Expand Your Focus

During baseball season, it’s easy to suffer from a relentless case of tunnel vision – especially when your team is struggling.  The seeming importance of each misplayed ball in the field, gaffe on the base paths, and wasted opportunity at the plate is exponentially magnified.  Every loss feels like the end of the season, if not the world.
In times like these, one’s perspective often requires significant recalibration.  Now is certainly such a time for most Ranger fans, as things have not been going well of late for the ol’ ball club.

A persistent rash of injuries has decimated the Rangers’ starting rotation and also left them without their regular DH.  The once-dependable bats of Elvis Andrus and David Murphy have been extremely ineffective for most of 2013.  And while exciting young players like Leonys Martin and Jurickson Profar have shown flashes of their highly-coveted talent, they have so far been unable to sustain a consistent level of production.

Now that the Rangers have traded for Matt Garza and are reported to be seeking a bat as well, and that should give solace to the fan base that Jon Daniels is simply not standing pat. The front office is desperately trying to improve the on field production.

More than two months remain in the season, and even though the Oakland A’s have slightly expanded their slight AL West lead over the Rangers, things are far from decided.  The Rangers could very easily go on a hot streak at some point in August or September and overtake the A’s.  Besides, even if they don’t, they could still end up grabbing one of the two Wild Card spots.

But the important thing to try and keep in perspective right now is that no matter what the Rangers end up doing the rest of this season – whether they win the AL West or miss the playoffs altogether – this is no longer a year-to-year proposition.  Back in the late ‘90s, when the Rangers had Pudge Rodriguez, a couple of other solid bats, and a collection of rag-tag arms, making the playoffs was a delightfully unexpected surprise.  The fact that they did it three times during that era is a borderline miracle.

The Rangers of this current era are so much better situated as an organization – they are built for the long haul, not just one season.  This doesn’t just mean what’s on the field and in the dugout, but also what’s in the front office, and what’s at every level of a bountifully-stocked farm system.  As much as we all want the Rangers to win it all this year, or at least make the postseason, at least we can be confident in knowing they will have a legitimate shot at contending for the foreseeable future.

The so-called “window” is absolutely in no jeopardy whatsoever of closing after 2013.  The Rangers may or may not succeed in achieving their goals this season, but regardless of what trades do or don’t get made or which players do or don’t bounce back from injury, slump, or both, they will be right in the thick of things in 2014, 2015, and 2016 – if not well beyond that.

Now is not the time to panic or jump ship.  Now is the time to shake loose from that tunnel vision that consumes you and to expand your focus beyond these last two-plus months of this season.  Because the Rangers’ future doesn’t end once the final pitch of 2013 is thrown, no matter how it might seem right now.

Bob Bland is a Staff Writer for ShutDownInning. He can be reached at Bob.Bland@ShutDownInning.com or on Twitter @SDIBob.
Bob Bland

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