Baseball is More Than Just a “game”

by Clayton Shearman

Baseball –  a game played with a bat and ball between two teams of nine players each on a large field having four bases that mark the course a runner must take to score.

Is that really all it is?

Baseball is an amazing “game”. David sunflower seeds all over the dugout. Paper cups and bubble gum wrappers on the ground. The smell of pine tar and leather gloves. Beech-Nut packages and empty cans of Copenhagen everywhere. You can hear four different languages and only understand three words. Complicated handshakes, pre-game rituals and wrists getting taped up. Those are some of the physical parts of the game outside of the white chalk.

Inside of the lines, there are many unwritten rules. Etiquette, procedures and situations all factor into every minute of the game as well. There are designed play just like football, but no playbook or helmet mics. It is all stored in the good ol’ peanut. The plays are set for certain situations and to answer player tendencies. Many things go into the great game of Baseball, many.

Mentally, the game is extremely sophisticated. There are more situations and variables to the game than any other sport.

For instance, In the eyes of a casual fan a lead-off hitter just that. What most people don’t know is that a hitter has certain strengths and certain weaknesses in certain situations against certain pitchers. The pitcher toe-ing the rubber doesn’t just see another opponent. He sees the guys body language, he sees the scouting report going through his mind, he visualizes the last time they faced off and he sees an opportunity.

When a player gets on base, he isn’t spectating. He is checking where the outfielders are and is applying the hitters tendencies to where the ball may go and where the gaps may be. He is getting the stopwatch time of the pitcher from his first base coach. He is remembering the catcher’s pop-time and is calculating those to predict whether he could steal successfully.

The game of Baseball is extremely diverse. Different players from different countries speaking different languages. All of them only have one language in common, of course that dialect is Baseball. You see younger players learning from older players for a simple reason, out of respect. The veterans remember being in the same exact position when they were young players. They see themselves in those that admire and follow them.

There is an immense amount of things that go into the game after every pitch, out, hit, catch inning and game. It is simply unrealistic to try an explain the things I know about the game and is utterly impossible to know everything about it. I know enough to know that there are thousands of people who have forgotten more about the game than I will ever know.

It is said to just be a “game”, but it is more than just that to many people. It is a lifestyle, a connection, an infection and a religion to some.  Anger, devotion, misery, satisfaction, pain, joy,fulfilment, brotherhood, intensity and love are words that describe Baseball the best.

So the next time you turn on the T.V. or head to the ballpark to watch your favorite team, imagine every single seemingly tiny ounce of dedication it takes to make just three hours of a “game” such an electrifying and beautiful thing.

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Playing GM for the Texas Rangers

Texas Ranger fans should be extremely grateful that we have such a well ran organization… for once. The days of trading away the best players in the organization for a bucket of cage balls and a log of Wintergreen Copenhagen are long gone.   Jon Daniels has no doubt made a couple of stupid moves in his time, but he has over-compensated with brilliant moves too, and more of them. Jon Danks hasn’t been brilliant in Chicago, Adrian Gonzalez cuts deep but Josh Hamilton is a great band-aid to that wound.

Anyways, even though JD is the man and I trust him, I feel like some moves can be made to make the team better. I’m going to let you see inside of my head on what I think the Rangers could do before Spring Training rolls around to help them win that elusive W.S.

Need: Util. OF or starting CF, Util. Inf. and a Lefty Specialist Reliever

Image: Zuma Press

Idea #1 : Jack Wilson

Jack Wilson is a typical veteran Major League journeyman. He is a perfect Free Agent  utility infielder for the Rangers. He is not a liability in the clubhouse, hits fairly well and can field very well.

Price: If he wants his usual $4-5 Million a year.. Forget about. But if the aging Utility man wants a ring or at least wants to win.. He would need to take a pay cut. Such as a 2-year $6 million contract.

Image courtesy of Zimbio.com

Idea #2 : Eric O’Flaherty

Eric O’Flaherty dominated lefties last year with the Braves. He is not a free agent, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be acquired for a certain price. The 26 year old lefty posted a sub 1.00 ERA last year and dominated LH hitters in the process. The addition would make Texas’ bullpen the best in the league… easily.

Price: The Braves aren’t as high on O’Flaherty as most teams would be because of their surplus of good young bullpen arms. But for the Rangers to acquire the lefty specialist they would need a good trade. If I was Jon Daniels, I’d offer Michael Kirkman and a lower tier prospect for O’Flaherty.

Image: Zuma Press

Idea # 3 : Clayton Kershaw

First of all, I’m not saying this is going to happen, but Clayton Kershaw is an absolute beast on the mound and is still very young. The Dodgers are currently trying to fix their ownership situation but that shouldn’t stop them for wanting to acquire a ton of top-tier prospects for their Cy Young award winning ace.

