“You know what needs to happen right now? Moreland needs to just send this one over the wall.” I muttered/hoped/prayed aloud as Barry and I sat watching the bottom of the 9th in last week’s Rangers game.
Somewhat incredulous laughter followed by “You should text Barrera to point out it was Mitch.”
I demurred then, but I don’t really want to now.
Bryan and I have an ongoing disagreement about what Mitch Moreland is. Most of the time Bryan thinks he’s a borderline waste of a bench spot. Most of the time, I’m watching his at-bats and hoping Bryan isn’t going to be right this game. I’ve liked Moreland since he came up in 2010 as a rookie. The Rangers had just traded Justin Smoak, their ballyhooed rookie first baseman, away to the Seattle Mariners for the Cliff Lee rental, so Moreland was brought up. And he came up with a bang. He had a hot start that eventually cooled somewhat, but it felt like Moreland was the embodiment of that 2010 team. No one expected them to be good. They were playing out of their minds and it seemed like the only people who noticed were local fans. It also felt like management had pulled a fantastic switch on Seattle. “Look at this awesome first baseman we have for you. Don’t you want him to play for you?” Hide Moreland behind the couch until they’re gone. (Smoak by the way has had worse career numbers than Moreland.)
That’s just the shallowest explanation of why I like Mitch Moreland. There is a ton more, but I don’t want anyone’s eyes to glaze over too much. The reason I actually started this post was because Prince Fielder, the Rangers’ very expensive DH/First baseman, just had career-ending neck surgery. I feel really bad for the guy, but I was never attached to him for various reasons. Normally when the supposed top-notch DH/1B on your team is wiped off the roster, you meltdown a little bit. Not this time. No, I don’t think Moreland is going to turn into some kind of beast and blast his way to a batting title. But I’m not worried. Our guys turn it on when we need it. So bring it, Astros. We see you lurking back there. Every day until October is going to be fun if our teams keep rolling in the right direction.¹
¹ But I do hope Houston’s wheels officially fall off October 1st. No, it’s not just because playoffs will begin soon after, but because my four-year old son is taking me on a date to the Rangers game that night. I’d prefer to be relaxed and not scoreboard watching with him. But if we are scoreboard watching, it will be ok. He has to learn this stuff somehow, and better to learn it watching your hometown team than by being ridiculous and cheering for the Red Sox et al. while living in Dallas.