Rangers are next team dealing with aftermath of the disaster

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Rangers are next team dealing with aftermath of the disaster

As we all learned last year with the Red Sox, late-season collapse doesnt always bring out the best in people. In fact, you can be pretty much guarantee it will bring out the very worst.

In the aftermath of baseball disaster, youll see people lie, gossip, scapegoat and cram the entire world under a bus. Youll see them leak rumors about pill-popping and marital unrest. Youll see owners slip and fall on their yachts. Youll see Armageddon-like chaos that makes you question the shelf life of society. Like, holy crap, if a baseball team can make people this crazy, what happens when theres a real problem?

Then again, Bostons most definitely the extreme. And thats a massive understatement. Like saying that Olivia Munns cute, or Steve Jobs was bright. They say that everythings bigger in Texas, but even native-son Josh Beckett will admit that when it comes to celebrating baseball disaster nobody does it bigger than Boston. Im not sure thats something were proud of, but its something that we can never deny.

However, in 2012, the Red Sox werent quite good enough to collapse. Sure, they were just as pathetic in September, but falling from 15 games to 24 games back in the Wild Card doesnt leave the same sting as going from first place in the AL East to six straight weeks of everyone screaming about beer and fried chicken. So, with the Sox out of commission, the rights to this years biggest collapse were up for grabs

And the Texas Rangers not without some competition from the White Sox and Dodgers grabbed the torch.

Ron Washingtons crew came about as close as you can to going to wire-to-wire in the AL West this season. They led the division by 5.5 games on May 1, by 4.5 on June 1, by 5.5 on July 1, by four on August 1 and three games on September 1. But none of that matters as much as the fact that on September 24, the Rangers led the West by FIVE games with NINE to play. Thats a magic number of five.

They finished 2-7; the As finished 8-1.

With the division lost, Texas was relegated to the new-and-improved one-game-playoff, where they hosted Baltimore and were shut down by Joe Saunders. Just like that, the collapse was complete, the season was over commence total meltdown!

Or something like that.

Its no surprise that the good people of Texas have been slightly more laid back in the aftermath of their own disaster. Sure, people are angry. The fans want change! But in terms of honest to goodness scandal, the Rangers have been no match for the mighty Sox.

Although yesterday morning, things finally started to pick up, after Rangers president Nolan Ryan was asked a question (on ESPN Dallas radio) about Josh Hamilton.

As you know, Hamilton was the best player in baseball over the first two months of this season, before falling off a cliff. He hit .259 after the All-Star Break (while striking out once every 3.05 at bats) and was a major source of the Rangers struggles.

Hamilton has attributed the slump (at least in some part) to a side effect of trying to kick an addiction to smokeless tobacco. "Professionally, it's been plate discipline," he said in August. "Personally, it's been being obedient to the Lord in quitting chewing tobacco."

Anyway, heres Ryan:

(Hamiltons) timing on quitting smokeless tobacco couldnt have been worse. You wouldve liked to have thought that if he was going to do that that he wouldve done it in the offseason or waited until this offseason to do it. So the drastic effect that it had on him and the year that he was having up to that point in time that he did quit, youd have liked that he wouldve taken a different approach to that. So those issues caused unrest, and its unfortunate that it happened and the timing was such as it was.

As you can imagine, the medias reaction to Ryans comments has been predictably scathing. Hes been accused of being insensitive, of caring more about wins and loss than a players well being, of not understanding the consequences of tobacco use and of undermining Major League Baseball initiative to remove dipping from the game altogether.

My take?

First, as someone who recently quit "dip" after more than 10 years in the game, let me just say that I 100 percent believe that quitting had a negative effect on Hamiltons performance. I was a wreck after I quit, especially when I was forced to do something that I previously associated with dipping. Driving, writing, playing golf. It was impossible without a dip in my mouth. It's all I could think about. And I'm sure that Hamilton had this kind of connection with dip and baseball. It definitely affected him. Every time he jogged to the outfield, and every time he stepped in the batter's box.

And for that reason, I understand why Ryan's pissed. After all, this is more than just a game. This is a business. When the Rangers fall short like they did this year, people lose jobs; players get traded and entire families get uprooted; a ton of money goes by the wayside. And when your former MVP and third-highest paid player suddenly falls apart because he can't wait two months to quit dipping or worse, didn't quit a few months earlier you have every right to be angry. Especially when, morality aside, most players in Hamilton's position would have held off on the tobacco rehab in favor of stepping it up down the stretch. Right or wrong, they just would have.

But here's where we remember what, in the heat of this Rangers collapse, Nolan Ryan most definitely forgot Josh Hamilton is not most players.

I know we live in a world when no one is supposed to be considered different, but Hamilton is different. He's experienced things that 99 of the league couldn't fathom. He looks at things and deals with issues in a very particular way. After Ryan's comments, most criticisms were directed toward his perceived ignorance about the long term effects of tobacco use, and that's fine. But if you ask me, I'd guess that Hamilton's devotion to overcoming his addiction had very little to do with cancer. I mean, I'm sure it played a role, but with Hamilton it's about more than that. It's about keeping clean, and basically, staying alive.

And that's where Ryan missed. Hamilton's been so spectacular since making it to the big leagues, that I think it's sometimes easier to forget everything he went through before that. What a ridiculous struggle it must be to keep himself falling back into that hole. That Josh Hamilton is great story, but the story isn't over.

And it will be interesting to see what happens next for Hamilton. With the way last season ended, it's seems unlikely that he'll re-sign in Texas. That makes him 31-years-old, and coming off a three season stretch where he's averaged 33 homers and 107 RBI a year. This is when former MVPs like him make a killing. But honestly, who's ready to break the bank on Josh Hamilton?

I think we can rule out the Red Sox.

After all, while the Rangers may have claimed the 2012 award for "Baseball's biggest collapse," the Sox are still reeling from their 2011 title. They need to invest in a high-priced risk like I need to start dipping again; this is no time for them to take chances. But someone out there will. Whether it's in Chicago, Atlanta, Milwaukee or wherever, Hamilton will get another chance in another city, and keep fighting to ensure that this story has a happy ending.

And regardless of where he's playing, we all hope it does.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

First impressions: Red Sox happy to get out of Texas

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First impressions: Red Sox happy to get out of Texas

First impressions of the Red Sox 6-2 loss to Texas

 

Clay Buchholz needs to figure out his first inning struggles.

He put together another decent outing -- but they’ve both been all for not thanks to terrible first innings.

Buchholz had the same issue prior to his sentence to the bullpen. But he needs to make an adjustment. David Price, Steven Wright and Rick Porcello have all had to deal with some level of adversity and handled it in some capacity -- so it’s time for Buchholz to do the same.

If he minimizes the damage to one run -- never mind a scoreless first frame -- Boston has a decent chance to win his starts once in a while.

No matter what, Buchholz needs to put out max effort in the first inning of his next start -- no excuses.

 

Don’t look now, but Buchholz was the best Boston starting pitcher of the Texas series.

That’s not saying much with the way Wright and Price’s nights wound up, but he was the best starter.

Obviously five runs (four earned) in 5.1 innings isn’t a good outing, but the bullpen at least had a chance to catch its breath -- compared to Friday and Saturday’s games.

Buchholz still has to do much better for Boston if he wants to remain the fifth starter.

 

Xander Bogaerts’ defense is slipping a bit.

The shortstop has had errors in consecutive games for the first time in 2016 -- both leading to Texas runs.

The 23-year-old shortstop has only sat out one game this year, so it’s fair to assume fatigue is setting in.

Even if that’s not the case, John Farrell should consider giving Bogaerts a day off soon to move past his fielding problems.

 

Buchholz took away the little momentum Boston found in the fourth.

Although Bogaerts didn’t help with the error, Buchholz almost instantly gave back the run Boston scored in the top of the sixth. Which is something Rick Porcello, Steven Wright and David Price have all dealt with -- and overcome.

Just another reason Dave Dombrowski needs to keep working for a fifth starter.

Because there’s no way coming out of any series Boston should have its best effort from a starting pitcher be a five-inning five-run (one unearned) outing.

Other starters have to pick up the slack when Wright has an occasional subpar outing. While Price has been on late and Porcello is reliable, Boston hasn’t had that from anyone else.

Sunday's Red Sox-Rangers lineups: Boston needs the good Buchholz to show up

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Sunday's Red Sox-Rangers lineups: Boston needs the good Buchholz to show up

Clay Buchholz hopes ot lead off the afternoon game better than his last start, where he game up a home run and double to leadoff the game against Chicago.

The righty has a career 4.10 ERA against Texas in 41.2 innings pitched against Texas with a 1-5 record.

Unfortunately for Boston, Buchholz is even worse at Globe Life Park. The righty is 0-3 with a 5.82 ERA in 21.2 at the Rangers home field.

The lineups:

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Bryce Brentz DH
Travis Shaw 3B
Sandy Leon C
Ryan LaMarre LF
---
Clay Buchholz RHP

RANGERS
Shin-Soo Choo RF
Ian Desmond CF
Nomar Mazara LF
Adrian Beltre 3B
Prince Fielder DH
Roughned Odor 2B
Elvis Andrus SS
Mitch Moreland 1B
Bryan Holaday C
---
Martin Perez LHP

Quotes, notes and stars: Wright "today was tough"

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Quotes, notes and stars: Wright "today was tough"

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 10-3 loss to the Rangers:

 

QUOTES

* “On a night when he didn’t have the consistency to the knuckleball that we’ve seen from many of his starts, he went to his fastball a little bit more. [Against] a good fastball hitting team . . . He’s typically made good adjustments staying over the rubber to get his release point out front -- that wasn’t the case [tonight].” John Farrell said about Steven Wright struggling with his knuckleball in his 4.2 inning outing.

* “The ball was spinning a lot out of my hand. It was a little bit hard to grip the ball because the humidity. But it was the opposite -- it was real sticky. That’s the first time I’ve had that ever. But I still felt like I should have figured that out. It was one of those things where I think I started trying to hard . . . I was trying to the throw the kitchen sink at them but it wasn’t working.” Steven Wright said about struggling to find his knuckleball in the 10-3 loss.

* “It’s hard for me because you want to go out there and try and go as deep as you can to try to help the bullpen, but, you know, today was tough, a tough day for me.” Wright said on his disappointment with only going 4.2 innings.

 

 

NOTES

 

* Hanley Ramirez laced his fourth homerun in his last 11 games. In his nine career games at Texas, Ramirez has six homeruns.

* David Ortiz went hitless for the first time since June 12th. Boston’s designated hitter also hasn’t hit a home run since June 17th -- his third longest homerless spell of 2016.

* Xander Bogaerts scored his 57th run of the season, putting him one run behind Ian Kinsler -- the fourth highest total in the majors.

 

 

STARS

 

1) Adrian Beltre

The ex-Red Sox third baseman finished 2-for-4 with an RBI, a walk -- scoring the team high three runs.

 

2) Ian Desmond

Desmond laced his 13th homer of the season in his second at-bat of the game, sparking Texas’ offense with its first run of the game.

 

3) Elvis Andrus

Andrus ended Steven Wright’s day quickly with a three-run triple in the fifth inning, finishing 1-for-2 with two walks and a run.