Wednesday was a tough day for those of us in the media as we watched giant ESPN cut 100 journalism jobs after a series of bad business decisions and because of declining subscriptions and an endless line of shows of shouting talking heads that are just hard to watch.
Not even ESPN is immune from the climate that newspapers and websites have been operating in for years. The first round of Star-Telegram layoffs came in 2008 and continue to this day. They come on a smaller scale now because the staff is so much smaller.
The biggest ESPN cuts were top-notch NFL reporter Ed Werder and MLB writer Jayson Stark, one of the most respected reporters in the game. Locals Jean-Jacques Taylor and Calvin Watkins, great reporters and two guys I consider friends, are also free agents after Wednesday.
Stark went beyond the traditional stuff into the quirky, fun, only-in-baseball stuff, and he was wonderful at responding to his Twitter followers and staying engaged. His midseason and season-ending recaps were must-reads. Hopefully that sentence can change back to “are must-reads.”
Here’s my Jayson Stark story:
T.R. Sullivan and I were in Baltimore a few years ago, and Jayson had come down from Philadelphia to pick up some Rangers notes. The Rangers were scheduled to go to Detroit on getaway day, and T.R. was planning to fly to Cleveland and drive three hours while I was going to fly through Chicago.
It was going to be close who was going to arrive first, T.R. via one flight and a long drive or me via two short flights with a layover at the always-dangerous O’Hare International.
T.R. won easily as my flight from Chicago was delayed, plus my luggage was sent on a flight to DFW instead of DTW. Jayson enjoyed that thoroughly.
Good luck to him and all those effected on a tough day.
Cole Hamels knows Jayson Stark well from his days in Philly and was disappointed to learn of his fate.
Hamels and the Rangers had a much better day than ESPN. Really, even the Minnesota Twins did, and they lost 14-3.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from the Rangers’ victory, with some important, can’t-miss Do It For Durrett news toward the bottom.
1. For all those in favor of seeing Delino DeShields play regularly, say “aye.”
Everyone who reads this on a regular basis already knows my answer.
All DeShields did Wednesday was reach base in his first five plate appearances, steal two bases, score three runs and drive in a run.
The offense had scored 16 runs in its previous five games but scored two touchdowns and two extra points against the Twins. The Rangers scored eight alone in the eighth inning, which included DeShields’ RBI single, a grand slam by Ryan Rua and a three-run shot by Shin-Soo Choo.
It was vintage DeShields, if there is such a thing for a player who two years ago was the offense’s catalyst as the Rangers chased down the Houston Astros.
He didn’t do what he did Wednesday every game that season, nor will he do what he did Wednesday multiple times this season. A lot has to happen for a player to get five chances to reach base, let alone do it.
But he deserves the chance. He deserved the chance coming out of spring training, when he was easily the Rangers’ best player. Now, Jurickson Profar has slid down the pecking order in left field. Before Rua’s grand slam, he hadn’t produced at all this season. Granted, he played first base Wednesday, but he’s now going to get a look as the everyday left fielder.
Or at least that was the company line Tuesday before DeShields’ big game that sparked the Rangers to their biggest output of the season. He earned a start Friday, didn’t he?
“We’ll have to see,” he said. “I’ll just keep doing what I’ve been doing.”
For all those in favor of seeing more DeShields, say “aye.”
I think the ayes have it.
2. Hamels struck out one batter — one — in 6 2/3 innings in picking up his second win of the season. But the performance rated as a first, as in the first time in his career that he lasted six innings and had only one strikeout.
He said that he didn’t have his best stuff against a sneaky lineup that will make pitchers work. No team in the American League has walked more than the Twins, who have had trouble translating those walks into runs.
Nevertheless, many stressful pitches have to be thrown against Minnesota, and Hamels determined that the best course of action without his best stuff was to have them put the ball in play.
Three double plays aided him, especially the one that ended the fifth. Joey Gallo snared as Jorge Polanco liner before it could get into the left-field corner for an RBI double, and then threw to second to double up Byron Buxton to end the inning.
“That was a game-changer,” manager Jeff Banister said.
The Rangers finally broke through in the fifth as Rougned Odor singled in DeShields and Carlos Gomez with two outs to tie the score. The Rangers scored four in the sixth and eight in the eighth as Hamels notched his second straight win.
Get this on Hamels: He has left with the lead in all five of his starts, only to see three games end in losses because of all three of Sam Dyson’s blown saves. The first two cost Hamels wins.
So, he’s been competitive even though there is concern on the Twitter about him being a different pitcher. It’s also April, which traditionally isn’t his best month. His velocity picks up later in the season, and his stuff gets sharper.
Of all the pitchers in the rotation, he’s the one to worry least about. Yes, even less than Yu Darvish.
3. Odor might have struck on something, too, after going 2 for 3 with the hit that the Rangers’ struggling offense badly needed — a hit with runners in scoring position.
He delivered a two-run single in the fifth to tie the game at 2-2 when it looked like the Rangers might blow another chance. His line drive just got past a diving Brian Dozier at second base, and Elvis Andrus came through again with runners in scoring position in the sixth.
DeShields, Rua and Choo were all credited with hits with RISP in the ninth.
Odor had been 0 for 9 in his previous seven games with runners in scoring position and entered Wednesday batting .183 thanks to an 8-for-64 (.125) slump in his previous 16 games.
His average now sits right on the Mendoza Line at .200. Yeah, he needed that clutch hit.
“I know we’re not hitting well right now, but we’re just trying to do our job,” Odor said. “I was looking for my pitch and trying to hit the ball hard. I hit the ball in the right place, and it tied the game.”
Mike Napoli could use a hit like that after going 0 for 5 and finishing as the only Rangers batter without a hit. His average has slid to .150.
4. The fourth annual Do It For Durrett event, the third straight at Globe Life Park, will take place June 16 in the fancy center-field Hyundai Club as the Rangers play the Seattle Mariners.
The event, dubbed Do It For Durrett Goes Yard, still will feature live and silent auctions, though the live auction is available only to those with a ticket to the event. The silent auction will be held outside the Hyundai Club, and anyone in the ballpark can submit a bid.
The Do It For Durrett Foundation is named for the late sportswriter Richard Durrett, who passed away in June 2014 and left behind to young kids and a pregnant wife. After the proceeds from the first event went to the Durretts, money raised the past two years has gone to families affected by the sudden loss of a parent.
This year’s event is the first in a partnership with the Rangers Baseball Foundation. Tickets are either $75 or $50, and that’s a bargain for a game at the Hyundai Club.
There are also far fewer tickets available than at previous events, so don’t miss out. Click here to purchase tickets or make a donation, and here to see a list of auction items that will be updated regularly.
Speaking of which, a big thanks is in order to Twins general manager Thad Levine, who donated autographed bats from Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano, an autographed cap from Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, an autographed ball from Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven and a batting helmet autographed by the entire team.