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Joe's MLB on TV Report - Rangers

Number twenty-six in a series.

Broadcast: Texas Rangers on FSN Southwest, Tampa Bay at Rangers, 8/15/08; Announcers: Josh Lewin (play-by-play), Tom Grieve (analyst), Jim Knox (reporter)

With a few hours until the deadline for signing draft picks (a team that didn’t sign a drafted player lost the rights to that player, who goes back into the draft next year), it was fortunate that the Rangers’ analyst is their former general manager as well as a former player. That allowed for Tom Grieve to give some insight into what happens when the deadline nears and a high draft pick still hasn’t come to terms.

Of course, he also called Tampa Bay’s B.J. Upton “Justin” a number of times. Justin is B.J.’s brother. Not only that, he didn’t want to go out on a limb as to whether Upton’s benching in the 6th inning was a disciplinary move on the part of Rays’ manager Joe Maddon. If you read my report on the Rays’ broadcast the other day, you may remember that the subject of Upton’s work ethic came up in that broadcast as well.

In this game, Upton hit a ground ball to short that was turned into a surprisingly easy double play. He went out to center for the bottom of the 6th, and then was called back and replaced by Justin Ruggiano. A replay showing what happened with Upton was not forthcoming -- a big flaw under the circumstances -- so I hit rewind (I love my DVR, by the way) and watched the play again. Clearly Upton didn’t run hard to first base and the benching was because of his lack of hustle. In fact, he also sat out the next night. Grieve should’ve taken a stand, especially since he works for the Rangers and didn’t have to worry about a lack of partiality towards the home team.

Speaking of impartiality, Josh Lewin mentioned Manny Ramirez being the talk of baseball for the hot start to his Dodgers career, but said that Manny’s August average was “not close” to that of Marlon Byrd, who was hitting .462 prior to his first at-bat of the night. This seemed like a stretch to me. Ramirez was hitting .437 for the Dodgers at the time, which isn’t exactly shabby. So I checked the August stats a little more deeply (before both players’ weekend performances, to see what Lewin was basing his view on)…

Byrd: 2 HR, 12 RBI, .525 OBP, .712 SLG, 1.237 OPS
Ramirez: 5 HR, 20 RBI, .457 OBP, .813 SLG, 1.270 OPS

“Not close?” I think most of us would pick Manny here.

When Rays catcher Shawn Riggans came to bat, Lewin felt it was necessary to give an answer to a question that wasn’t asked. “And the answer is yes, once, Shawn Riggans has caught Chone Figgins stealing.” When Grieve thought there was another catcher named Riggans who used to catch for the Angels, but couldn’t remember his first name, Lewin replied, “You’re thinking of John Riggins, the bruising fullback.” Oooooooookay. He also finished an interview with former Ranger Rusty Greer, a guest in the booth, with a peppy “Thanks, dude.”

That type of attitude is more suited to “reporter” Jim Knox, who conducted “interviews” with Josh Hamilton’s pitcher at this year’s Home Run Derby and a former clubhouse manager, but was first seen in the bleachers clowning with fans on camera, asking where they’re from, etc., the type of crap you see on local TV news a lot. Grade: C-minus. -- Joe Guckin