From afriend.

Wanted to briefly mention that, tomorrow, I will kick off a month-long series of position-by-position Rangers prospect rankings at The Athletic. In addition to the features you might be used to if you’ve bought the Bound Edition in the past, the player write-ups will also include comments from Rangers officials.

If you’re interested in checking The Athletic out, they’ve set up a new special discounted rate for Newberg Report readers that will go through March — a free seven-day trial, followed by 25 percent off of the annual plan, here:

The rest of this report is more important.

It comes from our friend, Devin Pike. He asked if I would pass this along.

* * *

Have you ever thought about doing something different with the design of your book?

Unlike Jamey Newberg, I was never a baseball player, on any level.

My parents had no aspirations that I would be in athletics of any kind, and really didn’t make the suggestion. I grew up reading a lot, making friends with fellow geeks, and the closest I got to being involved with sports in school was working as a video manager for the football teams in 8th and 9th grades.

The first baseball game I ever saw was only a prelude to an Amy Grant concert at Arlington Stadium. I didn’t see Nolan Ryan pitch until August 1989, and it was not a notable game. (He gave up one run on two hits in eight innings, and the Rangers beat the Tigers 4–1. I didn’t understand much about it.) That was when I first started to get the itch for baseball, though. It wasn’t about the game, for me, as much as the experience of the game. I came home that night, and wrote “If you think baseball is a boring sport, you need to work on your conversational skills.”

In the next decade, I fell for baseball. Hard. I went to the first exhibition game in 1994 at the Ballpark in Arlington (where Manuel Lee hit the very first home run for the Rangers, and I still say it counts). Two years later, I would be working at Friday’s Front Row Grill on the Porch, where I would occupy the DJ booth off and on for eight years. The highlight of my time there would be a night in November, when a group of us were allowed on the field around 9:00 pm. There was one bank of lights on. And — thanks to a few bats, gloves and balls we kept in our trunks — we played baseball on that field. I was the only one to hit the ball out of the infield. Thus ends my professional baseball career.

I wouldn’t meet Jamey Newberg until February 2003. I had been a subscriber of the Newberg Report newsletter for a couple of years, and when the Rangers had their Winter Warmup event at the park, I strolled up to buy a copy of that year’s Bound Edition, to support his efforts. Looked at the book, which Jamey had put together using Microsoft Word and a few prayers.

This is a good time to point out that I’ve been a print and graphic designer since 1986.

I walked back over to the table, and asked Jamey, in between his gracious conversations with the Report family members, “Have you ever thought about doing something different with the design of your book?”

He blinked. “What do you mean, exactly?”

We traded contact information, and I told him I would send him a couple of samples of my ideas for what the book could look like.

This started a relationship that has lasted for 14 books. That first book, the 2004 Bound Edition, took me and my partner-in-design-crime, Marty Yawnick, seven weeks of work to work out the best way to make the 40-Man Conundrum, the Awards section, the Daily Reports and everything else in the book look as good as possible. We handed it off to the printers at the VERY last minute. We both sweated every detail, and I learned a LOT of things about Adobe InDesign that year. But the book came out, and it’s one of the three things I’m the most proud of creating (and I didn’t even write the thing).

When I work on the book, baseball season hasn’t ended for me until I turn in the files to Jamey for our back-and-forth on edits. The Commissioner’s Trophy has been handed out, and the (always horrible) World Series Championship hats are being hawked on ESPN and Facebook, but I’m watching the season unfold for a second time as I pour over Jamey’s reports. Watching the 25-man rosters change through the months, seeing the rookies make their debuts, cursing Jamey as he decides to plug in all of the ridiculous photo essays using baseball cards and barely-related meme art (it’s the WORLD’S WORST THING to try and format, believe it) . . . it’s a treat.

It’s my way of contributing to the team. It’s my connection to baseball, and it’s uniquely mine. Jamey always apologizes for turning in files late to me, and I smile every time . . . because this is my season.

In contrast to that first book, it took me a total of three days total to format and output the 2018 Bound Edition. However, those three days of work was spread out over two weeks, because I was in the middle of a really horrible schedule of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, fighting against throat cancer for the second time.

Earlier that Fall, I was in the theater at the Ballpark’s Museum helping with the AV during the Newberg Report Meetup. Levi Weaver rolled out The Upset, and I think he gasped when he saw me punch the “coming soon” screen up on the projector, 40-feet tall. And Jamey decided to let you folks in on my issue, which is the whole reason why I’m writing this note to you. Against my express wishes (he has a habit of ignoring things I put my foot down about), he set half of the charity auction proceeds up to help with the impending medical bills from eight months of chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy. Even with really good insurance through McAfee, my day job, my medical debt will top six figures. Your generosity — which I’ve seen in action through the last decade in person — means a solid chunk of those bills are covered.

Please understand this, because it will always be true: I will carry your gift with me every day. The Family takes care of their own, and that runs from Jon Daniels on through Eleanor Czajka, Scott Lucas, Norma and George Wolfson, Bret Richards, Will Carroll, Emily Jones McCoy, Michael Tepid, and every single person who reads the Report when it hits your inbox. (This includes my newest Family friend, Emily, whom I met after that Meetup.)

My last treatment cycle was in early December. On February 13, I rang a bell. (Still a little miffed I didn’t get video of it, but I was still in shock.) The bell, you see, means I’m in remission. The next day, the Rangers started showing up in Arizona for Spring Training. I don’t think this is any small coincidence.

With Jamey’s move to The Athletic’s ranks, he’s said there’s at least one more book coming. After that, I’ll probably bug him to do something equally amazing for the Family. You see, I still have a debt to pay to him, and to all of you. Otherwise, my baseball season will end in October . . . and who needs that?



Devin Pike

Twitter: @justdevin


Jamey Newberg

Dallas attorney Jamey Newberg has been commenting on Rangers from the big club down through the entire farm system since 1998.

Scott Lucas

Scott Lucas was born in Arlington, Texas, to Richard and Becky Lucas. He lived mostly in Arlington before moving to Austin, where he graduated from The University of Texas. Scott works for Austin Valuation Consultants, Ltd., and has published several boring articles about real estate appraisal and environmental contamination. He makes a swell margarita and refuses to run longer than ten kilometres.

Eleanor Czajka

Eleanor grew up watching the AAA Mudhens in Toledo, Ohio. A loyal Ranger fan since 1979, she works "behind the scenes" at the Newberg Report.

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