Many Texas Rangers' fans are used to looking at the standings and seeing their team more than 10 games out of first place, but this year there is a little twist.
Yes, the Rangers are 10.5 games back in the AL West, but they are in second place and just 6.5 games out of the Wild Card race.
Most of the bad luck that the Rangers have endured over the seasons involved bad trades, insane contracts, and crippling injuries. This year it is a matter of their division.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have the best record in the majors. Their 64 wins are three more than Tampa Bay, Boston, and the Cubs.
If the Rangers were in the NL West instead of the AL West they would be in first place with a half game lead over Arizona. Not to mention they would be playing teams like the 48-58 Rockies, the 43-61 Giants, and the 41-65 Padres instead of the 64-40 Angels and the 53-51 A's.
Unfortunately it looks like another season in which the Rangers will take their vacation earlier than four of their American League counterparts. But that doesn't need to get a Texas fan down as much this year as it has in the past.
There is a solid foundation for this team, and it is a young one. An infield of Blalock, Young, Kinsler, and Davis could be together for quite a while. The Rangers have young options with Laird, Saltalamacchia, and Ramirez behind the plate along with Murphy, Boggs, and Hamilton in the outfield. The core of this team is set.
But of course, the Rangers' pitching has been nothing to write home about, unless it's a complaint letter. Hopefully new Rangers President Nolan Ryan can find a way to bring in a true ace to lead the staff and help young pitchers develop.
So don't expect a miracle in 2008, but get excited about the possibility of 09.