It’s fitting that the UFC 100 fight card is just weeks away, as the poor Texas Rangers look like they just fought five rounds with Brock Lesnar. They’ve lost four straight yet still have a hold on the division since the Angels are also on a losing streak. Is this the week when the Rangers finally fall from first?
Season record: 37-31
AL West rank: 1
Odds to win World Series: 45 to 1
If you bet on MLB odds and you’re trying to figure out what’s wrong with Texas, what stands out first is the struggling hitting lineup. Forget Josh Hamilton’s injury for now – he was struggling to stay above .240 before he hit the DL. The Rangers’ biggest offensive contributors, Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz, have gone cold. Last week, we discussed Kinsler’s slump and how it affects the offense. A closer look shows that the problems extend beyond him, as his best month as April but the team’s best month was May, when it went 20-8. Cruz, however, has a bigger impact on the offense as the prime run producer with Hamilton out; he feasted on Major League pitchers in April and May but is hitting just .197 in June. Is it a coincidence that the Rangers are 7-11 this month?
Kevin Millwood continues to do everything in his power to hold the staff together. His 10-strikeout performance on Sunday was the first by a Rangers pitcher this season. Not a ton of other news to report about the staff, though Texas activated youngster Matt Harrison from the 15-day DL and he survived against Houston, allowing three runs in five innings. A month ago, it looked safe for those betting management in Texas would try to acquire another arm before the trade deadline, but who knows if the Rangers will still be buyers a month from now?
The good news this week comes from the Rangers’ pen. Frank Francisco returned from his short DL stint June 20 and picked up right where he left off, pitching a perfect inning. C.J. Wilson filled in admirably in his absence, so the Rangers have to hope that his confidence carries over into setup duty. For now, leads seem safe in the late innings for the Rangers.
The Rangers were probably never first-place material, so the law of averages is correcting things at the moment. However, they’re not a last-place team either. The offensive talent should break out again soon and the Rangers still have a shot to stay in the Wild-card hunt, even if they’ll be underdog MLB picks.
Still no Pacman for the Cowboys, still no losses for the Longhorns
Distractions, distractions. The US Open odds aren’t offering anything thanks to the rain, and Dallas sports fans probably want to get their minds off the Rangers with the injuries piling up, so it’s time to focus on the offseason for other Dallas teams.
The Dallas Cowboys
There’s a new wildcat in town. Last week, Patrick Crayton was taking snaps in the Cowboys’ version of the wildcat, the “Razorback.” Now, it’s Tashard Choice. He proved he can handle starting halfback duties as an injury replacement but is buried behind Marion Barber and Felix Jones on the depth chart, so the Cowboys are seeking a way to get him involved.
With cornerback Anthony Henry gone, the pressure is mounting for Jerry Jones to bring back Adam “Pacman” Jones to help the secondary. As of last week, however, Jerry Jones still denies that the Cowboys have any plans to re-sign him.
The Dallas Mavericks
No major news to report here, unless you’re excited to learn that Mark Cuban was named the MVP of the Reebok Heroes Celebrity Baseball Game after hitting a tiebreaking two-run double to lead his team to victory.
This Spring, as we began to look at how we wanted The Sports Fan Network blogs to give back to the community, we knew one avenue would be enabling more young people with access to sports. So recently we began to solicit corporate sponsors to do exactly that.
With the recent turn in economic events, our initial pitch to potential sponsors was to provide a small fund that would sponsor children of parents who had recently been laid off or lost their jobs to continue in their sporting activities. The sponsor we identified was Generational Equity of Dallas, TX.
Generational Equity was introduced to us as a company rich in philanthropic activity which includes the funding of an orphanage in Nigeria, a Belize faith based mission, and support for fighting colon cancer. Generational Equity also has several ex-collegiate athletes including a member of the 1989 SMU Mustangs football team (the first year after the death penalty).
When Generational Equity agreed to sponsor our initiative, we began to evaluate organizations that could help us connect with the right child athletes. One on our short list was the Dallas Area YMCA Town North branch. Upon reviewing their scholarship programs, we were introduced to an eight-week swimming program they offered that helped provide essential swimming skills to kids who, for a variety of reasons, couldn’t swim.
