Monday, November 29, 2010

Having a Nice Little Saturday (Er, Week)

As I'm working on a few other things that I'll share with you throughout the week (for instance, what's up with Tyson Chandler, does DeShawn Stevenson need to play more and is Jason Kidd's shooting something to worry about?) I figure I'd throw down some bullet-points and thoughts on what was a fantastic week for the Dallas Mavericks

  • Any qualms or trepidations I had about Tyson Chandler before the season started have quickly evaporated. Quite simply, the man is dominating in the paint like NO other Maverick center has before. James Donaldson, I love ya, but what Chandler has done to this team is fairly remarkable. The team has a completely new defensive identity and pick-and-rolls (the torture play for Mavericks teams past) are less effective with Chandler's hedging ability. His length and athleticism have altered how teams run their offense down the stretch with Chandler showing inhuman like instincts on getting out to the guard on a pick-and-roll and forcing an awkward fade-a-way jumper.
  • Four games in five nights? Psh. A sweep of this type of run (and three of which being Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Miami to boot) doesn't happen very often. In fact, the Mavericks have only done it twice before (correct me if I'm wrong though): In 1988, the Western Conference Finalist team and 2007, the 67-win team. So people, this Dallas team has a great chance of being special. These type of runs aren't fluky at all. These are the type of runs great teams make.
  • Think about the teams Dallas has beaten this year: New Orleans. Denver. Oklahoma City. San Antonio. Miami. That's five playoff teams and two preseason title contenders. Not bad at all to be sitting at 12-4.
  •  Now for a power down moment: Brendan Haywood has been a complete disaster for the Mavs so far this year. He has not played more than 20 minutes since Nov. 15. He was suspended on Friday for having a dispute with Rick Carlisle. I'm not sure what has happened to Haywood. He really isn't doing much and his defense looks small and puny compared to Tyson Chandler. Maybe it's the fact that he's now playing with J.J. Barea more instead of Jason Kidd. Maybe it's because he's not alongside Dirk Nowitzki anymore. I don't know. What I do know is that Chandler is very fragile and will very likely miss between 5-10 games this season (I'd be shocked if he played between 77-82 games this year). I hope Haywood is able to remember who he is by then. 
  • If there is one thing I love about this team, is that Carlisle is playing whoever works. He has no second-thoughts about sitting Shawn Marion or Caron Butler for the entirety of the fourth quarter. In the last two cases, it paid off beautifully. On Friday against San Antonio, Butler was lousy offensive and not doing much on defense. As Manu torched Dallas on plenty of pick-and-rolls and step back jumpers, Carlisle switched Marion onto Manu for the entire fourth as Dallas rolled to the end. On Saturday, Butler actually had it going offensively as Dirk looked like a normal basketball player. Carlisle stuck with Butler and the Mavs pulled away in the fourth behind Butler's 23 points.
  • A key point in the San Antonio game was the beginning of the fourth quarter. Carlisle left in JJB and Ian Mahinmi as Chandler and Kidd watched from the bench, getting some rest. As I screamed at my TV to let these two back in, Dallas held serve as the game was tied I believe around the six minute mark when both players checked back into the game. The bench has gotten it's fair share of criticism this year (and rightly so) but on Friday, they won Dallas a game against the hottest team in the league on the road. Impressive, if only for one night.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

In Dirk We Trust

In this league, superstars win. Rarely will you see multiple years in a decade such as 2004, when the Detroit Pistons team-first, defense-first mentality won over a stacked Lakers team. It just doesn't happen (and to be fair, that 2004 Pistons team didn't have a superstar per say, but had five All-Stars at/near their prime.)

So when superstars don't get their title, it's sometimes a travesty/bad luck/both. Karl Malone played on some of the greatest NBA teams of all the same time of Michael Jordan. Charles Barkley, same thing. Titles aren't automatic and unfortunately they seem to be the underlying tie breaker in disputing who's greater. So is the case for Dirk Nowitzki. 

