Whether true or not, there were stories last year that, if it weren't for the Rangers' annual Triple Play charity game show event on Sunday night, April 27, featuring the entire Rangers team - players and coaches and management and ownership - Ron Washington might have been fired that weekend, as the team had lost 12 of 14 coming into a three-game weekend set against the Twins. And if Washington's birthday weren't on April 29, he might been let go on the 28th, a club off-day that followed the Sunday event.
But Texas then rattled off 6 of 8, 11 of 15, and 15 of 21, and Washington's job, if it really had been hanging by a thread, was secure.
This year's Triple Play starts in less than two hours, and what a difference.
Seven wins in a row (longest win streak in four years), 13 of 15, a 4.5-game division lead over the team we just throttled, the third-best record (23-14) that this club has ever had after 37 games (next to the 1996 and 1998 playoff seasons), eight straight series won (6) or tied (2), another brilliant effort by the most underappreciated player in franchise history (lowering the club's league-leading May ERA), and another game-changing defensive display by the club with the best fielding percentage in the league this month.
If you were around in 1996 and 1998, and in 1999, you know that what happened out there this weekend, with nearly 105,000 looking on (highest three-game total since 2007) as the Red-Shoed Rangers swept the Angels, was what it felt like in those Septembers.
If you don't think a packed house impacts the players, flip on the postgame interviews. They feed off this, as much as we feed off what's happening between the lines.
As Josh and Eric emcee the game show events tonight, I'll be surprised if they're playing at 100 percent. All the huge plays they've called the last three days have to have taken a toll on their voices.
Like Hambone being Hambone.
Hank going 3 for 22 on the homestand but coming up huge three times.
Former Angel Darren O'Day slamming the door shut - finishing off former Ranger Gary Matthews Jr. with the second of two wicked changeups - against the team that thought enough of him to drop him seven months ago from its 40-man roster. That's two straight years the Rangers have found a bullpen piece (Warner Madrigal after the 2007 season) that the Angels failed to protect on the roster.
Ian. Elvis. CD.
Hell, you could name almost everyone on the roster right now.
Triple Play is always a good time, but never like it's going to be tonight.
Especially for the manager.
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(c) Jamey Newberg
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