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Rangers right where they need to be

by TED MADDEN

WFAA-TV

Posted on July 10, 2012 at 9:09 AM

ARLINGTON - If you're a Ranger fan who is worried about the team, you've come to the right place.

There is nothing to worry about.

Before their back-to-back walk-off wins against Minnesota, the Rangers had dropped a season-high five games in a row, including a 19-2 blowout to the White Sox. And from the beginning of May until mid-June, the Rangers had a six-week stretch during which they won only half their games. They hadn't exactly looked like the AL powerhouse they had supposedly become.

It was a popular subject on sports radio. The Rangers were playing .500 ball, they weren't beating teams that they should have been and they were in first place only because of their hot start in April.

The thing is, having long, mediocre stretches are not uncommon during a baseball season, and haven't been for the Rangers during their two AL Pennant years.

In 2010, they finished with a 90-72 record, 18 games over .500. Nearly all of that was done in June, when the Rangers went 21-6, 15 games over .500.

In 2011, Texas was scuffling along with a 44-41 record on July 3. But, they played well the rest of the month, going 17-7. Then they had an even better September, winning 19 of 25 and running away with their second straight AL West title. They finished with a 96-66 record.

This year, the Rangers hit the all-star break better than ever. Their 52-34 record is the best in franchise history at this point in the season, and they've used two great stretches of baseball to get there.

They won 15 of their first 19 games to start the season, then won 16 of 19 during a three week stretch in June. Those streaks put together add up to a 31-7 record. In all other games, Texas is 21-27. That's not a bad thing; that's just how it happens. Great teams don't win three out of every five games they play. But, by the time the season ends, they'll have won 60 percent of their games.

There is a trick math teachers will do to illustrate this. They will have half of their class flip a coin 200 times and keep track of heads versus tails;. The other half will simply make up the results.

The ones who fake it are influenced by the fact that there is an equal 50-50 chance a coin lands on heads or tails, so they won't write that a coin landed on one side more than a few times in a row. But, the students who do the exercise will find unexpected streaks, where the coin lands on one side five, 10 times in a row. There's a difference between a 50-50 chance, and a coin landing on heads every other time it's flipped.

And it's like that in baseball. Unless Texas had gotten to this point by winning their first 52 games of the year, and then losing the next 34, there's no reason to panic. These ups and downs are normal and should be expected.

In baseball, the most important thing is to make the playoffs. Just get in. St. Louis won the World Series last year after making the playoffs on the final day of the regular season, thanks to a huge collapse by Atlanta. The Cardinals won another title in '06 after winning only 83 regular season games.

There are no guarantees in the playoffs, but if you get in, you give yourself a chance. And unless the roof completely caves in on the Rangers (injuries), they'll make the playoffs again, and give themselves another chance. And that's all we can ask for.

E-mail: tmadden@wfaa.com

twitter: @tedmadden

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