Texas Rangers: Fail To Shake Loser Image Despite Big Free Agent Moves

Can Corey Seagar and the Rangers bats keep the team afloat until the pitching comes around? Photo Courtesy: Michael Kolch

By Wiley Singleton

The Texas Rangers were embarrassed in the Opening Week of the season. The Rangers won one game in their first two series. They led in every contest. The offense looked potent at times. The bullpen is very young and badly lacks its two biggest power arms: Jose Leclerc and Jonathan Hernandez. They are both still recovering from blown out elbows. When they return in July it may be too late.

The season began in Toronto against the trendy pick to win the AL: The Blue Jays. The Jays boast a potent, young lineup. The Rangers jumped out to a huge lead on Opening Day, just like last season. And just like last season, they pissed away a massive lead. The Rangers were up 7-0 before opening day staff ace Jon Gray melted down and was removed. Gray was later placed on the IL with a blister. Classic Rangers, the hot new pitching acquisition is hurt before getting through a single start.

The Jays relentlessly chipped away at the young Rangers pen. The pen is inexperienced and is going to get blown up some nights. Without Leclerc or Ian Kennedy, this pen lacks a dependable lock down man. The current closer is sort of the kid that throws the hardest.

Josh Sborz and John King are two of the Rangers best young arns. If the Rangers make a run in the next 3 years, they will probably be a big part of the bullpen. But as it stands, they still need seasoning. That showed in this game when they came in after Gray and blew the lead. Corey Seager, Mitch Garver, and Nate Lowe all had good days in the middle of the lineup. Loss 8-10.

The second game of the series featured young bespectacled rightie Dane Dunning against former Baltimore hurler Kevin Gausman. Both starters were decent but were taken out rather quickly. This has been the case so far for all teams this season. Due to the season starting late and Spring Training being short, pitchers are being kept on a short leash. A great example of this is Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw being taken out of a perfect game after 7 innings a couple days ago. A perfect game is insanely rare. There have only been 21 in the modern era. To take Kershaw out after 80 pitches with 6 outs to go is laughable. It represents everything people hate about baseball today: the decreased focus on the starting pitching ace and increase in front office beaner counters pushing “analytics.” 

The two concepts go hand in hand. Analytics people in the front offices of baseball teams come up with strategies and have media stooges like Michael “Yankee Boy” Kay present them as the de facto way to play the game, as opposed to a new idea, which is all they are. These new tactics are almost always high risk/high variance and harder to execute in the playoffs. The best example of this is the “launch angle focus,” a hitting philosophy that front office bean counters LOVE because when it doesn’t work they are absolved of guilt.

The launch angle focus states that hitters should always try to employ an uppercut swing, always swing for the fences, and strikeouts are OK!

  • Runner on 3rd, no out, one run game? Swing for the fences!
  • Runner on 1st, no out, tie game? Swing for the fences!
  • Insane shift crowding the right side of the field? Just try to pull the ball OVER them into the seats!

This insipid approach has become popular due to people like Yankee Boy Kay adamantly defending it as not only the best hitting strategy, but the “future.”

This of course means when the Yanks flame out of the playoffs because their lineup is full of power hitters that strike out too much, Yankee Boy Kay can dismiss the loss as bad luck suddenly befalling a juggernaut lineup. If the new metagame is all about power and the Yanks got a lineup full of powerhitters then it can’t be their fault [front office] when they lose!

It is not simply analytics that have hurt the game. It is bad strategy being ostentatiously presented as analytics. Front office stooges came up with the idea “the homer is the best thing in baseball. So always try to hit a homer! GENIUS!”

Thus the on field product of MLB matches the parks themselves: hollow and corporate.

Baseball has been subjected to the honorless owners rotting the soul of the game. This has left us wondering how we approached horrific events thought unimaginable a mere decade ago. A pitcher being removed from a perfect game with 80 pitches? Disgraceful. Repugnant. How far have we fallen? How much has the game jumped the shark to reach this level of absurdity? Even for a Dave Roberts Bullpen Move it was bad.

It goes beyond strategy or analytics. It goes beyond tactics or metagame. Baseball is losing the intangible thing that made it great. It is losing its soul.

