In case you didn’t notice (entirely possible) the Texas Rangers began their season on Monday in Seattle. It would be easy to blow that off completely. After all, the Rangers have been nothing but disappointing for about the past decade or so. Add to this the following facts: the baseball season is too long, games are too slow to watch regularly and the FW/D area is dominated by other sports, particularly football.
I for one don’t have the time or interest to watch the Rangers’ season. I wish I did – I recall fondly the days when my leisure time included laying on the couch and drifting off to the Texas Rangers on television. I didn’t have a care in the world. Life was good.
Of course, life is good now too. I have a lot more going on, so wasting 45 seconds of my life in-between pitches for 3.75 hours is not something I can do. I have a wife on the way that would surely make my life a living hell if the Rangers were a nightly thing. I go to school, have a demanding job, and am in the middle of trying to write a novel (silly rabbit.) Your life probably sounds like mine, which is why you don’t have time for baseball either.
But let’s make a pact together shall we? Let’s follow the Rangers this year. Let’s look in the paper every morning to see how they fared last night/early this morning on their latest of seventy-five-million west-coast trips. Let’s see what Josh Hamilton did with his tattooed forearms, Ian Kinsler with his babyface and lets see if Michael Young continued to be the Sports Metroplex’s best example of consistency that we have seen this decade. Let’s see what young pitcher may have stepped up, and which one may have stepped back.
By now you must be looking at me cockeyed. “Why the hell should I waste my time on that?!” you may say. Fair enough. Let me shock and awe you with a simple revelation: The Texas Rangers will be the highest-achieving team of the entire metroplex in calendar year ’08. Stupid, right? No. Here’s what I mean…
In the sports world, achievement does not equal accomplishment. Achievement does not equal winning percentage. Achievement does not measure standings in the division. Achievement does not even equal milestones or metrics such as playoff wins. Achievement in the sports definition means expectations vs. results. That’s why the sports cliche of “overachieving” goes to Davidson and that of “underachieving” could go to your Dallas Mavericks/Cowboys/Stars in their latest-concluding season. It’s not because Davidson won the big dance or because the Cowboys barely snuck into the playoffs. Rather, it’s because Davidson went Elite Eight on a 10-seed and the Cowboys, 1st seeds in the NFC, went out in round 1.
This is why your Rangers are going to be the highest achievers of the FW/D sports world this calendar year. Doubt me? Want to argue? First off, look where the bar is set. January ’08 – Cowboys’ season ends at home in the 1st round after a bye week and so much hope for Tonicca & Co. April/May ’08 – the Mavericks’ season crashes and burns, either with a pathetic playoff whimper or a lack of any playoffs at all. The Stars, who the heck are the Stars? Their underwhelming performance of late and heading into the playoffs is only exceeded by the apathy of their fan base? (Pronounced “fan base question mark”).
Here’s the deal – Los Rancheros are expected to do jack-diddly-squat this year. We think of this team as F-ing pathetic, right? With six lucky bounces changing over the results of six games last year, they would have been .500. They weren’t 32-130, they were 75-87. Our expectations of this season make it seem like the former.
This week (granted, two games do not a season make) I saw in these box scores that if they had avoided some unearned runs, they would be 2-0, in impressive fashion at that. Starting pitching has been suprisingly effective. Errors have been an issue, but the best part is that it is coming true – the young players are going to be exciting. Josh Hamilton, for example, made Seattle closer J.J. Putz into his bitch, blasting the game-winning HR in the 9th. A nice result considering the tables were turned the night before. David Murphy has been tearing the place up.
After the game Hamilton spoke of how great the team was, confirming the locker room gold that Texas possesses. That was a known commodity.
So my shocking Rangers prediction is… about a .500 season. Anticlimactic? Perhaps. Underwhelming? No, not quite. Not vs. expectations. Add to this that to get there, the Josh Hamiltons, David Murphys and even Luis Mendozas of the world will show us some promise, and you’ve got excitement, not disappointment. You’ve got some promise to look forward to for ’09. You’ve got some usable pieces with the organization finally deciding to move in the right direction again starting with a near-complete demolition and a season full of “pardon our mess – we’re building” signs.
So I’m going to follow the Rangers, and I hope you will too. I’m excited.