First off, thanks to the Rangers for getting today's game televised. I don't know what kind of ratings numbers that game drew, but it is another sign that these Rangers care about their fans. For those who didn't get to see the game or the celebration, here are Jorge Cantu's game winning homer and the on-field celebration. Anthony Andro also took some video in the locker room.
Here's some celebratory stream of consciousness in the wake of the Rangers winning their division for the first time in this century.
- In case I haven't said it enough, give us the Rays.
They're the hotter team at the moment, but I don't care. The Rangers will be underdogs in any AL playoff series this fall, but after those three miserable series in the late 90s I'm ready for a different experience. More importantly, look at what these three teams do against left-handed pitching:
NY Yankees - .266/.354/.434
Tampa Bay - .251/.341/.402
Texas - .266/.326/.392
The spread between the Yankees and Rays isn't overwhelming, but add to that the fact that both the Rangers and Yankees could go with lefties in four of the five first round games and the Rays can only use a lefty (David Price) twice. The Rangers would field a better team against the Rays than they would the Yankees.
- Adam Morris over on Lone Star Ball has some joyful thoughts that I think a lot of us can relate to.
I've been one of those who has been fortunate enough to read Adam's thoughts for all of those ten years, from Jamey Newberg's old forums to ESPN to Adam's blogs. I am positively juiced for myself that my Rangers are in the playoffs once more, but the internet age makes this all the more enjoyable. I have the pleasure of witnessing hundreds of other die-hard fans with whom I have shared all of the misery of the last decade get to celebrate this, and that makes me as happy as the fact that I get to experience it.
- Josh Hamilton's health and form are obviously huge factors for the Rangers, but remember one thing. The team we watch on October 6 should be better than the one we've been watching lately.
While this team has been nothing special since the start of July, it has a handful of really key players and its lack of depth makes those guys even more critical. And that group has basically not played together in the second half. If Cliff Lee, Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Vladimir Guerrero, Ian Kinsler, CJ Wilson, Colby Lewis, Michael Young, Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz are all rested and healthy, this is a better team with fewer gaping holes than what's been on the field in the second half of the season.
- Due to this little four-game losing streak, the Yankees actually still have a magic number of three and just seven games remaining. I don't mind that they and the Rays both have something other than the playoffs to think about this week.
- As mentioned this morning in a good piece by Richard Durrett, September 25 ties (1998 for) the earliest that the Rangers have clinched the AL West. It's just the second time that they have clinched by winning, both against the A's.
- Very preliminary playoff roster opinion:
I think that I would go with a five-man bench of Matt Treanor, Andres Blanco, Julio Borbon, Jeff Francoeur and Jorge Cantu/Mitch Moreland (whichever doesn't start). With that said, I would give all of these guys and especially Cantu, Moreland and Chris Davis ample playing time this next week, and I'd keep an open mind until the end on which two first-basemen I would take.