Date: Monday, October 3rd, 2016
Rangers Record: 0-0
Fifty-two players donned a Rangers uniform as part of the 2016 regular season. Perhaps your fandom of the Rangers this year was something akin to Ian Desmond (156 games). Or maybe you’re the fan-equivalent of Justin Ruggiano or Michael Roth (1 game each). Either way, there’s no judgement here: to old friends and new acquaintances alike I say the same: the Texas Rangers 2016 season was one of the most memorable in franchise history.
There’s no need for another full recap, but before we move ahead, I want you to think back at your favorite moment of the season. For many of you, maybe it was when Rougned Odor punched Joey Bautista right in the face. For others, maybe it’s one of the many one-run or walk-off wins, Colby Lewis’ near-no-hitter, Matt Bush’s completion of his long path back to baseball, Nomar Mazara’s (possibly) record-setting home run, or Yu Darvish’s return (or his home run).
For me? I’m hard-pressed to name just one. All of those are strong contenders. But if I had to pick one? It was probably Bobby Wilson’s second grand slam of the season.
Of course, there can be no true appreciation of bounty without famine, no deep gratefulness for joy without knowing the depths of sorrow, and this season provided no shortage of those moments, either. Prince Fielder’s farewell was devastating. Jeremy Jeffress missed a month in rehab after a DUI arrest. Josh Hamilton never made it into a single game, and was eventually released to make room on the 40-man roster. Shawn Tolleson went from closer to side note. Shin-Soo Choo has spent about ⅔ of the season on the DL. The Rangers lost 9 walk-off games. Bobby Wilson was released and signed with Tampa Bay. Tony Beasley was diagnosed with cancer (though to end this on a high note: he’s been doing so successfully).
I guess we did a mini-recap anyway.
It’s been a pleasure to cover this team, and a pleasure to get to meet a few of you along the way. I’ve made friends this year that I hope will last for as long as I’m allowed to meander around this dirt-and-water spacesphere we call home. Thank you all for allowing me to be part of fan journey this year.
Now, let’s take a deep breath, close our eyes, smile, and exhale. It’s time for TERRORBALL. After the grueling marathon of 162 games did its best to smooth out all statistical anomalies by virtue of many many trenches and hills, the boost of streaks being evenen out with the valleys of slumps, now the teams will enter a hellscape of flukes and impossibilities that will make goats and G.O.A.T.s of players that would otherwise be neither. (See: Bill Buckner, Don Larsen). For a sport whose regular season can be stable to the point of interminable, its postseason is unpredictable, horrifying, exhilarating, frenetic, gut-wrenching, ecstatic, psychotic, and yet - still perfect in its own way.
Welcome to the October 4th Baseball Texas Daily!
SHEL is a group made up of four sisters from Colorado, and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them perform a handful of times. Their older work has been described as “chamber folk”, but their latest record, “Just Crazy Enough” is - beyond a step up, it’s an amazing work of art. They’ve always been world-class musicians, but with this record, they really step into their own from a songwriting and production standpoint. Start with track 1: “Is the Doctor in Today”, and just let it play. There really isn’t a bad track out of the ten, including a disarmingly haunting and beautiful cover of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”. No, seriously.
(Spotify, Apple Music, Website)
Occasionally these recommendations come from Rangers players, broadcasters, or other people around the team (here’s a complete list). If there’s a player or person you’d like Levi to ask for a music recommendation, shoot him an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or a tweet here.
1. The Rangers will play the winner of tonight’s Wild Card Game, so by tomorrow morning, either the Baltimore Orioles or the Toronto Blue Jays will be in the area, roaming among us.
There are reasons to hope for either outcome: if the Blue Jays win, it will set up one of the most intriguing and can’t-miss rematches in recent memory. If the Orioles prevail, my travel schedule will be much, much simpler. Okay, maybe there’s only reason for me to hope for either outcome. Honestly, a Blue Jays / Rangers rematch feels kind of like one of Father Baseball’s foregone conclusions. There’s a certain symmetry to it. We’ll see! Well, most of us will see. Well, most of us will get to see. Some of us won’t be able to, because...
