Since the second Saturday in March last year, Texas has won 11 spring training ballgames and lost 24.
Or something like that. My writing OCD will drive me to find out who Mickey Klutts hit his home runs off of and look up the names of 1970s board games and research who field coordinator Josh Bonifay might have crossed minor league paths with as a player and reach out to half a dozen players for their Vinny DiFazio memories, but I don’t feel like double-checking the Rangers’ split squad or “B” game results since this time last year to bolster the point, because I just don’t.
The second Saturday in March a year ago was also a perfectly healthy day for my right leg, the last one of those I’ve had. The following afternoon, Sunday the 13th, my quad angrily disengaged from the kneecap that it had worked just fine with for 47 years, rupturing into mop-head arrangement when it didn’t like the way I’d put the brakes on as I attempted to return the drop shot that was floating toward its second bounce in the deuce court alley early on in a tennis game that counted a thousand times less than the exhibition game being played a thousand miles to the west, a crisply played practice game until the Angels blew it open with a seventh-inning five-spot on Rangers righthander Anthony Ranaudo, two months before another Ranaudo five-spot, this time in Arlington at the hands of the White Sox, precipitating his trade (to that same Chicago club) that ultimately led Texas to replace him in the bullpen with AA reclamation project Matt Bush, and I’m pretty sure I started this sentence off talking about my quadriceps tendon.
It’s been a long year.
On the other hand, in the same 12-month space of time Texas won 95 regular season games, losing just 67. That was awesome.
Then again, since the second Saturday in March a year ago, the Rangers haven’t won a playoff game, even though they played in three of them, with well-earned home field advantage and the rotation properly lined up.
Those losses mattered.
Angels 7, Rangers 3 a year ago didn’t. Nor have any of the other 23 spring training defeats since.
After last night’s addition to that meaningless column, a 12–2 drubbing at the hands of the Dodgers, local treasure Levi Weaver spent his gamer discussing the death of Grigori Rasputin 100 years and three months ago, since which time the Rangers have lost a lot of exhibition games that don’t matter. In Levi’s story he happened to talk briefly about tendons, which made me think not of Dean Palmer’s lampshading biceps but instead of the tendon and muscle just above my knee that, a year ago this weekend, got pissed off itself and exploded.
I don’t really care that Texas has two wins in two weeks. Really, I don’t (he said, persuasively as he could).
But this already feels like a long baseball month, bringing to close what for me in some ways has been an annoyingly long year, which I was reminded of this morning in a story about Rasputin, and at least today I can celebrate having written a sentence that I’m confident nobody else has ever written, if “celebrate” is the right word. (It’s not.)
A.J. Griffin starts one split-squad game today against the White Sox, while Eddie Gamboa faces Oakland in another. There’s an opportunity to win a game today, or even two. Elvis Andrus makes his spring training debut today, Ryan Rua gets a start in center field, Drew Robinson gets one at shortstop.
Anthony Ranaudo is pitching in Korea, Rasputin is dead, and pretty soon I’ll be cleared to start running, and while I’m prepared for the possibility that I won’t ever be completely back to where I was until a year ago, in 2016 the Rangers put a bad spring training finish behind them and went on to win more American League games than anyone else.
That can happen again. Some processes, by design, end when they’re supposed to. An exhibition schedule gives way to a happily recalibrated win-loss record. An angry, disgusting mop head gets gathered and repaired. We get to start over, hopefully good as new, or something close to it.
I’m gonna go hit some tennis balls right now (in place), after which I might check up on some of the players around the league who signed for more in July 2015 than Leody Taveras did, and then I’m going to to tune into some meaningless baseball, hoping less for Cactus League victories than for an absence of health setbacks, though a win or two wouldn’t be unwelcome.