With the regular season over, teams are facing an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot-stove strategy.
But we're not going to let them get off that easy. No sir. No way. In an attempt to bring some closure between franchise and follower, we're giving a blogger from each team the opportunity to give a concession speech for this year's squad. Up next is our friend Benjamin Morris of Lone Star Ball, who's had the unenviable task of surrendering the last three Rangers seasons. He also penned the 10 best things about being a Rangers fan for the Stew earlier this season.
Ladies and gentlemen, Texans and bandwagoners, alienated Houston Astros fans, and followers of the Church of Nolan, I hoped I wouldn't have to give this speech tonight. I was hoping, like all of you, that we would beat a bloody trail of broken candidates all the way through October, and that I'd return triumphant clutching the hard-won Commissioner's Trophy that has been denied us so long.
It wasn't the unstoppable Kennedy family of the baseball postseason that did us in, the sainted New York Yankees. It wasn't the "buy-me-a-championship" free-spending Ross-Perot-of-the-AL-West Anaheim Angels. If you had told me in the heady days of May that we would be denied cosmic justice by the potty Dennis Kucinich of organized baseball, the Oakland A's, I would have called you nuts.
I know what you're thinking. The A's may have won the AL West, but we still tasted the postseason. Balderdash! Playing the Baltimore Orioles for the right to wear a dunce cap saying "fourth seed" to the American League playoffs was the most demoralizing and ignominious end to a glorious campaign since the unfortunate confluence of Gary Hart, a tart named Donna Rice, and a boat named Monkey Business. They started Joe Saunders in their one-game playoff against us. Joe Saunders! Against Yu Darvish! That's like debating Newt Gingrich using only a slide whistle.
What mistakes were made? Where did we go wrong to end up back at home by the first week of October?
I think we can safely say, at this point, that relying on the worst everyday player in the league for 651 plate appearances may have been a minor blunder. In fact, by WAR, the hapless Justin Smoak was worth a full win over Michael Young. A full win! Actually, you know who else had a better season by WAR than Michael Young? Oh, that's right, everybody did.
No wait, there was someone worse at hitting baseballs this year than Michael Young, and that person was Ian Kinsler anywhere but Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. You might be under the impression that Ian Kinsler's trainwreck road numbers are something that took us completely by surprise. You'd be wrong! Our campaign manager Ron Washington says that Ian Kinsler's horrible, no-good, very bad road stats are something we've been struggling with for six whole years. So you would think that Ron would give Kinsler a bunch of days off on the road, so he'd be rested for the stretch run, or at least put him in the Gulag at the bottom of the lineup.
Well, if you thought that you don't know Ron Washington very well.
In fact, like my teenage bout of hairy palms and blindness, most of the mistakes our campaign made could probably be tied to overuse. Too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing. Instead of Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz being well-rested for two crucial late-season series against Oakland, we used them up in the primaries.
It wasn't all our fault, though. I'm not saying that Billy Beane called in a favor from Satan to allow the A's to come back from a 13-game deficit at the All-Star break, but you know they went to grade school together. It wasn't all the Prince of Darkness, anyway, because not even he has the power to allow the Athletics to belt 112 homers in the second half. That was probably Vernon Jordan's doing.
And, really, we can't be blamed for the rash of injuries. Neftali Feliz and Colby Lewis having season-ending arm surgeries led us to plug Scott Feldman into the rotation. Watching Scott Feldman every fifth day led us to scream "Oh, the humanity!" and replace him with some friend of the owner named Roy Oswalt. And watching Roy Oswalt prompted us to begin drafting this speech months ago.
Mike Napoli spent much of late July and August in injury limbo, the only definitive statement about which I could get from my campaign staff being "there is no timetable for his return." Josh Hamilton, being Josh Hamilton, had some kind of eye ailment (that is the other thing Red Bull gives you besides wings) and apparently spent about half of the summer being punished by an angry God, because the little-known eleventh plague of Egypt was a rain of strikeouts.
This won't be the last you hear from our campaign. We will be back, better and stronger, though we don't know if it will be sooner or later. We offered you, the baseball electorate, a glimpse of some of our future dirty tricks... if you were astute enough to catch them. In fact, our ill-fated "postseason" was extended all too briefly by our next secret weapon... Jurickson Profar. He's Nixon's secret plan to end the Vietnam War, Monica's blue dress, and all of Florida's hanging chads rolled into one. He's just that good. There were also brief glimpses of Justin Grimm and Martin Perez, who will probably be key planks in our next party platform, and Mike Olt, who is a top-ranked prospect and is well-versed in the field of "not being Michael Young." And you may be pleasantly surprised in our next campaign to find out that Yu Darvish might be pretty awesome.
There are going to be changes. We have eight free agents. We might re-sign some of those. None of the ones we re-sign will have names that start with "J" and end with "-osh Hamilton." Hold your applause! Josh has been a fundamental piece of this campaign from the beginning, a transcendent talent, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors as long as those endeavors in no way involve the Texas Rangers baseball club.
Some of the changes coming this offseason may sound unsavory or even wrong, like my possibly taking liberties with a young, nubile campaign staffer. Trading Elvis Andrus would be awful, I hear you say. But what if we traded him to Arizona for Justin Upton? That would be unseemly and wrong and PRETTY DARN AWESOME! Just like my possibly taking liberties with a young, nubile campaign staffer!
Look, I'm not going to lie to you. We've got a lot of work ahead of us if we expect to make it back to the playoffs. It is going to be uncomfortable, and maybe bleak sometimes, and possibly sometimes a little gooey and/or sticky... but not only are we going back to New Hampshire, ladies and gentlemen, we're going to go back to South Dakota, and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico, and we're going back to Oakland, and Anaheim, and Seattle, and Houston... and we're going to some to-be-determined National League city and we're going to take back the Commissioner's Trophy, YEEEEAAAAAAAHHHH!
One thing's for sure, though. You won't have Benjamin Morris to kick around anymore, gentlemen, because this is my last press conference ... until pitchers and catchers report.
Previous Concession Speeches: Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Pittsburgh Pirates,Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, San Diego Padres, New York Mets, Miami Marlins, Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros