Dear Baseball Gods: Our Rangers, who art in Texas, winners be thy name. The Yanks will come; they will be done, in New York as they will in Texas. Give us this week a series win, and forgive us our bullpen loss as we provoke losses from their bullpen. Lead us not into offseason, but deliver us a World Series title.. For the Rangers are the swingdom, the claw, and the antlers, forever and ever. AMEN!
Ya’ll better believe it, baby! What an incredible night in the great state of Texas. After 39 inconsistent years in Texas, the Rangers- YES, the Texas Rangers- are going to the 2010 World Series for the first time in franchise history. Those 39 years of pain and frustration immediately disappeared when red, white, and blue confetti rained down over the baseball diamond Friday night. Before this season, the words “world” and “series” were not used together in a sentence and most certainly were not used in reference to the hometown baseball team. It’s gonna take a while for this to sink in for Ranger fans, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I mean, let’s face it the Cowboys unfortunately aren’t picking up anybody’s spirits lately… But the fun-loving, charismatic, charming Rangers have not only captured the sports-crazed hearts of Dallas, they have won over the hearts of major league baseball fans everywhere.
The Rangers scorched the defending champs 6-1 last night to clench the American League Pennant and punch their ticket to the “Big Show.” The fifth inning was arguably the most important inning of baseball the Rangers have ever played. In the blink of an eye, a nail-biter turned into a blowout. With Ranger first-baseman Mitch Moreland on third base, the Yanks made the decision to intentionally walk MVP candidate Josh Hamilton (for the second time-on the first Hamilton intentional walk, Yankees starter Phil Hughes sailed one over the glove of catcher Jorge Posada that allowed Moreland to advance to third. How do you let an intentional walk pitch get away from you?!), who has been nicknamed “The Natural” by the TBS commentators, to put runners on the corners and pitch to DH Vlad Guerrero. Baaaaad call, guys. Vlad spanked a double to left center field allowing Moreland and Hamilton to score. Yes, Hamilton scored from first. Antlers, anybody? Nellie Cruz tacked on a long dinger to left-center to make the lead 5-1 and send the fans into an absolute frenzy. All four runs were scored with two outs. And, the controversial 5th inning HBP/Wild Pitch call that allowed the Yanks to tie the score 1-1, didn’t even matter. By the way, the pitch absolutely hit Nick Swisher in the leg therefore deflecting the ball away from Ranger catcher Bengie Molina and allowing Alex Rodriguez to score. But again, not even a bad call could rattle the Rangers. And was that Cliff Lee on the mound or Colby Lewis? With seven strikeouts and a commanding fastball, Lewis only allowed three hits and never really let the Yankees threaten him or his ball club. Elvis Andrus may be the most under-appreciated Ranger of the 2010 post-season. He has hit safely in all 11 post-season games and has been tremendous in the field. Exhibit A: showing off his vertical jump and arm extension to snag a sharp A-Rod liner that could have easily sailed into center field during Game 6. The fresh faced Ranger closer, 22 year-old Neftali Feliz, came in and cooly finished off the game casually throwing 100mph pitches capped with an A-Rod stirkeout to finish the game. A better ending could not have been scripted. Over 50,000 Ranger fans screaming their lungs out, the baby closer on the mound, and the eternally HATED A-Rod at the plate. What made it even better is that he struck out looking. How appropriate. Sorry, A-Rod no heroics for you around here.. and nobody is shedding any tears for you, believe me.
Following that last out, the traditional victory antics ensued. With the crowd going crazy, fireworks shooting off high above the ballpark, and a giant dogpile of Ranger uniforms forming near the pitching mound, ALCS t-shirts and hats were immediately distributed to every member of the organization. The ginger ale bath on the field has become an endearing Ranger tradition honoring their superstar, Josh Hamilton, who was awarded the ALCS MVP award, deservedly so. In his acceptance speech, Hamilton gave credit to his teammates and in his post-game interview admitted to fighting back tears out in center field during A-Rod’s ninth inning at-bat. “I was trying to hold back the tears just in case he hit it to me,” Hamilton said. Michael Young, who has been a Ranger for ten years, happily told the crowd “The World Series is coming to Texas!” Manager Ron Washington had what looked like a permanent toothy grin pasted on his face while he thanked everyone, and I mean everyone. “The hot dog vendor and the parking attendant should feel like they’re a part of it,” Washington said. Everyone has a role and everyone embraces their role, that is what makes this team so versatile and therefore so successful. That’s the Ranger Way.
The Yankees? Psh. That was SO last season. The Yankee mystique and playoff magic that tried to creep into the minds of the Rangers during the Game 1 -8th inning meltdown was never a real factor in this series. The Rangers have started a new era and hey, maybe they created some October baseball magic of their own. I don’t care bout the 27 World Championships and the 40 trips to the World Series, throughout the serious there was no doubt who was the more dominant and cohesive team. Ranger victories came in the form of landslides: 7-2, 8-0, 10-3, and 6-1. Anyone wanna argue with me about who was the more commanding team? I didn’t think so. Even the Yanks’ game five victory didn’t pose a concern. Sorry New York, money can’t buy team chemistry. The Rangers looked like playoff veterans throughout this series and outperformed the Yankees in every aspect of the game. They had more hustle, more strength, more heart, and more love for each other, the game, and the experience. Magic shmagic. When asked about the usual Pinstripe Playoff Aura following the game, Ranger second baseman Ian Kinsler (who is absolutely precious, by the way) promptly responded: “We’re really going to talk about that? I don’t really care about the Yankees right now honestly. We just defeated them. It’s over. We’re better than them.” You tell ’em, Kins!
In a state where football is religion, “America’s favorite past-time” has emphatically replaced “America’s Team.” It seems like it was meant to be. Magic. Washington’s admittance of using cocaine once during the 2009 season could have sunk the Ranger submarine, but the organization stuck by him. When the Rangers acquired Cliff Lee back in July, the pieces started to fall more and more into place. “Dude, we got Cliff freakin’ Lee,” Michael Young said to Josh Hamilton. Finally, in August when Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg became the official owners of the ball club, things certainly seemed like they were meant to be. Who better to have at the helm than arguably the best Ranger that has ever taken the field? And now, the Rangers are going to the World Series. Ace Cliff Lee will take the mound next Wednesday against an ace from either the Phillies or the Giants. Personally, I am hoping for the Giants. Who would have ever thought? Rangers-Giants World Series? Thanks to my parents, I am flying home next weekend to witness the first ever World Series game to be played in Arlington, and I could NOT be more excited about it! Whoever their opponent may be, the Rangers will bring their swagger, smiles, claws, and antlers to the field. Pinstripes be gone! Have a nice off-season Yankees, we’ll still be playing baseball.
Check out these AWESOME celebration videos… It’s been a long time coming… gives me chills: