If you aren’t excited about the weekend series against the Los Angeles Angels, then you’re either not a baseball fan or you don’t live in Texas.
The matchup everyone has been looking forward to will get underway in just a few short hours between former Texas Rangers left-hander C.J. Wilson and current Rangers phenom, and the guy who technically replaced Wilson, Yu Darvish.
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is sold out for all three games, and there is no bigger game than the one that will take place on Friday night. The only thing that could hamper an evening of baseball and a playoff like atmosphere is mother nature herself.
Rain is forecast all through the Dallas/Ft Worth metroplex tonight, but there is good news to come out of that. As Ernie Banks once said, “let’s play two.” Nothing wrong with a weekend doubleheader, right?
This series is important
There are some who want you to believe this series doesn’t mean all that much at this point in the season. I don’t completely agree with that thought. The Angels want a reason to believe they can get back into the AL West race, and the Rangers want to prove they are the top dog in the division.
Losing two of three to Los Angeles, especially at home, would give the Angels momentum and a reason to believe they are better than Texas, regardless of the early season struggles of Albert Pujols. Losing two of three to Los Angeles, especially losing to Wilson, will give the former Ranger a reason to flap his gums after the series about how Texas is going to regret not bringing him back.
The Texas Rangers are the better of the two teams to this point in the season and maybe beyond. There’s no questioning that. But the one thing beginning to fall apart for Texas is its starting rotation.
Colby Lewis is coming off back-to-back rough starts, including giving up five home runs in one game to the Baltimore Orioles. Left-handers Derek Holland and Matt Harrison have also had their rough outings over the last few weeks.
It’s the one thing the Rangers are counting on the most, not only through this weekend series against their division rival, but throughout the season: They get to face a former teammate as well as a nemisis from the 2011 World Series. It’s a chance for Texas to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.
This series, even in early May, is absolutely important. For those who don’t think one game makes a difference at the end of the season, just ask how much one game made a difference for the Boston Red Sox who had to face the Tampa Bay Rays in a play-in game to see who got the last AL playoff spot.
If the Texas Rangers have any sort of killer instinct, it’s time to show it over the next three days. The Angels have struggled out of the gate, while the Rangers have been one of the hottest teams in baseball.
While I’m not going to predict who does what this weekend, if you hear a deafening roar coming from Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, you’ll know that baseball is alive and well in North Texas.
Josh Hamilton didn’t get more expensive
One phrase that’s making a lot of Rangers fans roll their eyes: “Josh Hamilton keeps getting more expensive.”
Correction, Hamilton was never cheap, at least not coming into this season. Most of us pretty much knew he was not going to be an easy sign for the Rangers’ front office. They absolutely want the All-Star outfielder back for the foreseeable future, but the price tag could keep that from happening.
Just because Hamilton hit four home runs in one game against the Orioles doesn’t mean he got more expensive. That would mean, at some point, his price tag was some sort of cheap to begin with. Something most of us know isn’t true.
There’s something else that I’d like to clear up as well. On the way to work Friday morning, I heard a sports radio personality here in Dallas say the words, “Josh Hamilton isn’t going to give the Rangers a hometown discount.”
While the words “hometown discount” were not said by Hamilton himself, he did tell ESPN Radio’s Jim Bowden it wouldn’t cost the Rangers nearly as much if they worked to sign him now instead of waiting for him to hit free agency. In fact, let me take it a step further. Bowden tweeted, “Josh Hamilton told me this morning that the Rangers can sign him for a lot less money now than they’ll be able to when he’s a free agent.”
Let’s key in on four words out of that tweet sent by Bowden in mid-March. “A lot less money.” Josh didn’t say the Rangers could sign him for a little less than what he’d be looking for on the free agent market, he said a lot less.
Before anyone assumes Hamilton still isn’t going to sign for less at this point in the season, did you think Jered Weaver would take significantly less to stay with the Angels?
I’ve said from the beginning, and I’ll stick with my prediction, that Josh may very well sign a four-year deal with a club option for the fifth year and in the neighborhood of $90 million all said and done.
That being said, I know baseball is a business, and I’m well aware of general manager Jon Daniels and CEO Nolan Ryan not wanting to extend themselves beyond a certain point for one player. They are going to do what’s best for this franchise moving forward, and if that means saying goodbye to their best player, than so be it.
But to already assume Hamilton is on his way out is a little premature.