Though the exposure to a swimming program at the YMCA could serve as inspiration for a child to take up the activity as a sport, we were more convinced that the donation would be put to good use as 100% of the participants would leave the program with essential skills that could mean survival in the right situation.
Town North YMCA Swimming Out Reach
On June 18th 2009, I had the pleasure of spending the morning with Diddy Fullbright and Micaela Gomez on site at their swimming outreach program at the Sierra Vista apartment complex in North Dallas. Sierra Vista was one of the two apartment complexes they selected to reach out to this year.
“Our residents are primarily Hispanic and 95% have children”, commented Margo Rodriquez, manager of the Sierra Vista apartments, “We have found that a large percentage of our resident adults do not know how to swim and do not have the ability to teach their children. This summer, we set out with the YMCA to do something about it.”
The YMCA program conducts four daily swimming classes at the apartment complex’s pool. The classes began this week and run Monday through Thursday until August 9th.
“Between our 2 separate outreach programs, we have over 50 kids learning vital swimming skills. The parents are responsible for a $15 fee for the entire program and the rest is paid for by a donation from Generational Equity,” commented Micaela Gomez of the Town North YMCA. “Each child starts the program with a skills evaluation and finishes the program with a follow up evaluation to measure progress.”
The class that I attended had participants ranging from 3 to 14 years of age that had little to no swimming skills. One very young child had Down’s Syndrome and it was very touching to see the smile on her face as she made progress in one of the water exercises.
Swimming: Sport and Survival Skill
Swimming is a sport that has been put on the world sporting radar screen by the greats who have represented their countries in the Olympic games of the modern era. In a 2006 post, though dated with regards to Michael Phelps, the Top 10 swimmers of all time are highlighted. Swimming is also a sport accessible to all via community and school programs that take transform young people into competitive athletes. However, in addition to being a sport, swimming is a fundamental skill that can be a means of survival for children and adults alike.
Town North YMCA
Town North YMCA was established in 1958 and provides sports related programs for children and adults in the greater Dallas metroplex. Town North YMCA is part of the Greater Dallas YMCA.
Generational Equity is based in Dallas, TX and is the leader in Merger and Acquisition Services, Business Evaluation, and Exit Strategy Planning for middle market businesses worldwide. Generational Equity provided sponsorships through MidwestSportsFans.Com and DallasSportsFans.Com for the 2009 Summer Swimming Outreach Program by the Town North YMCA of Dallas, TX. Generational Equity has offices in Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Connecticut.
Anyone who follows MLB odds or the sport in general knows that no truly great team succeeds without finding a way to overcome adversity. Well, the Texas Rangers sure are being put to the test now. The injuries are piling up, a key superstar is slumping and, don’t look now, but the Los Angeles Angels are charging. What’s next for the Rangers?
Season record: 35-27
AL West rank: 1
Odds to win World Series: 12 ½ to 1
When you look at the bandbox ballpark and the glossy overall stats – only the Yankees have more homers in the American League – the Rangers’ offense still looks formidable. But the truth is that it’s in a serious slide. As a team, Texas is hitting just .201 in its last eight games, scoring just 21 runs in that period. A major reason for the slide is the massive decline of Ian Kinsler. He set the world on fire in April but suddenly finds himself with the 10th-best batting average and 11th-best on-base percentage in the AL. He needs to find himself for Texas to keep its division lead – especially since the Rangers won’t see Josh Hamilton (abdominal surgery) for at least another month.
Even as the Rangers’ World Series hopes slide as quickly as Roger Federer’s Wimbledon odds skyrocket, Kevin Millwood is a lone ray of light in Arlington. The crafty vet has tossed 14.2 scoreless innings over his last two starts – both wins – and has allowed more than four runs just once all season. Unfortunately, the good news ends with Millwood for Texas. Brandon McCarthy landed on the DL for the fourth time as a Ranger with a stress fracture in his right shoulder. It’s a concerning injury because he suffered the same malady two years ago.
Stars hire new head coach, Mavs trade rumors blowing
While many sports fans prepare their Stanley Cup betting picks for the big Game 7 in Detroit Friday night and the Magic try to draw even with the Lakers tonight, the offseason rages on for the city of Dallas in the NHL, NBA and NFL. Let’s catch up with our favorite teams and see how their offseasons are going.
