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Why Texas Rangers Fans Need to Root Against the Rangers This Weekend

The Texas Rangers have been having a lousy season. That much you know because you checked out on baseball season back in July, when the team (beset by injuries) collapsed to the bottom of the standings. You probably also heard something about manager Ron Washington resigning because he cheated on his wife.

Fans could take some solace this season in the fact that the Rangers weren’t just playing mediocre baseball — they were terrible, laying claim to the worst record in all of MLB. That meant they were in line to get the No. 1 pick in the 2015 first-year player draft because those selections are awarded to teams in reverse order of their win-loss records from the previous season.

At the time of Washington’s departure, the Rangers’ record stood at 53-87, a .379 win percentage that made them a safe bet to finish with 100 losses, the standard measure in MLB for separating bad seasons from god-awful ones.

Then interim manager Tim Bogar took over, and it all fell apart.

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Poll: The Most Beloved Head Coach in Dallas History?

A recent Grantland piece about the abrupt resignation of Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington referred to him as “the most beloved head coach in the history of North Texas sports not named Tom Landry.” Which got me thinking “Really?” And then “Hey, yeah, I guess so, maybe.”

Followed by, since we’re now 25 years on from Landry’s dismissal by Jerry Jones and that first 1-15 season under Jimmy Johnson, “Does St. Landry still mean much to today’s whippersnappers?”

So let’s take a poll. Nominees are the two most successful coaches in each of Dallas’ pro sports teams’ histories, based on overall record and championships.

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Ron Washington Resigns as Texas Rangers Manager

The Rangers are having a lousy season, but no one really blamed Ron Washington for that. It was the injuries done killed ’em.

So it comes as a shock today that Wash, who’s managed the club since 2007, has resigned his post in order to address an “off-the-field personal matter.”

His full statement, from the team:

“Today, I have submitted my resignation from the job I love – managing the Rangers – in order to devote my full attention to addressing an off-the-field personal matter.  As painful as it is, stepping away from the game is what’s best for me and my family.

“This is in no way related to the disappointing performance of the team this season. We were already discussing 2015 and looking forward to getting the Rangers back to postseason contention.

“I deeply regret that I’ve let down the Rangers organization and our great fans. Over the past eight seasons, it’s been a privilege to be part of some of the best years in club history and I will always be grateful for the opportunities I’ve had here, and for the great management, players, and coaches who have made our time here a success.  Thank you for respecting my privacy.”

Tim Bogar is the interim manager.  Here is what Mooney wrote about Washington a few years ago.

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Leading Off (7/21/14)

Dallas Bike Czar Originally Moved to Dallas to Work for TxDOT. Ashley Haire calls it the “ultimate irony” in this Dallas Morning News piece. The 36-year-old engineer relocated from Portland to work as a project manager on the reconstruction of I-30 and I-35E. Now, with her new position that she started in May, she’s planning new bike lanes, is pro bike-sharing programs, and supports the City Council’s decision repealing the helmet requirement. More biking news: Dallas may start counting the number of bikers on the streets with the help of the North Central Texas Council of Governments. And Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price hopped on her bike to lead the Tour de Fort Worth, an event the 64-year-old mayor created three years ago.

What’s Going on With these Civilian Police Officers? Ten are headed to the jail to wait with suspects before they’re booked. This is part of Chief David Brown’s effort to save money by hiring fewer officers in advance of a projected $14 million budget shortfall. But the president of the Dallas Fraternal Order of Police, Richard Todd, is saying this is really just a swap of manpower. Now the clerical work they were doing back at police headquarters, for instance, will have to be done by someone else. Also on the civilian public safety front, Steve Blow offers this take on the new inductees into the reserve police force.

Flower Mound Teen Dies in Go-Kart Accident. 14-year-old Kierstin Eaddy was participating in a racing event outside Texas Motor Speedway Sunday when her kart failed to stop after crossing the finish line. She crashed through a fence, and her helmet came off. Eaddy was airlifted to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead. An investigation is underway.