Price: Most Ranger fans aren’t going to like this too much but… Martin Perez will have to be included in a trade for Kershaw. It would take something like this:

Martin Perez LHP

Mike Olt 3B

Robbie Ross LHP and maybe another prospect

Imagine the future rotation of Kershaw, Darvish, Holland, Harrison and Feliz…. Don’t tell me that wouldn’t be fun.

The CF position isn’t an extremely big need to the Rangers. Craig Gentry fills in very well and Leonys Martin should be sharpening his skills in Spring Training. With the absence of Endy Chavez… Martin should fill that spot on the roster if he performs at a high level in March.

It is always fun to imagine being an owner or GM of a team, but that is what Fantasy Sports are for.

 

Jon Daniels taking tips from Lady Gaga

The Brain Trust

In the days and weeks leading up to the Yu-Mania, the Texas Rangers suddenly had no money. According to many “sources” the Texas Rangers went from being absolutely loaded and full of money to suddenly being “cash strapped”.

Last year the Texas Rangers signed a T.V. deal with Fox Sports Southwest after the team was sold to Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg in August. The deal, according to the USA Today and three high-ranking MLB officials(two of whom personally saw the contract), is worth $3 Billion over a span of 20 years. That is $150 million a year for the next 20 years starting after the 2014 season.

Later, the Dallas Morning News would report that the claim made by the USA Today on the deal was “wildly inflated”. The DMN would go on to explain that the deal is closer to $1.6 Billion or $80 million per year for the next 20 years starting after the ’14 campaign. The source for the Dallas Morning News also explained that, much like a player signing bonus, the Texas Rangers would also receive a signing bonus almost immediately.

Nobody really knows exactly what it is, but either deal is an upgrade from the $20 million per year deal the Rangers had under former owner Tom Hicks. The question is: How do the Rangers go from “Loaded” to “Borderline Broke” in a matter of weeks and days? My answer: Rangers ownership, Jon Daniels and his genius plan for our Texas Rangers.

Explanation: The Texas Rangers have money and a lot of it. When you think about the record attendance and the hosted playoff and World Series games in the last two years.. all that money adds up. That isn’t counting jersey and apparel sales, concession sales, and all of the advertisement growth from exponentially improving success in a large sports market. The Rangers are rolling in money right now… yeah, you are paying Chuck Greenberg, but how can that compare to the amount of money rolling in from everything else? It can’t, It doesn’t compare.

During the Winter Meetings at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, the Rangers were sitting there with their mirrored Ray Bans and Oakley sunshades, arms crossed, just watching people scramble for pieces to milk up a better season than the year before. JD and Thad basically took C.J. Wilson’s agent out for a nice seafood dinner and never called him back (not sorry about the Anchorman reference). Texas never even technically OFFERED C.J. a deal! So either (A) the Rangers were too broke to offer C.J. the money the Angels did or (B) they didn’t believe he was worth it and wanted to explore other options.

The Rangers passed on their straight edge southpaw and set their eyes ahead for something nobody expected. As the “cash strapped Rangers” rumors swirled through the Twitter-verse, the Toronto Blue Jays and their GM Alex Anthopoulos suddenly became the far-and-away favorites to land the Japanese-Iranian, Yu Darvish. Don’t get me wrong, Texas was second to Toronto as a possible favorite to win the rights for Darvish but according to baseball writers on Twitter, they were really only expected to put in a “competitive” bid. Toronto, on the other hand, were thought to have a clear shot at Yu from the start. The Blue Jays were rumored to have put in a 50 million dollar bid… which in almost everyone’s eyes was going to win Yu Darvish’s negotiating rights easily.

Not so fast my friend… Here comes Jon Daniels with his sunglasses now neatly folded in his pocket and a smile on his face. $51.7 million for date with a Japanese superstar? No problem guys. Some said wait… I thought the Rangers were broke…!?! Those same people are saying, “well now those guys down in Arlington definitely don’t have that much money.”

Lesson #1: Don’t ever sleep on a GM with a mean poker face!

Lesson#2: Don’t mess with the Texas Rangers brain trust.

Lesson #3: Don’t crown a winner before the games are played. (Angels)

By the way my “sources” tell me… don’t sleep on the idea of the Rangers making a big trade in the next 30 days.. or.. dare I say Prince Fielder..??

Clayton Shearman

TexasRangers.MLBlog.com

Twitter: @CShearman23

Texas to Toronto: Yu Mad Bro?

Texas Posts High Bid on Yu Darvish

The jersey above may become a hit in the near future.

