Bleh. That’s how I feel about the Rangers going into the All-Star break. I was at the first game of the four-game sweepage at the hands of the mighty Baltimore Orioles. It was frustrating.
What isn’t so frustrating is naming the guys who’ll man the middle of the All-Time Obscure Ranger team. These guys would work together like a poorly-oiled, dysfunctional, patchwork double-play tandem. Or maybe not, considering who’s at shortstop…
2B- Billy Ripken
Career stats at Texas (1993-94, 1997):
G 153, AB 416, H 106, HR 3, RBI 41, AVG.247,OBP .310
Who? It’s not easy being the younger brother of a baseball legend. Just ask Ozzie Canseco. It’s ever harder when you play on the same team as your brother and have your dad as a manager. Or maybe not. Either way, Billy never lived up to Cal’s Iron-Man-Hall-of-Fame career. He enjoyed a couple of years starting along side his bro in Baltimore but by the time he arrived in Arlington, he was relegated to reserve status. Props to him for coming back to Texas in ’97 and enjoying a solid utility infielder role. But no matter what accomplishments Billy achieved on the field, his legend will always be tied to his infamous baseball card blunder/stroke of genius. His 1989 Fleer card is one of the most well-known goofs in history because, well it says “Fuck Face” on the butt of his bat, a story made better by the fact that Fleer hurriedly tried to cover it up by blacking it out (this was before Photoshop, kids). The things card collectors find amusing.
Where is he now? Fortunately Billy was able to overcome his Fleer faux-paux and mediocre playing career, and still enjoys a moderately successful life as an analyst for MLB Network. Good for him.
SS- Omar Vizquel
Career stats at Texas (2009):
G 62, AB 177, H 47, HR 1, RBI 14, AVG .266, OBP .316
Who? I’ve always loved Omar Vizquel. He’s just one of those guys who plays the game right. So I was thrilled when the Rangers picked him up–at age 42 nonetheless–to be a backup infielder last season and to, most importantly, impart all of his endless wisdom on rookie Elvis Andrus. He didn’t disappoint in his lone season for Texas. He did what Omar always does. My favorite memory was during one of the handful of games I got to cover last year for the Star-Telegram. Against the Angels and a runner on first, Omar let a routine foul ball fall to the ground, but acted like he genuinely missed it, to get the runner out at second because he was faster. After the game, he just gave a wink and a smile when asked about the play.
Where is he now? Omar will be 50 before he retires. He’s currently starting for the suddenly red-hot White Sox. I was disappointed that the Rangers didn’t bring him back. The ideal situation (originally hatched by Ranger fanatic Austin Talbert): fire Ron Washington and install Vizquel as the first player-manager since Pete Rose. Alas, that dream will have to wait.