I’ve been following the Rangers for almost 17 years now, since I was a six year-old boy. And though I’m still youthful enough not to have experienced a marriage to this point, I imagine my relationship with the Rangers is something of the sort. I have those moments when I’m deeply in love, winning playoff series’ and popping champagne (or, on the Josh Hamilton Rangers, apple cider), and I have those moments where we fight and I have a hard time speaking about her (like the bottom of the 9th in Game 6).
But whenever I wake up the next morning, I realize not much has changed; even though she can be a real heartbreaker, she’s still there.
I don’t think the 2012 season intrinsically packed a more venomous sting than the small tragedy that occurred in last year’s World Series, but it should be considered food for thought in unearthing your true conception of what constitutes a successful season. It essentially asks: What hurts you more: (1) Making it all the way to the finish line without actually crossing it, or (2) the killed potential of not getting the chance to be in earshot of the line at all?
I haven’t read a viable sports writer flat out calling for Ron Washington’s head, but gauging by various Rangers’ message boards, there seems to be a somewhat 50-50 divide as to the thought that maybe this team would be better moving forward without him. And though I don’t foresee anything drastic happening in terms of ousting Washington, there should be a new philosophical approach as the organization moves forward.
The 2013 team should look radically different than the Rangers’ 2012 roster, so how Ron Washington manages the new makeup of the clubhouse will be telling in just how taut his leash gets from the front office.
After all, it was Wash’s loyalty to his proven veterans — the same veterans that took him to back-to-back World Series’ — that was his tragic flaw in 2012. Often times in sports, and humanity in general, one’s greatest strength translates into their greatest weakness, and the line is markedly fine between the two. I can’t say that any of Leonys Martin, Mike Olt or Jurickson Profar would have generated a profound impact down the last wave of the schedule, not by looking at their numbers in the aggregate, but it at least would have been interesting to see how they responded, and how the players they were replacing would have responded.
But that’s getting into hypotheticals and alternate universes and the space-time continuum — so its value is merely esoteric — which can be comforting, in a way.
And really, where we are today, in reality, is all that matters. The Rangers, through the many losses of the 2000′s and recent success, through good players and the bad, still occupy the same place in my heart. In an offseason where we are sure to lose Josh Hamilton, and have near even money odds of moving Michael Young and/or Elvis Andrus, 2013 will be sure to look mighty different than in recent seasons.
Baseball is a sport of variance and variables at play, where the team we root for is the only constant. It’s bigger than any one individual, no matter how popular or loved they may have been or are. It all contributes to being doomed to a life of only loving one team, but it beats starting over, passing go, and collecting $200.