Of New Mexico 104, Josh Beckett and Six-Game Lead



Once you come to Las Vegas in the Land of Enchantment, you take New Mexico Highway 104 east to Tucumcari and enter into breathtaking scenery starting on the high plateau and over the next 100 miles, dropping off into the Mesa County on the Canadian River watershed.

At one point you cut through mountains and into a steep drop with about five feet between the road and a sheer fall into an unseen canyon. There is a large cave cut into the side of the mountain on the other side and the magnificent vista ahead stretch for miles and miles and miles.

When your job takes you from one urban sprawl to another and you’re still disgusted that vile developments have scarred the horse country of US 380 from Prosper to Denton, it is comforting to know that Highway 104 still exists, just as pristine as that road that leads from Albany through the Mohawk Valley to the Finger Lakes region and Cooperstown in upstate New York or the Ohio River road from Steubenville to East Liverpool.

Would be perfectly content to drive those roads forever or enjoy another dinner on a balcony overlooking the Plaza and the Palace of the Governors in downtown Santa Fe but fate and circumstances have not deemed that possible. The Lost Coast awaits another day.

Yes it was nice to get away for a week but you can never get away completely, Al Gore’s creation does stretch even into the remotest parts of the land, and that can be entertaining when it comes out that an American League executive has told an industrious, highly reliable national reporter that Josh Beckett “makes a lot of sense” for the Rangers.

No doubt about it. Certainly the Rangers – who don’t have a permanent spot for Roy Oswalt in the rotation and have Alexi Ogando sitting in an eight-man bullpen that doesn’t include Koji Uehara – could use a pitcher who is 5-11 with a 5.23 ERA, missed time with shoulder inflammation, is due $31 million over the next two years and has other issues well-chronicled in Red Sox Nation.

But Nolan Ryan would be able to straighten him out. Or Greg Maddux, Mike Maddux or somebody. Kind of like 007 and Fiona in Thunderball; when a woman encounters James Bond, “She starts to hear heavenly choirs singing. She repents and returns to the side of right and virtue.”

Guess people would certainly believe Beckett make more sense than say, leaving Oswalt in the rotation for the rest of the year and see if he is still the pitcher that he once was. Beckett and Oswalt at one time were two of the premier pitchers in baseball.

Wonder who has the best chance of approaching that level again? Not sure who has the higher WAR right now but one might suggest that it make more sense to go to war with Oswalt right now and see if he can be that dominating starter the Rangers desperately need in the playoffs.

But when you driving through the pastoral beauty of the Land of Enchantment, you probably get lulled into a ridiculously false sense of security that the Rangers don’t need to make major changes, even if they do have a six-game lead with 38 left to play.

Seems premature to start worrying about playoff rotations when the Mariners have won eight straight. Better to start agonizing over what might happen in the off-season because Josh Hamilton has 24 RBI in his last 24 games, so his asking price is probably up again. Wonder if he is now being figured into the daily Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Not sure they worry about the Dow Jones along Highway 104. Doesn’t seem there is much to worry about at all out there on the open range but maybe that’s why it hasn’t changed much since the days of Billy the Kid. Unfortunately it’s has faded from sight in the rear view mirror.

Matt Harrison vs. somebody tonight.


Enjoyed that column, hope you enjoyed your time in NM. Not sure how “pristine” that US380 was as I traversed the old 2-lane asphalt all through the 90s and before the “developments” popped up. There are still plenty of FM roads through horse country, as I live and roam through Aubrey on my car, bike and running. Take it for granted but it is a calming presence to be savored. Rangers have made this year quite interesting, and I am trying to enjoy it all knowing that it’s not always like this. And telling my kids to enjoy it as well. Never had that chance when I was their age. Welcome back to the ballpark.

Welcome back! Did Toby have a good time too?

Nice article, TR!

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