Sports Take: Rangers repeat is a surprise

The Texas Rangers' Nelson Cruz jumps on the crowd after winning baseball's American League championship series 15-5 at Game 6 against the Detroit Tigers Saturday in Arlington. For the second consecutive year, the Rangers will play in the World Series. Charlie Riedel | Associated Press

By Daniel Wallace
Sports Writer

The 2011 Texas Rangers are in the World Series. Again. Just think about that.

If you really stop and ponder that, it’s truly amazing. To see why this is such a tremendous feat, we must look back at last year’s magical postseason for the Rangers.

The 2010 squad won a playoff series, the first in franchise history. Then they did it again two weeks later, dethroning the “Evil Empire” of the New York Yankees and advancing to the World Series. Having been at the game when the Rangers beat the Yankees to clinch the AL pennant and move on to the World Series, I can tell you it was truly something special. The atmosphere was electric and words simply cannot describe the greatness of that evening.

The Rangers eventually lost the World Series to the San Francisco Giants, who deserved to win because they played better. They were not the better team, but that’s a debate for another day.

There is no denying the Rangers 2010 postseason was nothing short of remarkable. It gave fans us hope we don’t have to sit around and wait another 38 years to make it back to the World Series.

But for all us die-hard Rangers fans out there—did we actually think it would only take one year to get back?

If I’m honest with myself, I for one certainly did not think it was possible at the beginning of the season. I never doubted it could happen. At all. But did I expect it? Maybe not.

Because we lost that one good pitcher, Cliff. Cliff Lee was an integral part of the Rangers postseason run last year, but the Phillies snagged him away from us this past offseason.

If you asked any sports analyst in the country or any member of ESPN, those sports experts would have told you the Rangers are no more than a wild card team at best without Lee.

Everyone, myself included, put Lee on a pedestal last year and considered him the savior of the franchise. Now that he is gone and the Rangers are back in the Fall Classic, I feel like this team is more special than the 2010 team. I loved the 2010 team. I still do, actually. They will always hold a special place in my sports-loving heart.

But this team—wow. The 2011 team has thrived due to the signings of Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli, neither of which would have been possible had the Rangers kept Cliff Lee. The bullpen has been fantastic this season. Adams, Gonzalez, Feldman and Ogando have pitched brilliantly as of late. The Rangers would not have had enough money to keep Lee and then get all that bullpen help, not to mention the powerful bats of Beltre and Napoli.

The Red Sox were the favorites to win the AL at the beginning of this year, but they did not even make the playoffs. The Rangers were considered just average, and yet the AL pennant waves in Arlington for the second consecutive year.

It could be my extreme bias, and honestly much of it probably is, but something tells me this team is poised for another ginger ale celebration that blows all others out of the water in the coming days.

But forget my bias and my extreme desire to see that happen; these Rangers are better than the 2010 Rangers. Plain and simple. Even without Cliff Lee.

Hopefully, they go out there and prove that to the rest of the world. Even if they don’t do that, and the Cardinals win the World Series, this team will be forever remembered as the one that got the job done in the most unlikely of ways.

Prediction: Rangers in 6. Prayer: Rangers in 5. How sweet would it be to win it all in Arlington? This is going to be fun. I hope you enjoy these 2011 Rangers just as much as I have.