You rarely see Dirk grabbing headlines or being the focus of a Sports Illustrated cover. This despite being one of the greatest players (not just forwards) of all time. But you already know that. We've been through the countless articles and radio segments detailing how great Dirk is, how little help he receives and sometimes, if he should be traded. There's also no question about Dirk's work ethic and personality, which has endeared him to fans outside of Dallas city limits. You won't find too many keyed-in NBA fans hate on Dirk, much like you wont find those same fans hate on Kevin Durant.

So what's the point of this already long-winded post, three paragraphs in, if I'm not going to recount how Dirk is never respected nationally, long due for a championship and one of the greatest ever? 

It's to tell you one thing: appreciate him.

Superstars don't grow on trees. And when you lose one, the results afterwards aren't pretty. Ask Toronto if they'd take back Chris Bosh. Ask Suns fans if they think Amar'e would of been worth the price. Dig deep enough into Cleveland fans' souls, and they'll tell you if LeBron uttered "I'm taking my talents back to Cleveland" instead of "South Beach," they'd welcome him back with open arms. You think Minnesota, as dreadful as they are, wouldn't like to see a healthy Al Jefferson complete a front-court of Kevin Love and a rejuvenated Michael Beasley? (Did I just compare Al Jefferson to Chris Bosh, Amar'e Stoudemire and LeBron James? Yes. Yes I did. Shut it.)

So appreciate Dirk. Appreciate that he's off to one of his best starts in his career. Appreciate that he's single-handily the reason Dallas sits at 10-4, being the second leading scorer in the NBA. Appreciate how he's taken his criticisms as a "soft jump shooting Euro" and turned into one of the most versatile, complete offensive players in the NBA today. Appreciate that Dirk is making more unassisted shots at the rim than ever before (which means he's making more shots off his own offense at the rim than ever before). Appreciate that in the last two games, Dirk took over a game where his teammates looked weakened and meager and put in two clutch performances.  

I think we as a fan base have become desensitized to Dirk's brillance. Don't ever take it for granted. Dirk is a special player, one which continues to get better as his age gets closer to 35. His personal 7-0 run Wednesday night in Oklahoma City to tie the game slapped me from my state of acceptance. I remembered what it was like to be dazzled by Dirk's spin moves, his pump fakes, his MJ-like tongue celebration. 

Dirk is the greatest player of the Mavericks franchise. When he's gone, we might be faced with mediocrity that this town hasn't seen from it's basketball team since the 90s. 

Enjoy it. 

Cherish it.


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Monday, November 22, 2010

Recurring Nightmare

Tossing and turning, you awake with a cold sweat. Sometimes with a scream or yelp. It happened again - another nightmare. You keep seeing the same visions: Smaller front-court players grabbing long offensive rebounds. Double teams on Dirk as other shooters fail to convert open looks. A stagnant half-court offense. A lack of production from the starting small forward and back-up point guard. A center paid very handsomely failing to live up to the pricey contract. Second half leads evaporating over the course of a few minutes.

Wait, you don't have those nightmares? Oh. Well, I do. Especially after the Mavericks last three games against the Hornets, Bulls and Hawks. In each of those three games, ghosts of Maverick teams past came creeping up and either delivering a heartbreaking loss or making fans sweat out what was supposed to be an easy-breathing fourth quarter.

Each instance of ineptitude over the last three games (Dirk's supporting cast no-show in New Orleans, terrible rebounding against the Bulls and an 18-point lead whittled away in Atlanta) have cost the Mavericks of regular season and postseason victories over the last decade. The playoffs last year exposed the Mavericks with having a roster of one All-NBA talent (Dirk) with a bunch of third, fourth options at best. I can't count on my fingers and toes the number of losses Dallas has endured thanks to terrible rebounding - you could just paint a broad stroke with the Nellie years. And who could forget Steve Kerr help erase a 13-point fourth quarter deficit for the Spurs in the clinching Game 6 of the 2003 Western Conference Finals (I won't. I was there. And I cried. A lot.)

