Jul 102012
 
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The 1972 Texas Rangers won 54 games all season long…The 2012 Rangers squad had 52 wins heading into the 83rd MLB All-Star break.

Case in point, the Texas Rangers haven’t always been this good.

It doesn’t seem like too long ago that the only reason the Rangers had an All-Star representative was because each team had to have one.

Still, the Texas Rangers have historically played extremely well in the Midsummer Classic—they’ve garnered three AS MVPs and provided other magical moments.

So it’s time to navigate “Nostalgia Boulevard”, because “Memory Lane” was already taken.
Here’s a look at some of the top Rangers moments in the Midsummer Classic.

Josh Hamilton goes bonkers
Turn Back the Clock: Big Rangers Moments during the Midsummer Classic
Technically, Hamilton’s excellent exploits didn’t occurr during the All-Star Game. As it turned out, in the All-Star Game, “Hami” went a somewhat pedestrian 1-for-3 with a stolen base.

Hamilton, however, had made his mark the night before.

The magnitude of his performance during the 2008 Home Run Derby can cause even the world’s wittiest journalist to run out of adjectives in a hurry.

Hamilton, as you’ll recall, crushed 28 home runs—in the first round.

And the theater within which he put on his majestic show was none other than “The House that Ruth Built.” It was truly special to watch his Ruthian display on national television—as a Texas Ranger nonetheless.

It not only put Hambone on the map, but it helped the world take notice of the Texas Rangers too.

Julio Franco, AS MVP, 1990

Turn Back the Clock: Big Rangers Moments during the Midsummer Classic

Yeah, the trophies were much bigger back then. It’s why everyone started using steroids.


The 1990 Texas Rangers season needed a lift. When you have a four-man rotation that has two pitchers 42 years old or older in Charlie Hough and Nolan Ryan—even if one of them is a Hall of Famer—the team needed a cool breeze to amp up for the relentless late-summer Texas heat.

Julio Franco provided just that.

Franco was the Jheri-curled second baseman who at the age of 31 was making his first All-Star appearance as a reserve.

Famous for his farcical batting stance—picture a PGA golfer at the height of his back swing, and that’s Franco’s starting point—his stance was both knock-kneed goofy and extremely intimidating.

In the top of the seventh inning he lined a double to right field off of one of the Cincinnati Reds’ highly esteemed “Nasty Boys”, Rob Dibble.

The double scored both Lance Parrish and Roberto Alomar.

Those were the only runs plated in the game—and they made Franco the no-doubt choice for MVP.

Franco, incredibly, would play another 17 big league seasons after his 1990 All-Star Game heroics.

Alfonso Soriano, AS MVP, 2004
Turn Back the Clock: Big Rangers Moments during the Midsummer Classic
You can say what you want about Soriano, but during his two years with the Texas Rangers he gave Rangers Nation plenty to cheer about.

In both 2004 and 2005 he represented the Rangers in the All-Star Game, and in 2004 he was named MVP—just the second Texas Ranger to earn the award, and the first since the aforementioned Julio Franco did so way back in 1990.

Soriano certainly didn’t take long to wow the Minute Maid Park crowd in Houston.

With two on and two out in the first inning, Soriano smacked a Roger Clemens fastball for a three-run home run, providing the American League All-Stars with all of the momentum they would need to stave off the NL squad for a 9-4—pushing their All-Star game winning streak to seven.

Hank Blalock, AS Game Bad-ass, 2003
Turn Back the Clock: Big Rangers Moments during the Midsummer Classic
The year after the ill-advised and much debated Bud Selig decision to end the 2002 All-Star game in a tie, MLB fans deserved something extra special during the 2003 Midsummer Classic.

And thanks Hank Blalock, they’d receive just that. Special, of course, unless you’re a Los Angeles Dodgers fan.

Hank Blalock was called on to pinch-hit for Troy Glaus in the bottom of the eighth inning with one on and two out. Pinch-hitting is no easy task, much less when you’re the go-ahead run at the dish and unbeatable Eric Gagne is toeing the rubber.

Two things about Gagne and his now-famous saves streak should be noted:

1. Gagne, up until the All-Star Game, had saved 31 consecutive games on the season—he’d save 55 consecutively by the end of 2003 (63 straight dating back to ’02) on his way to the ’03 Cy Young Award.

2. It’s a good thing that All-Star Games don’t count against such streaks, because Hank Blalock wasn’t hearing any of that noise.

Trailing 6-5, and with the Blue Jays’ Vernon Wells on, Blalock strode to the dish.
He then slashed a 3-1 pitch deep into right-center field for the go-ahead home run that rocked the nation.

Well, it rocked my world at least—I almost jumped through the ceiling and onto the third floor of my apartment complex.

And now, nine years later, I still wonder how the heck Blalock wasn’t deemed All-Star MVP that year.
I mean, he did stop one of the greatest streaks of all time—albeit unofficially.

The Face states his case, 2006
Turn Back the Clock: Big Rangers Moments during the Midsummer Classic

During the 2006 All-Star Game, the “Face of the Franchise” did something truly special.

Top of the ninth inning, two outs, down 0-2, Young ripped a two-run triple off of Trevor Hoffman to give the American League a 3-2 lead.

The lead was safe in the hands of Mariano Rivera as the AL All-Stars won the Midsummer Classic for the tenth consecutive time (excluding the ’02 tie).

