The Texas Rangers are not expected to contend for a pennant in 2018.
ESPN projects them to win 76 games. CBS Sports guesses 78. Most outlets that dabble in the ranking game put the Rangers in the middle of the pack. (A starting rotation that could very well include a 44-year-old, two converted relievers and two offseason acquisitions coming off down years will do that to you).
Ask the players about being pegged as mediocre going into the season, and they’ll tell you it’s meaningless.
“It doesn’t present any kind of opportunity,” said Matt Moore, one of the new faces competing for a starting pitching job. “Inside this clubhouse, none of those pundits … none of those ideas are in our heads.”
Ask Manager Jeff Banister, though, and the tune is a bit different.
“I don’t know the football player, what did he say, ‘hungry dogs run faster?’ That might not be a popular quote in DFW, but … hungry dogs run faster.”
The football player is Jason Kelce, who plays center for the Philadelphia Eagles. So, no, it may not be the preferred rallying cry for Cowboy-supporting North Texans. But it sure worked for the Eagles, who were counted out as soon as their starting quarterback went down -- and all they did was win a Super Bowl.
Banister was asked his “general mindset” coming into the first full-squad workout, and he doubled down on the new motto: “I just gave it to you -- hungry dogs run faster.”
Don’t be surprised if you hear that phrase a lot in 2018. Banister, who also coined the often-used “Never Ever Quit” mantra in Arlington, joked that the “hungry dogs” slogan could be on a shirt sometime down the road.
The skipper spoke of a team out to prove itself after an adverse 2017 season that saw a myriad of injuries and an underwhelming 78 wins, while the Astros ran away with the AL West.
“The first message is, there are two types of individuals: The humbled, and those are going to be humbled,” he said. “How you respond after you’ve been humbled is most important.
“We’ve been humbled, I’ve been humbled.”
No matter the stance on the (likely accurate) projections, Banister’s internal expectations are pretty simple: Form an identity by doing whatever it takes to win games.
“If the usher in [section] 303 can articulate what our identity is then we’ve done our job,” he said.