Tonight will be a sad night. Lisalverto Bonilla’s season will come to an end.
I’m not predicting injury or a Mo Claiborne-style walkout for the 24-year-old righty. No, this is more like U2, leaving the stage, one by one, as they play “40” to finish the show.
Only this is a concert with no encore, and that’s what makes it so sad.
Tonight Bonilla takes the ball to start the fifth-to-last Texas Rangers game of the season. And then, because only four games follow, he’s done for 2014.
I’m so used to the ramp-up adrenaline that coats this week on the schedule, and I miss it. The last time the Rangers were playing out the string in the final week, the iPad hadn’t been invented, there was no such thing as Instagram, and Tiger Woods was not only Superman but Clark Kent as well.
It shouldn’t be that tough to handle. I spent a lifetime celebrating 162 with perennially gutted hopes of anything more than that, and I was still a passionate, devoted baseball fan. There were those three years out of four when the miracle of the baseball encore visited my world, but getting fed to the Yankees each time got to be even more demoralizing, in a sense, than the innocence of having a regular season attraction without realistic expectations of more.
I know for some of you it’s hard to even fully enjoy 10 wins out of 11, given the surrender of the “worst record” trophies that seems fairly likely at this point, but I’ve got to say, baseball is fun again. I’d have appreciated something more than the one win out of eight that the Diamondbacks have pocketed on their bullet train down to baseball’s worst mark, and while I’ll admit to moments the last couple weeks when seeing a Scott Baker inning go wrong wouldn’t have crushed me, I still find myself wanting the win every night, and when the big moments are provided by Rougned Odor or Ryan Rua or Nick Martinez or Spencer Patton — or Derek Holland — all the better.
And if there’s a better candidate to manage this team in 2015 than the one at the helm right now, then great — and yes, I’m in favor of going through the process of interviewing a small number of whoever the front office considers the top prospects for the job, for various reasons — but I can’t imagine anyone other than Tim Bogar running this team on the field at this point. And it has nothing to do with this win streak, in which eight of the 10 victories have come against teams who needed the wins. Bogar is an awesome candidate for this job. He wants it, and has said so. This is going to happen, and I’m fired up about that.
Jon Daniels has said he doesn’t expect to begin the interview process until a week or so after the season ends — but wants to make a permanent hire before the World Series kicks off on October 21 — and though we don’t know who is on the list of folks that will come through, Michael Young won’t be one of them. Evan Grant (Dallas Morning News), Richard Justice (MLB.com), and Ken Rosenthal (Fox Sports) each devoted a story to the idea of Young as Rangers skipper over the last week or two, but Grant reported last night that while Daniels and Young discussed the possibility Tuesday, Young is committed to family right now and isn’t ready to consider an opportunity as all-encompassing as managing a big league baseball club.
More immediate is the wait for the Carolina Mudcats to decide whether to hook up with the Rangers (who visited on Monday) or the Braves, leaving the other to head to Adelanto, California to make the High Desert Mavericks their new High Class A home, and this isn’t an unimportant thing.
And for Texas to hold a private workout for 23-year-old Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, which will reportedly happen today. Also not unimportant.
And for Bonilla-Scott Feldman tonight, which is unfortunately less important.
Followed by Colby Lewis-Jason Hammel, Nick Tepesch-Scott Kazmir, Holland-Jeff Samardzija, and Martinez-Sonny Gray, four games that six months ago looked like they might be for everything, a long weekend of Castle Doctrine baseball as the Rangers looked to reclaim the AL West perch that the A’s had swiped from them the last two years.
Instead, the ultimate meaning of those four will likely be wrapped up in whether Texas can force Oakland to travel to Kansas City for the Wild Card Game, after which the house lights at 1000 Ballpark Way flip on and we file out of the 2014 season, without an encore.
As a baseball fan you never want the length of the off-season to be fixed when there’s still one swing through the rotation left on the schedule, but in this case the question of how long to sing the winter song offers a sadly clear-cut answer, and the identity of the manager who will lead this team the next time it suits up is nearly as certain, and I’m not sad about that part at all.
I don’t remember many concerts or many baseball seasons that I wanted to end, and while I’m enjoying baseball right now more than I have in a long time, thanks to Rougned and Neftali and Adrian and Bogey, one absolute truth for the Rangers is that it’s necessary for 2014 to end in order for 2015 to get here, and though I’m looking forward to these final five of 162, truth be told I’m more than ready to pour a 40 out on this baseball season and, like I’d gotten used to before the last four glorious, spectacular years of 162+, get fired up for the next one.