The Texas Rangers and the front office play a mean game of poker, that is obvious now. In the past two weeks, multiple sources reported that the Rangers ownership didn’t have as much money as people thought. 51.7 million dollars later the Texas Rangers now have the opportunity to negotiate with Yu Darvish. The 25-year old right handed pitcher has a chance to play for the two-time defending American League champions.

Here is a quick scouting report on Darvish:

6 foot 5 inches, big projectable pitcher frame. 92-95 mph fastball, tops out at 96. Throws a 4-seam, 2-seam, cutter and slider. Good make-up, good work ethic, high baseball IQ, mature beyond age.

Darvish started pitching professionally at the age of 19 and has a 1.99 career ERA in professional Japanese baseball during those six years. There is no possible way to project how well Darvish will do in the Major Leagues, but the Rangers brain trust believe Yu will be great based on the record-breaking amount of money they spent on the rights just to speak to him.

Gio Gonzalez Update

Texas Ranger’s Offseason Update:

Gio Gonzalez may be the best pitcher on the trade market this winter.

  • The A’s continue seeking a huge package for Gio Gonzalez, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. Though the Yankees “love” him, they aren’t eager to surrender prospects such as Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances.
  • The Rangers, who are pursuing Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey, can be expected to try to trade for Gonzalez or Matt Garza if they don’t win the bidding on Yu Darvish , tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
  • ESPN.com’s Buster Olney also reports that the Rangers are likely to pursue Gonzalez if they miss out on Darvish. He tweets that 20-year-old left-hander Martin Perez would “almost have to be” in a deal between the A’s and Rangers.
  • The market for Gonzalez and Jon Danks may pick up once the winner in the Darvish bidding is announced and the Rays decide which of their starting pitchers are available, tweets ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark.

By Ben Nicholson-Smith of

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/

Rumors around the MLB, Rangers, Yu Darvish

Dutch Oven Extension:

Derek Holland and the Texas Rangers are working on a 5-year extention according to sources. The potential extension includes a club option for a sixth year, according to Anthony Andro of FOXSportsSouthwest.com

The 5-year deal would last for Holland’s 3 years of arbitration eligibility and his first two free-agent eligible years. Derek’s agency that negotiates his contract also has clients like: Yovani Gallardo, Ricky Romero, Jon Lester, Trevor Cahill and Jon Danks. All of whom signed deals nearly in the same situation as Holland’s. Most of those deals were in the 5-year 30 million range with an AAV of close to 6 million.

Yu Darvish Update :

“The Nippon Ham Fighters are expected to accept a posting price on Darvish just before Tuesday’s deadline”, tweets Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com.

“There are strong signs the Blue Jays and Rangers made serious bids”, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com on Twitter.

There is said to be buzzing around the league that Toronto had a “whopper of an offer,” according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News on Twitter. Grant suggests the Rangers bid in the $40-49MM range.

Gio Gonzalez rumors:

With the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers reportedly the front runners for Yu Darvish, whichever one does not aquire the Japanese Phenom will be most likely favored to acquire the Oakland A’s Gio Gonzalez along with the Washington Nationals, New York Mets, Cincinatti Reds, Boston Red Sox, Miami Marlins and Seattle Mariners according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. The 25-year-old southpaw went 16-12 last season with Oakland posting a line of 3.12 ERA/1.31 WHIP/ 202 inn./ 8.8 K/9.

According to MLBTradeRumors.com

 

Clayton Shearman

TexasRangers.MLBlogs.com

Twitter: CShearman23

Japanese Phenom, Yu Darvish update

The Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan have received all bids and have most likely chosen the highest bidder already. So what is the wait?? Well the Japanese ball club has until next Tuesday to reveal the winner of the “Yu Darvish Sweepstakes” If the Rangers happen to be the high bid on Yu, they will most likely forfeit any huge money deal like a Prince Fielder or such. But that doesn’t mean the Texas Rangers can’t unload some “potential” stars for a soon-to-be star like Gio Gonzalez of Oakland, possibly Mat Latos of San Diego, Matt Garza from the north side of Chi-town or former Ranger minor-leaguer Jon Danks.

The 6’5″ half Iranian, half Japanese superstar will soon be headed to the States… What jersey will he be wearing? Only the Nippon Ham Fighters know…

 

Here are the Darvish comments floating around the “Twitter-verse”:

@DKnobler  Danny Knobler of CBS Sports said, “Still don’t know what the number of winning bid for Darvish was, but sources say the Fighters were very excited by how high it was.”

@JonHeymanCBS  Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and the MLB Network said, “word is, Yankees entered only a modest bid for Darvish. Not likely to get. Indications are winning bid is sky-high.”

@JimBowdenESPNxm  Jim Bowden of ESPN hears, “Rangers, Blue Jays, Yankees & Cubs all submit bids for Yu Darvish. MLB expected to announce winning bid on Thursday Morning”