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Let's dance! Rangers clinch AL West, earn 1st playoffs since '99

Big League Stew

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That's Michael Young(notes) doing the Texas Two Step with Neftali Feliz(notes) on the left. On the right, Vladimir Guerrero(notes) is enjoying some champagne. Somewhere off-camera, manager Ron Washington was drenched and drenched some more with the bubbly.

The Texas Rangers partied like it was 1999 — appropriate, considering that was the last time they made the playoffs.

The Rangers let themselves go in Oakland on Saturday, beating the A's 4-3 to clinch first place in the AL West and their first playoff spot in 11 years.

"It's a proud day in Texas," said slugger Josh Hamilton(notes), sidelined for the past three weeks with broken ribs. "It's been a long time."

It has. In '99, Hamilton had just been drafted No. 1 overall by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, which aren't called that anymore. Guerrero played with the Montreal Expos, who don't even exist anymore.

Feliz, who recorded the clinching out to set a rookie record for saves, was an 11-year-old the last time the Rangers won. Young played for the Blue Jays in the low minors, no doubt waiting for the big Esteban Loaiza(notes) trade to come.

And now, after 1,502 career regular-season games, Young finally will see action in the playoffs.


"The best feeling in the world and it's not even close," Young said. "We've played hard all season long. We deserve it. We know what the ultimate goal is, but this is step one. It's an incredible feeling.

"The 2010 Texas Rangers are AL West champs. I couldn't be more proud of my teammates."

After the organization won three division titles with the Juan Gonzalez/Ivan Rodriguez(notes)/manager Johnny Oates clubs of the '90s, the Rangers lost their way and finished with losing records seven times.

They started to turn around their fortunes when Nolan Ryan came back aboard as team president in 2008. Speaking of which, what does ol' Nolan have to say about Saturday's events?

Well, Ryan wasn't in Oakland for the big game. He made plans to go, but apparently without a firm idea of when the Rangers would clinch (and they were dragging their feet the past couple of weeks), Ryan opted to watch at home with his family.

Via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

"I'm very proud of the team," Ryan said. "They put a lot of work in and it was a total team effort starting in the offseason and spring training and right on through to now. They deserve it. I'm proud of the whole organization. It's been 11 years and we had hoped to get back to winning baseball and we have. Now we hope we can keep the level of standards on winning and grow from there."

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