“It’s Time.” This has been the slogan for the Texas Rangers for the whole 2010 season. Now, after 162 regular season games and five hard fought games in the ALDS, it looks like the slogan finally has some weight behind it. After all, if any team in MLB has been waiting for their shot to make a playoff run, it’s been the Texas Rangers. Since their move to Arlington back in 1972, the Texas Rangers have failed to provide any threat of a deep playoff run. In fact, even making the playoffs was a rare enough occurrence, as before this year the Texas Rangers had only managed to get into the playoffs in 1996, 1998, and 1999.
But this year, it’s a different ballclub, and finally, for the first time in nearly 40 years, Texas Rangers fans can honestly say, “It’s Time.”
After defeating the Tampa Bay Rays in a back-and-forth ALDS that went down to the wire, the Texas Rangers find themselves up against some familiar playoff foes – the New York Yankees. I say familiar because, well, that’s the only other team the Texas Rangers have ever played in the postseason, and each time we’ve fell short. This year though, it’s different, and here are my 10 reasons why the Texas Rangers and their fans will be the ones coming up victorious in the ALCS.
Honorable mentions for Texas vs. New York:
The season series – Texas holds the season series over New York.
Revenge – The Yankees have been the team to knock us out all three times. I don’t see it happening a fourth time.
The Rangers are playing well on the road – All three wins were away, and you know they’ll play better at home next series.
My magic 8-ball said so – Just kidding, it didn’t. But I bet it would if I had one…
Now, on to the real stuff – My Ten Reasons the Texas Rangers will Beat the New York Yankees in the 2010 ALCS
10. Ron Washington
Ron Washington started off the year mired in controversy after he tested positive for cocaine, but he’s since put that behind him, and the Texas Rangers organization (as well as fans) are 100% behind him now. Ron Washington took over a Texas Rangers team in 2007 that was known for the long ball and some of the worst pitching in the league. Now the Rangers will trade those home runs for small ball almost any day. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at Game 5 of the ALDS – the first three runs of the game were all scored on hustle plays and smart base running. Keep it up Ron, keep it up.
9. The Claw and the Antlers
The Claw and the Antlers are something that still seem to be a bit of mystery to the outsider, but I’ll do my best to sum it up. The “Claw” happens after a good offensive play (a hit, an RBI, a homerun, etc.), and the “Antlers” come out after a quick play, whether it be a diving catch in the outfield or a stolen base. The story goes deeper, but I’ll spare any readers the time of reading all of it. With something like the Claw and Antlers, it gives the team an identity and some unity. Those are intangibles that you just can’t understate. (You can also purchase a Claw and Antlers shirt here.)
8. Pitching and Defense Are Important
Much of this aspect can be attributed back to Ron Washington and how he’s changed the identity of the team, but for the first time since I can remember pitching and defense are important to the Texas Rangers. Used to, the Rangers were a ballclub that looked like any given night was an impromptu home run derby, and the scores looked like something you’d see in a city softball league. Even when Texas would put up 8 or 9 runs you still didn’t feel safe as a fan. Now, we feel safe with a two run lead, and I have to say, it feels great.
7. Josh Hamilton
M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P! If you watch the ALCS and the Rangers are playing at the Ballpark in Arlington, then you’ll definitely hear the fans chanting the oh-so-cliché chant when Hamilton steps into the box, but in all reality, isn’t he just as deserving as anyone else is of the award in the American League. Miguel Cabrera has a legitimate shot too, but most valuable player suggests that a player is most valuable to his team. The Tigers aren’t in the playoffs and the Rangers are. You can call me a fanboy, you can call me a homer. I really don’t care what you call me as long as you call me in time for supper.
“But Hamilton hasn’t done ANYTHING this series!”
Okay, so, Hamilton didn’t do well in the ALDS, but he’s fresh off a month of no baseball, and it’s a sport that relies on timing more than any other sport. He’ll get his groove back. And besides, if the Texas Rangers won the ALDS more or less without Hamilton, just imagine how they’re going to look with the league’s potential MVP back in stride. Yikes!
6. Mid-Season Trades
If you take a pretty close look at this Rangers team, you’ll see quite a few things have been mixed around and shaken up since the Opening Day roster. Obviously, the biggest trade was acquiring Cliff Lee from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for 1B Justin Smoak and some other prospects. I’ll talk more about Lee later, because this section is solely dedicated to trades and trades only. The Rangers acquired veteran catcher Bengie Molina right before the trade deadline in exchange for RP Chris Ray, and Molina had a stellar ALDS, not to mention the playoff experience he brings is something that adds another dimension. Jeff Francoeur has been swinging a hot bat as of late, and he gives the Rangers another tool to work with off the bench in exchange for Joaquin Arias, and finally adding Jorge Cantu gives the Rangers an even deeper bench and some more pop from the infield. The Yankees missed their shot at Cliff Lee, now they’ll get their shot to hit him in the playoffs. Hey, best of luck to you Yanks… no one else has had much luck hitting off of Lee in the playoffs so far.
