Jeff Banister and Epictetus. It's the July 25th Baseball Texas Daily!

Date: Tuesday, July 25th
Rangers’ Record: 48-51 (4th place, 18 games behind Houston)
Wild Card Position: (T-7th of 12, 3.5 games out)
Tonight’s Opponent: Miami Marlins (45-52)
Tonight’s Starters: Cole Hamels (4-1, 3.78) vs. Dan Straily (7-5, 3.49)

Baseball is a pretty convincing argument for stoicism. 

I’ll explain later, but for now, go ahead and open up this tab and familiarize yourself with Epictetus. Not only does he have a super-rad name, but he was also one of the leading Greek philosophers on the concept of stoicism. Without Epictetus, there is likely no Rene Descartes, and okay some of you have checked out, so I'll stop, but it will help you understand Jeff Banister if you read up on this. 

It's the July 25th Baseball Texas Daily! 

BASEBALL STUFF

1. Adrian Beltre 3,000th Hit Watch: Beltre is at 2,993 after getting four singles in last night’s 4-0 loss to the Marlins.  SEVEN HITS TO GO, with eight games left in this homestand. The likelihood of this happening in Texas went up by a lot after last night’s performance.

NUMBERGENERATOR.ORG PICK A NUMBER BETWEEN ONE AND THREE THOUSAND: 1,086

Adrian Beltre’s 1,086th hit was on September 12th, 2005 against the Angels. It was his second hit of the day (the first was off starter Ervin Santana), and it came in the bottom of the 7th in Seattle, off reliever Kevin Gregg. Beltre would, just a few batters later, score the Mariners’ 6th run of the day en route to an 8-1 victory.

We’ll keep doing this every day until he gets 3,000.

2. A.J. Griffin’s rehab start yesterday in Frisco went pretty well. He lasted 5 innings, allowing just 4 hits (0 runs) and 2 walks, striking out 5. Griffin today had this to say: 

"It went pretty good. I executed my pitches for the most part. I had a few hits but a couple were ground balls. I was keeping them off-balance and I was able to repeat my delivery pretty well. I lost the feel for a few batters but got it back and finished strong. I feel the normal soreness after I pitch. The main thing I was able to go five innings and felt pretty good.

As long as I'm able to execute my pitches and able to repeat my delivery, command the ball around the zone, I feel absolutely that I can compete and help the team."

3. I wish I had something more concrete for you on Yu Darvish trade rumors, but I don’t know anything you don’t. The Rangers are leaning towards keeping him, but they’re willing to move him in “the right deal,” whatever that means.The Dodgers and Yankees seem to be the primary suitors. Of course, trading isn’t a simple proposition, writes our Matt Fisher.

4. So, baseball as stoicism. I know that link up there got pretty deep pretty quickly, but let me preface it by saying this: I’m heading somewhere hopeful... 

Jeff Banister leaned back in his chair, a satisfied squint of nostalgia on his face. We had just finished a conversation about Adrian Beltre nearing 3,000 hits, and how seeing Beltre every day reminded him of stories he heard told about Roberto Clemente. Banister’s locker, he told us, was between Bill Virdon and Bill Mazeroski, with Manny Sanguillen just one locker away. (Don’t worry, we’ll get back to this in a future Daily, I won’t keep you in the dark on it.)

But the conversation shifted. A question was proposed about the team being buyers or sellers this season, whereas last season, the team was obviously in a “buy” situation. This season, it doesn’t seem to be that way. In fact, it seems to be trending the opposite direction. Banister leaned forward, and his voice took on a decidedly less warm tone.

“We were seven and a half games back on July 31st, 2015.”

A few seconds of silence. [“But you guys were buyers, in that situation.”]

“We’re not, now?”

[“Well, there is more talk of selling than buying.”]

[seven full seconds of silence.]

“Hm. Okay.”