2. Yep. The Rangers are playing day games on Thursday and Friday. It was announced yesterday that the Rangers and the Wild Card game winner will play at 3:38pm on Thursday and 12:08 on Friday before traveling on Saturday and playing at 6:38 (all times Central) on Sunday evening. It sucks, and it’s 100% based on TV ratings, and it was expected… The rightsholders in the US don’t get to cash in on Canadian ratings (and Baltimore isn’t really a big market). Cleveland doesn’t warrant the primetime slot, but Boston is one of the biggest sports franchises in the world, and it’s David Ortiz’ last season.
For you and I (and hardcore baseball fans), the possibility of a Rangers / Blue Jays matchup is a pretty fantastic storyline. For the casual fan in California? Probably not.
Also, the Rangers have always drawn day games in the ALDS round. It’s unfortunate, but there’s literally nothing any of us can do to change it, so let’s give ourselves to the end of the day to complain, and then let’s soldier on.
3. And while we’re getting it out of our system, Joe West will be the crew chief. Yep. one of the most-cantankerous, oft-ridiculed, frequently-confrontational umpires in baseball has been rewarded with postseason work. Perhaps the thought is that MLB wants his
impatient "no-nonsense" nature in charge, should Toronto win and want some form of retribution for Rougie’s Right Hook. Unfortunately, Joe West is also a bad umpire with a nasty disposition and a nastier country album, and the rest of his crew isn’t exactly Jim Joyce.
If there is a silver lining to this, it’s that the Blue Jays’ reputation for barking at umps is exponentially worse than the Rangers, and thus, Toronto seems more likely to get on the wrong side of Cowboy Joe and the rest.
As with all conditions: both teams have to deal with it. The game remains the game.
4. Jon Daniels talked to the media for about a half-hour yesterday. Here are the highlights, in video form:
5. The Rangers have a bunch of new dare foods for the postseason: Among the highlights: a hot dog in a tamale instead of a bun (that they named the “Tamarlington dog” instead of “Perro Calientejas” for some reason?), a caramel-popcorn pita that also has brisket in there somewhere, the “Atomic Burger”, which is just the Beltre Buster, but with ghost peppers for those who aren’t content with only one kind of needless pain, and the #NeverEverQuit Sandwich, which is less a sandwich and more a monument to capitalist excess, tucked inside an abomination against nature, topped with shamesauce and served with a side of Why Did I Do This To Myself.
I will be trying at least one of these on Thursday.
Also, if you were planning on getting a cotton-candy hot dog, you’re out of luck: the team discontinued that item at the All-Star break, out of respect for God and nature.
6. The Atlanta Braves are reportedly interviewing former Rangers Manager Ron Washington for their managerial decision.
7. And lastly, let’s have some accountability. Here is the review of the WFAA staff predictions, published on April 1st. We won’t keep score for things like picking the first benches-clearing incident or the number of Rougned Odor triples correctly, but we will focus on picking the playoff teams. Here’s how the scoring works: For each division winner picked correctly, our staff gets one point. For each playoff team they picked correctly, but in the wrong position (i.e. choosing Nationals as a Wild Card team, or the Blue Jays as a division winner) they get ½-point. We’ll revisit after every round of the playoffs, awarding 2 points for each AL/NLDS win, 3 for each AL/NLCS win, and 4 for each World Series winner chosen correctly. If there’s a tie, it will be decided by picking the number of games in the World Series. If still tied, back a round, etc, etc.
Here are the standings after the regular season:
1. Or Moyal: (Producer, Boss)
Division Winners: Astros, Indians, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs, Nationals (5/6)
Wild Card Teams: Blue Jays, Rangers, Pirates, Mets (2/4)
TOTAL SCORE: 7.5
2. Christopher Fittz: (Editor, Boa Enthusiast)
Division Winners: Rangers, Twins, Red Sox, Giants, Cubs, Nationals (4/6)
Wild Card Teams: Blue Jays, Astros, Dodgers, Cardinals (1/4)
TOTAL SCORE: 6
T-3. Kate Morrison: (Former Flautist, Current Writer, Future Scout)
Division Winners: Astros, Indians, Rays, Dodgers, Cubs, Mets (3/6)
Wild Card Teams: Rangers, Royals, Nationals, Giants (1/4)
TOTAL SCORE: 5.5
T-3. Peter Ellwood: (Future GM)
Division Winners: Rangers, Royals, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Cubs, Nationals (4/6)
Wild Card Teams: Astros, White Sox, Cardinals, Giants (1/4)
TOTAL SCORE: 5.5
5. Mike Leslie: (Recognizable Face)
Division Winners: Astros, Royals, Red Sox, Giants, Cubs, Mets (2/6)
Wild Card Teams: Blue Jays, Rangers, Nationals, Cardinals (1/4)
TOTAL SCORE: 5
T-6. Chris Roland: (Bassist, New Guy)
Division Winners: Astros, Royals, Orioles, Giants, Cubs, Mets (1/6)
Wild Card Teams: Blue Jays, Rangers, Cardinals, Pirates (1/4)
TOTAL SCORE: 4
T-6 Melisa Oporto: (Photographer, INFP, Ravenclaw)
Division Winners: Rangers, Royals, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, Cardinals, Mets (1/6)
Wild Card Teams: Astros, Red Sox, Mets, Cubs (1/4)
TOTAL SCORE: 4
T-6. Levi Weaver: (Wonderer, Wanderer, also Me.)
