief pitcher in the past 10 years...too many to list

Christopher said...

I'm suprised nobody has given the ageless wonder, Julio Franco a shoutout. Anyway, There is a reason that Ruben Sierra did not make my list. There was this one game in either '89 or 90 when Nolan took a no-hitter to the 8th inning. It was broken up by a right handed hitter (I want to say it was Marty Barrett)who hit one on a line to deep right field. All Ruben had to do was dive. I thought at the time that he purposely did not give any effort in preserving the no-hitter. I remember "Big Tex" glared a hole through him after the play. That's why he's not on my list.

Joko said...

5. greer
4. kinsler
3. rick helling
2. Pudge
1. Nolan

I find it odd that people say "you can't have kinsler in there b/c there isn't enough history" ... my question is: is the history really that good? The tides of change are in motion.

dishonorable mention

-frank "the cat" catalanotto

-laynce nix....hate everything down to the spelling of his name...


-trading soriano

-trading adrian gonzales....AND chris young, for adam eaton

with more time they would have been in the top five:
john wetteland

one day they might be there:

hopefully they will trade for: a dodger SP (Billingsley or Kershaw)

The Franker said...


On the Kinsler omission...

Yes, the history of the Rangers franchise is totally forgettable except for a few isolated moments (mostly provided by Nolan.)

I based my list on personal nostalgia for the players I like growing up only. Although Kinsler is probably my favorite Ranger right now, none of my Ranger memories are associated with him as of yet. (Although that may start to change after last night!)

I'd also like to give a fond shout out to ol' Charlie Hough.

Lyle said...

Top Five

5. Rusty Greer: made a lasting impression by his hustle and hard-nosed play
4. Ian Kinsler: I'm sure we'll run him off or trade him in due time
3. Ivan Rodriguez: Came up through the Rangers system and was the best in the league at his position both hitting and field for a good period of time. Haven't had many Rangers who we could claim that. Would have retired a Ranger (and Hall of Famer) had we let him. Loved to be in Texas.
2. Michael Young: consummate team player, solid producer year-in, year-out. Have to respect the fact that he has put up with the worst the Rangers have thrown at him and keeps coming back for more.
1. Nolan Ryan: No question my favorite and possibly my favorite athlete of all time. Respect everything about him.

Honorable Mention:

Kevin Mench: always had a soft spot for Shrek. Loved how he would dive for a ball and miss when it was a good ten feet away from him.
Ralphael Palmero: still can't believe he did steroids. Didn't show...hoy.
Dean Palmer: Forget about him sometimes. But he was solid for more than a few years.


Toby Harrah: Didn't see him play, but he sure was nice to all of us at Card Conventions.
Tom Grieve: terrible GM, but it wouldn't be Rangers baseball without his announcing. He truelly bleeds Rangers and isn't afraid to voice his opinion.
Mark Holtz: "Hello win column!" Says it all.

Dishonorable Mention:

5. Matt Whiteside: Chalk up a loss whenever he came into a game.
4. Royce Clayton: Remember he was supposed to be the next Ozzie Smith. Just slightly missed that one.
3. Brad Wilkerson/Harold Baines: two notables out of many bad trades. Hard to pinpoint the worst. Painfully obvious Baines didn't want to be here.
2. C.J. Wilson: How does he keep getting a pass from the Rangers, sportwriters, etc. The bad part is that he thinks he's good.
1. Mark Texeira: Terrible in the clutch. Left for more money. Very overrated...puts up meaningless stats. But the worse part is that he didn't like to be here.

Also, about Ruben Sierra. Whoever heard of steroids preventing you from being able to hit home runs. Quite the paradox with ol' Ruben. But I do forgive his selfish acts as a young Ranger given that when he came back a few years ago you could see he had learned his lessons in humility and was willing to do anything just to get on the field.

Waits said...

My Dishonorable Mention Top 5:

5. Laynce Nix - Given so many opportunities and never came through...ever. I was afraid he wouldn't make anyone's shame list.

4. Jason Botts - We would have been better served to just take the out then having him bat clean-up. It seems like any time he did manage to make contact, it just ended up leading into a double play.

3. Brad Wilkerson - Did he ever make contact? Not to mention, he's what we indirectly ended up with after trading A-Rod.

2. RA Dickey - Seeing him on the hill was like seeing the Rangers throw up the white flag. Once gave up six home runs in one game. SIX!!! He also had the nerve to name one of his pitches: The Thing. Shouldn't this right be reserved for dominating players, or at least be used on pitch that's actually hard to hit?

1. Chan Ho Park - Even hearing the name makes me angry.

Christopher said...

Lyle: You are right, is Ruben the only player in baseball history that played worse on steroids? Given the results it had on Gary Mathews Jr., this seems unbelievable...but it is certainly the case.

Waits: I forgot about "The Thing!" Any one of us could have knocked that pitch out of the park...heck even Einar Diaz. It has to be the most ineffective pitch with a name in the history of MLB.

Joko said...

after seeing that game can cj not be in your top five is terrible....

also young is just a winner and never gripes about an organization that it would be easy to hate...his move to third was really great...and he has made a smooth transition...

I don't think i should have had rusty in mine...i should have had young...i think I should be banned from the site for that error...

Dana C said...

I will admit that the jive this time isn't a subject I can comment on as well as the last one, given that I haven't been a Ranger fan since the age of ten (I don't have the patience and have too competitive a spirit to spend a whole 9 innings rooting for a team that consistantly falls apart during crunch time.) But at the risk of sounding like a girl ;), I must say that I had a HUGE crush on Steve Buschelle back in the day! My favorite memories other than that involve the drunks in the outfield of Arlington Stadium.