And the AL All-Stars, once again, had a member of the Texas Rangers to thank for the victory.

Perhaps another Texas Ranger will earn an All-Star MVP after tonight’s game has concluded. After all, with eight representatives, they’re the odds-on favorites.

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Jul 022012
 
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Lucky 7 (or Elite 8): Texas Rangers Well Represented at 83rd Mid Summer ClassicThe Texas Rangers will have at least seven representatives at this year’s All-Star Game in Kansas City.

Rookie right-hander Yu Darvish made the final ballot and can be voted onto the All-Star team by following this link—there is NO limit to votes, so, by all means vote “Yu” until your heart is content, or your wrist locks up in a fit of carpal tunnel syndrome…and then vote a few times more.

The Rangers have had as many as five players at the Mid-Summer Classic in previous years—including the last two—but have never had more than two voted to start. The seven—possible eight—players on this year’s roster is by far the most the Rangers have ever had during their 40-year history.

Here’s a quick look at those that have already made the cut:

The starters:

Josh Hamilton, OF—11,073,744 votesLucky 7 (or Elite 8): Texas Rangers Well Represented at 83rd Mid Summer Classic
.314/.381/.643, 25 HRs, 73 RBI

Hamilton obliterated the vote record set last season by Toronto’s Jose Bautista. Fellow A.L. starters, Curtis Granderson (NYY) and Jose Bautista (TOR) combined, received fewer votes than Hamilton’s gargantuan number.

This is the fifth All-Star nod for Hamilton, and the fifth straight time he’s been voted in to start. Hamilton is just the third Texas Ranger to receive the most votes in any given year. He joins catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez (2,808,456 in 2000), and second baseman Alfonso Soriano (3,466,447 in 2004).

Adrian Beltre, 3B—4,613,180 votesLucky 7 (or Elite 8): Texas Rangers Well Represented at 83rd Mid Summer Classic
.323/.355/.527, 14 HRs, 52 RBI

In an exceptionally close race, Beltre beat-out Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera by just 416,595 votes. To wit, the balloters got this one right, as Beltre’s contributions are just as important in the field as they are at the dish.

Beltre, who started last year’s Mid-Summer Classic due to an injury to Alex Rodriguez, is a three-time All-Star participant.

Mike Napoli, C—4,317,718 votesLucky 7 (or Elite 8): Texas Rangers Well Represented at 83rd Mid Summer Classic
.235/.335/.438, 12 HRs, 30 RBI

“Nap-O-Lee!!!!” finished well ahead of Minnesota’s Joe Mauer to earn the start at catcher. This is Napoli’s first All-Star selection.

Although his numbers haven’t been great thus far, this honor has been bestowed upon him due to overall popularity and fantastic 2011 accomplishments—that, plus the fact that A.J. Pierzynski is a douche-bag of the highest order.

The rest of the Rangers’ best:

Ian Kinsler, 2BLucky 7 (or Elite 8): Texas Rangers Well Represented at 83rd Mid Summer Classic
.276/.335/.451, 9 HRs, 40 RBI

Over the first few weeks of the balloting, Kinsler was in the lead for all A.L. second baseman. NY’s Robinson Cano eventually overtook him for the lead, but Kinsler was voted in by players, managers and coaches.

This is Kinsler’s third trip to the Mid-Summer Classic.

Elvis Andrus, SSLucky 7 (or Elite 8): Texas Rangers Well Represented at 83rd Mid Summer Classic
.307/.383/.412, 16 stolen bases

Andrus was selected by manager Ron Washington as a reserve, after finishing second to the A.L.’s top vote-getter at shortstop, Derek Jeter.

Elvis is having the finest offensive season of his young career. Andrus has the highest OBP of any other A.L. short stop, and is also tops in the league in stolen bases.

This is Elvis’ second All-Star nod.

Matt Harrison, LHPLucky 7 (or Elite 8): Texas Rangers Well Represented at 83rd Mid Summer Classic
11-3, 3.16 ERA, 1.24 WHIP

Harrison is tied for the A.L. lead in wins. Selected by Washington, don’t be surprised if Harrison is the American League’s starting pitcher. After all, the 26-year-old left-hander certainly has the numbers to backup such a decision.

Joe Nathan, RHPLucky 7 (or Elite 8): Texas Rangers Well Represented at 83rd Mid Summer Classic
0-2, 1.87 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 11.2 K/9, 18 saves

Just two years removed from Tommy John Surgery that caused him to miss all of the 2010 season, Nathan was selected by Washington to participate in his fifth All-Star Game.

Aside from two early-season hiccups, Nathan has been exactly what the Rangers were looking for—a shutdown closer that’s one of the finest in all of Major League Baseball.

Nathan’s 10.5 strikeout-to-walk ratio is best in all of baseball for any pitcher that has appeared in at least 30 games.

On the fringe:

Yu Darvish, RHPLucky 7 (or Elite 8): Texas Rangers Well Represented at 83rd Mid Summer Classic
10-5, 3.59 ERA, 117 strikeouts

Darvish, despite a quality start, lost in his first bid for win number eleven. Regardless, the rookie right-hander from Osaka, Japan, has been outstanding for the Rangers during the first half of 2012. He’s the team leader in strikeouts, second in wins and until last night’s 3-1 loss, had been undefeated at home in the hitter’s haven of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

You can make Darvish the Rangers’ team-record eighth All-Star participant by voting here.

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