Another reporter added perspective, noting that the Rangers’ inventory was deeper then, and that 2015’s prime acquisition (Hamels) still had a lot of control left on his contract, making it a move that wasn’t *just* about 2015.

“Yes? But we were still thinking about 2015. I was asked the question about what my thoughts were, on being a seller. Right now, my thoughts are about winning baseball games, and that we’re still in position to make a run at a playoff spot. Those are my thoughts. You can tell me about inventory, you can tell me about what your thoughts are, but I was asked about my thoughts. And my thoughts are that we’re sitting here trying to win baseball games. That’s the message that these players get to hear every single day, that’s the message that they live by, that’s the message that they try to go out and play by.”

[eleven seconds of silence]

[“So it’s not that different, in that today’s game is still the focal point.”]

“That is the focal point. That’s the only thing we get to own is the day. We-- that’s it! Our peace of mind is to go out and play every single game as though we’re trying to win baseball games. That’s what (the players) are designed to do, that’s what their mindset is. Their mindset and their motivation is to continue moving forward, and it’s every single day. That day. Trying to figure out a way to own that day. Own peace of mind that day. I mean they don’t go out there thinking ‘I’m gonna be traded today’. They go out there to play.”

It was an enlightening perspective into what it must be like to be in the center of a season like this. It’s easy enough as a fan or a writer to say “Trade Darvish for Buehler and Verdugo” or “Blow it up” or “Ugh so ready to trade Lucroy” because we know that the things we say won’t really have any effect on the outcome. We could serenely smile at the television and be happy to be alive and watching a sport we enjoy, or we could scream at the television and make those around us uncomfortable, and both of those actions would have exactly the same amount of influence on the outcome: none whatsoever. And in that sense, it’s kind of a nice and harmless way to practice how we will react to other joys and hardships in our life. We can control our own actions, and that’s it.

But I hadn’t ever considered that the players and coaches can sometimes feel that same way. They can control their own pitches or their own at-bats, but–as evidenced by Adrian Beltre’s four-hit night on a 0-run night last night–they can only control their own actions. Their own preparation. Jeff Banister can control his lineup card, but no matter how good the communication or relationship with Jon Daniels is, Banister can’t control the plays, and ultimately, the decision to buy or sell is out of his hands. Likewise, Jon Daniels can negotiate well, rely on scouts that are also doing their own jobs well, and make trades that make sense. But he can’t control how those trades pan out. Sometimes Prince Fielder’s neck turns to Saltine crackers.

You can control your own actions, and your own expectations. That’s it. Sometimes those actions will help those around you. Sometimes, the outcome is bad, even if you did everything you could.

The only way to avoid pain, then, is to stop expecting anything good.

Ah, but let's fast-forward from Epictetus to C.S. Lewis, who has some words of wisdom on that topic: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

In short, be serene. Or yell at your TV. Love the sport however you decide. Hope the Rangers keep Darvish. Hope the Rangers trade him for a hot prospect. Come up with your own trade propositions. Or stop watching and do something that matters more, if it’s getting to be too much.

You can only control your own actions.

MUSIC RECOMMENDATION

Yesterday I referenced Lana Del Rey and mentioned I hadn’t listened to her new album yet. Well now I have. It’s still the same borderline-morose Del Rey we’re used to hearing, but she does it well, and it’s-- actually, it’s a really bad record to listen to if this article has put you in a dark place. But if you’re handling it well, it’s the perfect record for that. (Spotify, Apple Music, Website)

During the regular season, these recommendations occasionally come from Rangers players, broadcasters, or other people around the team (here’s a complete list). If there’s a player or person you’d like Levi to ask for a music recommendation, shoot him an e-mail threetwoeephus@gmail.com or a tweet here.

You can follow Levi Weaver on Twitter at @ThreeTwoEephus, or for fewer puns and more straight-forward Baseball News updates, you can follow us at @BaseballTX, or download the app and get in-game updates and notifications by clicking on the logo below!

 

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