Poor Toby's Almanac…Tom Grieve's birthday on a full moon
The Week That Is: The Rangers have two big home games this week. The host the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday and the Chicago Cubs in Friday. They are the two biggest draws for the Rangers in Arizona and should be two of the biggest crowd of the spring. The other team that draws well in Arizona are the San Francisco Giants, who come to Surprise on March 20. The Rangers play the Giants in Scottsdale on Saturday and there is a possibility that could be Eric Gagne’s first appearance of the spring.
Bonds vs. Rangers: The Rangers could face Barry Bonds on Saturday. In his career, Bonds has played in 18 games against the Rangers and has four home runs in 57 at-bats. He also has 21 walks, giving him a .469 on-base percentage. Vladimir Guerrero has a .492 on-base percentage but the highest on-base percentage against the Rangers (50 or more at-bats) is the immortal Lyle Mouton, who had a .493 on-base percentage against them in 66 at-bats.
Weather: The weather was brutal on Saturday morning with temperatures in the mid-50s and a brisk north wind making it feel down right frigid. But this week should be terrific, nothing but sun and daily highs in the 80′s.
By the way, there was a spectacular full moon over the White Tank Mountains before the sun came up on Sunday morning. Which brings us to this famous quote…
The Oracle of the Elysian Fields "There’s a full moon over Busch Stadium tonight. We hope there’s a full moon where you are too," Cardinals broadcaster Mike Shannon.
Strikeout king: Kevin Millwood led the Rangers with 157 strikeouts, one more than Vicente Padilla. But which pitcher in Rangers camp had the most strikeouts in 2006? That would be Francisco Cruceta, who struck out 185 in 28 starts for Triple A Tacoma to lead the Pacific Coast League. That’s the second time he has led a league in strikeouts. He also did just that in 2003 when pitching for Akron in the Double A Eastern League. Only one Minor League pitcher struck out more batters than Cruceta last year and that was Double A Huntsville’s Yovani Gallardo who struck out 188.
Milestones: Rangers owner Tom Hicks (right) was inducted into the Surprise Recreational Campus Hall of Fame on Saturday. This week he is expected to take co-control of the Liverpool Football Club and see his new team’s first match. Hicks was up at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday to watch Liverpool play Manchester. His boys lost and Hicks was distraught about it. Asked his wife Cinda if her husband really needed a third team to agonize over. She politely declined to comment.
Birthdays: Rangers broadcaster Tom Grieve, who shares a birthday with Dazzy Vance and Lefty O’Doul, turns 59 today. Cookie Rojas, father of Rangers broadcaster Victor Rojas, turns 68 on Tuesday. Jeff Burroughs, the first MVP in Rangers history, is 56 on Wednesday. Jim Bouton, who wrote Ball Four, turns 68 on Thursday. He is twice as old as Justin Thompson, the former Rangers pitcher who turns 34 on Thursday. Bert Campaneris, the first big-name free agent in club history, is 65 on Friday.
By the way, about Tom Grieve: We know that Grieve is: 1.) The Rangers TV analyst; 2.) Had the longest tenure ever by a Rangers General Manager; 3.) Is the father of Ben Grieve. But also:
1. Was the first winner of the Harold McKinney Good Guy Award back in 1975.
2. Is one of two who have won the award twice. The other is Charlie Hough.
3. Was the 1976 Rangers Player of the Year. Others who have won both awards: Buddy Bell, Jim Sundberg, Larry Parrish and Michael Young.
4. Young is the only player to win those two awards and Rangers Rookie of the Year.
5. Was the sixth overall pick of the 1966 draft. Johnny Oates was taken in the second round. Steve Garvey was taken in the third round, but by the Minnesota Twins. He didn’t sign and went to Michigan State instead.
Just for the Hecht of it: Steve Hecht is in Rangers camp. Who? Well, he is the Rangers performance coach, a job once held by Don Kalkstein. According to the media guide, his job is to, "help Texas Rangers players develop specific plans for peak performance. He provides mental skills approaches and exercises for decreasing anxiety and increasing confidence, and assists in dealing with distractions that decrease focus and concentration, by identifying and eliminating factors that undermine potential success."
Last call: "I still think he can help us. Until he proves differently, I’m a Sammy Sosa fan." Rangers manager Ron Washington.