Nearly a week later after it happened, and after 52 years of unique and incredible moments of frustration, futility and stupidity as a franchise in Arlington, I still sit here in a quiet moment of pinch-myself astonishment at this news:
The Texas Rangers are 2023 World Series Champions. Can you believe this?
After finally getting to the big show in 2010, losing 4 games to 1 to a clearly superior SF Giants team (managed by now-Rangers miracle worker Bruce Bochy), and 2011, down to within one strike of winning it all twice in the same game, blowing both, and ultimately losing to Tony LaRussa’s Cardinals, then enduring over a decade more of the typical “lean years”, this team assembled a cast of characters that just didn’t care about the wretched past.
Bochy knew how to win, having done so twice more in the Bay Area, and having been paid handsomely to come out of retirement to manage a suddenly really good Rangers club, thanks to shrewd drafting and some big free-agent signings in their career primes. On a team loaded with big hitters, he emphasized defensive fundamentals (the Rangers had no errors in the World Series!), shared passion for the game, and being a good teammate. After some early dramatics, the Rangers settled in and beat the pugnacious Arizona Diamondbacks 4 games to 1, the winning play ironically being a called third strike.
Much had to assemble to make this happen — not just in terms of players, but circumstances. Former Rangers pitcher and North Texas native Chris Young was a brilliant GM hire, and got an unprecedented green light from ownership on spending, 13 years after team bankruptcy, one year after losing a more franchise-typical 94 games, and two years after dropping 102. The Rangers signed Corey Seager and Marcus Semien (both AL MVP finalists) to form All-Star infield anchorage for years to come, while fortifying the top few spots in their order with the big bats those guys bring. For all of Seager’s well-deserved superstardom and MVP heroics in the end, Adolis Garcia — the passionate heart and soul of the team — whose record 15-RBI bludgeoning of the Astros across seven games in the ALDS almost singlehandedly got them to the World Series.
Yet we’ve seen talented Rangers rosters and good managers before. In fact, it seemed a familiar script to longtime fans: the Rangers could crush the ball anywhere, all over any ballpark with the best of them, but had injured and/or shaky pitching. Indeed, by some measures, the Rangers had the worst bullpen in history for any playoff team. They blew the nearly season-long division lead to the Astros on the last day of the season, backing in as a wild card. This playoff scenario, with up to 12 road games, looked like another recipe for disappointment, among countless many in the organization’s comically pathetic history.
The difference this time? Despite all those disadvantages and handicaps, baseball strategy guru Bochy knew all the right buttons to push, players to play, situations to handle, and worked his mastercraft to an art form, and somehow, that heretofore terrible bullpen became just good enough for the right 4 games at the end. Along the way, the Rangers won every road game played in the playoffs, setting a Major League record with 11 straight post-season road wins — and in one playoffs, no less! This included a nail-biting, back-and-forth, 4-3 series takedown of the rival Astros in the ALCS where the road team won each time. It was a set of already legendarily suspenseful, emotional, high-stakes rivalry games that some since have called the “real World Series”.
It was a marvelous run, propelled by the historically productive bats of World Series MVP Corey Seager and AL Championship Series MVP Adolis Garcia and skippered by a likely Hall of Famer in Bruce Bochy, who came out of retirement to become just the sixth manager in history with at least four World Series wins.
With the decades of disappointment finally snapped, I hereby retire my “OH NO!” Rangers history page, which will stay online for posterity, as a reminder of what was, and is no more. As I stated there the next morning:
Following over five decades of futility in Arlington, and another 11 years in DC as the sad-sack Senators, the Rangers finally won the World Series, taking down the Arizona Diamondbacks in game 4! It was their MLB-record 11th straight playoff road win this season. After unsurprisingly Rangers-like seasons of losing 98 games the previous year, over 100 the year before that, could we possibly have imagined?
I seriously doubted whether I would live to see this happen. Now all the frustration, comedies of error, abject stupidity, and forlorn resignation are melted away, a lifelong fan journey through weird and inexplicable occurrences capped in the best way by the most bizarre of all: championship! Manager Bruce Bochy was a miracle worker in his first season out of retirement. Players Corey Seager, Adolis Garcia, Marcus Semien, Josh Jung, Mitch Garver, Nathaniel Lowe, Evan Carter, Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Gray, Jordan Montgomery, Jose Leclerc, and the rest of these crazy, crazy-good, hot-dog-eating, Creed-listening, 2023 Rangers, are world champs forever. The very same Dublin Dr Pepper I had pulled out in 2011 with two outs in the 9th of game 6, then put back in the pantry after the 11th inning with head slumped over, I retrieved and finally consumed after that umpire signaled strike three on the last D-Backs hitter. Never has Dr Pepper tasted sweeter.
O glorious day! This means there’s no longer any reason to add to the web page, which I have maintained and grown since the late 1990s. I finally, hereby retire it for good. I will keep this online for posterity, a digital time capsule of sorts that Rangers fans of the future can appreciate for all we had to endure in the lifelong journey to this dreamy time of championship fandom, a called third strike still stirring an ethereally pleasurable state of unfamilarity the next morning. Read on below the next bar for all the original content.
Even as the OU Sooners’ and Dallas Cowboys’ seasons veer from the road of promise, off the cliff of futility, a measure of sports joy pervades the ambience. How?
Nothing, ever ever again, as long as we shall live, and forevermore thereafter, can take this less believable yet astoundingly true fact away:
The Texas Rangers are 2023 World Series Champions.
What if the Rangers had fallen short yet again? To quote Corey Seager (and the Astros’ Alex Bregman):
“I guess we’ll never know.”