Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Season to Remember

After shaking off the disappointment of the World Series, I decided to reflect a little bit on the season. It was a fantastic ride from start to finish, but instead of walking you through the season step by step, I will throw out a few notes and then take things back to my favorite game of the year.

I know it has been said, but it needs to be said again: This team overcame great adversity. The manager admitted to doing Cocaine before the season. The team was bankrupt. The two "Aces" were out of the rotation by the All-Star Break. The franchise had won two playoff GAMES in it's history, yet this Texas Rangers team made it within three games of winning the World Series. The WORLD SERIES. Still doesn't quite seem real to have "World Series" and "Texas Rangers" in the same sentence. Unless of course the sentence is "The Texas Rangers will never make it to the World Series." Well they did, and even though they played poorly once they got there, they proved they belonged by beating the Rays and demolishing the Yankees. It was a season that I will never forget.

There were plenty of games to choose from as "my favorite game of the season." Any playoff win. Any display of Cliff Lee's dominance. Any victory against the Yankees. All of the walk-offs. My favorite game is a walk-off, but it is so much more than just that.... it twas the evening of August 13th.

This was not your normal August night at the Ballpark. The previous day was an off day for the players, but it was a big day in court. The Texas Rangers finally had new owners as the Ryan-Greenberg group finally won. The celebratory mood filled the evening air at the ballpark. I wish I had been there, but you could tell the atmosphere was different. Josh Lewin and Tom Grieve both seemed a little more amped than usual and there was a buzz in the ballpark.
The matchup featured one of the game's best in Josh Beckett against recently hot youngster Tommy Hunter. The Rangers scored once in both the 1st and 2nd and the crowd was going nuts. Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg were shown cheering loudly, but the mood changed quickly. The Red Sox scored once in the 3rd, then hit back-to-back-to-back homeruns in the 4th to knock Tommy Hunter out of the game. They went on to score 7 runs in the 4th and the crowd was silent. A 6-run deficit against the Red Sox seemed to be too big of a hole to overcome, especially against Josh Beckett.

This was my favorite game for more than one reason. First thing, it was a microcosm of the season. Here was some major adversity and the Rangers would overcome it. Newcomer Mitch Moreland hit a two-run homerun in the bottom of the 4th and the lead was halved. Then Michael Young and Josh Hamilton went deep in the 5th to make it a 2-run game. After a JD Drew homer in the 7th, the Rangers added two in the bottom of the 7th to make it a one run game.

Then reason number two I loved this game, it showed our power but also our ability to scrap for runs the Ron Washington way. In the 7th we scored on a sac-fly and my favorite run of the night comes in the 8th to tie the game. After Josh Hamilton doubled with two outs, Vlad comes to the plate. On a ground ball in the infield, somehow Vlad beats out the throw and miraculously Hamilton rounds third and scores a run. Our slugger scored from 2nd on an infield hit to tie the Red Sox in the 8th. The place was going absolutely crazy, and I was running around my living room. We tied the game.

Reason number three, with the exception of the World Series, our Bullpen turned out the lights. After Hunter made his exit and Feldman (demoted ace) struggled, our Bullpen shut down the Red Sox, just like they did all season. Ogando in the 8th, Feliz pitched the 9th and 10th and O'Day kept them scoreless in the 11th. That set the stage for Mr. Nelson "Boomstick" Cruz. Pitcher number eight for the Red Sox and the last man in the bullpen only threw one pitch on this night. The knuckleball that Cruz was waiting for...

BOOM! Let the celebration begin. The Rangers made the World Series and under new ownership, the days of losing seasons could be over for a long time here in Texas. Get your Antlers up and Claw'em up. If you jumped on the bandwagon, stay for the ride next season.

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