The good news about the Oakland A’s home ballpark is that Overstock.com no longer has the naming rights, so no more O.co Coliseum. It’s back to just the Oakland Coliseum.
Also, the grass is very nice and green this time of year.
The bad news about the A’s home ballpark is that nothing else has changed. Yep, it’s still the worst in baseball. Give me Tropicana Field 100 times out of 100 times.
There were plenty of seats available, which isn’t unusual. Allow me to rephrase: There were even more seats available than normal. Nailed it. The NBA Western Conference finals in the building 100 yards away had a lot to do with it.
The fans who didn’t have tickets to Oklahoma City’s upset of Golden State stayed home to watch it on TV. But this ballpark doesn’t get a pass. The concessions are awful, the seating stinks and the experience isn’t much better.
But the baseball was good, for those who like good pitching, and Rougned Odor was both cheered and booed in his first game since his fist drilled Jose Bautista’s jaw Sunday.
Odor talked to the media, too.
Here’s some Rangers Reaction from Odor and a 3-1 loss Monday.
1. The TV in the hotel workout room this morning was showing ESPN, which in this case wasn’t as bad as it sounds. Within the hour or so I was in there, the Odor-Bautista brawl must have gotten 15 minutes of airtime.
That’s a big deal. Unfortunately for Odor, it was enough time for his past slides to be called into question and for one of the talking heads to ask a baseball analyst if Odor is a dirty player.
Then came video of Odor’s slide into second base late last season against the Anaheim Angels, the one where his spikes caught second baseman Johnny Giavotella. No definitive answer was given, but the implication was probably enough in most minds especially on top of the punch to Bautista’s jaw.
So, the Star-Telegram’s Oakland Bureau launched an informal survey of current and former major-league players who don’t play for the Rangers to asked them if they or their teams think Odor is dirty or hard-nosed.
Seven were polled, and all responded. Five said hard-nosed, one said dirty and another said both.
The soon-to-be-suspended Odor was asked during his media scrum if he was aware of the attention he was getting and what he thinks about any dirty allegations.
“I don’t hear anything. I don’t pay attention to them. I just care about my team,” Odor said. “I don’t have a comment to that. I think I just play the game how I play. I just play the game to win games.”
Manager Jeff Banister was asked, and he thinks the dirty label isn’t fair. The slides? Just a player playing hard and running hard. Keep in mind that last year none of Odor’s slides would have been illegal, just as Bautista’s way late slide Sunday would have been legal.
Did they tick clubs off? Yes. Did Odor apologize to Giavotella after the slide last year? Yes.
The Rangers don’t want to dial back Odor, fearing that it would make him a lesser player. And they don’t think he’s a dirty player.
“If I’m answering the statement of dirty, yes I believe that’s unfair. He’s the furthest from dirty,” Banister said. “He’s a man that’s got great speed, and he runs hard and slides hard. He plays middle infield, so if he’s going in hard, he expects others to play that way, too.
“I haven’t seen anything that I would think is dirty. If playing hard is offensive, then I guess it’s just offensive. I’m not really sure I agree with that.”
When I was covering TCU, football coach Gary Patterson was always fond of saying “perception is reality” when talking about polls or anything being said in the media that he didn’t necessarily think was accurate.
That phrase seems to fit Odor’s current situation.
2. Derek Holland was much, much better Monday night in taking the loss than in his past two starts, in which he allowed 16 runs in five innings. Two runs in six innings must have felt like a shutout. Well, maybe not.
But it felt better because it was better. He most of his work, except is inability to put away hitters in a 39-pitch fourth inning. But he threw strikes, just not ones that were good enough to get a swing-and-miss or a double-play grounder.
He’s not worried about the lack of strikeouts, though it is a glaring void. He now has 21 in eight starts. Ten of those came in two starts. So he has 11 strikeouts in six other starts.
Banister said that Holland’s dip in velocity might be part of the problem. It’s not like he’s throwing 85, but he doesn’t have 96 too often anymore.
Holland believes that he’s close to putting it all together again and pitching well again, as he did in April. He’s just missing an out pitch.
“He’s still very pitchable with the stuff he does have,” Bansiter said. “Our offense didn’t step up to give him much support. You’re going to have those kinds of nights.”
3. A’s starter Sean Manaea, who collected his first career win, is a heralded prospect acquired from Kansas City last year for Ben Zobrist. A left-hander, his arm angle and delivery create can create problems for lefty hitters.
As such, Banister decided that Monday was the right time for the lefty-hitting Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland to sit. Adrian Beltre got a game at designated hitter, giving him a quasi-day off, so the Rangers’ lineup had righty-hitting bench players Ryan Rua, Drew Stubbs and Hanser Alberto in the lineup.
In the course of a season, players need to be off their feet. The matchup presented a good time, and with the way Fielder is going (.184 overall) and Moreland has gone against lefties (.214), it’s hard to argue the logic.
Fielder needed a day off, even though he’s been the DH in just about all of his starts. His slump is now at 13-for-77 (.169) his past 20 games. Managers often say that struggling players just needed a night to watch a game and not worry about anything.
The also get a chance to work, but that’s never been an issue with Fielder.
“It’s a day off for him to work, but he works every day,” Banister said. “This is a guy who works hard at his craft.”
So, the Rangers continue to wait. Fielder will be back in the lineup Tuesday.