The Mavericks are a good team. But like good teams (as opposed to great teams) they have their fair share of problems. Caron Butler's line against Atlanta on Saturday still hasn't cast away the doubt that I brought up a week ago. J.J. Barea is 7 for his last 35 shot attempts, which is to say in NBA technical terms, is shitty. Brandon Haywood only grabbed two defensive rebounds against the Bulls on Friday, while Taj Gibson racked up eight rebounds...offensively. Haywood, as you know, is the Mavericks $55 million backup center. Sound familiar? While Haywood has shown signs of living up the contract, it's hard to justify it over the first 12 games of the season. But aye, there's the rub: 12 games is a lousy sample size, so people should probably wait till January to give more hateful judgments.

The saviors for the previously mentioned woes aren't riding in on a sterling white steed anytime soon. Roddy Beaubois is still at least another week or two before he returns to practice. Rick Carlisle has shown no indications of putting rookie Dominique Jones into any meaningful situations. Jones and Beaubois represent the most unknowns of this years team, but to a lesser extent Roddy. I can't help but wonder if Jones' out-of-sorts preseason performance made Carlisle reconsider his minute distributions. Because before the season started, Carlisle offered some unique praise, saying he could be the teams best on-ball defender and is ready to contribute. At least Beaubois last year found some time in spot starts that gave us the glimpse of his future brilliance. Even as Barea continues to rack up awful numbers, Jones waits patiently, watching the Mavs rely on a zone far more often than any elite NBA defense should. And while there is cause for Jones to perhaps see some burn, Barea is the back up PG. No matter how bad he may play, (and no matter how much playmaking skills Jones has displayed) there is no way Carlisle will hand the reigns over to a rookie, much less one playing somewhat out of position.

As for Butler, his expiring contract is indeed flippable, but it's similar to the same contract Peja Stojakovic has, and he was just exchanged for Jarrett Jack to back up Chris Paul. So there might not be a game-changing answer there.

Like I said before, Dallas is a good team. But the nightmares of past Maverick teams will most likely continue to crop up from time to time, until one of the young guns eradicates those memories.


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Monday, November 15, 2010

Making Sense of the Dallas Defense

When you ask someone "what's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Dallas Mavericks?" you're sure to get a variety of responses: Dirk, Mark Cuban, Donnie Nelson, Steve Nash, run-and-gun, Jason Kidd, Shawn Bradley posters, high tempo, fastbreak and maybe even Nick Van Exel.

Noticeably absent from that list is, of course, defense. Throughout Dallas' renaissance of basketball over the last decade, the facet of the game that the Mavericks hung their hat on was definitely putting the ball in the basket. A lot. Who can forget the Western Conference Final team of 2003 that featured Dirk entering his prime (and chucking away a career high 4.9 threes a game), Steve Nash becoming the All-Star we know him as, Michael Finely being an all-around offensive machine and Nick Van Exel lighting it up, much in the same form as Jason Terry.

But it's never brought a championship. The only year Dallas has made it to the finals (2006) was when Avery Johnson drastically changed the culture of the club to a half-court, defensive oriented team. The Mavericks finally looked at bringing in a defensive center to compliment Dirk (Erick Dampier, 'Gana Diop) instead of failed offensive specialists that couldn't rebound or protect the rim (Raef LaFrentz, come on down!)

So now, how amazing/surprising to see the Mavericks with a higher defensive efficiency, than the rough, rugged and other arbitrary adjective Boston Celtics? That's right. Dallas is giving up 97.1 points per 100 possessions, which ranks them fourth in the league behind New Orleans, Orland and Miami (with the only shocker in that group the upstart Hornets.) How does this happen? Sure, playing games at the Clippers, Bobcats and 76ers certainly helps. But the Mavs have also had to tangle with potent offenses in Boston, Denver (twice) and Memphis (twice). How does this happen with a defensive black hole like J.J. Barea?

