2010 World Series: The Texas Rangers Will Play the Underdog One More Time

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2010 World Series: The Texas Rangers Will Play the Underdog One More Time
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This is a position that the Texas Rangers are all too familiar with. It's a position they've been in through their first two postseason series, and they'll play the role one more time.

What is that role, you ask? It's being the underdog.

When the Rangers made it to the postseason, no one expected them to get past the Tampa Bay Rays let alone be the American League Champions. They weren't supposed to beat the Rays, and they sure weren't given a snowball's chance in hell against the defending champion New York Yankees.

Once the Rangers had knocked off the Rays in the American League Divisional Series, the New York media started its onslaught of entitlement. A few of which actually put the Yankees in the World Series before they had even met the Rangers in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.

After the Yankees came back and won Game 1 after trailing most of the night, most of the fans here in Texas thought every bit of momentum from that game was gone, and the series could be over all too soon.

While some might have counted them out after the first night, the Rangers weren't counting themselves out, and they proved it over the next five games. Finally putting them down for good in Game 6, Texas sent the defending champions home for the ninth time in 10 years.

Much to the chagrin of the media that didn't expect a thing from the Rangers or the ones that expected them to lay down and let the Yankees walk all over them, it was the Yankees that watched another team celebrate.

Now, after playing the underdog for two straight series, they'll be in the position one more time, but this time it comes in the World Series against the National League Champion San Francisco Giants.

The team from the Bay Area finished off a 4-2 series win over another heavily favored team, the Philadelphia Phillies.

They have young pitchers in Tim Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez and Matt Cain. Three guys who can shut down just about any team they face.

Most will talk about how the Giants shut down the Phillies offense, but even they pale in comparison to either the Yankees or the Rangers. So far this postseason, the Phillies had a team batting average of .215, a 45 point drop from their .260 combined batting average during the regular season.

But, say what you want about the Phillies, the Giants offense wasn't much better, dropping 26 points from the regular season (.257) to the postseason (.231).

On the flip side of the coin, the Texas Rangers picked up right where they left off from the regular season. They led all of baseball in team batting average (.276), only dropping three points during the postseason (.273).

When Vladimir Guerrero wasn't hitting, they got big hits from Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, Bengie Molina and Nelson Cruz. But, whey needed Guerrero the most, he came through in Game 6 with a clutch two-run double before Cruz put the game away for good.

They have guys who can come up big at any given time. They have a lineup that has speed up front with Elvis Andrus, power in the middle with Guerrero, Hamilton and Cruz, and role players who can pick up the slack with Ian Kinsler, Molina and David Murphy.

The one thing that you can count on being thrown out are "historic stats" between the two teams like ESPN's Buster Olney has already done this morning. It's inevitable that people will find some way to make their team look like the favorite in the days leading up to Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night.

But, no matter how many stats we want to throw out and no matter who has or hasn't done well in the past against this pitcher, we saw how history worked out for the Yankees in the ALCS. They had owned the Rangers in the past, but the past doesn't always translate to the present.

Where this game will be won is on the hill. The Rangers were ninth in baseball in team ERA (3.93) during the regular season and have been nothing short of dominant in the postseason, putting up a combined 2.40 ERA.

The Rangers are expected to have Cliff Lee in Game 1 followed by C.J. Wilson in Game 2 and either Colby Lewis or Tommy Hunter in Game 3 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

For the Giants, they are most likely to go with Tim Lincecum in Game 1, Jonathan Sanchez in Game 2 and Matt Cain in Game 3.

Let's get to the heart of what this World Series is really all about. CBS Sports' Gregg Doyel spelled this out in a brilliant manner and far better than I ever could. This is a World Series between two mid-majors, if you forgive the college football pun.

The Yankees are out as are the Phillie,s and the Los Angeles Dodgers decided to quit with two months left in the season.

The media isn't salivating over the pinstripes; they don't get to talk about their crush on Mariano Rivera, Alex Rodriguez or Derek Jeter for at least another three months and change. They can't stand that. Who is going to watch a World Series between two teams who actually earned, not bought, their way onto the biggest stage in baseball?

This guy.

It's a series that will feature some of the best pitching baseball has to offer. It will also feature a guy you can't help but love (Josh Hamilton), a guy with a beard that continues to get darker by the day (Brian Wilson), a guy who will get a World Series ring no matter who wins (Bengie Molina), and arguably one of the worst, or best depending on how you look at it, haircuts you'll ever see (Tim Lincecum).

These are two good teams with a bunch of guys who you won't hate nearly as much as those who hate the Yankees.

There is no Alex Rodriguez type arrogance, there are no Nick Swisher type barrages of 'f' bombs to explain their feelings about facing Cliff Lee, and there will be no home made signs that say "Can't we just sign both Lee and Hamilton," caught by the TBS cameras while in New York.

The Rangers and Giants don't have the best players money can buy. These two teams have the kind of talent that makes a World Series worth watching.

The glass slipper could be the most overrated symbol in all of sports. But, we love to root for the underdog don't we? Well, at least most of us do.

For both cities, this is as big as it gets because neither city has much to root for when it comes to football. The Giants and Rangers are saving the NFL fans who are suffering by having to watch two lackluster football teams. The Cowboys and 49ers are a combined 2-9 so far this season. Yeah, it's not been a good year for them.

Whether you think the networks will hate this World Series, you can bet that both AT&T Park and the Ballpark in Arlington will be sold out for every game that takes place at each respective stadium. These fans are chomping at the bit for Game 1, and they are ready for a World Series Championship to be brought home to their town.

For the Texas Rangers, this will be the defining moment for their franchise. They have been through an ownership change, they've been through slumps, the ineffectiveness of Scott Feldman and Rich Harden and jubilation when they acquired Cliff Lee from the Seattle Mariners.

This is a solid group of guys. Every single one has come up with a big hit during this postseason, every single one has done what the team required of them to get this far.

They've knocked off the best the American League had to offer. Now, they are just four wins away from their first ever World Series title.

The team's mantra, "It's Time," has held true all season long. They have one more hurdle to clear and they've come too far to lose now.

The Texas Rangers, and their fans, believe it's their time. They're ready to celebrate in Arlington, a celebration that, for the first time, won't have anything to do with the Dallas Cowboys.

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