2010 ALCS Game 6: The Texas Rangers Throw The Knockout Punch
The clouds had started roll in and the rain had begun to come down. It left a lot of the fans in attendance at Rangers Ballpark wondering if Game Six of the American League Championship Series was even going to happen.
Just 10 minutes before the game was scheduled to get underway, the rains came to an end, the tarp was pulled off the field, and the game got underway.
A little over two and a half hours later, it was young closer Neftali Feliz staring down the barrel against former Ranger Alex Rodriguez.
Feliz had worked the count to three balls and two strikes, throwing nothing but fastballs up and a few more fastballs inside. So naturally, Rodriguez expected another fastball was coming his way.
He was wrong.
A perfectly placed curveball on the outside corner left Rodriguez staring with the bat still on his shoulder. It was a called third strike that sent the players and the fans in into a euphoric celebration and Yankee fans left wondering how they could lose to a team they felt was far inferior to their own before this series began.
The Texas Rangers weren't impressed with the 27 World Series titles that the Yankees rolled in with. They weren't impressed with the pinstripes that had become so famous over the many years the team has been in existence.
The Rangers earned this title tonight. To be the champ, you gotta beat the champ. They did just that tonight, knocking off the defending World Series Champions and will now await the winner of the Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants series that should be finished by the end of the weekend.
This was a long time coming for a team that wasn't expected to do much of anything. They were never expected to get this far. Not this team, not this year.
But the city of Arlington and all of the long suffering Ranger fans are celebrating on this Friday night. They are celebrating the first ever ALCS Championship in franchise history. They are still riding high from the celebration that took place not only at the ballpark but around several thousand homes, around the Dallas and Fort Worth metroplex.
There was even a celebration that took place at a certain wedding reception.
With the Rangers up 6-1 and the game heading to the ninth inning, several of us walked into a room with a big screen television and sat down to watch history unfold.
With every strike thrown and with every out put up on the board, the more the excitement built. Five pitches later, with the count at 3-and-2, Neftali Feliz threw a perfectly placed pitch that Rodriguez could only stare at.
This was a night that was a long time coming. The celebrations are still going on all around Dallas and Forth Worth and they are well deserved.
Fans of this team have waited for quite some time just to feel this kind of night. They've waited to be able to celebrate like this and they were ready for their team to have some time in the spotlight.
It was the perfect Cinderella story. The Rangers were the underdog and they beat the bully that thought every team would just lay down for. The bully that stole the lunch money and always came back for more.
Over the next few days, the players, coaches, and families will rest and wait for who their opponent will be next.
Most won't talk to the media or answer questions about the series they've just been through. Most will want their time to be spent away from the spotlight and away from the cameras.
They are the ALCS Champions but they have an even bigger goal in mind. They have the World Series still to win and they want to bring that trophy home for the first time in franchise history.
They want the feeling of being at the very top of mountain. They want to know what it feels like to win the most coveted prize in the industry.
What happens next is anyone's guess. They will either board a plane bound for Philadelphia or San Francisco sometime next week. They'll take the weekend to relax and come down from the ultimate high of beating the hated New York Yankees.
This was a series they were next expected to win. But sometimes, Cinderella gets to stay at the ball, even after the clock strikes midnight.
As for the New York Yankees, they'll board a plane either tonight or first thing in the morning for what is sure to be a very quiet ride to New York.
They'll wonder what went wrong. They'll wonder how they ever lost to the Texas Rangers of all teams. Weren't they the bullies of Major League Baseball? Weren't they the ones that were always supposed to advance in the playoffs no matter who they faced?
The story did not have the ending that they believe would be scripted for them. The money that was thrown into the team ends with yet another playoff exit, their ninth in the last 10 years.
While the Yankees sit on 27 World Series Championships, something their fans will let you know about every time they have the chance, they will be forced to watch this one from home.
They'll be forced to watch the team that was better in this series. They were not the team doing the dominating, but the team getting dominated.
It's back to the drawing board to figure out a way to make sure this doesn't happen again next season. There will be moves made, trades worked out, and free agents signed. Because that's what the Yankees do. They find their weakness, they throw money at the best player that can fix it.
The next battle between these two teams won't have to wait for spring training. It will take place in just a few short months when free agency begins.
The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees, along with a few other teams, will begin wooing one Cliff Lee for his services for the 2011 season and beyond.
While New York will tell Ranger fans that they better get used to the idea of Lee being in pinstripes for the foreseeable future, there are some that believe Lee is going to stay put, and why wouldn't they?
A far question that has been asked is, why would Lee sign with the team that the Rangers took down in the ALCS? If the Rangers win the World Series, why would he sign with the team that didn't get there?
If he wants a chance to win, and believes the Rangers are well on their way to building a team that can win year in and year out, I believe Cliff Lee will be in a Texas Rangers uniform for years to come.
But, for now, Arlington, Dallas, and Fort Worth are buzzing from the events of this night. They are still celebrating something they never thought they would see, and they would much rather this night not end.
There's still work to be done, there's still preparations to be made, and there's still an even bigger journey for this team to make.
The story isn't over yet, but one more chapter has been written and has come to a close. How the final chapter will be written depends on how bad this team wants it.
If they put up the kind of effort they put forward in this series, there isn't a team in baseball that can stop them. The World Series could be over before it even starts.
The Texas Rangers made history on Friday night, October 22nd, 2010. This is a night that will be remembered for a long time to come.
The only way this story is closed with the perfect ending is with this team bringing home a World Series trophy to Rangers' ballpark.
Then, and only then, can the final paragraph and the final sentence be written to what has been an incredible story.
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