The first reason is that when Barea has been in the game, Dallas has gone almost exclusively to a zone, which hides many players individual faults. There's no question that the zone has seen effecitve use in wins against Denver and Memphis, where Dallas has been able to rest Jason Kidd and allow a well-prepared zone to befuddle opposing teams. Of course, zone does not work in the NBA over and extended period. Flaws will be shown and rebounds will be allowed. But used in short bursts? To hide weak defensive players? Why not?

Of course, the Mavericks have typically ranked low in the league in defensive play rate, which judges the rate at which a team collects steals, blocks and charges. Dallas has always been content with sitting back in man-to-man and playing straight up defense. No longer, at least this year. Dallas now ranks eighth. Jason Kidd averaging over two steals a game helps, along with Shawn Marion's ability to rack up a couple of steals and blocks a game to boot. But a big reason? Tyson Chandler. He's averaging 2.25 defensive plays a game, his highest since when he was running rampant in New Orleans. He's also cleaning up the glass, a big component to defense, grabbing 26.8% of the total defensive rebounds in a given game - once again, his highest since New Orleans.

Chandler also helped Dallas match up with the quicker centers and power forwards that has normally plagued Dallas in the past. As much as we scolded Erik Dampier, the man was a decent rebounder, screen setter and plug in the paint. The problem was asking him to step out of the paint. It's been well documented how well "fast big men" have given the Mavericks trouble. Nene, Amar'e Stoudemire, etc. With Chandler mobility, combined with health and an apparent enjoyability he's having right now, has given the Mavericks something that they aren't used to: defense. It's too early to know if the play will progress, but given the new variables of the use of zone, Chandler + Haywood's full-season impact, the unseen potential of rookie Dominique Jones (who Rick Carlisle has said is one of the teams best defenders) plus the ever steady Shawn Marion, Dallas might be able to jump into the upper echelon of elite NBA defenses.

(Advanced stats courtesy of


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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Curious Case of Caron


That's the number of players that have a higher 3PT field goal percentage than Caron Butler's the rim.


Now, understand, that we're about two weeks into the season. DeJuan Summers is not going to shoot 100% for the rest of the year, or shoot enough to qualify that mark. But still. In his stay with Dallas so far, Butler has a 45.8 FG% at the rim. That, put bluntly, is absolutely horrible and unacceptable for the kind of player Butler is and his role on the Mavericks.

To compare, Dirk Nowitzki's percentage at the rim hasn't been lower than 59% in the last four years. Same for Jason Terry. Even Jason Kidd - the only point guard in the league that appears allergic to layups - has never posted a field goal percentage below 51 in his time with Dallas.

So what gives? The strange thing is that Butler hasn't posted anything this poor over the last four years. From 2007-2009 his FG% at the tim was 59, 69 and 63, respectively. And this is with about one more shot attempt at the rim per game to boot. What's the diagnoses? It's hard to tell. Butler has been an above average finisher at the rim for most of his career. He's always been an excellent free throw shooter. Whatever it is that's plaguing Butler at the rim, it needs to be fixed and fixed soon. We can only hope that as the season continues, Butler's at the rim percentage simply reverts to his career norm. If it doesn't, the Mavericks could be in for a woeful offensive season.

But don't expect those mid-range jump shots to start falling that much more regularly. His highest FG% from 16-23 feet was actually his stint with Dallas, a 48 percent mark. He's hovered between the high 30's and the low 40's otherwise. But, he always managed to shoot a respectable percentage and score a decent number of points by attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line.

