As I've said before, new Rangers TV play-by-play voice John Rhadigan is one of the nicest people I've ever met. Love him as a friend. Be honored to have him as a neighbor. Or a role model. Whatever. Great dude.
But as the voice of my baseball? Um, let's see how he's doing a fourth of the way into his first season.
The Rangers won their first series in more than a month yesterday, with Neftali Feliz closing out a 5-4 victory over the Anaheim Angels yesterday in Arlington. Amazing, in that Chris Davis got the game-winning hit and Mark Lowe actually got the win.
Feliz got a little lucky with Alberto Callaspo swinging and missing at ball four, which would've put two on with one out in the 9th. Instead, Callaspo struck out and catcher Mike Napoli nailed stealing Howard Kendrick at second to end the game.
Things are looking up on the field. Texas took two of three from their AL West rivals in a series that drew more than 141,000 to the Ballpark. Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz will be back soon and it appears the Rangers will survive all these early-season injuries with their heads near or above .500.
Better yet, Sunday was their 7th sellout, matching last year's regular-season total.
In Rhadigan's words, "Thatta way boys!"
I've heard lots of complaints about Rangers broadcasts this year. The radio signal on 103.3 FM craps out in Fort Worth and Cedar Hill. And, of course, there's a current of criticism for Tom Grieve's new partner. Like...
His signature opener -- "Let's play ball y'all" -- is too corny. He doesn't know the rules, once crediting a batter who hit into a double-play with an RBI. What I hear are simple slip-ups, the kind of things you'd expect from a rookie announcer with zero Major League play-by-play experience.
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Last Tuesday, with the Rangers leading the A's 7-1 into the top of the 9th, Rhadigan exclaimed "It's Neffy time!" But the video clearly showed Darren Oliver jogging in from the bullpen. Sunday he referred to Adrian Beltre as "Andre."
And yesterday, with Callaspo up and the tie run on 1st, the Angels hitter took a borderline 3-1 pitch over the inside corner. "Strike three!" Rhadigan exclaimed. After a short pause and screaming silence from Grieve, Rhadigan corrected himself, "er, strike two." He'd simply lost track of the count, an almost unpardonable sin in that crucial situation.
Whether it's organic or orchestrated, Rhadigan is oozing more enthusiasm as the season goes along. Maybe he's getting more into the gig and the enthusiasm is a byproduct. Or, perhaps at the end of each inning a producer -- or maybe Nolan Ryan -- is zapping him with a cattle prod.