Is it time to panic yet?

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October 29, 2010 by falcon7204

I’m a big Texas Rangers baseball fan. Have been since 1974. And I’ve never been happier for my team than right now, when they find themselves in the World Series. This truly is uncharted territory for this team, which has had a colorful history. Ted Williams (yes, that Ted Williams) was its first manager, and during the team’s first game at old Turnpike Stadium (renamed Arlington Stadium) the rest of the team was asked to wear cowboy hats during the pregame introductions. Teddy Ballgame refused.

The team has had its share of characters. Mike Hargrove, the “human rain delay;” Roger Moret, the pitcher who once went into a catatonic trance in the shower after a ball game; Lenny Randle, the player who punched manager Frank Lucchesi in the clubhouse; Jeff Burroughs, the team’s first legitimate MVP; David Clyde, the fireballing high-schooler who burst onto the scene in 1974 and burned out almost as quickly; Nolan Ryan, he of the five no-hitters (soon to be seven – his last two with the Rangers), 5,700 strikeouts and 323 wins (the hat on his bronze plaque in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown bears the Rangers “T”); and the list goes on and on, to the present day (Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, etc.). This team started the season under the marketing slogan, “It’s Time,” and acted as though nothing would stand in its way. Since just before the All-Star break, nothing has stood in its way, and the team won its division by 9 games, the largest margin in the majors.

But there were some major monkeys they needed to get off their backs. First, win a playoff series (done). Second, win a playoff game at home (done.) Third, beat the Yankees and their mystique (done).

Now, they’re in the World Series facing the San Francisco Giants. And after two games, the Rangers have been outscored 20-7. They’ve committed five errors. Their offense seems to have stayed home in Arlington, and their bullpen has melted down not once, but twice, in the first two games.

Ron Washington, the team’s manager, would say, “That’s the way baseball go.” (I gotta get me one of those shirts, by the way.) But this is not baseball the Rangers are playing. At least not Major League Baseball. These last two games are reminding me uncomfortably of the Rangers teams of the past, which couldn’t hit, couldn’t pitch, and had no defense outside of a couple of players.

But if there’s one thing this team has shown this year, it’s an ability to bounce back. There have been rough spots, but the team has always seemed to respond. During a 162-game season, it’s easy to brush off a five-game losing streak and come back to win seven of the next nine. In the World Series, a losing streak means you go home. Two games do not a season make, but they can certainly do little to diminish the Rangers’ past reputation as losers – regardless of whether they are American League champions or not.

So the Rangers need to show some of that Super Ball bounce-back ability, now that the next three games are in Arlington. They’ve proven they can win the big games. Now they need to win four more.

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