Date: August 3rd, 2017
Rangers' Record: 51-56
Opponent: Minnesota Twins (51-54)
Starters: A.J. Griffin (4-2, 5.77) vs. Adalberto Mejia (4-4, 4.07)
I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of leaving. I have lived in four states, two countries, and an RV, and I once wrote the lyrics “I’ve paid admission to the places I’ve loved by pawning off pieces of my heart” in a song, and while that may be a little melodramatic, the point I was trying to make was that every new headphones-fueled walk to explore a new city, every learning of local customs, every new friend comes at the expense of an old favorite coffee shop, a comfort in belonging, and a friend whose back porch visits I treasured... won’t see me there nearly as often as they once did.
Baseball is a constant leaving and returning. Not just the six weeks in Arizona or Florida, or the 81 road games a year on the road, but–especially this time of year–there’s the additional and often abrupt departures when a player finds out (sometimes via Twitter or text message) that they’re no longer part of, say, the Texas Rangers community, but instead headed to Denver or Los Angeles, or Milwaukee.
“I watch ‘em,” Jeff Banister said without hesitation today when I asked about players who had been traded away. In fact, he was smiling before I even got the question out. “Absolutely. They were our guys. You don’t shut down that relationship, that interest. All three of those guys, I told them all ‘I hope you go kill it. Please do. Go.’ That’s-- c’mon, now. The investment, the relationship… as a manager, what you ask these players to do, and how to play for you as a group of coaches, and then to say ‘oh, you’re not on my team anymore, I don’t care about you’? No, it doesn’t work that way. I hold every player that I’ve ever coached, ever managed, they deserve that attention. They really do.”
So he knows how Sam Dyson is doing, then?
“Yeah. I do.” No hesitation. “I know when he got his first save, his second save. I know how he threw in his first game as a Giant. Yeah.”
So, Banister passes the decent human being test. But make no mistake, he’s a baseball man. As such, is it a challenge to balance the two? The genuine joy when they succeed elsewhere and the disappointment that it didn’t work out here?
“Nah. Why would I be upset or frustrated for the success of a player who had a ton of success playing for us? I think we all knew when Sam Dyson left, there was going to be an upswing for him. He’s way too talented, with too good a stuff not to. So why would I be upset that he’s performing well?”
Well sure. I assumed he wouldn’t wish them failure. Again: Decent Human Being Test has been passed. But is there frustration that it didn’t happen with the Rangers?
“(Fans) may be frustrated. I’m not. To understand the understand the game of baseball: the struggles and strife, the successes of baseball, you know that there are times like this. There’s a whole cyclical side of baseball; there are times with players where things just… they don’t perform well, or the optics of the performance is not good because (results) didn’t happen. I can point to a number of times where Sam Dyson pitched for us where, quite frankly, he threw the ball extremely well. But the success ratio was not there. Now, where that takes a player mentally, emotionally, sometimes a change of a uniform ignites a guy.”
“I think there’s something to that (the “change of scenery” argument). You can’t get away from it. You see it in too many instances where a player is in one place, struggling, and they move to another location and there’s a measurable success. Carlos Gomez. You think Houston wasn’t going ‘what in the hootenany is going on?!’ when he showed up and started performing for us. A.J. Burnett from the Yankees to Pittsburgh. There’s a laundry list of pitchers that came from different locations, underperforming, showed up over there (in Pittsburgh) and had success. A lot of times, the messaging and the coaching are essentially the same, it’s just sometimes your brain is willing and ready. You get punched in the mouth, it’s kind of an attention getter. I don’t mean really punching them in the mouth, but there’s a time you just--” [He put his hands up in a position of surrender] “Alright. Alright. I’m ready.”
“By the way, Lucroy had two hits today.”
Today, for the first time in, I think four days, I listened to something other than Manchester Orchestra’s new album, which you should still listen to because it’s already an all-time favorite. But walking from the hotel to Target Field today required something a little more befitting of the high-60s-and-raining weather. So it was time for Kodaline. They’re a modern reflection of early Coldplay (back when Coldplay was about writing songs, not hits).
(Spotify, Apple Music, Website)
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