October 12, 2010 was one of the most important days in the history of the Texas Rangers franchise. On that day, the Rangers had Cliff Lee on the mound trying to win a Game 5 in the ALDS against Tampa Bay for the first postseason series victory in franchise history. The Rangers won and the ride continued until they reached the World Series for the first time.
As big as that day was, one day previously, on October 11, 2010, an event the worst end of the fun spectrum happened for the Ranger franchise. On that day, it was announced that long-time Ranger play-by-play announcer Josh Lewin would not return to the Rangers' broadcast booth for 2011. Ultimately, in my opinion, this ended up being a disaster for this franchise.
Josh Lewin began calling games for the Rangers for Fox Sports Southwest in 2002. From 2002 until 2009, the Rangers finished above third place exactly twice. The 2010 season was the first time Lewin got to call an AL West Champion Rangers team. We experienced a lot of losing in the Josh Lewin years. He was entertaining, informed, and enthusiastic. But what made Josh Lewin special was the fact that he helped to make the Rangers enjoyable to watch even in the mediocre-to-bad seasons.
And for reasons still unknown to this day, he wasn't good enough for the Rangers once the product on the field had turned around. Given that the Rangers are once again having a terrible season, it's times like these that I miss Lewin the most. I don't want to spend too much time bad-mouthing professionals who have tried their best, but since the Rangers jettisoned Lewin, because they thought they could do better, they've had John Rhadigan, Dave Barnett, and Steve Busby paired with Tom Grieve in a booth that has ranged from amateurish at worst to boring at best.
Folks seem down on TAG more and more as the years go by and that's partially because the chemistry he had with Lewin hasn't been replicated with any of Lewin's replacements. Remember that time years ago when the camera found shirtless fans on a cold night in Cleveland and they flipped to the booth and there was TAG and Lewin standing shirtless calling the game with no notice or clue for why they were doing it other than for comedy? It was one of the most bizarre, funny moments that I had ever seen from a baseball broadcast.
Can you picture TAG and Busby doing that now? Not a chance.
Did Rhadigan, Barnett, or Busby have a call as memorable or great as Lewin's on David Dellucci's double against Oakland in 2004 or on Josh Hamilton's "BALLGAAAAME!" walk-off home run off Francisco Rodriguez in 2008? I don't think so and they've had way more to work with.
Obviously, this is all subjective. And of course there are people who didn't like it when Josh Lewin was making his pop culture references when they were just trying to enjoy the great american pastime. But it's impossible to say the product has improved since Lewin was let go.
So that brings us to this series with the Mets. Josh Lewin now calls games for the Mets on radio WOR 710 in New York. Mets fans are lucky. The Rangers and Mets have the same 37-48 record right now but I'd bet that fans of the Mets have a better time listening to their games than we do when they tune in to Lewin.
So, this weekend, as I watch the Rangers and Mets battle for draft position, I'll be listening to Lewin call the games. I can't wait, in fact. This is the most excited I've been for a Rangers series since like mid-April. Bring on the Seinfeld references. Bring on the hammy jokes. Bring on the binder full of baseball notes and anecdotes for one of the most prepared broadcasters in the game. Bring on the passionate calls that lift the big moments to their deserved place. It might not have been TEXAS enough for the folks in charge, but Josh Lewin was the voice of the Rangers for me.
If only October 11, 2010 had been as good as October 12, 2010.
Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups against the National League version of the Texas Rangers:
- Yu Darvish: 8-4, 11.04 K/9, 3.19 BB/9, .311 BABIP, 80.7% LOB, 2.65 FIP, 3.14 xFIP, 3.3 WAR - Two starts in 2014: 8 runs allowed in 19.0 innings
- Jon Niese: 5-4, 6.47 K/9, 2.45 BB/9, .281 BABIP, 76.8% LOB, 3.49 FIP, 3.80 xFIP, 1.2 WAR - Last three starts: 9 runs allowed in 18.0 innings
Thoughts: The Rangers held back Yu Darvish last night so he could bat today in New York. Sorry about that, New York.
I'd reckon the Rangers and Mets are both using their three best starters in this series. So, for two teams that are both 37-48, it's interesting to see pitchers with winning records like Yu and Niese.
- Colby Lewis: 5-5, 7.73 K/9, 3.09 BB/9, .394 BABIP, 70.5% LOB, 4.13 FIP, 4.47 xFIP, 1.1 WAR - Two starts in 2014: 11 runs allowed in 17.2 innings
- Bartolo Colon: 8-6, 6.67 K/9, 1.27 BB/9, .290 BABIP, 70.8% LOB, 3.60 FIP, 3.70 xFIP, 1.1 WAR - Last three appearances: 7 runs allowed in 22.0 innings
Thoughts: Colby and Bartolo Colon are having similar seasons for two old guys who have learned to pitch with depleted stuff. At least Colby has the edge with the bat!
- Nick Tepesch: 3-3, 5.89 K/9, 3.45 BB/9, .277 BABIP, 78.2% LOB, 4.55 FIP, 4.53 xFIP, 0.5 WAR - Last three starts: 4 runs allowed in 18.2 innings
- Zack Wheeler: 3-8, 8.97 K/9, 3.97 BB/9, .326 BABIP, 68.2% LOB, 3.38 FIP, 3.49 xFIP, 1.2 WAR - Last three starts: 7 runs allowed in 17.1 innings
Thoughts: Wheeler has arguably been the Mets' best starter in 2014 and he's 3-8. That's more like it.
Big Dick Nick has been letting it swang lately with two zero run outings in his last three starts.
New York Mets (37-48, 4th Place in NL East)
Rangers' Record vs. New York: N/A (Haven't played since 2011)
New York's Recent Results: 0-3 swept on the road at the Atlanta Braves
New York's Home Record: 17-21
Citi Field Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 104/117 - Runs: 87/88
SB Nation Mets Blog: Amazin' Avenue
|Match-up: (as of 07/04)||Rangers||Mets||Advantage|
|Batting (RAR)||-40.8 (26th)||-33.1 (20th)||Maybe the worst Ranger offense in 30 years|
|Base Running (RAR)||3.2 (8th)||-3.9 (25th)||We'll always have our BSR|
|Starters (RAR)||42.8||31.2||Felix is more valuable than the entire Ranger team|
|-4.4 (29th)||The bullpen has quietly been really good|
|Defense (UZR)||-17.5 (24th)||4.2 (12th)||Where Bobby Bonilla at?|
|Overall (UZR + RAR)||18.2||-6.0||
The kind of series you have to apologize for
Questions to Answer:
- Will you be tuning into WOR 710 during this series?
- Who is your Return of the McLemore Approved Player to Watch in this series? (I want to see Colby Lewis pitch to Bartolo Colon and Bartolo Colon pitch to Colby Lewis.)
- Over/Under: 2.5 hits by Michael Choice and Carlos Pena combined in this series?
- What's your guess for line (IP/H/K/BB/ER) by Yu Darvish tonight as he lets his freedom eagle soar?
- Yea or Nay: The Rangers finish with a better record than the New York Mets in 2014?