Rangers 20 Games Below .500. The Rangers lost 9-6 to the Toronto Blue Jays Sunday, dropping the struggling team to 20 below .500 for the first time since 2003. It’s only the sixth time in the history of the team that they’ve fallen 20 below in the first 100 games. Sunday’s game was No. 98. Next up: Yankees. Choice quote: “Texas has been really, really bad.”

Poll: Which Dallas Sports Team Will Win a Championship Next?

The Texas Rangers were expected by many baseball experts to contend for the American League West division crown. Instead, they’ve been beset by injuries and have limped into the All-Star Break having lost eight in a row and 22 of their last 25. It’s the worst such stretch for the club since 1972, the first year that the team played in Arlington (having relocated from Washington, D.C., where they were the Senators.) That team finished with 100 losses. This year’s team owns the worst record in Major League Baseball. It’s time — after cheering on Yu Darvish and Adrian Beltre in the All-Star Game tonight — to start thinking about next year.

Meanwhile the Dallas Stars and the Dallas Mavericks were both impressive, if unsuccessful, in their first-round playoff match-ups this spring. And each of those teams has made major additions to their rosters that raise hopes for next season.

So, we asked a version of this question back in May, but given what’s changed since then, it seems like an appropriate moment to ask again.

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Yu Darvish’s Translator Explains Baseball in 3 Languages

There’s a nice profile on Grantland today about Kenji Nimura, the man who translates for Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish. He’s trilingual, so he speaks Spanish with the team’s Latin American players as well. A little about his background:

The rise of so many non-English-speaking players has led to a growing roster of professional interpreters, none of whom can marshal quite as many resources as Nimura. A cultural chameleon who moved from Japan to the U.S. at age 11, he can translate the profane slang of former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda into the rough-hewn dialect of Nimura’s hometown of Nagoya, joke around with Latin American stars so naturally that they call him paisano, and propose fan-outreach ideas in business vernacular to the team’s front office. Nimura is also a scholar. The right question can send him into reveries about the complex relationship between cultural identity, language, and geography — a result of his own peripatetic life and education. And while hardly anyone grows up dreaming of becoming a professional baseball interpreter, Nimura, because of his biography and passions, seems uncannily suited to the job.

The article also mentions Nimura’s MLB Japanese-language blog, Speaking Baseball, which explains common English slang used by baseball players, like “you bent but didn’t snap” and “ducks on the pond.” Check it out if for no other reason than to see Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis with two handfuls of dead ducks. Then ask Google to translate the blog for you:

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Yu Darvish Is a Magician

If you’re only a casual baseball fan, you might be forgiven for thinking that a pitcher’s job is to stand on the mound and hurl the ball as fast as he can past the hitter’s swinging bat every time out.

But that is not so. The pitcher’s job is to fool the hitter, and Major League hitters are good enough to catch up to even the speediest fastballs if they know that’s what they’re going to see every time out. A list of the greatest pitchers in baseball history is not a carbon copy of the fastest strike-throwers in baseball history. There’s far more to it than that.

Today on Grantland, there’s a dive into the arsenal of Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish. The article itself is more than the casual baseball fan likely wants to read, but this bit sums up nicely why we should feel lucky to have him plying his trade regularly in Arlington:

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Rangers Fan Pulls Foul Ball Switcheroo

The Toronto Blue Jays broadcasters marveled at the slick moves of a young Texas Rangers fan at Saturday night’s game at the Globe. Watch the video, and you’ll see that he catches a ball tossed into the stands by the third-base coach, then turns around and hands a young woman in the row behind him a different ball, since he still has the ball he caught in his glove.

But when WFAA spoke with the boy, 10-year-old Austin Chaney, on Sunday, he explained that he wasn’t the trickster he seemed to be one TV. The ball he handed off was just as much a game ball as the freshly caught one. By that point in the game he had a surplus, so he was sharing the excess.

