A New Era Begins

7PM CDT October 15,2010. No matter how many games this lasts, it will be the latest the Rangers have ever played in a calendar year.

Four steps need to be made, each one putting the team closer to what longtime fans once thought unfathomable- the World Series.

Will the 2010 Texas Rangers successfully walk up those steps in 2010? The next 4-7 games will tell.

Funniest thing I heard: Listening the MLB Radio on the XM on the way to work as I always do, I heard a Yankee fan call in to Jim Memelo and Jeff Nelson. His complaint? “Cliff Lee this, Cliff Lee that. Can we please stop talking about Cliff Lee?” Hysterical. Pot, meet kettle. No disrespect intended, but sir, do you realize how much the rest of the nation hears about the Yankees day in, day out? Especially in the off-season? And you can’t take someone talking about someone else for a change for even three days? Please. Wonder if he’d be complaining if Lee had gone to the Yankees instead of Texas back in July.

What 40 years of futility does to one’s mind set: Yesterday I followed two links via Lone Star Ball and read two articles picking the Rangers to beat the Yankees in the ALCS. I didn’t know what to do with this. I’m so used to nobody picking the Rangers, I don’t know how to respond to someone picking for them. I even started thinking it has to be bad news for someone to say the Rangers are favored. This team seems to perform better as underdogs. One regular Rangers blogger was certain we would lose Game 5 against the Rays. That’s how used to failure we are. That’s why success smells so sweet right now.

Sizing Up The ALCS: OK, time for some serious comparisons. Despite home field advantage for Texas, it’s easy to see why the Yankees should be favored. History is definitely on their side. They have a scary offense. They’re sound defensively. Their pitching is pretty good.

I don’t think there’s any doubt the Yankees, around the infield, are the stronger team. Texeira vs. Moreland, no contest. Kinsler-Cano. Edge to Cano because of Kinsler’s 2 DL trips, otherwise a push. Jeter vs. Andrus, edge Jeter. A-Rod vs. Young. Sorry, Michael. You’ve been our rock but A-Rod’s power is the difference there.

On the other hand, the Rangers have the upper hand in the outfield, especially in outfield depth. Hamilton and Cruz certainly top Granderson and Swisher. Plus we have Borbon, Murphy and Francoeur to counter Gardner, Thames and Kearns.

Behind the plate is a wash. Posada and Cervelli are better offensively than Molina and Treanor, but I give the defensive/play calling edge to the Rangers.

DH is easily in the Rangers column with Vlad Guerrero, although he hasn’t been hitting with a lot of power lately. He’s still someone who can change a game in a hurry.

Offensively, then, it’s pretty much even. That brings us to pitching.

To me, this series comes down to how Andy Pettite performs. Pettite missed a big chunk of the season with a groin injury. He’s made four starts since he returned. Pettite pitched well in his first start. Then he got shelled in his second and third appearances before pitching a good game against the Twins in the ALDS. Pettite has given the Rangers fits in the past and he has a sterling post-season record. Still, two good starts and two bad starts since coming off the DL makes him a wild card. Plus, he’s the one who has to contend with Cliff Lee in the ALCS.

To be sure, CJ Wilson and Colby Lewis HAVE to perform well for the Rangers to have a chance. Like Pettite for the Yankees, I’m not 100% sure either pitcher can do it twice in this series. And the Game 4 match-up? I think both Rangers fans and Yankees fans have absolutely no idea who comes out on top in a Hunter-Burnett match-up. From what I can gather, fans on both sides are expecting their guy to LOSE this one!

Bullpens are pretty equal as well. You have to give the Yankees the closer edge with Rivera against the Rangers rookie Feliz, even though Texas has had success against Rivera in the regular season. I think the Rangers have more quality set-up guys than the Yankees, so that puts the bullpens as a wash.

Overall, that spells a pretty even series to me. The keys for the Rangers are Josh Hamilton starting to hit again and the Rangers as a team not letting the Yankees get into their heads. If they stay level-headed and Hambone gets his timing back, they can win this thing and go to the Ultimate Show.

The Prediction: The history of this ballclub says to me (unfortunately) if this is just a 4 or 5 game series, that probably means the Yankees have won. Six or seven games tells me Josh is back on his offensive game and the Rangers will be on top in the end.

In 1996, Texas made the playoffs for the first time in their history. They won the season series from the Yankees, 7-5. They lost to the Yanks in the ALDS in four games.

Despite winning four of their last five against the Yankees (the last three without Josh Hamilton), regular season success does not necessarily mean post-season success.

Time to prove it can!

2 Comments

Alright. Time to get this series started. I’ve already picked the Rangers to win and move on to the WS against the Phillies.

Side note: I like to wear baseball jerseys. I will get 1 or 2 a year, mostly Cubs, but others also. One of my purchases 8 or 9 years ago was a blue ARod Rangers jersey. I would think thousands of them were sold to Ranger fans in the early 2000′s. Do you ever see any at the park, and do you think anyone would wear one tonight?
http://wrigleyregular.mlblogs.com/

“I think both Rangers fans and Yankees fans have absolutely no idea who comes out on top in a Hunter-Burnett match-up. From what I can gather, fans on both sides are expecting their guy to LOSE this one!”

Funny – in this house that’s how it is. Evil Empire Hubby™ expects Burnett to blow it and I’m not too sanguine about Tommy, but we’ll see. Regardless of how Tommy pitches the pen will get some use that night, no doubt.

Russel – anyone who wears an Rangers A-Rod jersey to Rangers Ballpark is either suicidal or stupid. Or both. We tolerate Yankees A-Rod jerseys, but that’s because we understand that those who wear those are just clueless and some people just can’t be helped. It’s a charitable thing we do because Rangers fans are just wonderful that way.

Today is the day my co-workers and I (who all work from home) have our monthly lunch. I am already sporting my jersey, my Rangers earrings, my necklaces and my Rangers gameday purse. Unfortunately, Evil Empire Hubby™ has my Jeep so my car won’t be sporting my allegiance, but his car is a convertible and you can bet the top is going down today!

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