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Texas Rangers Are World Series Favorites Over the Giants

It’s a bunch of firsts in the World Series this year: the Giants are looking for their first World Series win since moving to San Francisco for the 1958 season while the Rangers are playing in their first World Series in franchise history. Somewhat surprisingly, the team with the least postseason experience is favored in World Series betting odds to bring home the Commissioner’s Trophy.

Both teams pulled off upsets in the LCS with the Rangers dominating the Yankees in all four of their wins while the Giants beat the Phillies by a narrow margin in all four of their victories. The way Cliff Lee, Colby Lewis, and C.J. Wilson are pitching the Rangers are deserving favorites. Lee is now 7-0 in eight career postseason starts, posting a 1.26 ERA and 9.56 K/BB ratio. Because Texas clinched against the Yankees in six games, the studly southpaw is set to start Game 1 against San Francisco.

C.J. Wilson threw a shutout in the ALDS against the Rays and lost both of his starts to the Yankees. Though he looked good in Game 2, he may be surpassed by Colby Lewis in the World Series rotation after getting hit hard in Game 5. Lewis went eight inning of three-hit ball to send Texas to the World Series with a Game 6 win. He’ll have five days of rest should Ron Washington decide to start him in Game 2 on Thursday. Not only has the pitching been consistent for Texas, their offense has been stellar.

Josh Hamilton homered four times against the Yankees winning ALCS MVP honors. He’s swinging the hot stick and the Rangers have so many other offensive weapons it’s hard to say they’ll be shut down. Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz both hit three home runs in the ALDS and are OPSing more than 1.000 in the playoffs. Additionally, both catchers (Bengie Molina and Matt Treanor) have been hitting for Texas, and Elvis Andrus has stolen seven bases and has a hit in every single playoff game. Except for their shaky bullpen, Texas is not showing any weaknesses. I’m going with the favorites to win the World Series in six.

Texas Rangers Appear to Have Genuine Team Chemistry

When the Texas Rangers broke out the ginger ale to celebrate their ALDS win over the Tampa Bay Rays, I thought it was a a bit contrived and done more for show. The more I’ve seen of this team, the more I’m convinced they genuinely love each other. Take the comments from ALCS MVP Josh Hamilton upon receiving the award:

“I love my teammates. I love them so much. Any of these guys could have gotten this award. I’m happy to have them. At the same time … I don’t want to talk about myself, I want to talk about them! WE are the reason we’re here. The chemistry on the team is something like I’ve never know anywhere. All the guys love each other and we support each other.”

That sentiment wasn’t exclusive to Hamilton either; manager Ron Washington said about his team “They’re the greatest bunch of guys I’ve ever worked with in my whole career.”

Texas’ team attitude and the love the players appear to have for each other seems to be contagious. I speculated if winning breeds team chemistry or if it depends on the group of players and how well they get along. While all teams that are winning appear to enjoy themselves, this bunch of guys seems to genuinely like each other and support each other more than the average team. This reality makes them an enjoyable bunch and a team that’s easy to support. As an Angels fan, I can’t stand the Rangers, but because of this reason it’s hard to dislike them.

Nolan Ryan, Rangers Providing Parking Refund for Overcharged Fans

When the new Texas Rangers ownership took over, their goal was to follow the Arte Moreno model of fan-friendliness and a family environment at the ballpark. Much like Moreno, their first step was to cut beer prices and parking. As much as I can’t stand the Rangers, I have to recognize and applaud Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan for doing right by the fans, just like I did with Moreno.

SI Hot Clicks informed us that the Rangers raised parking prices from $10 to $15 around the ballpark for the ALCS. There was negative backlash from the fans as you could imagine, so Nolan Ryan decided to step in and order the prices go back to $10. Additionally, he took the extra step of saying the team would refund fans who spent $15 to park in Game 1 of the ALCS.

In a day where we’re hearing parking prices around Fenway Park could rise to $40 and the Cleveland Browns are charging fans to walk into a parking lot to tailgate, any action that is fan-friendly will be applauded. I hope other teams can take a cue from Ryan’s actions and realize the goodwill established with your fans will be greatly publicized when you do something right.

Ron Washington Pulled C.J. Wilson Too Early and Bullpen Blew it for Texas

If you’re a Texas Rangers fan walking out of the Ballpark in Arlington or done watching Game 1 of the ALCS on TV, you have to be asking yourself “how the heck did that just happen?” The Rangers were up 5-0 in the 7th and on absolute cruise control against the Yankees but wound up losing 6-5. The momentum change in the game was unreal and could cost Texas a chance at the series. Fans are lucky they have their manager Ron Washington to blame for things unraveling so quickly.

