Sunday, March 3, 2013

March 3- Texas Rangers

Things are finally starting to get back to a level of normalcy. My stepfather came down for the day and helped me fix my ailing computer. On top of being able to work on my blog posts at my house again, I can actually do homework. But I think we all know which one is way more important. Totally blog post…

Today is the first day I’ve ever worn this hat. I picked it up in January of 2012 at Buffalo Exchange is Eugene, Oregon. For those who are unaware of what Buffalo Exchange is, it’s a clothing store that sells used, vintage clothing for ridiculously high prices. At the time I had stopped in looking for old school Champion NBA jerseys and scored well with a Rodney Rodgers Denver Nuggets for $18. On my way to the checkout counter I noticed that they had hats on a slew of pegs next to the front door. I wasn’t really expecting to find much. I mean, what are the odds of finding a New Era cap in your size that’s also in really good condition? Apparently the odds were stacked in my favor when I found this. I normally wear a 7 3/8, but since my hair was growing at a rather explosive rate it fit rather well for a 7 ½. What was most impressive about this find is that it’s one of the lesser known hats from the Texas Rangers franchise. It was only used from 2001-2003 and served as the alternate cap. Trust me, I’ve looked around and have yet to see one anywhere else.

The inside had a little bit of wear, and there was a little bit of dust on the top of the cap, but I was incredibly impressed with the fact that the authentic hologram sticker was still on the bill. It’s as if someone wore it a few times, threw it in their closet and sold it after cleaning it out. I obviously have no qualms against this. Even if I don’t throw it on that often, it’s still a gem for my collection.

After giving it a lot of thought I had to leave Rafael Palmeiro out of the equation when it came to marking it up. Believe me; this did not sit well with me especially since he hit his 500th in 2003. The reality? Palmeiro will be getting his own post down the road. For this hat, there really wasn’t much else to mark other than this…

.305/156/395- I’ll never forget living in Vancouver, Washington and seeing the reactions of all the Seattle Mariners fans when Alex Rodriguez signed his 10-year $250 million deal. It was as if a member of the family had just spiked his napkin onto the dinner table, gave everyone the bird and said they were moving to Bel-Air to go live with their rich aunt and uncle. There really was no reason for Rodriguez to move south other than for financial compensation.

When Ken Griffey, Jr. hit the bricks to Cincinnati at the end of the 1999 season, Mariners fans looked to A-Rod to fill the void left by Seattle’s favorite son. It didn’t take much convincing as Rodriguez continued to hit the cover off of the ball. Had it not been for Cleveland Indians shortstop Omar Vizquel, he probably would have hauled in a cache of Gold Gloves for his terrific defense. He all ready had a batting title from when he hit .358 during the 1996 season, and he was steadily carving out a Hall of Fame career. The Mariners finished with a record of 79-83 in Griffey’s last season, good enough for third place in the American League West; however, in 2000 the M’s finished the year 91-71 and swept the Chicago White Sox in the American League Division Series before losing to the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series. Throughout the offseason the Mariners did what they could to offer Rodriguez a respectable long-term contract, but fell short as the Rangers offered to make him the highest paid player in sports history. I realize that almost all of you know this story, and that it’s not really my style to repeat something so well-known, but… most of you don’t really understand the emotional impact it caused throughout the Pacific Northwest. The mere fact that the M’s lost the greatest player currently in the game and reloaded with an unproven star (Ichiro Suzuki) to win a MLB season record 116 games was not even close to being expected.

The numbers on the cap are the stats that A-Rod posted during his three-year run with the Rangers. It kind of blew my mind that the exact three years he played there happed to be the same three years in which this hat was worn and made for a perfect match. One thing I will point out is that it’s one of the longest number sequences I’ve thrown on any of my hats. A little too long if you ask me.

Anyway, A-Rod was supposed to be the savior in Texas; the guy who would fill in the void left by former MVP slugger Juan Gonzalez when he got dealt to the Detroit Tigers in 2000, and then to the Indians in 2001. The Rangers were still rather stacked with Ivan Rodriguez behind the dish, Palmeiro at first base, Ruben Sierra at DH and Michael Young at second base. Offensively, the Rangers were expected to destroy AL pitching. The only problem; their pitching staff was primed for total annihilation. The Rangers combined for a record of 216-270, finishing dead last in the AL West every year. The only bright spot, besides Palmeiro, was A-Rod. Anytime the Rangers made their way to SafeCo Field scores of Mariners fans chanted "A-Fraud" and rained stacks of Monopoly money throughout the stands, which occasionally made its way onto the top of the dugout and field. I never really understood why they did this, especially considering that the Mariners were clearly better without him on the team. Say what you want about the guy, the one thing that you cannot deny is that he’s one hell of a competitor. He missed one game over that three year stretch, and took home the first of his two career AL MVP awards in 2003. 

What’s most interesting about this time frame is that 2001-2003 are the only three years in which A-Rod has ever admitted to using performance enhancing drugs. This always struck me as unusual when considering that The Ballpark at Arlington is a particularly easy place to knock a home run, especially when the jet stream is rolling out. One would think his numbers should have been a little bit higher; not to say that 156 home runs in three years isn’t a ridiculously impressive accomplishment. But who does he think he is kidding? From 1999-2000 A-Rod called Safeco Field, a pitcher’s park, home and hit 33 of his 83 home runs there. Now, compare that to the rest of the team; 1999-2000 equals 214 total homeruns at home for the Mariners from 27 total guys. 214 home runs / 27 guys equals 7.9 home runs at home per player over those two years. A-Rod hit 33, which is four times the average at home in two years which accounts for 15.4% of the total.  I honestly tried to break down the numbers even more by at-bats and games played to prove my point even more, but after an hour and sore eyes I said to hell with it.

I suppose with even a slight analytical breakdown one can sift through the B.S., but what does it really matter? He never got popped while he was playing, and yet we all paint him as this evil doer and cheat, while a lot of other guys were doing the same thing. I’ve never cared much for the PED talk as it always leaves people arguing more often than coming to a resolution. I don’t believe in asterisks, I just believe in the truth. I thing that depresses me the most is that this three-year time frame will potentially keep A-Rod out of the Hall of Fame. The next two years of his career will make this atrocity even more prevalent as he sits 99 hits away from 3000 and 116 home runs away from overtaking Barry Bonds as the most prolific home run hitter of all-time. He all ready has over 300 stolen bases for his career (318) which will make him one of two players in MLB history to have over 3000 hits, 500 home runs and 300 stolen bases. Willie Mays currently sits alone in this category.
Whether clean or dirty, A-Rod put up those numbers. No one will ever be able to change that or take it away. How do I know? It’s written on my cap for all to see.

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