Rangers Celebrate 2011 World Series Clinch – Courtesy of MSN FOX Sports
Anyone who plays baseball can tell you, it’s a grind. Six months is a long time to wait to see if you are going to make the post season, and for a fan, sometimes it is easy to lose site of the bigger goal. Fans expect perfection night in and night out, and that just doesn’t happen in any sport, but especially baseball. The Texas Rangers have raised the expectations of their fan base over the past three seasons by appearing in three straight post seasons including two trips to the Fall Classic. Ranger fans are hungry for more, and the Rangers are delivering so far in 2013.
The Rangers have had some patches where they look bad offensively so far, and they have had some pitching blunders as well. As fans watch every night to see what the Rangers are going to do, it is easy to get frustrated with the way a certain player may be playing that night or the way that Ron Washington makes a pitching decision. But before you decide whether to jump off the band wagon or not remember a few things:
1. Perfection is not the goal. If perfection were the goal, than pitchers like Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez would win every year. While it is okay to desire your favorite player or team to try to play error free and mistake free night in and night out, don’t expect it. If you do you will be disappointed more often than not. The Rangers have been far from perfect in 2013, and yet they still sit atop the entire American League with the best record. Being consistent is much more important than being perfect.
2. Pitchers need to keep the team in the game. I know that we all want to see every pitcher go out every night and give up no runs on two hits while striking out 14 and walking no one, but that is simply not going to happen. Even Yu Darvish gives up bad home-runs from time to time, and he is far and away the ace of the Rangers staff. Pitchers are going to have good games, and pitchers are going to have bad games. Fans have to realize that a quality start is way more important than a perfect game. If you have a consistent starting pitcher, your offense knows what it needs to do to win. And win they will.
3. Win or split the series. Believe it or not, the Texas Rangers are not going to win every single game they have left to play in 2013. They are gong to lost fifty plus more games. Rangers fans need to realize that while trying to win every game is important, winning every game is not crucial to going to the post season and World Series. Winning the series is important. For example, if the Rangers go .500 for the remainder of the 2013 season, they would wind up with a record of 87-75, which may be good enough to win the West. But I believe that they will do better than .500 for the rest of the season. Which means that number is going to only go up. The Rangers have a great chance of winning at least 90 games again this season and a pretty good shot at 95, in my opinion. If they win 95 games, it means they will lose 47 more games in 2013. As fans, it is important to remember that.
4. Rest players. In 2012, the brass admitted that they let too many players play too many games and they got tired. If Rangers fans want their team to return to the fall classic in 2013, they need to remember bench players are there for a reason. To rest the starters. It is not the end of the world if Adrian Beltre gets a day off against the Royals or Mitch Moreland gets a rest against the Diamondbacks. The Rangers may even lose a game or two because of an error directly related to a starter getting rest. That is part of baseball. Sometimes the manager has to make the tough roster decision, and fans need to remember that most of the time, Ron knows what he is doing. Rangers fans need to give him the benefit of the doubt, not rip him every time there is an error by a bench player.
5. Play as a team. Here the Rangers have the advantage over many other teams, but especially the Angels. The Angels are a collection of great offensive talent, but from my outsiders view, they don’t seem to really care much about the other guys on the team. They are about individual results. The Rangers seem to have fun in the dugout and on the field. Elvis and Beltre come to mind right away. The Rangers seem to legitimately care about each other, and that breeds winning. The Rangers have picked each other up several times this season, and I believe that trend will continue.
The Rangers have a great shot of getting back to the World Series this season. They are way better than they were projected to be by most, and the American League does not appear to be as strong as it has been over the past few seasons. There are going to be some amazing games, and there are going to be some really ugly games going forward. As long as there are games in late October, I can live with that. Rangers fans should be able to as well.