This is pretty similar to the simple, happy, emotional response to this awesome team Brandon already put forth. This is about living in this moment of greatness that Rangers fans rarely get to experience.
Oh, sure, to most franchises, 62-45 and eight games up probably isn't some great thing to celebrate. They've been there and done that, if not better. But we do not root for most franchises, we root for a team that has delivered for a short period of time, back when N*Sync was popular, and even then not very much. This, for us, is huge.
And that's a good thing.
It wasn't a good thing last year or for most of the half-century existence of the franchise, because failure just isn't fun. But you know what that failure means? It means when you stick through it, the times of success are far, far sweeter. Who do you think got more out of their recent championships, the Phillies fans or the Yankees fans? And this franchise makes the former look like the latter. But, right now, things may be sweeter for this team than they have ever been before, and it's worth reflecting on that.
To begin with, since this is an "in the moment" kind of thing, there's last night's game. Wasn't that game awesome? Yes, you'd like better from your starting pitcher, but David Murphy saving what seemed like it was going to be a lost opportunity by crushing a ball some fifteen rows deep was absolutely cathartic, and allowed us to look at Franklin Gutierrez's awesome catch as a cool highlight instead of a Ranger-killing offense. And then Michael Young's grand slam was just tasty icing on the delicious cake.
But the real exciting stuff was what happened during and after the game. With venom flying from all directions and the threat of an even more drawn-out process looming, the Rangers finally got their owners in Chuck Greenberg, Nolan Ryan and company. And it came seemingly out of nowhere, when the chances of a speedy resolution seemed lost.
Greenberg is the kind of owner we can get behind. You can see that in this email sent to a Lone Star Ball user. He appears to be friendly, intelligent, understanding of fan needs, committed to winning and a track record as a minor league owner sure leads one to believe he has an interest in building through the farm. This and the conversations he has with fans on Facebook could all be a front, but I'm not so cynical to assume that until proven otherwise. He's not Mr. Rodgers or anything, but he says the right things to get you excited about what he brings to the table.
And he comes with Ryan, who has already been a part of the front office that has built all this excitement. And the GM in charge of all that appears to be a magician. In 2007 he got the veterans to take an outside shot at something, and when that didn't work, he turned them and the unlikely-to-sign star in to a king's ransom of young talent, many of whom are already paying dividends. Since then, he's continued to build one of the most highly regarded systems in baseball, with pitching talent deeper than a Christopher Nolan plot. And then, despite financial constraints from this ownership debacle, he brought in a Top of the Rotation Pitcher in Colby Lewis from Japan and an All-Star DH in Vladimir Guerrero from a division rival for peanuts, and managed to add some much-needed depth at the trade deadline.
Oh, and they might have just built the best Rangers team ever, by the way. With 55 games to go, The Rangers are 48 wins/second place losses from clinching the division. Baseball Prospectus has their playoff odds at better than 98%. They're on pace to win 94 games, which would tie for the second most in franchise history. Hell, merely playing one game over .500 the rest of the way would tie them for third. The 813 runs they're on pace to score would rank 16th, but in a down season for offense in general. Meanwhile, the 669 runs they're on pace to allow would rank 6th out of 162 game seasons, but each of the better seasons came in a less offensive era.
That's a run differential of 144. The playoff years, for reference, ranged from 69 to 129. For 2010, the expected record that comes from that differential is 94 wins, right in line with the pace. The best so far ('77 and '96) was 93. Even the '99 team over-performed to the tune of about six wins. This is only the third time the Rangers have ever had a lead as big as eight games, with the standard being 10 in '99, a mark they could conceivably hit within a week.
And while this team is in that company, they're doing it with rarely seen balance for this franchise, with one of the better offenses and one of the absolute best defenses Texas has ever put together at the same time. Josh Hamilton is probably the best player in baseball this season. Nelson Cruz would probably be his competition if he would just have stayed healthy. Cliff Lee is doing things Rangers fans haven't gotten to see every fifth day in a long time, if ever. Colby Lewis is what most teams would call a No. 1. A handful of the best relievers in the league all reside in this bullpen. Michael Young is having yet another age-defying season. And Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Tommy Hunter and Mitch Moreland are giving images of a bright future. MVP, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, Reliever of the Year, Manager of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers, Executive of the year. . . these are all awards that could soon belong to Texas Rangers this season.
Things may always turn out less than great, of course. A 98% shot at the playoffs still means there's a 2% chance something bad happens. And if they do get to the post season, if we're honest with ourselves, we realize a world championship is certainly possible but probably not likely. Still, embrace this moment, because right now those daydreams of post season glory and seeing the best product this franchise has ever put on the field are actually realistic, not crazy. Without worrying about tomorrow, you have something to be happy about. Right now, in this very moment, this is an awesome team with great things to offer that we have only gotten to see other teams do.
Football season is right around the corner, and this is when most of us start turning our eyes to the Cowboys, and rightfully so. But not this year, I say. This year, we give the Rangers our attention for as long as they're willing to let us keep believably dreaming what so often feels unbelievable.
In this moment, you are a Rangers fan and that is a very, very good thing.