Saturday, December 19, 2009

Newberg Bound Edition Release Party

On Thursday night Jamey Newberg held his annual Newberg Report Bound Edition Release Party. It started at six and ended at ten, and it was very nice of the players to stick around since it was supposed to end at nine. It was a blast. It was held at Sherlock’s Pub & Grill in Arlington, the same place as last year. The crowd was the biggest yet, at about 600 people, and the players signing autographs were Scott Feldman, Tommy Hunter, Chris Davis, Derek Holland, Ian Kinsler, and Rusty Greer. They signed autographs and did a Q&A session. They were all incredibly nice and I would like to thank them for being there.

My dad and I got there at 5pm and it was a good thing we did because the people who got there at 6pm waited in line for over two hours to get their autographs. We’ve been going to this event for six years and it’s gotten bigger each year.

After eating dinner and getting autographs, my dad and I sat and talked with Ted Price, who does the great Rangers Podcasts at http://rangerspodcast.blogspot.com/, for a couple of hours while waiting for the autograph line to die down and the Q&A session to start. That was a lot of fun. TR Sullivan also came and sat with us for a while, so we got to talk with him too, which is always great. Eleanor Czajka and her mom were selling the books at the party, and Eleanor joined us at our table for a while too. Eleanor is one of my friends and I always enjoy seeing her (and reading her blog at http://emcmlb.blogspot.com/). I also got to talk with Jamey some while I was getting the autographs. Devin Pike was there too. He started a new website at http://www.redcarpetcrash.com/. Devin helped run the Q&A session and made all the announcements. Scott Lucas also sat with us at our table for a little while and so did Grant Smith, who does sports art (see http://www.grant9smith.com/), and I enjoyed talking to them. All of these people are very nice and it’s always fun to see them at the Newberg events.

Jamey’s book is terrific as always. The forewords this year are by Peter Gammons and Kevin Goldstein. Jamey included his prospect rankings (top 72, plus breakdowns of the players in each position that are on those lists), his breakdown of 2009, what to look forward to in 2010, his 20 players who could break out in 2010, all his reports for the season, the final 2009 statistics, the 2009 draft, and his awards for the 2009 season. And his kids, Erica and Max, did a great job writing the ‘About My Dad’ section again. It is well worth the $25.

The autograph session started at about 6:00 and went until around 9:40. After that, there was a 20-minute Q&A session with Ian Kinsler, Chris Davis, Derek Holland, and Tommy Hunter (Scott Feldman and Rusty Greer had to leave before the Q&A session). Each of the players gave very good answers, and were very nice to stay late to do the session. Below is a recap of the session.

The Marines collected toys for the Toys for Tots charity at the event. Ian Kinsler is the spokesperson of the Rangers’ Toys for Tots drive this year and kicked off the Q&A with a few words about the charity and the importance of helping kids have a good Christmas.

Jamey let me ask the first question of the Q&A.

Me: This question is for Chris. When you tied the California League record hitting streak of 35 games in 2007, were you happy with the tie or were you frustrated that you didn’t break the record?

Chris: To be honest with you, I was really surprised that I tied the record. I mean 35 games is a long time. There was actually one game where I hit the ball in the six-hole and, I mean when you look at me the first thing you think of is not speed, but on this particular day I dove into first base and beat it out to make it 28 games and I was like ‘I’m happy, I don’t even care what happens now’. I was happy to get 35 games and, you know what, I think someone demolished (the record) this year.

Q: How good were you guys in youth baseball (10-14 years old)?

Ian: I was OK. I was good. I was a skinny, small scrawny kid that played shortstop. I wasn’t anything special really. I tried to pitch and got lit up. I stuck at shortstop. At 13 years old, my dad made me choose between being a position player or a pitcher. I decided to be a position player.

Chris: I was awesome.

Derek: I was not awesome. I was the kid in the outfield picking flowers.

Tommy: I was the catcher.

Q: This question is for Derek Holland. When the Rangers play in the World Series in 2010, do you think you can pitch a shut-out?

Derek: (Laughing) I really don’t just think, I know that I can do that.

Q: Do you guys feel more excitement around this off-season compared to last off-season?

Chris: Yes, I do think we have what it takes.

(Ian says something to Chris that we couldn’t hear.)

Chris: You know, it’s really sad when I’m the most educated person up here. I am from East Texas and 2nd grade was very good to me. To answer your question, yes we are very excited about this season. For the last few years, we’ve been saying that it’s a good time to be a Rangers fan, but 2010 is really the season we’ve been setting up for. I don’t want to put any pressure on anybody out here but we look to make a good run on it this year,

Ian: Every year you go to spring training thinking you’re going to win the World Series. Every team does. With that being said, I’m going into my 5th year and this is the most excited I’ve been going into spring training. This is really the year I think we’re going to gel.

Q: This is for Chris. I hear you’ve been working with Clint Hurdle. Can you compare him to Rudy?

Chris: Rudy’s great and Clint is a really good dude. It’s kind of hard to form my opinion yet, because I haven’t spent much time with Clint. As far is Rudy’s concerned, I love Rudy to death. I’m going to miss him. He’s seriously one of the best in the business. Clint’s different in how he approaches the job. He’s a lot more motivational. He’s a very positive person and I think he’s going to be good for our young hitters. I think we’re really excited about working with him.

Q: What did you think about the Mariners picking up Cliff Lee and having to face that one-two punch of him and Felix Hernandez? What team are you most worried about in the AL West?

Ian: We don’t really concern ourselves with that. We as an offense have to produce runs somehow. There really isn’t extra thought that goes into it. When you’re in the big leagues, it’s very difficult to win, no matter who you’re facing. Obviously the Angels are the team to beat in the West because they won it last year.

Chris: I think the AL West is one of the strongest divisions, just as far as pitching is concerned. I know the Yankees have a lot of great pitchers, but the West is very competitive every year because we have teams with great offense and pitching. It’s not just one or the other. The Rangers have been known as an offensive team for a long time but last year we were probably better known for our pitching. But I think as far as next year is concerned, the Mariners have made a lot of moves in the offseason and are going to challenge in the AL West. From our standpoint, our plan as a hitter just needs to be to go out there and execute to the best of our ability.

Q: I have a question for Derek and Tommy. What’s a good age to learn how to throw a curve ball?

Tommy: Fastballs and change-ups is what we threw when we were younger. You don’t need to worry about curveballs until you’re older.

Derek: (Joking) If you’re left-handed, never throw one. All fastballs, down and away.

Jamey: I asked these guys about a month ago if they could do this and they all said ‘What time to you want me there?’ They do this for you guys. They asked what kind of time I needed from them and I said 6-9pm. Well, it’s 10pm now and four of these guys are still here. I want to thank them again for sharing their time with us.

I would like to thank Jamey for hosting this great event.

Come back next week for numbers 16-20 on my all-time Rangers list.

2 comments:

Ken Pittman said...

Grant!
It's been awhile since I've visited your blog, but I'm glad I made it back to read this.

Thanks for the great writing you always do and some time I'm going to have to sit down and read everything that I've missed.
GO RANGERS!
Ken

grantlovesbaseball said...

Hi Ken,

Thanks for reading. Hope everything's going well for you and that you had a Merry Christmas.

Grant