“So much promise stretches before us. Americans have always reached for the impossible, looked to the next horizon and asked, "What if?"” -- John Kerry
It’s best not to make too much of a fuss over any professional sports contest, particularly in Major League Baseball, where any given performance is merely a tiny sliver of a huge, 162 game picture.
That said, any Texas Rangers fan with a pulse and without a chronic sense of debilitating skepticism should be thrilled with the team’s 5-4 win over the Blue Jays, owners of the American League’s best record, in Toronto on Tuesday.
First off, it’s not as though Texas got lucky in the back of Toronto’s rotation; quite the opposite in fact. Texas dealt Blue Jay’s ace Roy Halladay his first loss of 2009, hanging 5 runs on him over 8 innings pitched, including home runs by Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz. (If you’ve never seen Halladay pitch, this is an exceedingly difficult feat.)
Frank Francisco, who has been nothing short of lights out this season, endured a (kind of) rocky outing for the first time in 2009, but survived to close out the 5-4 win on three straight fastballs to Vernon Wells; Wells popped up to Elvis Andrus in shallow left to end the game.
Josh Hamilton broke his slump with a hard-hit single up the middle.
Brandon McCarthy continued to improve, allowing just three runs over six innings, walking two, and striking out two.
This is the kind of performance that can begin hot streaks; this isn’t a prediction, by any means, but rather, a hopeful though apt observation.
Overcoming adversity, beating a legitimate stopper and the best team in the league tend to go a long way in bringing a team together.
As Texas struggled through the late stages of the second week of the season, and rumors swirled about Manager Ron Washington’s future, the win couldn’t have come at a better time.
Conversely, if Texas had lost this game late (this came very close to happening), it might have been just demoralizing enough to plague the seven-game road-trip that began last night. With the division remaining pretty much wide open, though, the team now has a very real chance to build some (much needed) momentum before heading home next Tuesday.
Just how big will this win be remains to be seen; it could be the beginning of a season-altering win streak, or it could, when we look back, be a mere bright spot in an otherwise dark and futile season.
Regardless, on Tuesday, Texas proved that they can not only play with the best in the league, but they can win; and, make no mistake, this is magnificently important in the scope of the season.
At the risk of being blindly optimistic and hopelessly giddy, I’ll end with an emphatic though very possibly misguided, “what if?”