From time to time, we all ponder existential questions such as What is life? or Why are we here? or Why do we drive on parkways and park on driveways?
One question equally as baffling: How can the Texas Rangers be this … good?
Your Texas Rangers have reeled off 11 wins in their last 12 chances, a seemingly impossible feat a mere month ago. Included in those 11 wins are sweeps of the Atlanta Braves, Oakland Athletics, and Houston Astros, with the lone defeat coming at the hands of the Los Angeles Angels – owners of the best record in baseball.
All that to say: What in the world is going on?
Basic law of mankind #1: The worst team in baseball cannot be the hottest team in baseball.
The Rangers currently sit at the bottom of the American League with a 65-93 record – compiled over 178 days of the 2014 baseball season.
The first 165 days: 54 wins
The last 13 days: 11 wins (Approximately 17% of total wins in 7% of the days)
So how did it happen? What flipped the switch? … Well, that brings us to our second basic law.
Basic law of mankind #2: Rookies cannot be this good.
Last night, the Rangers started 7 rookies – a rarity in a sport dominated by veterans, stature, and history. Ron Washington, to his credit and his demise, refused to play rookies in critical roles unless the situation, player, or Front Office forced his hand. Under the new guidance of Tim Bogar, Rougned Odor has steadied the 3-spot in the lineup, which remained volatile throughout most of this season.
Additionally, Luis Sardinas has seen noticeably more playing time and is rewarding shareholders nicely with dividends in the form of timely hitting, a magnetic glove, and serving as a suitable spot-starter for Adrian Beltre at third base.
Jake Smolinski, in an everyday role, has seen his stock rise to the point where fans clamor to see him as the everyday right-fielder in 2015. The rest of the fans want Ryan Rua, who handles himself like a veteran, in right field in 2015.
Bottom line: Guys with less major league games under their belt than their age in years are not supposed to be contributing to major league wins on a consistent basis. But they are.
Out of the 11 wins in this streak, rookie Rangers pitchers have taken the win in 8.
Basic law of mankind #3: Fans are supposed to be happy when their team wins.
Being the worst team in baseball has several consequences – but the most perplexing may be causing your fanbase to root for losses. When playoff hopes are dashed and the season is all but lost, fans start to root for losses, which leaves me and every other Rangers fan in an awkward spot. Root for wins or root for draft picks?
When I hear #HelloWinColumn, I throw up a fist-pump in jubilation then hastily pull it back down and remind myself that rooting for wins is short-sighted. Think of the long-term implications, I tell myself. Then I engage in an endless bout of circular logic deciding whether or not to be happy about a win.
So Rangers, just win … well maybe not … try hard … no, wait definitely win … develop young guys … uh …