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Proof That the Texas Rangers Own Texas

Several weeks back there was a map of Major League Baseball fandom circulating. It was based on the preferences Facebook users had made public. It was disturbing to see how much of our country, absent a team in their own local market, had been given over to the cancer known as being a Yankees fan. It chilled me to the bone.

Anyway, several days ago the New York Times published an even more detailed look at that data, breaking it down to the ZIP code level and creating interactive maps to show the precise geographic fronts along which two or more teams fight for dominance in the hearts of locals.

The Texas Rangers (as you can in the screenshot of the map above) own Texas. Except for the swamps in and around Houston, and the lunatics out in El Paso who’ve given themselves over to the Dark Side, the team in Arlington commands almost all of the state’s territory, plus a significant chunk of Oklahoma and a corner of Arkansas.

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Prediction: The Texas Rangers Will Not Win the 2014 World Series

That is not an especially bold prediction. Always take the field. Vegas’ favorite to win the Major League Baseball championship is the Los Angeles Dodgers, but you’d be wise to bet that one of the other 29 teams will beat them out too.

Today’s Opening Day at the Ballpark in Arlington (I know that’s not the official name anymore.) First pitch is at 1:05 against the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Rangers of this year look quite different from the team that took the field in 2013. Gone are Nelson Cruz, Craig Gentry, Ian Kinsler, David Murphy, and Joe Nathan, among others. In are headliners Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo. They will be a competitive team, so long as they can tread water well enough while their many injured players heal. The earliest they can hope to have the full strength of the roster that they’d hoped to have this season is late June. It could be a long first half.

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Your Texas Rangers Are in Pain to Start the Season

The Texas Rangers open their 2014 campaign next Monday at Spheroid Vitality Park in Arlington against heated rivals middling acquaintances, the Phillies. Former Rangers playoff hero Cliff Lee will take the mound for Philadelphia, but Texas will not be able to counter with staff ace Yu Darvish. Today we learn that a stiff neck will keep him out of the game and could force him to start the season on the disabled list.

It’s just the latest in a slew of injures the team has suffered.

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Ron Washington Guarantees Texas Rangers Won’t Go 0-162

Responding to Ian Kinsler’s ESPN the Magazine interview, the skipper of your Texas Rangers snorted at Kinsler’s wish that his former team go winless in 2014:

“We’ve got to deal with reality,” Washington said. “We’re not a bad team.”

Washington spoke with Kinsler shortly after the trade that sent him to Detroit last fall for first baseman Prince Fielder. Washington said he thanked Kinsler for his contributions to the club and parted on what he thought were good terms.

“He was a big part of our championship run,” Washington said. “Those are his feelings. I’m not worried about that type of stuff.”

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Ian Kinsler Hopes Texas Rangers Go 0-162, Calls GM a ‘Sleazeball’

Longtime Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler, who was traded to the Detroit Tigers this offseason to make room in the infield for Rangers prospect Jurickson Profar, was interviewed for the latest issue of ESPN The MagazineHe had unflattering things to say about his former team and its general manager especially:

During that time, it was well-known throughout the game that there was a power struggle going on between Ryan and Daniels, who had acquired the title of president of baseball operations last March in a front office restructuring that ultimately led to Ryan’s departure after the season. Kinsler squarely blames the man who traded him. “Daniels is a sleazeball,” he says. “He got in good with the owners and straight pushed Ryan out. He thought all the things he should get credit for, Ryan got credit for. It’s just ego. Once we went to the World Series, everybody’s ego got huge, except for Nolan’s.”

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Which Name Do You Want to See on Rangers Ballpark?

UPDATE, 11 a.m.: It’s Globe Life Park in Arlington, named for an insurance company. So, like Shakespeare before them, the Rangers will play at “the Globe.”

Original Post: The Texas Rangers have scheduled an 11 a.m. press conference to announce a naming rights deal for Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. There’s a rumor that Samsung has ponied up the cash, but I’m hoping for something a bit more Texas-centric. “Blue Bell Ballpark” has a nice ring to it. But that’s just me. Which company are you rooting for?

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