There are dark times in the life of every sports fan. Those moments when your team loses in such an unbelievable, earth-shaking way that you can’t sleep, your work and family relationships suffer and you contemplate going off into the Alaskan wilderness and living out of an abandoned school bus until you die from eating poison berries.
What’s that? That exact experience has never happened to you? Well then, you must not have been a Rangers fan during last year’s World Series Game 6.
In one of the most incontestably excruciating losses in recent sports history, despite Texas’ herculean efforts to close out the Fall Classic, fate and the Cardinals decided that it simply was not happening on their collective watches.
It was, quantitatively, the worst loss in World Series history—no team has ever come back from two separate two-run deficits in the same game in the ninth inning or later.
Whenever a team loses that devastatingly, the recovery process can be frightful and disheartening. Forget Game 7—you’re just hoping they can pull it back together in time for next season.
So imagine the pleasant surprise when Texas came out of the 2012 gate looking invincible.
Josh Hamilton looks to be a serious triple-crown contender and (despite losing C.J. Wilson to cross-divisional LA) the Rangers defense is oh-so-stingy.
So, this leads to a question: As Texas seems to be emerging from a summer slump and righting the ship just in time for another playoff run, do the Rangers have enough talent to finally win a World Series?
Sure they do. That is not to say that Texas is going to win the World Series—baseball is too fickle a sport, and teams can ride, let’s say, a couple of zoning pitchers all the way to World Series glory.
But we can use last year’s team as a barometer, since they certainly had enough talent to win the World Series, just not (apparently) enough Greek mythology, fate-escaping moxie.
Sometimes you just can’t do much about that.
Offensively, the Rangers seem to be (understatement alert) just fine. Any talk of a summertime swoon should be tempered by the knowledge that 1) the team actually increased its division lead by two games between June and now, and 2) they lead the league in runs (578) and batting average (.278), are second in OBP (.341) and are third in SLG (.444).
And this is with Josh Hamilton chasing pitches for two solid months like they stole from him.
They could make a minor adjustment and play Mike Olt more consistently over a struggling Michael Young, but, really, that’s being nitpicky.
The big, scary, wake-you-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-with-cold-sweats question mark for this team is the pitching staff. On paper, the staff certainly seems capable of getting the job done, but on the mound the story is different.
The Rangers' trade deadline acquisition and potential ace, Ryan Dempster, is getting shelled in the American League.
Colby Lewis is done for the season, which means their starting five is rounded out by the likes of Scott Feldman and Matt Harrison—hardly world-beaters.
The reliever situation is even shakier—Roy Oswalt seems adrift in his new role as setup man. Alexi Ogando should be closing and, mark my words, Joe Nathan will blow a playoff save come October.
How much would I give for Neftali Feliz to not be injured for the rest of the year? My entire checking account? Probably.
Now, just as two aces on the mound can cover a multitude of roster-depth problems come playoff time, the inverse is true as well. With the talent that Texas has offensively, the Rangers can make up for off pitching by keeping the bats busy.
But, and this is important, they absolutely have to crush the ball in order to cover for weak pitching.
A tall order for a team in October. But if anyone can do it, it’s Texas.