Division Winners: Rangers, Royals, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Cubs, Mets (3/6)
Wild Card Teams: Astros, White Sox, Diamondbacks, Nationals (0/4)
TOTAL SCORE: 4
T-9. Joe Ursury: (Resident Humorist)
Division Winners: Astros, Royals, Yankees, Dodgers, Pirates, Mets (1/6)
Wild Card Teams: Rangers, Red Sox, Giants, Cardinals (1/4)
TOTAL SCORE: 3.5
T-9. Greg Tepper: (High School Football Wizard)
Division Winners: Astros, Royals, Blue Jays, Giants, Cubs, Mets (1/6)
Wild Card Teams: Rangers, Yankees, Cardinals, Dodgers (0/4)
TOTAL SCORE: 3.5
Hark! A new section appears! With the regular season now over, and the postseason beginning tomorrow, this is the section where we will keep up with all the non-Rangers series. Here are your first-round matchups:
AL Wild Card - Tuesday night
Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays - The winner of this game at the Rogers Centre will hop a plane to Texas to face the Rangers in the first round. Of course, after last year’s ALDS and this year’s brawl, many in baseball have been pining for a rematch between the Rangers and the Blue Jays. But the Orioles have also been tough, and their offense has been especially potent, featuring Mark Trumbo’s 47 home runs. If they Jays are going to win, they’ll need to get a lead early; Orioles closer Zach Britton has a legit shot at winning the Cy Young award this year.
NL Wild Card - Wednesday night
San Francisco Giants at New York Mets - It doesn’t get a whole lot better in a one-game win-or-go-home scenario than Madison Bumgarner vs. Noah Syndergaard. Neither team played exceptionally well down the stretch, but whoever wins will need to be in peak form, as they’ll be traveling to Wrigley Field to face the Cubs, who had baseball’s best record this season, and have long been favored as the team to beat in 2016. The Cubbies are, of course, hoping to break a 107-year-long Championship drought.
ALDS (#2 vs. #3) - Thursday night
Boston Red Sox at Cleveland Indians - The Red Sox are hoping to win one last World Series in David Ortiz’ final season. They’ve already announced that they will be retiring his number at the end of the year, a bridge has been named after him, and they etched his likeness into the grass at Fenway Park, what’s one more World Series ring? Meanwhile, the Indians hope that the Cavs’ snapping of Cleveland’s Championship Drought was the beginning of a burstin dam for the city. The Indians haven’t won a World Series since 1948. Hardly the Cubs’ run of misfortune, but significant nonetheless.
NLDS (#2 vs. #3) - Friday evening
Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals - Stephen Strasburg is out, Wilson Ramos has a torn ACL, Bryce Harper’s thumb is iffy, Daniel Murphy’s glute is iffy, Jayson Werth’s back is iffy, Michael Taylor’s thumb is iffy, Hyun-Jin Ryu is out, Scott Kazmir came back for one inning before being injured again, Clayton Kershaw is still coming back from a back injury that cost him a large portion of the season, Joc Pederson injured his shoulder on the last day of the regular season, Rich Hill can’t seem to stop blisters, Josh Reddick and Brandon McCarthy have both only just come back from injuries, and Vin Scully isn’t doing the postseason games. Will be interesting for Dodger and National fans, though.
You can follow Levi Weaver on Twitter at @ThreeTwoEephus, or for fewer puns and more straight-forward Baseball News updates, you can follow us at @BaseballTX, or download the app and get in-game updates and notifications by clicking on the logo below!