Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Longterm, Missing The Postseason Benefits Rangers

On July 28th the Rangers lost to Ubaldo Jimenez (of all people) and the Indians, 6-0, earning Cleveland a clean series sweep. It was the Rangers 8th loss in 10 post-All-Star-Break games, and 12th loss in 15 games overall, driving their overall record down to a mere 56-47. At that time, Texas was 6.0 games behind Oakland in the American League West, and fell to a mere 9 games above .500 for the first time since May 10th. Needless to say, it signaled the club’s lowest point in a year seemingly rank with low points.

Then, all of a sudden, everything was different. Over the next month (and change) Texas reeled off their most brilliant stretch of the season — which coincided with the softest portion of their schedule — stringing together 23 wins in 30 games, culminating in a Leonys Martin walk-off single against some guy on the Twins I’d never heard of. After the magic of that August 31st evening, the Rangers were 79-56, and at 23 games above .500 had reached the high-water mark of their year.

But, again, since this is baseball we’re talking about here, everything changed. Again. Since the final day of August the Rangers have lost 10 of 12 — including 5 in a row — and now their 81-66 record looks much less impressive than it would have on, say, July 28th, when the season appeared to be going to shit. Coming full circle, today Texas is 5.5 games behind the Athletics, almost identical to where they stood after being swept by the Indians — a team that is now chasing the Rangers for one of the two coveted Wild Card slots.

On Saturday afternoon Yu Darvish provided yet another outstanding pitching performance, but as we’ve come to expect, even the mastery of an ace can’t compensate for an offense that fails to offer him any run support. In 7.0 innings, Darvish — as we have come to expect — struck out 10 Athletic hitters, surrendered only 1 run on 4 hits, and allowed 1 free pass. It was basically Yu Darvish being Yu Darvish.

However, in innings, the Rangers offense generated nothing to award his effort. And when I say nothing, I don’t mean they didn’t try or didn’t care, or whatever, I’m saying this shit is becoming completely goddamn ridiculous; it’s the 4th time in 2013 that Yu Darvish has lost a start 1-0. The 4th time. Only one Ranger pitcher in history has accumulated that many 1-0 losses in a career, and that was Fergy Jenkins, with 5. If the universe was fair and we decided to subtract a loss and add a win for every 1-0 defeat Darvish has experienced in 2013, his record right now would be 16-5 and he’d be a legitimate Cy Young Award candidate, and that’s without even mentioning all the other great starts he’s given with minimal run support. But let’s not get started on wins and losses, mmkay?

You keep being you, Yu.

* * * * * *

Last season I was entirely unprepared — I suppose “blindsided” is the right term? — for what happened at the end of September. While some fans clamored of the impending falling sky, I stuck to my guns (in denial perhaps), and chalked it up to the vagaries of baseball. What goes up must come down; luck evens out; one cold streak deserves a hot streak; everything will be fine.

Well, as we know in hindsight, everything wasn’t fine. Everything was terribly un-fine, in fact. The collapse happened so all of a sudden that there was no time (for me) to react until the season inevitably ended. It wasn’t until the Rangers lost to Baltimore in Game 163 that the gravity of the prior 3 weeks even sunk in; I was so deep in disbelief that I allowed my arrogance to get the best of me. It’s not the first time that’s happened, and certainly won’t be the last, but for someone who is shocked by so few things in life, I admit what happened last September indeed shocked me.

This year, right now, is not a shock. Not in the slightest.

I imagine it’s the type of feeling one gets when a close relative is dying of some terminal disease, or cancer. (For the record, I have been fortunate up to this point that no close family members have died, which is why I don’t want to sound too presumptive with this thought.)

What I mean is, I have mentally already prepared myself for the worst-case scenario with this Rangers team. As I sit here at 10:41 p.m. California time, I have made my peace with the thought that this club will not reach the postseason. Yes, they are still one of the two Wild Card teams, and no, I don’t think there are many teams in baseball I would pick right now to beat the Rangers in a 5- or 7-game series. I haven’t lost my confidence.

But in acknowledging as much, I also don’t think it would be the worst thing in the world to see them fail to reach the postseason. Actually, it would do the franchise a lot of good. I mean that.

If the Rangers make it into the one-game playoff, there’s roughly a 50% chance they would win; if they won, there would be a 35% (or so) chance they would defeat the Red Sox in the ALDS; if they won that, there would be an even better chance — moving into a 7-game series — that they’d win the ALCS, thus taking the club to their 3rd World Series appearance in 4 years.

And if all that happened, it would guarantee Ron Washington as the manager in 2014, and he would probably get a 2-year extension to boot. For the betterment of the franchise as it transitions into the future, that is a prospect I would be very sorry to accept.

As you know by now, or as you should know by now, Washington is a detriment to the Rangers. 2010 and 2011 were remarkable postseason runs, but it was the work of an astute front office, not the over-glorified tactics of their inept manager. Let’s make no mistake: Jon Daniels is the catalyst of the organization; the talent on the rosters he has delivered is unmistakable.

So, in short, or long, or however you want to classify it, missing the playoffs would do the Rangers a lot of good. As long as Jon Daniels remains at the helm of the organization, Texas is in good hands.

 

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  • BZ

    This hurts to watch.

  • Andy

    I’ve been thinking lately of how much better we could have done at different points (mostly last year at the deadline, over the winter, and this year at the deadline) if we’d actually made a really big trade (yes, some of us thought Garza was. He was supposed to be. But he wasn’t.) obviously at the expense of some substantial future talent. We probably could have had Greinke last year, Upton this year, etc. if we’d been willing to deal certain players. Understandably, we weren’t willing to. But would we have done that much better if we had made such a trade? What if we’d traded our entire Hickory roster for Stanton? Would the A’s be looking up at us instead?

    Part of me thinks we’re not going to go all the way until we really take a gamble and risk the future for the present. But I guess we’ll see.

  • Mikeras

    I have enjoyed your columns, however your continual use of God’s name in such a profane way makes my reading completely uncomfortable. I don’t know why you won’t respect the beliefs of those of us who are Genuine Believers in God’s divine provision of His Only Son for the benefit of all mankind. Even non-believers have shown respect in ages gone past, but now you step on the name of Our Dear Lord with your crude and vulgar language.

    • Eric Reining

      I do not consciously aim to upset anyone’s beliefs. I use certain language as emphasis.

      I will be more aware in the future.

  • Bob H

    Mikeras,

    I was going to say essentially the same thing you said. The only thing I would add to it is AMEN. I’ll try to avoid his articles in the future.

    • Eric Reining

      Good luck!

  • Redeemed

    My first time to read your column – and last. This is nothing more than a suspense filler – that is, you had to get an article in on time, and you did so. Long, wandering, and pointless. Get the word count in … screw the message. Nice job.

    • Eric Reining

      There is no word count or time constraint on any of my columns, but thanks for reading, I guess.

  • Kyle Graham

    will you expound your thoughts on washington a little?