Reflection

Gonzo
In the past week, two stories have emerged about the Los Angeles Angels and the cluster that has become that franchise. There are so many issues out in Orange County it made me reflect on what Bob Simpson, Ray Davis, Nolan Ryan, Jon Daniels and Ron Washington have put together here in Texas. Reflecting on what has been built here made me think that we are witnessing the golden age of Texas Rangers baseball. Despite the ups and down that we have seen over the past few years, it really doesn’t get better than this….save for a World Series title.
The current ownership group and front office have done a remarkable job of spending money wisely, building the farm system into one of the best among baseball and producing a winning club. Now, at the same time we praise Mr. Simpson and Mr. Davis, the job of rebuilding this thing started before they made the purchase of the Rangers. Yes, Tom Hicks ran this thing into the ground, but he did have the foresight to hire JD as the General Manager and let him build the farm and bring Nolan in the fold to oversee the operations. But, enough of “he who must not be named” and the era of Rangers baseball we now refer to as “The Azkaban Era.”

There have been many good times in Arlington. We can’t forget the mid to late 90’s with Rusty, Pudge, Juando and the Dr. of Defense. Those teams set the wheels in motion. They proved that winning baseball in Arlington, Texas can exist and that a football driven area of the country will support a competitive baseball team. Those first playoff appearances were some of the best times I remember watching this franchise. One of my favorite memories is the second playoff game against the Yankees in New York when Juan Gonzalez hit 2 home runs. I can still hear Bob Costas,

“George Steinbrenner might want to check the deed, because it’s Juan Gonzalez who owns the Yankees these days.”

We also need to praise Jeff Burroughs, Buddy Bell, Charlie Hough and all the players that we cheered for, stood behind and felt bad for, because we knew that they were good players on bad teams. Those players gave us tons of memories. I still smile when I think of Don Slaught, Steve Buechele, Oddibe McDowell and Pete O’Brien.

Flash forward back to the here and now. Since 2007, when Wash was hired as the manager, the Rangers have finished 4th, 2nd, 2nd, 1st, 1st, 2nd and are currently sitting in 1st again. There have been 3 straight playoff appearances, including 2 trips to the World Series. That is (as of today) 598 wins, 2 AL pennants and an average finish of 1.9. Despite the overall results of the past few years, we really should just sit back, smile, drink a beer and appreciate what this franchise has become.

We’ve seen players carry the team on their back for months on end. We’ve seen players almost win an ALCS by themselves. Cliff Lee was amazing. Alex Rodriguez is forever frozen on that Feliz breaking ball in our minds. Kinsler and Andrus in Game 2 of the 2011 World Series. Derek Holland in Game 4. Benji Molina’s cycle. NAP-O-LI. Adrian Beltre’s 3 home runs in Tampa. The Mitch Moreland Game 3 home run. Michael Young. Yu Darvish.

We argue about Yu’s ace status. We argue about whether Mitch Moreland has a future here. We argue about what should be done with Profar or Kinsler. Arguments that didn’t happen in the past. When was the last time we argued about a pitcher being a true ace of the Texas Rangers? While our arguments are based on the fact we want this team to succeed, we should take note that these verbal/digital squabbles actually matter now. In 1987 nobody complained about the leverage situations Dale Mohorcic was used in. Why? Because nobody gave an S.

This could very well be a long run of competitive Rangers baseball. This is fun. This is what it’s about. THIS is the “Golden Era” of Rangers baseball.

These…are the best of times (with more to come). These…are amazing players wearing Ranger uniforms. These…are players who want to play here. These…are very bright people in the front office. These…are great fans. These…are not your father’s Texas Rangers.

I wish Johnny Oates and Mark Holtz were here to see it.

Patrick Despain is the CEO and Co-Founder of ShutDown Inning. He can be reached at Patrick.Despain@ShutDownInning.com or on Twitter @ShutDownInning
Patrick Despain
Patrick is a member of the IBWAA and creator of Shutdown Inning. He was raised him Arlington, Texas and grew up watching games on HSE and listening to Eric Nadel and Mark Holtz on the radio. He is a long time Rangers fan and never achieved his dream of being a bat boy. He know lives in Georgia with dreams of a Texas return.

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