— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) October 24, 2023
Baseball is a funny game, isn’t it? Three weeks ago, the Rangers limped into the postseason after a 1-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners. They watched their American League West title fall right out of their hands, to which they immediately took a five-hour flight from Seattle to Tampa. Three weeks later and 14 games later, the Rangers hoist their third American League Pennant in franchise history.
I asked a few players, and even the internet, this question. Did losing the division on the last day help the Texas Rangers? “I think you can look at it that way,” Travis Jankowski said. “It gets us going and keeps us in rhythm. We don’t break that rhythm that we had kind of [in] the last half of the season. That said, if MLB let it up to the top two records to decide, everyone is taking the bye [and] you’re guaranteed the second round. We definitely wanted to win the division, but all things considered, I think we’re in a pretty darn good spot.”
To Jankowski’s point, if given the choice, I don’t think anyone would truthfully say to play an extra round with more games and a lesser chance of winning the World Series. However, the short turnaround from T-Mobile Park to Tropicana Field pushed all ill feelings aside, and a motivated group came out with a purpose.
Fast forward to the American League Championship Series; to be the best, you must beat the best. It’s a motto I’ve heard throughout sports, but more importantly, around the Rangers clubhouse. “You have to earn it,” Jankowski told me. “Nothing is given to you. In my career, I’ve had to earn everything [and] it’s never really been given to me. You sleep easy at night knowing that you’ve earned and you put in a hard day’s work and you earned it, so whoever wins this World Series is going to have to earn it.”
— Alex Plinck🏳️🌈 (@aplinckTX) October 21, 2023
Now the Rangers can do something the franchise has never seen, even in the Washington Senators’ days: hoist the World Series trophy.
What made the Rangers where they are today consists of the powerful lineup, the deadly number of pitches, and the great defense, but the most prominent factor is the team chemistry. “When you’re on the road, you typically have team dinners, and I’ve been on teams where good were [about] eight people tonight. That’s a big team dinner. This group of guys, if we have eight guys, it’s horrible,” Jankowski said. “We’re having consistently 15 to 20 to 25 guys a team dinner, which led to show you how much we like each other.”
You see the chemistry on TV, Josh Jung and Adolis Garcia, a celebration of each home run and everyone racing to congratulate each other. It starts at the top with Bruce Bochy, Chris Young, and the front office. On game days, position players gather together before stretching, there are discussions with laughter, and pitchers almost always head to warmups in groups with few every separated. It’s a group that isn’t about one person. It’s about everyone. After four celebrations, it’s now time for one more.
Goodnight from your 2023 American League Champs! pic.twitter.com/97RXqOGrhW
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) October 24, 2023
The Rangers head to the World Series with momentum as they’ve outscored the Astros 20-6 in the final two games. They will get one extra day of rest versus the Arizona Diamondbacks and the luxury of small travel going from Houston to Arlington (not Dallas, regardless of what anyone says). It sets up the rotation with Nathan Eovaldi likely to go game one and Jordan Montgomery for game two. It also helps Mitch Garver, who left game seven after getting hit in the ribs, extra days to rest.
The question is if the Rangers can win at home. For the first time this postseason, the Rangers have home-field advantage in the series (it’s their first World Series with home-field advantage). Texas is 8-0 on the road and 1-3 at home (all three losses to the Astros). The good news is that the Rangers are 50-25 in 2023 at Globe Life Field against everyone except the Astros (including the postseason).
Now it’s time to see if the Rangers can do something the DFW Metroplex hasn’t seen in 12 years: a championship in the four major sports (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL).
Rangers and Diamondbacks will start on Friday at 7 at Globe Life Field.
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) October 25, 2023
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