When the Mavericks shipped away Josh Howard for Caron Butler and Brandon Haywood last winter, the consensus was that Butler would be able to provide, at worst, Howard's production level. While the offensive woes have been detailed, the defense hasn't been much better. Monday nights win over Boston was a prime example as Paul Pierce toyed with Butler to get off any shot he wanted. Understand that defense in the NBA is more than just contesting a shot. It's forcing players out of their comfort zones. Putting a hand in Dirk's face as he's falling away might look like good defense, but if he's doing it from the free throw line or the left wing? Forget it. Players make good shots when they are in their comfort zones. Butler allowed Pierce to catch the ball wherever he wanted and lost him in transition a couple of times. As a result, Shawn Marion played almost all of the fourth quarter, posted a +10 (for what it's worth) and Pierce wasn't heard from with much regularity down the stretch as he was in the third.

And there isn't even the "well he's not used to being a second option." Butler has been just about every option possible during his stints with the Heat, Lakers, Wizards and Mavs. He's gone from third to second to first to second and almost everything around that. If Caron Butler doesn't turn it around, the Maverick's Jekyll/Hyde offense is going to have lasting problems.

(Advanced stats courtesy of


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Saturday, November 6, 2010

10 Things the 2010 Texas Rangers Did to Me

Now that i've let some time pass and reached "acceptance" I feel like I can finally recount all the wonderful things the 2010 Texas Rangers did to me over this past summer (Note: Shut up, you pervs.)

1.) Rekindle my love for Josh Hamilton: Before the 2009 season, I bought my first Ranger t-shirt jersey. It was a no-brainer - Josh Hamilton. The magical 2008 season, the southern drawl that made him sound more Texan than North Carolina. What more could I ask for? How about a repeat performance. Granted he was injured for most of the year, but 2009 was to my love of Josh Hamilton as Batman and Robin was to my love of Batman. So needless to say, I was ready to buy another t-shirt. 2010 proved to me that Josh is more than a one-hit wonder and is still the most talented positional player in all of baseball. Now if only he could play 150 games a year...

2.) Discover some talented writers in the area: As sports-nutzy as I am, my sports consumption usually consisted of the Star-Telegram and ESPN. Shocking I know, but I usually watched most of the games so I didn't need to dig much deeper. I knew what happened. As I started getting into the NBA blog scene over the last three to four years, I realized there are incredible writers all over. So without further ado, a many thanks to Adam J. Morris, Joey Matches and Richard Durrett and the multiple, talented Ranger writers over at

3.) Realize how nice it is to enjoy a beer at the Ballpark: Even if it does cost $25.99 before taxes

4.) Let me witness a sports celebration at its finest: Watching Neftali Feliz break his nasty slider over the outside part of the plate. Alex Rodriguez frozen as if Kate Hudson just told him she has herpes. The Joy, the noise, the fireworks. Watching the end of Game 6 of the ALCS will go down as the greatest sports moment I've ever been apart of. I can't really imagine sports getting better than that. Except for, you know, actually winning it all. Baby steps.

5.) Make me look cool for always being a Ranger fan: Can't tell you enough how awesome it is to be following a crappy team in a sport that is losing fans across the 18-25 demographic to then finally be the story in the area. I had friends text me what some stats meant, if the Giants were good or not and who some of our bullpen and bench guys were.

6.) Get congratulatory text messages: What am I, a player? Jokes aside, it was very, very cool to receive texts and phone calls from close friends telling me how happy they were for me.

7.) Get an actual fan base? If you're reading this blog, chances are you went to high school with me or are one of my good friends. As much as I try to get this some more exposure (Note: I don't) it's pretty awesome to finally have some readers who aren't from Bedford, Texas. Of course, many of them are readers of the Ranger sites I dived into this summer and I consider them friends now as well.

8.) Make me appreciate (even like) country music: If 2004 Josh read this right now, he'd find me, punch me in the nuts and tell me to downtown Dallas and attend a hipster/indie/hardcore show ASAP. I can't help it. The Rangers played the song "I Like Texas" by Pat Green after every win and it's so damn catchy. I also attended Billy Bob's in Fort-Worth, the huge country music bar in North Texas. And guess what? It was the best night of my summer, country dancing the night away with the patrons. I don't know what's become of me. But I do know that life is too short to be stuck up about music or having fun. The youthful Rangers team taught me to hang loose, and have some fun in life.

