TORONTO – The Ranger’s offices in Arlington were empty at 3:00 yesterday. There were no tickets being printed, groups being sold or bats being purchased. That is because everyone from the Ranger’s offices was down in the tunnel. They waved white towels, while wearing Ranger colors and cheering wildly. Grounds crew members, security guards, office assistants and Vice Presidents – all waving their towels and screaming their encouragement. They were doing what everyone in the Metroplex has begun to do, they were believing.
But even they looked a little surprised to be standing there. No one is closer to the team than Rangers employees, so when the team was eight games out on August 2nd, many of them began planning for next year. But a funny thing happened on the way to the 2016 playoffs. This actually was “ha-ha” funny. The Rangers passed the Astros in the final month and then let the Astros do the dirty work of beating the Yankees in the wild card game last night. It sets up the possibility of an ALCS between the two teams. I myself feel like the Rangers would get the last laugh there as well after beating the Astros 13 out of 19 games this season.
First things first though and that is the Blue Jays. This is a team that has not gone to the playoffs since 1993, and this town is going crazy for baseball.Last night upon arrival in Toronto a group of nine of us from the Rangers traveling party went to a sports bar. It is right outside the Air Canada Centre (that’s how they spell it here). There is a replica of the Stanley Cup in the lobby of this bar. And yet every TV in this hockey crazed town was on baseball. Like us, all the locals were cheering for the Astros. Actually, the locals were cheering against the Yankees but either way we all wanted the same outcome. The point is I have been in the same bar while the Blue Jays were playing previously and could not find the game on TV. This town has had no playoff success since those early 90s teams with Joe Carter and they are dying for a reason to cheer. So far the Blue Jays have accommodated.
But make no mistake, these first two games will be very tough to win here with David Price and Marcus Stroman on the mound and a sellout crowd banging on every pitch. No matter what happens in the first two games though, remember it is a five game series.
In 2010 the Rangers won the first two games in Tampa Bay and it felt like a matter of time before they advanced. Then Texas lost the next two and it felt like there was no way they could win game 5 in Florida. But they beat the Rays and their ace David Price that day… the same David Price the Rangers will face in game one of this series.
All of this is to say the Rangers can win. They can beat the Jays and advance to play the winner of the Royals/Astros series. Man, an all Texas ALCS would be delicious.
But for now be patient. Game one is tomorrow from Toronto. And, if you are a Rangers employee, it’s time to get back to work. There is grass to be mowed, tickets to be printed and fun still to be had….this year!