After an embarrassing 12-5 loss at the hands of the Oakland Athletics yesterday I wanted to vent my frustrations. I was angry. I knew that I would have to wait at least a day before extolling my opinions on what was the Texas Rangers regular season and the final game that summed it up. The Rangers were in first place for 178 days and on the 179th day, the one that mattered most, they found themselves in second place and the lucky recipient of the second wild card. In a matter of days this team went from being the possible number one seed in the playoffs to now being number five. The young Oakland Athletics put the Rangers in their place. They showed that they were a team with more "want".
But what really happened? How do you guy from being in first place up by five games with nine games to go to being suddenly ousted? Well you start with a struggling leadoff hitter (Ian Kinsler) who should no longer be at the top of the order. His play the past two weeks has really irked me. In fact this was the worst season of his young career. Then you have the season long play of Josh Hamilton who has acted all season as if he was bored and couldn't care less about what happened. From blaming his two month slump in June and July on God punishing him for using chewing tobacco to his recent vision problems brought on by too much caffeine the excuses kept flowing. And the play yesterday when he dropped a routine fly ball in centerfield that scored two runs was the final straw with me. It wasn't just the drop but his slow reaction to it that really bothered me.
Then there's the pitching. The entire bullpen is exhausted. They have been used more than needed all year and that's due to injuries to the pitching staff and manager Ron Washington's constant mismanagement of the pen. I have never been a fan of his use of relievers and never will be. In fact, if had actually used them correctly last season then we probably would have won the World Series. Yes I realize that Washington has taken the Rangers to back-to-back World Series appearances but that doesn't mean that one cannot be critical of him and his "gut" decisions that seem to be wrong more than they are right. Am I calling for his head? No. But I don't see him being here for more than two more seasons unless he finally brings the trophy home.
All Texas had to do was win one game out of three against the Athletics in order to win the AL West title for the third time in a row. One game and they couldn't get it done. They played tired. They played like a team with no heart and no motivation as if knowing that they had already clinched a playoff spot was good enough for them. It was disheartening in a way watching them play this week.
So can I say that I was disappointed in the regular season? Yes. I believe every fan has the right to say that. Yes, I realize that they are in the playoffs but that's not what was expected. This team is too good to be a five seed and should have won the division by at least five games. I know that the losses of Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz to season ending injuries hurt but they still had the players who stepped up and did their best to replace them. They could have been, nay should have been, so much better. And now, for the second time this week, their season hinges on one game. They'll host the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night with the winner going on to face the New York Yankees in the ALDS. This time I hope to see some determination and drive or else the season is going to end the earliest it has since 2009.
Until next time, I'll see you in the cheap seats!
James Holland is a lifelong fan of baseball and his hometown Texas Rangers. He is also a senior columnist for shutdowninning.com, clawandantlernation.com and a member of SABR. You can also follow him on Twitter @SDIJamesHolland.
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