Ron Washington and company hope 2012 will feature many moments like this one (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images).
Wednesday, Apr 4 at 6:58 PM
There's no doubt in my mind that the Rangers are the best team in the American League West, if not the entire American League. With a fanbase now larger than it's ever been, I feel I should put out a bit of a warning to the casual fans, or newcomers to the bandwagon who expect this team to play flawless baseball right out of the gate.
I expect the Rangers to have a fun first week of the season as they host the confusing Chicago White Sox and the pathetic Seattle Mariners, but what lies beyond that scares me more than my girlfriend after i've failed to do the dishes. And trust me, she means business.
The Rangers venture into a couple ballparks in April where recent history has not been kind to them.
The Rangers begin the first roadtrip of the year in Minnessota at beautiful Target Field. Last season the Rangers were 1-3 when they visited the Twins, and have a 6-20 record in Minnesota over the last five seasons. It's so much more than just records for me, though. It's memories. Step into this timezone with me, won't you?...
September 4, 2010-Josh Hamilton's Rib Injury
8 games up in the division with under 30 games left to play, and the Rangers were cruising for a playoff spot. The only thing they needed to do was stay healthy. On this fateful day at Target Field, the reason for trying to keep Josh Hamilton out of centerfield was validated more than ever. The Rangers trailed 6-0 in the 3rd inning when Delmon Young lifted a fly ball to deep centerfield. Despite the division cushion and early deficit in the ballgame, Josh Hamiton crashed into the centerfield wall to make the catch. He's lifted two innings later, and was diagnosed with a bruised rib which knocked him out of the lineup for the rest of the month. Obviously, everything ended up being okay as Hamilton won the ALCS MVP award, but that day will forever linger in the back of my mind whenever the Rangers visit the Twins.
September 5, 2010-Coaches Interference
A day after the Hamilton collision on the centerfield wall, something happened that made Rangers fans feel a September collapse was imminent. Texas was trying to avoid a sweep but entered the 9th inning trailing 6-2. They formed a rally and cut the lead to 6-5 with a Nelson Cruz single. Christian Guzman scored and Michael Young rounded third in an attempt to tie the game. Dave Anderson threw up a late stop sign and Young scrambled back into third base safely. That's when chaos rained down on the Rangers.
Crew chief Tim Tschida calls Michael Young out due to coach's interference. What? Coach's Interference? Yes. According to Rule 7.09(h) of the MLB Rule Book: "It is interference when, in the judgment of the umpire, the base coach at third base or first base, by touching or holding the runner, physically assists him in returning to or leaving third base or first base." There's no doubt that Anderson didn't assist Young back to third base, but it doesn't matter. It's not Tim Tschida's fault or Dave Anderson's fault. Minnesota is the one to blame here.
I'm leaving out last year's weekend in June in which Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano shut down the Rangers in a couple of games that were 2 1/2 hours. The Rangers would fall in their next three games, leading to a five game losing streak. I'm sure the Rangers enjoy going to that huge mall up there, but other than that Minnessota has been a toilet for the Rangers. Next stop...Boston...but after that...Detroit....
Overal the Rangers were 3-6 at Comerica Park last year. 1-2 in the ALCS and 2-4 in the regular season. Since the Ron Washington era began in 2007, the Rangers are 7-17 in Detroit. Yikes.
April 10, 2009-The Kris Benson Start
The Rangers opened the 2009 season with a 3 game sweep over the Cleveland Indians. Hope was in the air. They hit the road for the first road trip of the season and ran into Comerica Park with the pitching probables Armando Galarraga and Kris Benson. The Rangers lost 15-2. All the hype from the 3-0 start was crushed into oblivion. At one point Kris Benson started for the Rangers. One of his few starts was at Detroit and I remember that dark day so vividly.
Nothing else needs to be said.
April 12, 2011-Hamilton Dives Home
The mission to keep Josh Hamilton healthy is a recurring theme. But for a lot of reasons, it's a doomed quest. I think you can live with 130 games from the guy. Crashing into walls, diving in the outfield, and basic wear and tear will happen, but an injury sustained diving headfirst into home plate is really frustrating. Hamilton was sent home on the popout because the catcher had evacuated home plate to catch persue the ball. 3rd base coach Dave Anderson noticed that nobody was covering home and sent Hamiton after the catch had been made.
The result was a run scored, but a a broken humerus bone. Not only did it sideline Hamilton for nearly two months, but it also created a little bit of drama between him and Anderson as Hamilton called the play "stupid". Whether the play was stupid or not, it didn't end up having an extreme impact on the season -- as the Rangers won the division easily. Still, the play furthermore presents another awful memory from Comerica Park.
I know i'm talking about single past examples of horrid events, but the whole point of this is to push across the point that patience is important. Expectations are higher than ever, and there will be knee-jerking from the media and fans anytime the club loses three in a row. Don't panic. This is the best team in the American League West. Everything will play out just fine, but expect some bumps in the road during the first month of the season, especially week two.
Kevin Turner works at Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket and is a card carrying member of Team Having Fun. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach him on twitter at @kt1310.