Open Letter To The Rangers On The Eve Of Game 162

You probably never thought you’d be here. I certainly didn’t think you would be. Tied with the Athletics, the Athletics, for first place in the division with one game to go. You were the early chip leader in the long poker tournament that is the regular season, got down to heads-up with the A’s, and they’ve doubled up on you two hands in a row, and now they have the larger chip stack. 
You lost the 2011 World Series in the worst possible way, and that sucked. But then you came out of the gates in 2012 like you were ready to tear the league apart, and you did. You’ve been the best team all year, and it’s been a joy to watch. You suffered through a bad rash of injuries, but you overcame them, somehow. Those injuries are hurting now though, aren’t they?

You’re tired. No one has played more baseball in the last three seasons than you have. All those little aches and pains that come at the end of the season don’t feel so little right now, and there are probably more of them than usual. We can tell, it’s affecting you. We feel for you, we want to lift you up and carry you to the finish line, but we can’t. You have to do this on your own. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it.

Look at that team in the other dugout. They probably remind you of you from two years ago, back when you won more than you probably should have and didn’t know better. They’re riding high on chemistry and momentum and emotion and a lot of things that are important this time of year. They’re the kind of things that I know you thought you’d have this time of year.

If you think you’re going to beat them by playing their game, by inorganically mustering up some kind of superhuman, emotional strength like you did in 2010, you’re probably wrong. But you have something they don’t have: experience. Use your experience. Flex your old man strength. Make them play your game. Slow the game down, work the count, have quality at-bats, play good defense, don’t make mistakes on the basepaths. Do the kinds of things that you’ve learned to do with all of the meaningful baseball you’ve played these three years. Just like the Giants taught you in 2010, and the Cardinals in 2011, it is now your turn to be the master, and show Oakland they are the padawan.

Now you need to look at your teammates in the room with you, and look at yourself. Now you need to know, not just think, that you are the better team, and that you are going to be great for this one game. It isn’t a must-win, you know that. I’m not going to try to trick you into some false sense of being backed into a corner. You’re in the postseason, and that isn’t nothing. But use this one game, this one last chance to show the world, and to show yourselves, that you are great. You’ll build from there.

I believe in you.

Peter Ellwood is a Senior Staff Writer for Shutdown Inning. You can email him at Peter.Ellwood@shutdowninning.com or reach him on Twitter @FutureGM

Peter Ellwood

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