9.) Inspire me to learn sabermetrics: WAR, UZR, wOBA, OPS+. Those could of been Franklin Roosevelt New Deal programs for all I knew. But I realize that the eye test and sabermetrics. Think Michael Young's defensive range is similar to Mo Vaughn's after he had a sleepover in a bakery? Check the UZR, you're probably right. Think Justin Smoak is actually hitting the ball well, he's just getting some bad luck and good plays made in the field? Check his line drive percentage and his batting average on balls put in play. You're probably right. Sabermetrics and the eye test can combine into a beautiful thing.

10.) Make me proud to be a Texan again: There's something about the Texas Rangers. They aren't the Dallas Rangers or the Arlington Rangers. They're the TEXAS Rangers. I don't know what it is about that, but it inspires a great sense of community and local pride. I compare it to the New England Patriots. I don't think the loyalty and the community for the fan base would be there if they were the Boston Patriots.


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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Stage Two

I'm fairly certain that I passed staged one after I witnessed Madison Bumgarner mow down the Rangers like Jessica Simpson at a Chinese buffet. I couldn't believe it was happening.

After Nelson Cruz whiffed through a Brian Wilson fastball that was almost assuredly due to the magical powers invested in Wilson's beard, I didn't want to hear it from anyone. Reading Twitter, Facebook and all the blogs and papers, the "It was a great season!" line was not really working for me. I understand that it is. But I have to go through these three stages before I get to uttering that sentence.

Maybe it's because I'm a hyper-competitive guy. When I was cut from my 8th grade basketball team, I went into an uncontrollable rage/depression. I mean, I was cut for a reason: I sucked. I only played basketball for three years and only played because I was three feet taller than every other kid in our school. I grew to love it in 8th grade, but love only gets you so far. So I took that as a personal vendetta like my 8th grade basketball coach killed my parents leaving me only with my inherited fortune and a wise butler. Wait, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, basketball.

So I realized that even though I was a "big" guy, I needed to learn how to shoot. While the rest of my friends toiled around with toilet papering the jocks' houses and having Halo LAN parties, I told my Dad to buy me a basketball hoop so I could shoot baskets for two hours a day. (Note: let the record show that as soon as those two hours were over, I went and played Halo and participated in shenanigans.)

So yeah, that's me. I'm the guy who leaves the room and won't talk to you after losing in a "Madden" game in overtime. I'm the guy who kicks and throws chairs after losing in a pickup game at the local YMCA. I'm the guy who has single handily ruined dates because the Mavericks blew a 13-point lead to the Celtics in Boston.

(Note: Yes, sadly, these are all true)

So forgive me if I don't want to embrace the positive. I'm in no mood. The Rangers were in the World Series for the first time in their history. And it's never a lock, ever. For a local example, when the Mavericks made their historic run in 2006, the core group was still in it's prime with a head coach well respected throughout the league. The team even had a few youngsters that had room to grow (Josh Howard, Devin Harris) and the MVP of the league. How's that worked out? Oh, how about they've been done after the first round since except for 2009 playoffs. For a recent baseball example, remember the Tampa Bay Rays improbable World Series run of 2008? Fans didn't worry, they had one of the youngest teams in the league with rising stars. B.J. Upton looked like the next "it" guy. What's happened since? Missed the playoffs in 2009 and lost in the ALDS this season. Now their entire team might be scrapped to frugal finances and B.J. Upton gets as many hits as Amy Winehouse lately.

There are no guarantees. Win the championship while you can. The A's young guns are going to be a year older/better and the Angels will be a year healthier.

So, yes. Eventually I'll be able to say "Well, it was a great season!"

But that'll be another three stages first.