MLB forgot what made them popular. Fans are sold “full” subscription packages where their favorite team is unwatchable due to blackouts. If they try to watch their favorite team via cable like for the last 35 years, many fans will come to find out their ISP does not carry Bally, the joke channel that took over for Fox Sports Southwest.

As usual, the modern American is expected to pay more for less. This repugnant trend is one that has been going on long before the recent spike in inflation.

MLB finds itself reaching the absolute limits of diminishing returns. Fans are literally unable to watch the games due to corporate avarice. They are being priced out of the tickets at the game. Concessions are insanely expensive. The workers are often incompetent or surly. The teams know. They don’t care.

“Where else is he gonna get one?” The owners say with a smile as beer prices have increased on a near yearly basis.

The best example for hollow corporatism and soullessness is The New Rangers Stadium,  appropriately named after some joke insurance company who made millions not paying out policies. Modern insurance is nothing more than a mix of usury and swindling. Ever wonder why insurance ads are spammed so much? Because it’s a racket.

Nothing is tied down, nothing is sacred. Welcome to the Ballpark where everything is for sale. What was once an escapist paradise for America’s Pastime is now the same corporate hellscape you were trying to escape.

Popular restaurants are in the new stadium, like Pluckers and Golden Chick. You approach and see the menu is some sort of marked-up aberration of the one you’ve seen 100 times. The lines are insanely long despite the obvious usury. The amount of blatant gouging is truly sickening. It doesn’t stop from the moment you enter until the moment you leave.  You can even get a bottle of water to stay hydrated in the Texas heat without getting gouged.

After seeing the Pluckers “menu,” you decide to go for an old ballpark classic. You approach a static line that ends with illiterate neanderthals telling you “they ran out” of whatever you wanted, so you buy whatever crap they still sell because you’re so hungry and thirsty.

After walking by countless merch stores with terrible selection, you find your way back into your seat that was recently doubled in price. I guess the organization thought actually trying after losing over 100 games on purpose was cause for a price hike.  The team decided the A/C was too expensive, so you sit down into a Texas inferno and realize you paid over 20 bucks for cafeteria tier food from people that hate you. So why ever go to a game?

Well, how are you going to watch it legit if you’re not there?

Thus the question “why is baseball dying?” Is ostentatiously presented to thundering calls of “we need more runs! The pitcher hitting is boring!”

The health of baseball is a great litmus test for the health of the country. Baseball is being ripped apart by hostile usurers who ruin the experience of the average person under the guise of “progress.” Sound familiar?

The Rangers putting up double digit runs seems to be their primary win condition, as the bullpen remains young and shaky. This secured them the W in the final game in Toronto. Brad Miller and Nick Solak popped off. Win 12-6.

The Rockies series was a jokish way to come home. The Rangers started Monday at 3:00 and left the roof open to be cute. This led to old Ballpark In Arlington levels of heat. Many fans stood around in the shade, making the stadium hard to traverse. The concessions were a joke. They featured static lines, a worthless staff, and apathy disguised as being overwhelmed. It is the sort of ball game where you are so hot and dehydrated you want to leave by the 7th inning. The Rangers made a couple big free agent signings and thought it meant they could double ticket prices, increase food prices, and have quality dip all around. Simply put: it was too expensive to begin with, especially considering the product on the field. The fan experience at the park was so bad and overpriced the stadium failed to sell out for the first time since 1996. Think of all the lean years between 1996 and now. Last year’s 102 disaster. The covidjoke season where Kluber pitched one inning before getting hurt. The 2002 campaign where the team boasted A-Rod, Hank Blalock, Raffy Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, Michael Young, and Mark Teixeria but the pitching was so bad they still lost 91 games. That is how much the front office has pushed the fan base away with avarice this season. 

The first game featured a messy but solid start from Taylor Hearn. The bullpen wasted a 3-1 lead and the game ended in a terrible call. Mitch Garver slid cleanly into 2nd on a double play ball, but the ball was thrown away. Bud Black, the Rockies manager, challenged the play. Garver was called out on the “slide rule.” The game thus ended in an illegitimate way. Loss 6-4. 

The second game was a boring, non-competitive affair where the offense failed to show up. Loss 4-1.

The Rangers have got a long way to go until they are playoff worthy. No one needs to learn this more than the front office.