A dear friend and I are joining up for a new blog. Join us here. The focus will be varied topics in a Christian world-view. It will be a tough and honest look, but it will be infused with love and grace. Please join us in our new adventure. Thank you for the support you have given me.
Monday, July 30, 2012
As I write this, I am staring at a list of transactions that has turned the 2012 Trade Deadline into a nightmare for Texas Rangers fans. With the news that Cole Hamels signed an extension with the Philadelphia Phillies (3 days after I said I wanted to see him on the Rangers, not sure if that qualifies as a jinx or not, but just to be safe this post will mention nothing about a Phillies southpaw who once carried the Rangers to their first World Series), the market for starting pitchers became unusually thin. Zack Greinke became the best pitcher available, with a significant drop-off between him and a “second-tier” featuring Jason Vargas, Francisco Liriano, and WandyRodriguez. Sure enough, the Rangers refused to include 3B Mike Olt in a deal to acquire Greinke, and he ended up on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. With the Angels only 5 games behind the Rangers, this move could very well alter the course of the AL West race (not to be overlooked – the A’s are actually in second place, 4.5 games back).
Since I cannot face the fact that this was a great move for the Angels (arguably the league’s best rotation now - Jeff Weaver, CJ Wilson, Greinke, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana – 5 All-Stars), I want to instead focus on the arrival of Francisco Liriano in the Windy City. Liriano has been the epitome of inconsistency this year – recently striking out 25 batters in a 2 game stretch before yielding 7 runs at the White Sox in less than 3 innings. He always seems to attract attention in fantasy leagues thanks to his remarkable K/9 (9.81 this year – 6th best in the league if he qualified). For some reason, his strikeout totals are enough to have fantasy owners crawling back to him after he posts a stellar outing. These owners, though, are always left bitter when the inevitable start arrives where he gives up 6+ runs and doesn’t get out of the third inning.
So will a change of scenery help Liriano? In short, no - Despite his impressive K/9, Liriano is 1 of 7 pitchers ever (with at least 17 games started) to have a K/9 of at least 9.8 and still have a K:BB ratio under 2. He may be striking batters out, but any advantage it would normally give him is erased by his horrifying tendency to issue free passes (currently 55 walks in 100 innings). While the other 6 pitchers include Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Sandy Koufax and Bobby Witt, it is important to point out that their combined ERA is 3.92 and they have a combined record of 141-152. Also, Liriano’s ERA+ this year is 77. What does this mean? It means that Liriano is a well below-average pitcher this year when you remove ballpark factors (the average pitcher’s ERA+ is 100). This is especially revealing as Target Field is a notorious pitchers’ park and he will no longer be making half of his starts there. It is also important to note that Liriano has a 1.74 WHIP away from Target Field. Also, his K:BB ratio is 1.6 and opponents are hitting an impressive .296 against him. Long story short? I hope you aren't a White Sox fan...
Miscellaneous Notes about the Rangers:
Josh Hamilton continues to struggle at the plate, even to the point where Nolan Ryan called him out for being too aggressive (when Nolan Ryan says you are being too aggressive, you have some serious problems). One of the reasons? Hamilton hit .385 in April-May on pitches away in the zone. Since June 1st he is hitting only .171.
Mike Olt is supposed to be the centerpiece of any deal the Rangers make at the deadline, but it was recently revealed that they refused to include him in a deal for Zack Greinke. Why? With Adrian Beltre at 3rd, I can only assume he is being groomed as the 1B of the future. I really like Olt (what’s not to like – his splits at AA Frisco, in 92 games, are .291/27/80, and oh by the way he plays above-average defense at third), but I think I’d pull the trigger for he-who-will-not-be-named-in-this-article. I would not, however, include him in a deal for James Shields, Josh Beckett, Josh Johnson, etc. Olt could very well be starting at first (or in the OF) next year.
Until next time,
Posted by James Travis at 4:40 PM
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
The end of July is approaching, which only means one thing - The Trade Deadline is nearly here. As an avid baseball fan, July is my favorite month that does not start with "Oct". Now that the Rangers are once again relevant in baseball, I spend most of my day scrounging absurd blogs and websites hoping to see "Texas Rangers agree to ship 2 D- prospects and a sack lunch to the Phillies for Cole Hamels." While this may be overly optimistic, the playoff race is shaped in July, and I long to pick up that one piece that will finally get the Rangers their first championship.
Posted by TX Sports Time at 9:40 PM
Thursday, July 19, 2012
As many of you know, I am preparing to leave on my self-identified 'Year of Service' in Rehoboth, New Mexico. I will be joining Rehoboth Christian School in their Finance and Advancement Departments in providing a support role for their bookkeeping and cost accounting for the school. The decision to leave the wonderful East Coast and go into the wild, beautiful West for a year was not taken lightly. The cost is going to be great. The step of faith required is more than I have ever experienced before. The amount of sadness in leaving and fear of the unknown is mounting. So then, why on earth am I going?
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
What does message does a church give to the watching world if the people in attendance are of the same race, culture, background and/or socio-economic level? I want that to be the central question of this post as I continue to delve into the murky, scary waters of racial reconciliation. Please note: this applies to ALL churches. Not just 'white' churches. Not just 'black' churches. This is an applicable question to every Christian and every church in every denomination. The discussion in this post will revolve around the main theme of an earlier post, "Comfort Zone Religion." What I want to do is push us further into this problem of settling in our respective areas of religion and familiarity. It is going to get intense. It is going to get tough. You ready? Lets go!
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Today is Fathers Day, so I wish to take a moment of your time to celebrate my father. Do not get me wrong, I am sure your father is a great guy. I am sure he is loving and kind and a decent person. But my father beats your father, though perhaps only in the metaphorical sense. As per his love of alliteration, (notice the title?) I will be using 'F' words to describe him.
Friday, June 8, 2012
After getting great feedback on my first blog post on racial reconciliation, I have decided to continue the series. Trust me, this series is going to get intense, personal, and convicting. If it does not, I will have failed my readership. This is too important of a topic to treat lightly. I am going to have some friends post as well, so that we can get different views from different backgrounds. Please continue to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any topics in this regard you want looked at from different perspectives.
With that being said, I want to address the issue of hip hop and Christianity. To start, I think the question needs to be asked: as Christians-- especially those of us raised in upper-middle, white communities-- how should we react to the hip hop culture? Even more broadly, how should we react to cultures of which we are not a part? The broader question applies to everyone of every race and culture, so for the time being, I will begin to address the first question in the context of the second.