Starting pitcher C.J. Wilson was awesome for the first six innings of the game and only got touched up by Robinson Cano who hooked a change up around the right field foul pole for a home run. After the home run in the 7th, Wilson got the next three batters out. Then in the 8th, Wilson allowed an infield hit to Brett Gardner who beat out a ball in the 3-4 hole. Derek Jeter hit a hard ground ball down the left field line right after that, scoring Gardner from first. It was one of the few hard-hit balls Wilson allowed the entire game, yet Ron Washington thought that was the proper time to remove his effective starter. Wilson left with a 5-2 lead in the bottom of the 8th with Derek Jeter at second. And that’s when everything fell apart for the Rangers.

Lefty Darren Oliver walked Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira to load the bases. Washington pulled Oliver after 13 pitches in favor of Darren O’Day who gave up a laser by Alex Rodriguez that scored two making it 5-4. The very next pitch, Robinson Cano smashed a line drive up the middle off reliever Clay Zapada to score Teixeira and tie the game. Keep in mind that’s two pitchers who made two pitches and gave up three runs. Washington then figured Derek Holland could be the answer. Holland gave up the go-ahead single to Marcus Thames but managed to get the next three men out, not to mention pitch a scoreless 9th. By that time it didn’t matter because the damage had been done.

Ron Washington went through five pitchers in the 8th inning. C.J. Wilson left with a 5-2 lead and only a man on second but Washington thought it was time to pull him. Maybe next time he’ll let his starter keep going, and maybe next time the rest of the bullpen will do their jobs.

Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Rangers Celebrate With Ginger Ale So Josh Hamilton Can Join the Fun

This has to be one of the more admirable instances of team unity I’ve ever seen in sports.  It may not seem like a big deal to the outsider, but to Josh Hamilton it means a ton.  After another dominating performance by Cliff Lee helped Texas advance to the ALCS, the Rangers celebrated with Ginger Ale in the clubhouse instead of the traditional champagne and beer.

As you probably know, Hamilton has battled drug and alcohol problems and wisely chose not to participate in the AL West-clinching celebration with his teammates because he didn’t want to be around alcohol.  “Everybody yelled ‘Ginger ale!’ and I just jumped in the middle of the pile and they doused me with it,” Hamilton said of the celebration. “It was the coolest thing for my teammates to understand why I can’t be a part of the celebration, and for them to adapt it for me to be a part of it says a lot about my teammates.”

I’m sure the players went out and partied like they normally would after the ginger ale showers, but I thought the gesture was great.  If anyone deserves their own special celebration, it’s your MVP candidate who hit .359 with 32 homers and 100 RBI in the regular season.  On to the Yankees…

Photo: Twitter user the_hereford

MLB Playoff Preview: American League

The National League playoff picture has yet to become clear, with only the Cincinnati Reds and the Philadelphia Phillies looking comfortably ahead of their division rivals. As such, we’ll take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the American League powerhouse teams where the playoff picture is more clear.

The truth is, predicting who will win the World Series, even when picking from eight teams, is a crap shoot at best. The five and seven game series can easily go either way and the better teams, as proven by the 162-game schedule, rarely have any significant advantages over such a short span.

A few points of particular interest, when looking at playoff contenders, are their strengths or weaknesses in the secret sauce categories. During the eight team, Wild Card-era of baseball, teams that have had the most success have three things in common: strikeout pitchers, good team defense and a good closer (all of these are adjusted for ballpark and competition and all that junk).

Each win in the playoffs is that much more valuable, so closers often get extended for two and even three innings while good defenses keep games close. Good offensive teams do not have a significant edge in the playoffs because they face more power pitching and rarely get to see number four or five starters.

So how do the American League teams stack up? Let’s find out:

[Read more...]

Fan Falls From Second Deck At Rangers Game, Said to Be in Stable Condition

Very scary stuff from Rangers Ballpark in Arlington Tuesday night as a fan fell from the second deck to the seats below reaching for a foul ball.  Fortunately, the man is said to be in stable condition and these types of occurrences are surprisingly rare.  The game between the Rangers and Indians was stopped for 16 minutes when the incident occurred and fans, players, and the umpiring crew were visibly rattled. Here’s a video of the incident, which shows the reactions when it happened and not the actual fall (so don’t worry too much if you’re squeamish or don’t want to see it happen).  It’ll certainly give you an idea of how shaken up everyone was by it:

Fingers crossed that everything turns out OK for the fan.

Sources:
Fan Falls From Stands At Rangers Game [Deadspin]
Video Credit: YouTube user davedog128