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Saturday a.m. things

At this point, a win is a win, and I'm not going to look a gift horse (or even that horse in the lefthand sidebar) in the mouth...

But yesterday's performance by Kevin Millwood was disappointing. He didn't pitch as poorly as the box score indicates -- the Mariners, as always seems to be the case, got several bleeders and bloops that went for hits -- but he didn't pitch well. Evan Grant has some harsh comments from Mark Connor on the starting pitching:

A couple of hours before Friday's alleged baseball game, Rangers pitching coach Mark Connor sat on the team's bench and dissected the performance of his starting rotation. Basically, he said, the Rangers' awful start rests on the tired shoulders of the starting pitchers.

"It's all about the starting pitching," Connor said. "Our bullpen has the ability to be as good as any in baseball, but the bullpen will not continue to perform at this level the entire year if we have to keep using them the way we have. The starting pitching has been atrocious."

* * *

"We've got to give the offense a chance to relax a little and not have to score five runs at a time," Connor said. "Nobody's happy with what we're doing. But we can't sit back and say, 'Woe is me.' We've got to keep working, keep grinding. I hate to speak in clichés, but pitching is a contagious thing. If we can get one or two guys to go out there and give us a good game, it gets things rolling. Are we capable of that? Yes."

For those who want to blow everything up and start over...that's not going to make Michael Young happy:

When Michael Young signed a seven-year contract extension this spring to be the Rangers' shortstop and face of the franchise until 2013, he did so only because he believed the team was going to win in the very near future.

With that prediction rendered moot, and the Rangers on pace to lose more than 100 games, Young said Friday he doesn't regret the long-term commitment -- as long as the Rangers don't gut the team and start over.

"I'm not interested in being part of any rebuilding process, that's for sure," Young said. "I don't want this to turn into, 'We're playing this year for three or four years from now.' I'm not interested in that at all. I'm interested in getting better immediately."

Young is owed about $85 million over the next 6 years, and $80 million over the 5 years starting in 2009. If they decide to rebuild, are the Rangers going to end up having to pay another team to take yet another unhappy shortstop off their hands?

Speaking of unhappy Ranger shortstops the Rangers are paying to play for another team...

Jim Reeves defends Alex Rodriguez:

When I covered the Rangers as a beat man, one of the first things I learned was that unless a player got into trouble with the law, or was involved in a fight or some other kind of major trouble, what happened in the bar after games stayed there. We traveled with the players on the same planes and the same buses, stayed in the same hotels, frequented the same restaurants and often the same saloons and clubs. Some level of trust about what was legitimate news and what wasn't had to be established.

Besides that, it would have been hypocritical to point fingers when I was hanging out in the same pub. I wasn't exactly sitting on that barstool sipping a milkshake.

The problem for A-Rod is that he has slipped across the line from being just another ballplayer to that of celebrity. He's become as fair game for the paparazzi and the gossip wags as Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan. He has to know that, right? One thing A-Rod has never been, to my knowledge, is stupid.

"He's the highest-paid player in the game," former Rangers infielder Mark McLemore said Friday. "He knows people are going to be looking for everything. He's in New York.

"If he was going to [mess around on his wife], I can't believe he wouldn't be more discreet than that, or be that naïve."

The Post's report prompted a couple of local talk show guys to call this area's sports reporters "docile" and suggest that what A-Rod did would never have been reported around here. Let me just point out that the reports in the Post were all written by news-side reporters, not sports writers. I'd also like to remind folks that when sleaze turned into breaking news with the Cowboys and the "White House" in the late '90s, not many stones went uncovered by the local news media.

A-Rod has become such a lightning rod, it's beginning to look like piling on, actually. When I saw that the Blue Jays were incensed because A-Rod had distracted Clark, I almost laughed out loud. That's why I phoned McLemore in the first place.

"Believe me, it's all just blown out of proportion," Mac said. "Guys do that all the time. Players came in at me at second base, yelling at me, grabbing at me. If [the Blue Jays] don't think it's not done, they just don't know baseball.

"I've had guys yell, 'I got it' when I was under a popup. You've either got to know you got it or know your partner's voice, or something. It's a rookie third baseman, right? He was just embarrassed he let it go."

The only exception to the "anything goes" rule is when a fielder is approaching the other team's dugout.

"You don't say 'boo' then because you don't want someone to get hurt," McLemore said.

Would the Blue Jays have complained if it had been Derek Jeter who distracted Clark? Would Toronto manager John Gibbons have called it "bush league" and suggested that Jeter wasn't worthy of wearing Yankees pinstripes, like he did with A-Rod?

I don't think so. Rodriguez is simply everyone's easy whipping boy these days. When in doubt, rip, ridicule or lambaste A-Rod. Hey, I've done it myself.

I'm sure it won't surprise anyone here that I agree with Reeves. If that's Jeter, the Jays don't say anything...and if they do, Joe Torre is going to publicly back him, rather than sell him out in the press.

And if anyone thinks that ARod is the only star player who cheats on his wife, they are incredibly naive.

But it is an instance of being careful for what you wish for...Alex Rodriguez wanted out of Texas, wanted to go to New York, and he got his wish. But he's never fit in there, never been embraced, been viewed as the interloper who couldn't get it done in the postseason. And everything that he does has been magnified and blown out of proportion.

He would have been a lot better off just staying in Texas. And so would the Rangers.