Looking ahead to Game 163

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And you thought we’d have no baseball today. What a bonus for everyone who isn’t a Rangers and Rays fan. Rangers and Rays fans get heartburn to go along with it, and one of those fan bases will go to bed sad, so it’s something of a mixed bag.

But what we all get is David Price vs. Martin Perez. Which, on the surface seems like a bit of mismatch given that Price is the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner and Perez has 25 starts to his name. Perez, however, is 7-2 in last ten starts with 3.26 ERA while Price has struggled mightily against the Rangers. In eight starts against Texas he’s 1-4 with a 5.98 ERA. In Arlington — where he pitches tonight — his ERA is 10.26.

Also worth watching: Nelson Cruz, who returns to action for the Rangers following his 50-game suspension in the Biogenesis scandal. Cruz has had a lot of success against Price — 9 for 23 with three homers — and if he comes up big tonight you can expect a lot of people to ask whether it was appropriate for him to be eligible. Of course, people asking that will be ignorant of how 50-game suspensions actually work — Cruz has served his time so of course he should be eligible — but that sort of logic tends not to stop people from going crazy anyway.

So here it is, bonus baseball! One more winner-take-all affair. Grab your Alka-Seltzer, Rays and Rangers fans. Grab your popcorn everyone else

Imagining Theo Epstein in politics

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“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”

Or: “When Theo Epstein won World Series championships with the two most championship-starved franchises in baseball history, he got bored, and decided to run for the Senate or something.”

That latter bit is the premise of a Politico piece speculating that the Cubs president could go into politics one day. The story features an interview with former Obama chief strategist David Axlerod, who thinks Theo has what it takes. Mostly what he has is fame, popularity, good looks and money. No idea what his positions on issue are, but that other stuff goes a long way in politics these days.

Bonus: given what we just elected last fall, a guy who once had a little temper tantrum and dressed up in a gorilla suit is just as viable a candidate as anyone.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.