The Dallas Stars
For the second straight week, the Dallas Stars are the top newsmaker in the Offseason Update. Last week, they hired Joe Nieuwendyk as their new general manager; this week it was time for a coaching change. Dave Tippett, who coached the Stars to a 271-162-59 record over six seasons but never got the Stars to the Stanley Cup Final, got the axe this week and Dallas wasted no time in hiring their new head coach. They chose veteran bench boss Marc Crawford today and many Dallas fans, not to mention anyone hoping to bet on Stars’ Stanley Cup futures at their sportsbook, are not too pleased.
Crawford made a name for himself when he coached the Colorado Avalanche to a Stanley Cup in 1996 but has struggled since then. Coaching Vancouver and Los Angeles for nine total seasons, Crawford missed the playoffs five times and advanced past the first round of the playoffs just once. Only time will tell if he can shake that funk; he does arguably have a better roster to start with than inherited in Vancouver and L.A.
The Dallas Mavericks
Are the Mavs trying to trade for the Wizards’ fifth overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft? That’s the rumor, though most of the buzz is coming from blogs and forums rather than major media sources. Most fans are betting management in Dallas wants center Jordan Hill, though it remains to be seen what the Mavs would give up to get him?
Jason Kidd becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1st and all indications are that Dallas will try to re-sign him. If they don’t, they’ll have virtually nothing to show for the trade that sent Devin Harris to New Jersey and they’ll risk alienating their fans with a situation paralleling Steve Nash’s departure to Phoenix. The circumstances obviously aren’t totally the same, as Kidd likely has much less left in the tank than Nash did when he blew town. Read more
None of the Texas trio is factoring in the NBA finals odds and the Dallas Stars aren’t part of the Stanley Cup Final, which means the main show in Texas in the Rangers.
Season Record: 33-25
AL West Rank: 1
Current World Series odds: 16.5 to 1
The Texas Rangers will be without Josh Hamilton for the next four-to-six weeks as he is set to go under the knife. Hamilton has a partial tear in his abdominal muscle, which is better news than some people perceived the injury to be.
The Rangers are just 12-9 without Hamilton in the lineup and just 3-5 in their last eight minus their All-Star.
One player to keep an eye on this week will be Omar Vizquel, who has 2676 career hits. That leaves Vizquel one short of Luis Aparicio, the All-Time leader for Venezuela.
No pundits, handicappers or betting software would have predicted that Vizquel would be hitting .345 this season.
After posting the second-best team ERA ever in a month during May, the Rangers have been in some high-scoring affairs in June.
Bombardier Learjet 550
The Indy Racing League comes to the Texas Motor Speedway this weekend for the 20th time, for the Bombardier Learjet 550. Race time is at 8:00PM Central Time, and Versus will provide the TV coverage of the Bombardier Learjet 550 at the Texas Motor Speedway. Qualifying will take place at 5:30PM Central time on Friday June 5th.
Last week’s Top 5 – ABC Supply Co. / A.J. Foyt 225
1.) Scott Dixon
2.) Ryan Briscoe
3.) Dario Franchitti
4.) Graham Rahal
5.) Danica Patrick
Last Year’s Bombardier Learjet 550K Winner
In 2008 Scott Dixon won the Bombardier Learjet 550K, and Dixon currently sits atop the 2009 Standings. He won last weeks at the A.J. Foyt 225, and Scott is DallasSportsFans pick to win the race at the Texas Motor Speedway this week.
Stars sign Nieuwendyk to lead the way; Changes in the ‘Boys locker room
Get away from those Belmont Stakes odds for a second and catch up on what has been going on for a couple of the Lone Star State’s teams in the offseason. We all know offseason moves will directly relate to offshore sportsbook odds, and you wouldn’t want to be misinformed, would you?
The Dallas Stars
The Dallas Stars are trying to bounce back from a trying season in which they missed the playoffs for the first time in five years (not counting the lockout in 2005), only one year after reaching the Western Conference finals. But the Stars made a big front-office change, reassigning general managers Brett Hull and Les Jackson and hiring Joe Nieuwendyk, who won the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP with the Stars in 1999. Hull, in particular, played a huge role in bringing Sean Avery to Dallas last year, and we all know how that turned out. Nieuwendyk has experience, spending his retirement time as an assistant to the GM in both Florida and Toronto, and he has one of the finest hockey minds in the game. Mike Modano also decided to come back for his 20th season, all with the Stars. Modano was one of the most vocal players in terms of Avery’s behavior, and his veteran leadership is crucial to the Dallas’ NHL betting odds for next season.
The Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys are, well, the Cowboys. They released Terrell Owens (gone to Buffalo) and Adam “Pacman” Jones, two of the most controversial players in the league. Read more
The Rangers continued their winning ways in May, posting a 20 and 9 record and holding on to the number 1 spot in the AL West. The Texas Rangers will face the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Dodgers in June. This stiffer competition will be a good month to use as a barometer for how good this team actually is. To begin June the Rangers will go on the road to play the Yankees and then the Red Sox. Josh Hamilton had an MRI Monday 6/1, and the Texas Rangers are waiting to see the results. Hopefully Hamilton does not end up on the DL for the second time this season.
AL West Standings (last updated 7/2/2009 @ 8:27AM CDT)
- 1.) Los Angeles Angels
- 2.) Texas Rangers – 0.5 games back
- 3.) Seattle Mariners – 3.0 games back
- 4.) Oakland Athletics – 9.5 games back
Texas Rangers TV Schedule and Tickets
Most of the Rangers games will be on Fox Sports Southwest, although some are on My27 and KDFI. If you are interested in going to one of the games in June click on the Buy Tickets Link next to the matchup.
THE RANGERS REPORT – June 2
Whether you bet on MLB odds or not, it’s hard not to enjoy a great summer of America’s pastime. Better yet, Major League Baseball has seen great parity so far; it seems almost every team is in the hunt. Included in that bunch: the upstart Texas Rangers. Are they for real? The first installment of the Rangers Report explores Nelson Cruz’s power surge, Josh Hamilton’s health and the surprising success of the pitching staff.
Season record: 30-20
AL West rank: 1
Current MLB odds to win World Series: 50 to 1
The Rangers are fourth in the American League in runs scored and first in homers. Yes, the big bats are bopping in Arlington; this is a recording. Ian Kinsler continues his torrid season, with seven RBI in his last 10 games, though his batting average continues so slip. Nelson Cruz is proving 2008’s minor-league power explosion was no fluke; he leads the team with 14 homers and shows no signs of slowing down, as six of those long flies have come in the last 10 games. The Bad news for Rangers odds supporters: Josh Hamilton could be on the verge of a DL stint. He underwent an MRI on his groin and abdomen yesterday and the results should be released later today. With Hamilton’s bat missing from the lineup, Chris Davis needs to be better. The slugger is still floating around the Mendoza line and has an absurd 77 strikeouts in 48 games. Eat your heart out, Mark Reynolds.
Is it Nolan Ryan’s new conditioning program? Whatever the reason, the Rangers’ pitching staff continues to surprise and is giving sportsbook odds makers fits. Fun fact: Texas’ May ERA was 3.57, the second-lowest for a single month since the Rangers moved into Rangers Ballpark in Arlington 15 years ago. Promising rookie Matt Harrison was placed on the DL with shoulder soreness this week but is only expected to miss the minimum amount of time. That’s a relief for the Rangers, as Harrison had a dominant stretch in early May, tossing two complete games and allowing two earned runs in a 23-inning stretch before the shoulder soreness got the better of him in his last couple of starts. Vincente Padilla will be activated from the DL today but, given his potential rustiness and the fact that he’s pitching at (gulp) Yankee Stadium, baseball betting fans should avoid the Rangers in sports wagering tonight.
Yes, Frank Francisco finally allowed a run last weekend, but he’s 16 for 16 in save tries this season and hasn’t blown a save since becoming the full-time closer late last season. As long as he’s pitching like this (0.48 ERA, 18.2 IP, 19 K), the Rangers will have a chance to win every night.
The Rangers are sitting pretty right now and have a respectable 4 ½-game cushion in the AL West. We know the bats will continue to mash, even with Hamilton hurting, but it remains to be seen if the pitching staff can keep up its brilliance. The Rangers’ MLB odds to win the West sure look good now, but the Angels are slowly getting healthy and creeping back into the race.