The Texas Rangers celebrate their first playoff series win in Tampa Bay after overcoming a season of obstacles.
When the Texas Rangers 2010 season began there was plenty to be optimistic about. Scott Feldman was coming off a 17 win campaign the season before, Josh Hamilton was healthy, and the much maligned ownership situation appeared as though it was going to be resolved.
Then the trouble began.
On March 17th, manager Ron Washington made a public admission to cocaine use in lieu of a failed drug test. To further complicate matters, a week later, the apparent sale of the team to lone star legend Nolan Ryan and sports attorney Chuck Greenberg hit a snag, as the team filed for bankruptcy. All the while, the team had yet to even play a game that mattered.
That's when the trouble really started.
Feldman, who was tabbed as the Opening Day starter, stumbled out of the gate, failing to find his command, and was eventually relegated to the bullpen. And if that wasn't bad enough, Rich Harden, the Rangers prized off-season signee, did his best to emulate Feldman.
Adding to the pitching woes was the Rangers' inability to find any stability at the catching position. Jarrod Saltalamachia, the Opening Day starter had nagging shoulder and back injuries that eventually landed him in AAA. To add insult to injury, Saltalamchia developed a case of the Rube Baker's and couldn't throw the ball back to the pitcher. Taylor Teagarden, once thought to be the Rangers' catcher of the future, went 1-21 to start the season, and soon found himself at AA Frisco.
But these aren't your father's Rangers.
The Rangers, who became widely known in the DFW area for having a tight-knit clubhouse, rallied around their skipper. GM John Daniels, who himself is no stranger to scrutiny from the Ranger faithful, began pulling strings like a marionette, landing ace Cliff Lee, and perhaps the less heralded, but just as important move for journeyman catcher Matt Treanor.
But perhaps the biggest resolution was the one that occurred in the courtroom in downtown Ft. Worth, not The Ballpark in Arlington, that truly turned the corner for the Rangers. On August 4th, some time around 1 a.m., Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg emerged victorious from a bidding war with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. It should come as no surprise then, that at the eleventh hour of the auction, third baseman Michael Young hit a grand slam to put the Rangers ahead of the Mariners.
As the general tumult began to wind down, on the field, the Rangers were heating up, clinching only their fourth division title in franchise history. But the Rangers refuse to relent in their seemingly magical season.
Last night, the Rangers became the first team in Major League history to win all three of their road games in the ALDS to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays, who paced the American League with 96 wins. Doing so in perhaps the only fashion the Rangers know how, as they overcame blowing a 2-0 series lead to clinch on the road.
Now, the only thing standing between the Rangers and the World Series is the only other playoff nemesis the franchise has even known: the New York Yankees.
Will the Rangers magical run continue? Its hard to be sure, the games have yet to played. But one thing can be for certain, if the Rangers face any adversity, and they will, no one will question how they will handle it.