Sunday, January 6, 2013

January 6- Texas Rangers

Obviously I have personal beef with wearing this hat, but it kind of goes with the rules of my mission.

I suppose I could have gone a number of different ways with this hat: 1. I could have used any number of players since 1994, the first year they used this hat: Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, Rusty Greer, Will Clark, etc. 2. I could have gone with the 1994 season record of 52-62, which was good enough for 1st place in the AL West due to the strike shortened season. 3. I could have used some oddball stat like how Jose Canseco played the most games in 1994 at 111. All of those seemed pretty sensible, but the reality is that I was angry when I had pulled this off of my wall and worn it for the first time: Michael Young had just been sent to the Philadelphia Phillies.

The red Texas Rangers hat lasted from 1994-2000 and was revived this last season. A lot of baseball fans wouldn’t notice this, but I thought it was particularly interesting that Michael Young, arguably the one of the top five Rangers of all time, started his career in the hat’s final year, and ended his career in Texas at the end of the hat’s first season back. Stat nerds like find all of these weird new numbers, so of course I had to go and come up with this one.

#.301/177/984- I've always liked Michael Young, despite the fact that he played in the AL West against the Oakland Athletics, and therefore was an enemy… only on the baseball field of course. He never complained. He was the hardest worker the franchise ever had. He volunteered to switch positions to make room on the team for much higher paid talent. He was great within the Dallas/Arlington community. He was feared by pitchers, but revered by many. I had seen Nolan Ryan pitch a few times as a kid, but I have more memories of watching Young light it up on offense. He wasn't too shabby at defense either; winning one Gold Glove at shortstop in 2008 and keeping a solid fielding percentage throughout his career. 2005 was the closest he ever came to winning the MVP by finishing 8th despite leading the American League in hits (221) and average (.331). Despite only playing for 13 seasons, Young holds the Rangers career records in: singles (1,583), doubles (414), triples (55), runs (1,084), most hits in a season (221), career hits (2,230) and strikeouts (1,152). Not to mention a career .301 average, 177 home runs and 984 RBI.

Young is 36-years-old, and probably has another solid 3-4 years left in him at least. I would love to see him get to 3,000 hits, but that’s really up to whatever team decides to keep him around. I was truly hoping to see him play his entire career with the Rangers. Young did his best to stay loyal to the franchise that brought him up. They tried to trade him for years, but he resisted. I suppose after 13 years and numerous reality checks, Young just decided to go where he was wanted. It’s incredibly sad really. There are very few times where we have given praise to athletes who wish to remain loyal to their team and fans. More often we see players going to the highest bidder like hired guns of the old west. Go figure this analogy rings so loud in a state that had a number of hired gunman at its birth. The Rangers let a lot of talent go at the end of the 2012 season and Michael Young should not have been one of them. He is, in my opinion, Mr. Ranger.

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