As the playoffs wore on, the eliminated teams were entering an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot-stove strategery.
Meanwhile, the fans of those squads were looking at the prospect of spending the winter with the warm memories of a team that earned a playoff berth but the cold reality of ultimately falling short. In an attempt to bring some closure between franchise and follower, we asked a blogger from each team to write a cathartic missive to their 2010 squads.
Finishing our run of all 29 ultimately disappointed teams is Benjamin Morris of Lone Star Ball. He finally tasted the World Series this season and he liked it.
Oh boy, did he like it.
Dear Texas Rangers,
Oh, baby. We've been through some bad times together. So bad. It's been like being married to a mean drunk. Every year I thought it would be different, and every year you kicked me square in the nuts. It was my lack of commitment to my therapist, I think, that kept me coming back to you. Remember when you signed Richard Hidalgo to be our designated hitter? Remember when Roger Pavlik went to the All Star game after putting up some gaudy win totals and a 5.50 ERA? Or, heaven forbid, remember when we had to pay the best player in baseball to play against us in competitive games?
You aren't those Rangers anymore. Your pitching is respectable. Your defense is, except for a certain face of the franchise, wonderful. It's like you're a whole different team than the one I grew up with. You took off the adult diapers, put down the Mad Dog 20/20, and suddenly you're a date I'm not embarrassed to be seen with, especially in October.
But all good things must come to an end and parting is always such sweet sorrow. The World Series is over, and we didn't get that champagne shower we've been waiting so long for. It's time to take a break before we try again next year.
The Good Times: What can I say? You were there for me this year. When Neftali Feliz(notes) struck out A-Rod for the final out in Game 6 of the ALCS, it reminded me of that scene in Rob Roy where Liam Neeson, after getting his ass kicked for a solid five minutes, finally strikes home and cut Tim Roth in half. That moment, maybe above all the other moments, was this new, sexy Ranger team putting the old, swaybacked nag to rest. It almost didn't matter that the season ended three wins too soon, because you didn't just beat the Yankees, you obliterated and crushed them.
Josh Hamilton(notes) had an MVP-caliber season. We got to enjoy, maybe for just a few months, one of the best pitchers in baseball taking the hill for us every fifth day. Colby Lewis(notes) showed up from Japan and proved to be one of the shrewdest free-agent signings in years. C.J. Wilson(notes), our left-handed setup guy, became a legit No. 2 pitcher.
And Nelson Cruz(notes) ... boy, oh, boy, Nelson Cruz. Nellie Cruz, a part of the deal that brought us Carlos Lee(notes) the last time the Rangers were buyers at the trade deadline, a guy that had a scarlet "AAAA" stitched on his jersey not too long ago, a guy that passed through waivers ... this guy won four games for us on the final swing of the bat in 2010. Nothing is sweeter than a walk-off win. Well, except for four of them.
The Bad Times: It wasn't all wine and roses, of course. You've turned into a sexy b----, Rangers, but you still have your warts.
Your bullpen, in the playoffs, was not your most attractive feature. Whether we're talking about the meltdown in Game 1 of the ALCS, where a great outing by CJ Wilson was wasted by the bullpen, or Game 2 of the World Series when Derek Holland(notes) walked three batters (plating a run) and then Mark Lowe(notes) showed up with his gas can and walked another before allowing a two-run single. All told, eight consecutive batters would reach base in that inning and the Giants would score seven runs with two outs in the inning.
Also, let's be honest here, Vladimir Guerrero(notes) is getting a little long in the tooth. Maybe with a more formidable hitter in the cleanup spot, everybody sees better pitches. But frankly, with your 3-4-5 hitters taking the World Series off, you didn't deserve to win. Mitch Moreland(notes) can't do everything himself from the bottom of the lineup.
It's Not All You: Hey, Franky Francisco not being available for the postseason wasn't your fault (it wasn't, was it?). With our most reliable set-up arm out, some late-inning heartache was to be expected, I guess. The two Darrens — O'Day and Oliver — had been ridden hard this year, maybe they were just out of gas.
And of course, Tom Hicks driving the team into bankruptcy, well, what could we do about that? You had to be creative to add the pieces you did. Throwing extra prospects into deals so the selling teams would pick up salary, sending Millwood to the hapless Orioles so we could afford to take a flier on Harden, "forgetting" to sign the check we sent to TXU Energy ... sure, some of it worked out, but imagine what you'll be able to do next season without having to play shell games with money!
Shape up or ship out: Look, Rangers, I love you just the way that you are. I would love you a bit more if Michael Young(notes) weren't playing third base. Seeing some key hits shoot past a diving Michael Young or over a leaping Michael Young in the playoffs was a little hard to handle. A right-handed bat that can play corner outfield and maybe first base would be nice. A legitimate offer to Cliff Lee(notes), even if he doesn't accept, would make us believe that you've committed to change. Just don't bring back Vlad, OK? Remember Sammy Sosa? Remember how that worked out? We're past those days, Rangers.
See you next April,
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Follow Lone Star Ball on Twitter — @lonestarball
Read Big League Stew's previous Dear John letters here.