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Monday, November 1, 2010

This is Madness

“'But I don’t want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.
'Oh, you can’t help that,' said the Cat. 'We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.'
'How do you know I’m mad?' said Alice.
'You must be,” said the Cat. 'or you wouldn’t have come here.'”

Never mind that I just quoted Alice in Wonderland. Never mind that I haven't written in 8,000 years. It's 1:30 a.m. I've been up stirring and this is what you get.

Because I think it fits. We've all gone just a little (if not more) mad following this team this year. Between the sometimes egregious baserunning, the silent bats, the terrible defense at third base or the fact that the your colored dot lost for the 10th straight dot race, we all have our reasons.

The Rangers are in the World Series. If it ends with the Giants capping off an improbable season (maybe more so than ours. At least SOME experts thought the Rangers would actually make the playoffs) they'll say we should celebrate. They'll say we should enjoy it. They'll say to remember it it. 

I say the Rangers should of won. And not winning isn't OK. We've already celebrated. Between the filthy slider from Neftali Feliz against Alex Rodriguez and Elvis Andrus' soft single to left field against the Tim Lincecum, the Rangers have celebrated. We've celebrated. It was great, it was grand. But it isn't everything.

Sure, I sound like a rotten old curmudgeon (Note: I am. My mother has been calling me a cranky old man since I was in 6th grade) but I don't care. I want to win. If we don't win I'll be pissed. I know every other Ranger fan will be too, but I really won't care for the first person to tell me "Hey it was a good season!" after the Giants win.

And tonight was a sucker punch. It felt like my fiance dumped me at the alter for her second cousin and then started making out with him in front of my parents. That's how I feel. Does that make me sick? (Note: Yes) Do others feel how I feel? (Note: hopefully not) but all I can say is it sucks. Tonight was worse than the first two games by a long shot. At least we weren't at the 8th inning meltdown in Game 2. At least we weren't at Cliff Lee's shelling in Game 1. I was there tonight front and center. A crowd that was ready to burst. 

After Josh Hamilton reached on an error in the bottom of the 7th, Vlad stepped to the plate. Despite looking absolutely foolish in two earlier strikeouts, the crowd rose up. They remembered Game 6 of the ALCS. They remember Joe Girardi intentionally walking Hamilton...again. They remember the swing. They remember the emphatic 'claw.' They chanted his name

Vladdy! Vladdy! Vladdy!

The chant rang once again. Only a 3-0 San Francisco lead. One swing could cut it to one, with Nelson Cruz waiting. There was still life. The crowd keep chanting throughout the count.

Vladdy! Vladdy! Vladdy!

Hell, I even chanted. I try to keep my emotions in check while attending games as a fan because I don't want to look like an ass or curse in front of children. Those parents' glares are the worst. But I didn't care, everyone was chanting. It was the World Series. 

Then Vlad swung through a change up from Madison Bumgarner. "Swung" is probably to kind. It looked as if Vlad was trying to return a senior citizen's serve in  a game of badminton. A pathetic swing on a change up that floated right over the heart of the plate.

The crowd was done after that. We tired. But the Rangers were not scoring tonight, no matter how much we chanted. Vlad's demise over the second half and the postseason are greatly explored by much brighter minds than myself. I don't dare to read over the numbers again. 

The Rangers will recover. They have too. But the crowd has to recover too. Whenever I watch a game in person or on TV I always think of what I would make the lede for the story (I know, I know, I'm a big nerd.) Tonight I probably would of gone with something like this:

"On a night that celebrates ghosts, ghouls and goblins the Texas Ranger bats were more frightening than Frankenstein."

I told my Dad and a few friends about how I'm worried about tomorrow. Cliff Lee has never pitched well in Arlington. I don't know why I said or thought that. Maybe it's because his career 5.07 ERA in Arlington terrifies me. 

But then I looked at this year: 61.2 innings pitched, 2.92 ERA, 55 strikeouts, 4 walks and a .205 batting average against. 

Halloween sucked. Tomorrow is Cliffmas. Mission NOT accomplished.


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