Thursday, September 17, 2009

How the Rangers Broke my Heart

I have an old Jerry Seinfeld stand-up CD and there was a joke that went like this:

"In a recent poll asking people what they feared most, number one was 'public speaking.' Coming in at number two... was 'death.' That means that at a funeral, most people would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy!"

Well... ya its kinda like that. No I wouldn't rather bite the bullet than write this eulogy, but I feared this day would come since the moment AJ and I made our MLB predictions. I guess technically I hit my prediction of the Rangers giving the Angels a run for their money, but I hoped... I dreamed it would be more.

The Texas Rangers haven't made it to the post season since Johnny Oates manged the Rangers to an AL West title in 1999. That's a decade of pain and suffering for Texas fans... and Texas loves it's baseball.

This past summer I spent hours and hours going to the girlfriend's family and my own family's little league t-ball, machine-pitch, and club baseball games. I now realize that all of these kids have grown up and not even seen the Rangers in the playoffs... heck not even sniffing October. It's sad for a part of the country that used to be the heart of baseball and now it is centered around football.

The Cowboys have stunk, but at least they make the playoffs every now and then. College football dominates the region now... and baseball falls on the back-burner.

But this was our year! Pitching was actually a strength. The team was good enough to overcome injuries of all of All-Stars. The bullpen was solid and young pitchers brought excitement to ballpark (see Neftali Feliz). Not only was this the year, but the town was getting behind them. Talk in August was not of the Cowboys and Mavericks... but of October baseball in Arlington.

Texas had a sizable lead in the AL West early in the season and kept things close with the Angels through the All-Star break and into early August. Even when things looked bleak in the division, the Red Sox weren't too far ahead in the Wild-Card. There was hope.

And then there was September. The last two weeks have been some of the most disheartening days I have ever had as a sports fan. The Rangers grabbed my heart for the majority of the summer... I ACTUALLY WATCHED FULL BASEBALL GAMES ON TV (never done before in my entire life). They had me at hello in April and then they ripped my heart out.

The pitching failed.
The hitting was non-existent.
The will, the heart... was gone.

The 2009 Texas Rangers survived the absence of Josh Hamilton not once, but twice, but then faltered on the third occasion. They thrived during Ian Kinsler's absence, but they could not score runs without their veteran and leader... Michael Young. This was their true downfall (And pitching disappearing in September... Kevin Millwood WHERE ARE YOU).

So this is my tribute to the season that almost was. Everyone said 2010 was our year back in the Spring... and I guess they were right in the end. But I truly thought we had the muscle to make a run in October this year. I was wrong.

Rest in Peace 2009 Texas Rangers. There is always next year.


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