Texas Rangers fans have another reason to look forward to opening day next year.
On the undercard, Nolan Ryan vs. Robin Ventura II: The Rematch.
Well, sort of.
Ryan is the Rangers' president and a part owner, and Ventura is the new manager of the Chicago White Sox. Ventura's debut will come in Arlington, site of one of the most infamous scenes in baseball history.
Ventura was a peppy youngster, and Ryan a grizzled veteran on his way to retirement, when one of Ryan's famed heaters plunked Ventura in 1993. He took off toward the mound for revenge and wound up in a headlock, getting pummeled. Pictures of the scene are in sports bars across the country, and the video clip still draws loud ovations at Rangers Ballpark.
"You know, I'm truly surprised by that," Ryan said Sunday, happy to discuss something other than weather forecasts that postponed Game 2 of the AL championship series. "I'm surprised that this thing has had the life that it's had."
The Hall of Famer added that he thinks Ventura's hiring - a surprise to many - was a good move.
"I'm really happy for Robin, that he's getting that opportunity," Ryan said. "It should be with the White Sox. I think he's the type of person that you want to see in that position, because I think he's good for baseball, and he knows the game."
CARPENTER CRITICISM: Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter shrugged his shoulders when asked Sunday about Zack Greinke calling his attitude "phony."
"That's fine with me if that's how he feels," Carpenter said after the Brewers' 9-6 victory in Game 1 of the NL championship series. "He doesn't know me very well."
Greinke criticized Carpenter on Saturday, saying that his teammates didn't like the 2005 NL Cy Young winner very much.
"They think his presence, his attitude out there sometimes is like a phony attitude," Greinke said. "And then he yells at people. He just stares people down and stuff. And most pitchers just don't do that."
Carpenter said he hasn't played against Greinke enough to know anything about him.
"Why Zack thinks there's a problem, I'm not sure," he said.
Carpenter, who has had run-ins with center fielder Nyjer Morgan over the last two months, went out of his way to praise the Brewers' nucleus of Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks.
"They all run hard, they all play hard," he said. "I have a ton of respect for them. I have no issues with any of them."
AXFORD'S ARM: Brewers closer John Axford sported a heavily bandaged right forearm in the clubhouse after being hit by Jon Jay's liner on the final play of Sunday's 9-6 victory. X-rays taken afterward were negative.
"Everything is good," he said.
Axford wore a medical sleeve over trainer's tape, which covered the bandage on the middle of his forearm. He said he'll throw before the game on Monday to determine if he can pitch in Game 2.
"We'll see when I play catch," Axford said. "I think I'm going to be fine."
SUNNY DISPOSITION? The rain clouds seem to be following the Detroit Tigers in the playoffs. Yet, manager Jim Leyland is seeing clearly now.
"I see it great. We're in the playoffs," Leyland said Sunday after Game 2 of the AL championship series was postponed because of the expectation of more rain. "We're playing the Texas Rangers for the championship. I love it."
The Tigers' AL division series opener against the New York Yankees was suspended by rain after only 1Â½ innings, resumed the next day and took away a planned travel day.
Game 1 of the ALCS in Texas on Saturday night was twice delayed by rain for a total of 1 hour, 50 minutes and didn't finish until just after midnight CDT. The second game was rescheduled for Monday, which was supposed to be a travel day for this series.
"I see this as a great opportunity for us, and it's a great opportunity for us to show how tough we are. And we're tough," said Leyland, whose team is without starting outfielders Magglio Ordonez and Delmon Young. "Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. I don't want anybody feeling sorry for us. We'll make due. We'll come out at (Monday) ready to play."
Ryan Raburn, who started in left field of the ALCS opener for Young, said the Tigers won't be bothered too much by playing on Monday, then having to travel and play again the next day.
"Hopefully it works out to our advantage like it did last time," Raburn said, adding that the Tigers certainly aren't feeling sorry for themselves.
"We're in the American League championship series. I don't know how sorry we can actually feel," he said. "This is a great experience, especially for myself. This is my first time. I'm enjoying every minute of it."
MARCUM'S MISTAKES: Shaun Marcum has struggled in his last few starts, but insists his troubles stem from cheap hits and not bad pitching.
The right-hander will start Game 2 of the NL championship series against the Cardinals after giving up seven runs in just 4 2-3 innings in an 8-1 loss in Game 3 of the division series to the Diamondbacks. He's allowed 25 runs in his last 29 innings.
"You go back and look, I've given up a lot of hits, but a lot of them haven't really been hit that hard," he said Sunday before Game 1.
"It's just one of those things," he said. "It's baseball. You make good pitches and sometimes you don't get rewarded for it and sometimes you make mistake pitches and they hit it right at somebody. That's how this game works."
Manager Ron Roenicke said he was unsure whether Marcum's arm was tired.
"I don't know if the 200 innings this year throws the command off a little bit," he said. "He says he feels strong, shoulder is strong."
Marcum is a control pitcher whose fastball tops out in the high 80s or low 90 mph range.
"There are more cheap hits given up by him than anybody else," Roenicke said. "He may give up a jam shot for a base hit, a ground ball for a base hit, and all of a sudden he'll make a mistake and somebody will hit a home run."
"It's not like they're just driving balls all over the ballpark, that is not happening," the manager added. "So, I don't know why that happens now, or lately, his last whatever starts, but it's happening more now than it did early in the season."
EDWIN'S EDUCATORS: Cardinals Game 2 starter Edwin Jackson has been tutored by two of the top pitching coaches in baseball this year and said Sunday it's helped him bounce back from a disappointing season the year before.
Jackson was under the tutelage of Don Cooper of the Chicago White Sox before being traded to the Cardinals on July 27, where Dave Duncan is now his pitching coach.
"Those are definitely two of the best pitching coaches in the game," Jackson said. "Everybody speaks real highly of both of them."
Jackson went 10-12 with a 4.47 ERA in 2010, but improved to 12-9 with a 3.79 ERA this year with the White Sox and Cardinals.
"They both just got me to pitch (to) contact, staying consistent around the plate, and at the end of the day trust what you have," he said. "And, you don't have to do more than what you need to do to get outs. That's pretty much been the main thing."
The right-hander cut down his walks, giving up 2.8 per 9 innings pitched this year after giving up 3.4 per 9 innings in 2010.
"Cut down walks and make hitters put the ball in play and take your chances," he said. "Let the defense work behind you."