It’s time. A simple but yet deep saying for the Texas Rangers this season. When it is time for something, it normally means that you have waited. That there has been preparation and diligence put in to get ready. It means that whatever it may be time for, there has been knowledge that it could be coming and that when it finally is time, then something is about to happen. For the Rangers organization and the fans of it, there has been a lot of waiting for this time. Since the team played its first baseball game in the DFW area in 1972, there has been a lot of waiting.
There were the years of building and getting the fans in the area used to them after they moved to Arlington. There were the years of Bobby Valentine as the manager, and the Rangers had some good years under him but could never do better then second in their division. Then there was the years of a future president leading a new ownership group and the hiring of the late Johnny Oates. The team final broke through into the playoffs and looked promising for a few years. But every time they got into the playoffs, the hated Yankees bounced them right out in the first round and reminded baseball fans in Texas that the Rangers just were not there yet. So many fans were ready after over 20 years of waiting and it seemed like the organization as a whole was ready. But as we would learn over the following years, it just wasn’t time. The team was owned by Tom Hicks for some years and after throwing money around excessively but in the wrong places, Hicks led the team in more years of walking in circles in search of the promise land. Signing of big name players to huge contracts but ignoring constant issues, trades that didn’t really help anything, and failure to ever find pitching. But we now look back as 2006 being a year where things started to turn around again.
The Rangers promoted a young Jon Daniels to take over as general manager in 2006. It was a questionable move by many as Daniels was only 28 at the time, making him the youngest GM ever in baseball. He made some very questionable moves that year, shipping out an All-Star for really nothing and later sent out pitching and a prospect named Gonzalez to San Diego for a pair of pitchers that never really worked out. But later on that year he made a trade that immediately didn’t help but brought in a key guy for the future named Nellie Cruz. In 2007 Jon boy made a horrible trade with the Sox of Chi-town, but recovered. He used the Rangers 5 1st round picks very well (Borbon, Hunter, and Moreland) and then traded Big Tex away to Atlanta to add a wealth of prospects lead by Feliz and Andrus. He also added Murphy and a couple of other prospects with 2 other smaller deals. He also signed a funny looking, but well spoken of coach out of the Oakland organization to be the new Rangers manger. Ron Washington took over a team with some good players on it, and a wealth of players being added into the system beneath him.
Some players started to work their way up in the system and additions of Josh Hamilton and this last offseason Vladimir Guerrero to go with a core of guys like Young, Kinsler, Cruz and the young guys solidified a good offensive lineup. But it still was not time. They had pitching somewhat, or at least they thought. They signed Harden, had Feldman after a breakout year, and had some guys like Lewis and former bullpen star C.J. Wilson. But the top two guys faltered and never found stride. Wilson and Lewis became the guys who carried the rotation and former 1st round pick Hunter stepped up. Backed by team president and fan favorite Nolan Ryan, Texas was finally really competing again. It was close, the Rangers looked just a step below some of the elite teams in MLB and many fans were hopeful that the Rangers would compete this year and after a messy and drawn out sale process was done, that the Rangers would be competing for a championship in the near future.
But what made it time was the now famous deal to bring in elite pitcher Cliff Lee. It signaled not just to the Rangers fans and players, but to all of the league that the Texas Rangers were ready and willing to compete now. Not next season, or in 2012. But NOW! A couple of key additions in guys like Molina and Francoeur down the stretch and you now have a team that is in the World Series.
The Rangers demons about winning a playoff series? Finished and buried when Lee and some timely baserunning won game 5 of the ALDS in Tampa. The Rangers history with the hated Yankees? Updated as the Rangers won 2 out of 3 in New York and thoroughly beat the Yankees in the ALCS. If you were waiting for a time to be a Rangers fan or jump back on the wagon, the time was a month ago. But don’t worry, this boat is real and we can still fit you on it. It’s time, and tonight many of us will finally get to see the Rangers compete for a title. No more waiting around or building for next year. All of that has finally paid off. The Rangers started the season saying it was time, but if you didn’t believe them then, you should now. It’s Time!