The Rangers may be out, but when it comes to playoff baseball your rooting interest shouldn’t be over.
If you can stomach watching the League Championship Series after the Rangers’ nauseating Game 5 exit last week, there is clear team to root for because of its Texas ties. Give us a Cubs vs. Royals World Series, with Kansas City winning it all.
Wouldn’t soothe any wounds, I admit, but … it’s the lesser of all evils.
As far as ties to the Rangers the Mets have only 1st base coach Tom Goodwin, who played center field on Texas’ playoff teams in the late ‘90s and has the franchise’s 8th-most stolen bases. The Cubs, however, have a coach and two players to trump that.
Chicago bench coach Dave Martinez played 38 games as an outfielder with the Rangers in ’00. And you’ll likely remember a couple of the arms out of manager’s Joe Maddon’s bullpen in Pedro Strop and Justin Grimm. Strop came up in Texas’ organization and pitched in 33 games from ’09-’11, while Grimm made 17 starts and won seven games in ’13 before being shipped north in the Matt Garza trade.
In the NLCS, clearly Rangers’ fans are Cubs’ fans.
In the ALCS, the choice of the Royals is even more clear cut.
Toronto boasts pitcher R.A. Dickey, who transitioned into a knuckleballer in Arlington while going 16-19 from ’01-’06. And at one point Justin Smoak was the Rangers’ 1st baseman of the future, until he hit only .208 in ’10 and was dealt to Seattle in the Cliff Lee trade. So one Blue Jay blossomed into a Cy Young winner after leaving the Rangers, one prospect fizzled out, and then there’s Mark Lowe. The UT-Arlington grad served up David Freese’s walk-off homer in the 11th inning of Game 6 in the 2011 World Series. He was that epic game’s losing pitcher.
As much as you can root against the Blue Jays, you can root for the Royals.
Manager Ned Yost played a forgettable season in Arlington in’84 in which he had more strikeouts (47) than hits (44). Bench coach Don Wakamatsu was their bench coach/3rd base coach under Buck Showalter and Ron Washington from ’03-’07 and even managed them for two games while Showalter was hospitalized.
On the field, Kansas City’s Game 1 shutout was co-authored by Edinson Volquez. Once a member of the Rangers’ much-hyped DVD pitching trio along with John Danks and Thomas Diamond, he went 3-11 in Texas from ’05-’07 and was then traded to the Reds for a guy named Josh Hamilton. Outfielder Alex Rios played for the Rangers as recently as last season, and hit for the cycle here in ’13. And pitcher Chris Young was part of perhaps general manager Jon Daniels’ worst trade. In ’05 and fresh on the job, Daniels traded Young (who won 12 games in ’05) and 1st baseman Adrian Gonzalez to the Padres for pitcher Adam Eaton.
Granted it’d be a very hollow "victory," but if gutted Rangers’ fans are to salvage anything from fall baseball it would be to have the World Series won by their Spring Training roommates in Surprise.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.