October 28, 2011
In the great journalistic tradition of the Chicago Tribune, I started writing about the Rangers winning their first World Series in the 7th inning last night. How could I forget that it ain’t over til it’s over?
There is so much to say about what happened in the 9th, 10th and 11th innings that I won’t even try for now. Instead, I’ll send you what I thought was the story: the changing forever of a pathetic franchise. Will that finally come true tonight or are we actually watching the confirmation of that fact in the cruelest way imaginable: NINE times being only one pitch away from glorious vindication.
Stay tuned, and read on about what may – or may not – become true tonight.
“Hello, win column!”
Back in the ’80’s when I was a die-hard Rangers fan I used to see about 20 games a year but would listen to at least 150 on the radio (including those I attended). The Rangers were terrible but Mark Holtz and Eric Nadel were the best broadcast team I had ever heard, always finding interesting angles to often dreadful performances (remember my prior reference to Nadel’s call: “what a bonehead play!”). On the rare occasions when the Rangers would record the last out while leading on the scoreboard Mark Holtz would exclaim “Hello, win column!”
Well, last night we witnessed several bonehead plays by the Rangers but even more by the Cardinals (Matt Holliday’s performance was straight out of Bad News Bears or, worse, Eight Men Out) that contributed mightily to a call that even Holtz and Nadel could only dream of back in the 80’s – “Hello, win column” after the last game of the World Series. Yep, that can only mean one thing: the Rangers are World Series Champions!
Following their second consecutive AL pennant, this championship doesn’t seem so incredible, but here are a few facts from espn.com’s Jayson Stark that put the Rangers’ title run in proper historic perspective:
– this franchise has lost more games (4,270) in its 50 year existence than any other team in baseball. The Rangers would be 704 games behind the Yankees in the standings if this last half-century had been one long season. (704!)
– this franchise played 50 seasons and made four trips to October baseball before winning it’s first post-season series.
- no other franchise in baseball has been in existence as long as this one without winning at least one championship.
- only one other franchise in any major American sport – the Minnesota Vikings – has been in existence as long as this franchise without winning at least one championship. (The Vikings, coincidentally, have also been around for 51 years, but have not been known for futility like the Rangers, only for not being able to win the Big One.)
- There are only two other franchises in baseball that have staggered through a longer title drought than this one – the Cubs, of course (1000 years or so) and the Indians (63 years).
Well, all that is history now. Not even TWO 2-out, 2-strike blown saves could deny these Rangers. The franchise may still be 704 games behind the Yankees in the win column, but it is now only 26 behind them in the championships column. 27-1 isn’t a great stat but when the conversation is about comparing championships with the Yankees rather than futility with the Cubs you know the Rangers are truly in a new column, the World Series win column. Hello, 2d half-century of Rangers baseball. You are off to a great start.