Controversy aside, the New Orleans Saints football team fields one of the most dynamic, electrifying and unpredictable franchises in the NFL.
Offensively, this team boasts a quarterback in Drew Brees that has mastered the art of exploiting holes in opposing defenses. Strive to take away the Saints' aerial attack, and they will use their fast, agile, sprint-for-90-yards-on-one-screen-play ground game to exploit teams. Deploy to take away the Saints' running game, the air raid sirens will sound, for they will pick teams apart with deep slants, sideline routes and morale crushing home run balls. Choose to play a methodical, bend-but-do-not-break defense, and the Saints will methodically march down the lawn 90 yards in 14 plays in eight-plus minutes for a touchdown.
Defensively, the Saints play a physical, athletic aggressive style of defense. They will give up plenty of yards, and they will give up some points along the way. And at times they will make fans scratch their heads and want to throw things. In the same breath, the Saints will also make spectacular plays at key points of football games to break opponents' backs.
At the end of the day, opposing teams know they will have to outsmart and outgun Brees and company to send them to the showers fuming. Eight times out of 10, it is the opposing teams that leave the gridiron with their tails between tree-trunk-thick legs.
Like the Saints, this year’s Rangers are dynamic, electrifying and unpredictable.
Like the Saints, the Rangers boast a rare combination of healthy athleticism, speed, power, defense and pitching.
And like the Saints, the Rangers have several ways they can beat you.
Offensively, the Rangers have a manager in Ron Washington that has mastered the art of finding holes in opposing defenses. Strive to take away the Rangers powerful air attack and Washington’s hitters will bunt, poke balls through open gaps in the infield and send small-ball teams into oblivion. Once on first, or second, or even third base, Washington will not hesitate to send his runners. No matter the situation, no matter the count, the Rangers will dart 90 feet just when opposing managers least expect them to.
Prove distracted by the Rangers' small-ball tactics and they will punish you. Time and time again this season, the Rangers have feasted on hurlers overly concerned—and rightly so—with runners on worn base paths.
For example, how many times have fans seen the following sequence with the Rangers this season?
Rangers hitter smacks single through the left side of the infield. Next play, pitcher fires over to first to keep runner close. Runner gets back. Pitcher throws breaking ball home. Ball. Pitcher gets ball back, gets set, then fires over to first again. Runner nearly gets picked off but gets back. Pitcher throws fastball to home plate. Runner goes. Pitcher makes mistake with fastball across middle of the plate with fastball. Rangers hitter smacks fastball over left field fence for a two-run home run.
At times it seems as if the Rangers are slowly but surely breaking teams down during the course of a ballgame. They are equal to a boa constrictor, slowly wrapping themselves around carefully crafted game plans of opposing managers.
Defensively the Rangers—much like the Saints—play a physical, athletic, aggressive style of defense. And like the Saints, the Rangers make tremendous plays at pivotal points of baseball games that make their opponents want to kick dirt and throw racks of bats onto the field. To be fair the Rangers defense does not tend to give up big plays like the Saints do, for they have proven solid each night in this early season of play. Minus a few hiccups, the Rangers pitching staff has been more than solid.
At the end of the day, opposing teams know they will have to outwit and outhit Ron Washington, Josh Hamilton and the Rangers. However, at least thus far, most teams have left the ballpark dazed, confused and fuming after falling victim yet again to this powerhouse in the American League West.
Opposing managers have to be pulling their hair out as well. For to paraphrase the great Forrest Gump, the Rangers are like a box of chocolates—you never know what you’re gonna get.
James is a huge baseball fan who loves to write and make new friends. You can follow James on Twitter by clicking HITHA!