On July 30th, 2017, at roughly 3:33 P.M. Central Standard Time, the baseball world froze. In that moment, it didn’t matter that the Rangers were three, soon-to-be four games below .500. It didn’t matter that they were 4.5, soon-to-be 5.5 games out of a Wild Card spot. It didn’t matter who was being traded where or when or to whom. All that mattered was the 38-year old, Dominican-born, third baseman, number 29, standing in the right-handed batting box located at 1000 Ballpark Way in Arlington, Texas.
With a 3-ball, no strike count, Wade Miley threw Adrian Beltre a 91-mph fastball that wasn’t nearly as inside as the previous three pitches. Seeing the ball over the plate, Beltre got out in front of it, pulled the ball between Orioles’ third-baseman Manny Machado and the third base line.
By the time the ball ricocheted off of the jutted out portion of the wall, Beltre had rounded first and headed for second. A double – the first 3-0 double of his entire, storied career – had been written in the scorebooks for hit number 3,000. The game stopped, as did time. A brief, but excellently designed celebration began.
And then the game continued.
The Rangers would stage a valiant comeback attempt, registering six runs after history had halted time, but it was for naught. The Rangers would lose 10-6, and Adrian Beltre would finish the day tied with Roberto Clemente at 3,000 hits. With all the grace of Prince Fielder falling over the dugout fence to celebrate with his teammates, reality has come back to hit the Rangers.
What’s next beyond celebrating Adrian Beltre?
First ballot HOFer ✅— Jake Diekman (@JakeDiekman) July 31, 2017
Even better teammate and man✅
Congrats on 3,000 Capitán pic.twitter.com/xfu2Ulz9qE
Immediately facing Jon Daniels and company is the non-waiver trade deadline. With the aforementioned loss, that makes two series in a row that Texas has lost, both in fairly underwhelming fashion, on a homestand that was to be a contending team’s last stand.
Rumors had it that Banister had pleaded with Daniels to let this club show they could still contend. Adrian Beltre’s post-game comments of wanting to focus on getting the team to the playoffs seemed to be a final shot from a gun with nothing left to reload.
The exodus has already begun, as after the clubhouse celebration, Jonathan Lucroy left the home clubhouse for the last time, in possession of a one-way ticket to the National League and the Colorado Rockies.
The next ones on the list aren’t hard to figure out: Yu Darvish, Carlos Gomez, Mike Napoli, Keone Kela, Jeremy Jeffress, Matt Bush, Tony Barnette. It’s not for certain that Daniels will trade all or any of those players before 3:00 on July 31st, but it wouldn’t be a complete shock. Faces from 2015 and 2016 that fans and managers and coaches have learned to love and trust will give way to fresh faces and uncertainty and growing pains.
But this isn’t a time to be upset. It’s a time for the organization as a whole to show its mettle. It’s a time for Banister to deal with (non-injury-induced) adversity as a manager for the first time. It’s a time for Daniels to show whether he can re-tool (he has once before) or rebuild (he hasn’t before).
It’s a time to look to the future. Brett Nicholas will back up Robinson Chirinos. The chances that The Condor, Ronald Guzman makes his way to Arlington at least in September increases by the hour. Austin Bibens-Dirkx is likely to be a rotation mainstay for the rest of the year. Connor Sadzeck will pitch in relief with “Texas” across his chest soon. Jake Diekman will return with a lot to prove and a lot to accomplish. There will be a lot of new faces in your nearest Rangers-affiliate minor league parks in the next few weeks and at the start of next year.
Depending on how desperate other teams get, we could get an early preview of the winter. The fall-out of the trade deadline will ultimately determine how the winter goes. Just as last season, can JD get all of his 2018 shopping done between July 31st and August 30th? Or does he have to wait and see what holes he’ll have to fill after potentially seven free agents leave?
There’s always something to look forward to in baseball. New faces, new energy, new beginnings, new hopes all make this time of year feel like a second spring training. Not all of the action happens on the field. For the next few weeks, most of the news surrounding your Texas Rangers is going to be about transactions and roster moves.
But for one, extraordinarily special day, baseball gave the Rangers a moment to treasure and hold captive in their memories.
He’s not done either. Look forward to that.
What are you most looking forward to for the rest of the 2017 season? Share your thoughts with Matt on Twitter @FisherWritesMLB.