5. The Texas Rangers Fans vs. New York Yankee Fans
Some readers are going to laugh at this and immediately dismiss the statement calling it “preposterous” or “ridiculous”, but listen to what I have to say first. For Yankees fans, this ALCS is just another playoff game. In fact, the ALCS is expected. For Rangers fans, this is a completely new experience, and an exciting one at that. The fans are backing this team with all their might, and you can bet the whole state of Texas (maybe outside of Houston areas) is going to be cheering for these Rangers. Not only that, but the DFW area is the largest single team market in baseball (New York, Chicago and Los Angeles all have two teams), AND the Rangers see significant support from most of Oklahoma and Arkansas.
One more quick thought on that too, is the fact that true Rangers fans are true Rangers fans. If you see someone wearing a Rangers hat in Idaho, they probably have a tie to the team. If they’re wearing a Yankees hat then well, they’re likely just another person who wears a Yankees hat.
4. The Ballpark in Arlington Atmosphere
I wrote an article a few months back about the Ballpark in Arlington, and as a fan who has been there at least 40 times and to eight or nine other ballparks around the nation, I still say the Ballpark has the best atmosphere. New York? Sure, at the end of the game you can play “New York, New York”. That pales in comparison to hearing “Deep in the Heart of Texas” blare over the loudspeakers in the Ballpark. Do you have a song called “God Blessed Texas”? Can’t say that you do, huh? The Ballpark in Arlington doesn’t have the history of Yankee Stadium, new or old, and I’d be off my rocker to argue that. All I’m saying is the songs Rangers fans can sing, along with the food and all the festivities revolving around the great state of Texas that take place during the games are ten times better than Yankee festivities.
3. Cliff Lee
C’mon readers, you had to have seen this coming. I even said it a few subheadings back. The Rangers acquired Cliff Lee right before the trade deadline for Justin Smoak and some other prospects, and the pick-up for the Rangers has been A) the smartest move in franchise history, and B) the biggest statement they’ve made all year in showing they’re serious about a World Series. There’s a pretty good chance that Cliff Lee won’t be around after the season in a Rangers uniform, so we’ll be using our workhorse while we can. Just take a look at Cliff Lee’s postseason stats – 7 games started, 6 wins, 3 complete games, 54 strikeouts in over 56 innings pitched, and only 6 walks with an ERA of 1.44. That’s about as big time as a pitcher can get in the postseason unless your name happens to be “Sandy Koufax”.
2. New Management with Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg
The sale of the Texas Rangers was about as sloppy as any financial transaction can be, and I’m sure it’s still not 100% completed. I could probably write a book about the sale of the Rangers and I could probably write a book about what I didn’t know about the sale of the Rangers. Essentially though what it boils down to is the Texas Rangers are now under the control of Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan – and no one involved could be any happier (except maybe Tom Hicks). Nolan Ryan is about as “Texas” as you can get if you want to think of Texas as an adjective, and he’s had just a big of a role in changing the mentality in the Rangers clubhouse as Ron Washington has. He’s brought a “pitching wins” mentality, and he’s brought that flare the Texas Rangers have needed. Jon Daniels may be young, but he’s proven to be an effective GM (just look at the Mark Teixeira trade if you don’t believe me), and Chuck Greenberg cares about this team. The new management is really driving this Texas team to new boundaries.
1. Simply Put: Texas is Better
Any way you slice this ALCS matchup between the Texas Rangers and the New York Yankees, the Rangers are comparable if not better. Let’s take a look at position by position breakdown. Starting pitching: Cliff Lee vs. C.C. Sabathia… Cliff Lee is the better postseason pitcher. Catcher: The catchers are comparable because let’s face it, Jorge Posada isn’t the old Jorge and Bengie has had a fantastic postseason. He even got a stolen base against the Rays. First Base: Yankees have the edge here, but hey, the Rangers were glad to get rid of Teixeira… I mean after all, we only got Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz out of the trade. Second base: Edge probably goes to the Yankees, but Ian Kinsler was probably the best player in the ALDS for the Rangers, and it’s hard to go against his hot bat right now. Shortstop: this is a toss up because Jeter has had a down year, but he’s got the experience. Andrus is fast and smart, especially for a young player. Third base: Michael Young at his best can rival Alex Rodriguez. I just hope Michael Young can get his groove at the plate. Outfield: Rangers get the nod here. Hamilton, Cruz, Murphy, Francoeur and Borbon make a five headed monster and Borbon gives speed and depth off the bench. Closer: Mariano Rivera is arguably the best closer in the history of the game, but Feliz had as good of a year as anyone. We’ll just have to wait to see how his composure holds up.
I’ll leave my thoughts about Texas vs. New York at that to avoid an overly zealous article about my state; hey now, I LOVE my state, and I love my Texas Rangers.
Like what you read? Check out more from my AC archive:
The Wonderful Knuckleball: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2880714/the_wonderful_knuckleball_the_history.html?cat=14
The Best Songs About Texas:
5 Baseball Records That Will Never Be Broken
Weirdest Texas High School Mascots; Pt. 3 of 3.