I'm so excited and I just can't hide it
I'm about to lose control and I think I like it…
I'm about to lose control and I think I like it…
-The Pointer Sisters
Man o man, here we are!
I never thought I would see the day when my Rangers would actually accumulate more wins than the opposition in a given series, but here we are. And by no means was it easy.
We all in Rangerland thought the series was over once Texas jumped out to a 2-0 series lead. We were making plans, wondering which team (NY-Min) was going to have the unfortunate luck of playing us. Didn’t matter where we played, when we played or who we played—we were on a roll and someone was about to get rolled over.
We watched in amusement when the Rays were crying over calls Rangers’ fans in the past were all too familiar with. We laughed as Rays skipper Buddy Holly was tossed out in game two arguing about Michael Young’s alleged strike out against one of his scrub pitchers.
We watched the Rays over think every situation while we flew around the bases with such ease and were getting hits off of their staff like it was a wiffle ball tourney. It was like nothing we had witnessed before in Rangers’ history. Even if you didn’t want to believe, you were forced to because the team was playing that good. We started getting breaks and everything was going swell. The collective thought throughout Arlington was there was no way this thing was going back to Tampa. We were going to finish it here and the baseball world would know they had a sleeping giant on its hands. And even though we were warned that it wasn’t over by the teams Moses, Ron Washington, we dismissed that crazy talk because it was over.
We had left the Rays in our rearview mirrors, casually motoring away from the scene of the hit and run not thinking they might still get up.
Then the series moved back to Texas.
At first, Game 3 began to resemble the first two—the hitters were held in check and we ended up taking the lead. But just like the end of Game 1, the bullpen couldn’t hold it and we got mollywopped. The air started slowly seeping out of the balloon and fans were left wondering what happened. Had Wash mishandled the bullpen? Did he pull Lewis too soon? Did he not use Darren O’Day long enough and did he place Neftali Feliz in too early? If the Rangers collapse, should Washington lose his job?
I can answer them all in one word—No! It would be easy to toss all the blame on Wash, but the answer is much simpler than that. Wash hadn’t done anything he hadn’t done all year. He had no choice but to pull Lewis because eventually he was going to give up the hit that was going to drive all those walked batters in. So the logical thing to do was go to the bullpen, one of the strengths of the team and ask them to do what they had done for him all year—close it out. Only they failed and that guaranteed that there would be baseball played at noon the following Sunday.
Sunday came and so did another loss. And so to began the rumblings from the “fans” and media about what went wrong these past two home games and why this would be a choke job of monumental proportions. We had trained ourselves to think in defeat because that was all we knew in the metroplex as it pertains to our sports franchises.
The Cowboys have been mediocre since the ‘90s; the Mavericks are all flash, no substance and the Stars? Well at the moment, Tom Hicks still owns them, so…
Anyway, Wash told all of us to be patient and believe. Above all else, he told his players to go out, have fun and leave all the chatter in the background. He said he knew his team and he felt good about the chance they had against the Rays on their own turf. He knew the Rays were going to be overconfident and their manager, so full of bluster and himself, would once again become over analytical and basically take his team out of the game.
And for all the talk of stats and numbers and professorial lectures Maddon provided, what he couldn’t provide was a solution to the Rangers. There was nothing they could do to stop the machine that was supposed to get swept, let alone be around for game five. There was nothing they could do to stop Andrus from scoring on a ground out to 1st or Nellie stealing third and then rumbling home on an error. There was nothing the Rays could do as Vlad did his best Andrus impression and decided he’d go home as well when Price held the ball too long trying to cover first and stood in disbelief when the runner was called safe.
The Rays could not get out of their own way and made mistake after mistake and lost to a far better team than them. When asked in the post game press conference about stealing a page from the Rays’ playbook, Washington replied, “That’s the way the Texas Rangers play ball. We didn’t steal anything.”
And that is the type of confidence that has been lacking with this team and Wash has instilled it into them.
But most of all, we need to have the same faith in our team as the skipper does and enjoy the moment.