Man, it must be tough being Mike Scioscia during a ballgame.
Always right. Smarter than everyone. A fabulous umpire. People always out to get him.
Even Spike Owen, the Texas Rangers’ interim third-base coach, was out to get Scioscia. So was his own pitcher, Brett Olberholtzer, for hitting Elvis Andrus after both benches had been warned and causing he and Scioscia to be ejected.
“I was trying to find out what the hell was going on,” third baseman Adrian Beltre said.
There are many more traits that make being Scioscia, manager of the Anaheim Angels, so challenging. One of them is watching these Angels play.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 5-4 win Tuesday that put the Rangers on the brink of a second straight American League West crown.
1. Carlos Gomez collected three hits, used his legs to stretch a single into a double and later scored for the second time, and was out at second because he slid off the base trying to advance on a wild pickoff throw.
The game, which included a nice catch in left field, was an example of the energy manager Jeff Banister said that Gomez has brought to the leadoff spot in nine games. He has reached base in all of them.
Gomez continues to strike out more than the normal leadoff man, but Gomez isn’t a normal leadoff hitter and the Rangers don’t have a normal leadoff hitter. At least not a healthy one.
At least not yet.
Shin-Soo Choo continues to make progress on his way back from a broke left arm, and was signing autographs and telling fans that he is 10 days away. That would be Sept. 30, the beginning of the final series, and three games to see if he is good to go for the American League Division Series.
If he is, the Rangers could take him back and put him in the leadoff spot. It’s a move that would stretch out the lineup even more and put Banister in the position of having to sit Nomar Mazara or turn Gomez into a platoon player.
Mazara hit his 20th homer of the season Tuesday, becoming the fourth rookie in club history with a 20-homer season. He’s cooled since bursting on the scene as Choo’s injury replacement in April, but he has also started heating up a bit of late.
Gomez is hot, too.
That final series against last-place Tampa Bay isn’t going to be a throwaway. Home-field advantage could be on the line, with the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox continuing to win games.
The Rangers will also need to learn if Choo can be their leadoff man for the ALDS.
2. The big winner in the hunt for the fourth spot in the rotation was Martin Perez, who sat and watched as A.J. Griffin imploded in the second inning. As manager Jeff Banister might have said, the strikability was challenge.
Griffin’s final 12 pitches were balls. The final nine included a hit batsman and two bases-loaded walks. When he was yanked after 1 2/3 innings, Griffin had thrown 29 balls and 23 strikes.
He was probably a long shot anyway to follow Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish and Colby Lewis in the ALDS. Griffin had been good his last time out at Houston, but his second half has been up and down.
The downs have been more plentiful.
Stuff is a player in the postseason. While Griffin can generate swings and misses, Perez can keep the ball on the ground and in the ballpark with more velocity and sink on his fastball and more difference between his fastball velo and his breaking pitches.
When Perez is right, he is also getting swings and misses.
Derek Holland starts Wednesday in what feels like a last gasp at the playoff rotation. He isn’t even guaranteed another start over the final week, a possible indication that the Rangers have already settled on Perez and/or perhaps they will transition Holland to the bullpen.
Griffin, who was dealing with an upper-respiratory infection, certainly didn’t help his case Tuesday.
3. Commissioner Rob Manfred was at Globe Life Park on Tuesday to endorse its demise, and he brought talking points. The one that actually involves the on-field product is one that has been mentioned previously but is worth mentioning again.
A climate-controlled ballpark will make the Rangers are more attractive landing spot for free agents.
Manfred mentioned a meeting early in his career with MLB when he encountered then-Rangers GM Tom Grieve, who was talking about the difficulty the weather has on the players and potential free-agent signings.
Cliff Lee could be the prime example. His poor wife took heat for not liking Dallas traffic, but Lee came from Philadelphia supposedly not a fan of warm temps.
The reason Randy Johnson signed with Arizona in 1998 was said to be because he wanted to be at home, though some in Arlington thought he might have turned down the Rangers because of the sweltering conditions.
There’s no hard evidence that the heat kept those Cy Young winners from signing on, but maybe a roof would have made the difference. Maybe it makes the difference down the road.
The soonest the new ballpark could be ready, assuming Arlington voters approve an extension of the tax that helped fund AT&T Stadium, is 2020. That’s an aggressive timeline, but apparently doable.
Clayton Kershaw can opt out of his mega contract after the 2018 season. The Rangers might want to make a splash for their new ballpark in 2020, and could tell the left-hander to come home, pitch in the heat for one season, and then finish out his career under a roof.
Jose Fernandez can become a free agent for the first time in 2019. The Rangers could have a similar conversation with him: Endure the heat for one summer and then return to pitching under a retractable roof like the one he has come to love in Miami.
Cole Hamels could be coming off an option year in 2019. He’ll be in the twilight of his career, but it seems like he’ll still be plugging along. The Rangers might want to keep him around for the new ballpark.
Of course, voters have to approve the new ballpark in seven weeks before the Rangers can even think about 2020. They are mulling more serious implications than making the Rangers a more desirable spot for potential free agents.
But the commissioner was right Tuesday about the potential impact a roofed ballpark could have on the field.