This is horrible news. Richard Durrett, an ESPNDallas.com writer who covered the Rangers for the past several years — and who served as a Dallas Morning News reporter several years before that — died yesterday. He was only 38-years-old. While it hasn’t been officially announced, many people are saying he was killed by a brain aneurysm.
ESPN and the Rangers both issued statements on his passing, which can be read here.
Durett was a truly nice guy in a line of work that doesn’t necessarily require or reward being a nice guy. I met him on a couple of occasions and he was the polar opposite of the sportswriter stereotype. He wasn’t grumpy or cynical. He was funny, but his humor was not the dark or gallows humor you often hear from those who inhabit press boxes. When I, as a clueless newbie, showed up in Surprise, Arizona for spring training a couple of years ago, Durrett was kind and accommodating and showed me around the place to help me get my bearings. That doesn’t happen too often. When you’re a tourist in the press box, you’re usually on your own.
In 2011, after Rangers fan Shannon Stone fell to his death at the ballpark while trying to reach a ball for his son, Durrett wrote this piece in response, thinking about fathers and sons. And, specifically, his own son who was three at the time and is only six now. Give it a read and remember what’s important in life.
Thirty-eight is far too young. Take some time for a nice thought or a prayer for his family who will now have to spend way too much time without him than any family should. And make sure you do whatever you can do to live your life in the present, making sure those who you love know that you love them. Life isn’t fair. Death is less fair than that. All we can do is make the most of it while we can.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.