Okay all you Ranger fans don’t start getting on my case about jumping on the Ranger bandwagon after back to back World Series appearances. I jumped on the Yankee bandwagon years ago and am still riding that one.
But that doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate the great things that the Texas Rangers have done over the last two years. Even though they have come up empty in the Series I still believe that they have been the most consistent major league team and have established themselves as a serious contender for years to come……………….
I for one believe that this will be the year for them to wear the crown as World Champs. We all know that they certainly have had the talent but were defeated two consecutive years by two of the most opportunistic teams in recent history. Last year the Wild Card Cards just wouldn’t say die from the beginning of the playoffs through the October/November Classic. Their timely hitting and ability to make other teams pay for any mistake was just uncanny. Talented yes, but I still don’t believe they could match the Rangers in that category especially if you include the entire roster.
And the year before in 2010 they simply got outpitched by the San Francisco Giants. I would have never believed it especially with the formidable Cliff Lee waiting to get his hands on the ball in the most crucial of games. But the first time jitters plus Giants ace, Tim Lincecum and pitching mates at the top of their games, spelled doom for the pride of Texas baseball………..
Now here we are ringing in yet another new baseball year and the hopes for the Arlington team are higher than ever. Baseball-mania has come to the Lone Star State, and no offense to the Astros, but it lives in the metroplex. In most games, the Ball Park, will be filled to near capacity if not completely sold out.
And the days of going to the park when the Rangers are playing the Yankees or Red Sox and having their fans out-cheer them are over. The reason for that is that the Rangers have simply produced a better line-up than either of those major league powers……..
But here are the reasons why I think the Rangers will win it all for their first World Championship in 2012, other than the fact that they have extremely gifted and talented players at each position and a depth chart that is the envy of baseball…………….
It begins with principal owner, CEO, and team president Nolan Ryan. Not only does Ryan have a great baseball mind, he combines that with a tough work ethic and common sense. There is no doubt that he has high expectations and holds people accountable to the highest standards. His ability to recognize talent, whether it be in the coaching or playing, and then step back and let them do their jobs has been nothing short of amazing. He has to be among the best in major league baseball in all three categories in regard to all the titles that he wears………..
The second is Ron Washington. To tell the truth, I wasn’t all that impressed with what has become the most effective skipper in club history, in the beginning. Sure, Wash was saying all the right things that newly hired managers are accustomed to saying. This included: working on fundamentals, playing hard on every pitch, eliminating mistakes, and producing when given the opportunity.
And in his first couple of years, even before the banner years, I could see this all coming to fruition. Even though post-season activities for the team included going home to the wife and kids I could see that what Washington was selling, the players were buying. And then the talent started to come in and now “look out”……………………
Up next is the coaches. And for me the most important of the lot is Mike Maddux the incredible pitching coach who has handled a young and talented pitching staff with unbelievable guidance and is now paying huge dividends. With the exception of the veteran and accomplished Cliff Lee the fortunes of the pitching staff has been on his shoulders and his shoulders have passed the test. Add Jackie Moore, the bench coach who is probably the least known and most under-appreciated of the coaches.
I say that because no one really knows how much Washington depends on the advice and expertise of this seasoned and cagy veteran. I used to marvel at how Joe Torre used his bench coaches Don Zimmer and Mel Stottlemyer, during the great Yankee run of the late 90’s and early 2000’s.
So I respect what Moore brings to the bench. And from Rudy Jaramillo, to Clint Hurdle, to the current hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh I have been totally impressed with the results of not only the team batting averages and power numbers, but their ability to hit in all situations and deliver in the most clutch circumstances………………….
Next and maybe the most important factor is the leadership of Michael Young. Surely through the history of professional baseball there at some point has been another player as unselfish and productive as #10. I just can’t recall any of late especially in this money-driven era of the game that thwarts any sign of allegiance of either players or organizations.
And Michael has been asked to take one gut punch after another from the organization to make room for yet another “better fit” and “more talented” player at the position that he is already playing and producing at, quite handsomely. Okay we all understood that when Elvis Andrus came over from the Braves in the Mark Texiara trade and had this so-called hall of fame future in wait, that Texas could move Michael to third and all would still be well. At least he would still be playing every day.
But then last year the opportunity to sign Adrian Beltre was just too much to pass up and the deal was made. And now what to do with Michael Young? Trade rumors were just rampant! Only thing, the other major league teams out there were crazier than the Rangers in this case. They did not want to pay Young what he was worth as a utility infielder/dh. So the Rangers were stuck…………..
And kudos to the perennial all-star he didn’t hold back his feelings. He blasted away at the young, inexperienced, but talented general manager Jon Daniels. I firmly believe that had any other team been willing to pay Michael’s price, that he would have been gone. And I’m not sure that had he left so would the Rangers chances of going back to the World Series. But once it was decided that he would stay in Texas he put away his hurt feelings and went back to commanding the clubhouse like no other does in baseball at this point.
You see he didn’t blame Andrus or Beltre. They were professionals who had been dealt or signed to play ball and to have a chance to perform at a level that their talents indicated that they could. He welcomed them and with little doubt introduced them to a clubhouse that has one goal and one goal only and that was to win with class.
Had Michael Young not been the Michael Young that you and I have come to know and love, this could have been a train wreck that would have derailed one of the most promising baseball franchises in recent history. So give Michael Young all the credit for serving as the true leader of high performers who have their unbelievable commitments written in his blood, sweat and tears………………….
I want to give Jon Daniels the credit he is due. No doubt he had a plan and stuck to it when it would have been easier to chase free agents who may or may not have produced and certainly would not have adhered to the chemistry that lives in the Ranger clubhouse due mostly to Young. My thought is this: if this guy will just stay in his office and continue to build and seek to improve and let Nolan Ryan do the communicating of moves then the Rangers will be fine. Who knows what will happen when Young is gone and someone replaces him that is not so willing to put team above self especially when it comes to a Daniels publicity blunder………………………
So there you have it. I think the Rangers will win because they now have the tag as the American League’s best. And every team will bring their “A” game when they play the Rangers. They will be challenged as never before. I think, in the end after a grueling season, that they will be more battle tested than ever before and will be able to withstand all those intangibles that the National League representative throws at them……….The day the World Series tickets go on sale, buy you one. You won’t be sorry……………………RC