Jeff Banister’s Punchout
Saturday afternoon I was pretty pissed off. I wasn’t sad, I wasn’t upset, I was pissed. I think most fans were too shocked to feel the way I felt. The Rangers blew a four run lead in the 9th, lost the game and saw their division lead dwindle to a single game.
I was sure this is par for the course for this team after what has happened the last few years. I was sure that the season was over. I was sure they stood no chance on Sunday. I mean, what proof have they given us to think otherwise?
2011 Game 6 they blew the lead in the 9th – and 10th – and went on the lose that game and Game 7.
2012 they blew a two game lead to the Athletics with three games to play, lost the division and then went on the lose the Wild Card game to Baltimore.
2013 featured yet another September collapse. They opened the month in 1st place and ended up losing the division by five games. The had to win their final seven games just to force a game 163 vs Tampa Bay that they would eventually lose.
2014 they didn’t have a chance to blow anything.
So given the recent history, why should I have had faith that the team would bounce back from blowing a four run lead with the division on the line?
Well, the answer to this is rather simple.
The teams of 2010 and 2011 were special, arguably the greatest teams in franchise history. But there is just something about this 2015 squad. Something different. It’s, for the most part, an entirely different team too.
This team didn’t hang their heads, they didn’t sulk, they didn’t quit. They came out Sunday afternoon and promptly got punched in the mouth with their ace on the mound.
Game over, right?
Not quite. The Rocky Balboa Rangers got up off the mat, still wobbly but stood tall. They picked up their gloves, wiped the blood away from their mouth and motioned for the Angels to bring it. They were battered, but not beaten.
Then, they started to make their move.
Then, up came our leader, the future Hall of Famer, El Capitan, Adrian Beltre. The man who once wore a colostomy bag just so he could play.. in a spring training game.
Beltre wasn’t messing around. After dodging a weak right jab from Richards, Beltre landed a huge uppercut that knocked Richards, and the Angels, to the mat.
Richards, battered and broken, would finish the next round before being removed.
His replacement(s) stood no chance. The Rangers landed hook after hook and threw in a few uppercuts for good measure. When the 7th round was over, so was the match. The Angels were cut wide open, bleeding profusely. There was no stopping it.
The Rangers celebrated heavily after the final bell rung, their ace, Cole Hamels still out there.
This is why this team wasn’t going to let a 2011, 2012, and a 2013 repeat happen. They’re different. Their leader is different.
Their leader, a man who was never supposed to walk again after he was temporarily paralyzed from the neck down after a collision at home plate in college, gave his team the look. The look was enough, words were not necessary.
The man that nearly lost his leg to cancer when doctors recommended it be amputated, told his team to get up and fight.
They fought – and then some.
The result was a knockout and a division championship.
A division championship because they, along with their leader, never ever quit.