Early last month in San Diego I asked Elvis Andrus if this current Rangers team reminded him of any of the others that he had played on. Without hesitation he said, “Oh yea, 2010. This team reminds me so much of that one because it is doing things nobody expected it to do.” To be honest I wasn’t shocked by his answer, as that’s what I thought he would say. This team reminds me of that one too. In fact, it is sticking remarkably close to that 2010 script.
We pick up the action just before intermission, or in the context of a baseball season we pick things up at the trade deadline. Technically Cliff Lee was a trade 2010 deadline deal, but Jon Daniels actually pulled that one off before the All-Star break, and Lee made his first start for the Rangers before the break. The similarities are striking in comparison to the Cole Hamels trade this season – Lee a left-handed ace with tons of experience, same for Hamels, who was also acquired just before the deadline this year.
The clubhouse reaction to the acquisition this year was the same as the reaction to Lee five years earlier. If the clubhouse could talk it would say, “Wow! JD and the front office are all in, now we better follow suit.” Both years the players in the clubhouse felt that way, and did exactly that (that even if they didn’t say it out loud).
Granted the script was a little different down the stretch this season. Both teams had to overcome a lot, but that 2010 team was not eight games back on August 2nd as the 2015 version was this year. Precious few teams in baseball history have overcome that large a deficit that late in the season and still won a division – and his team made history by doing just that (they’re only the 6th team in MLB history to pull it off). Then after a wildly dramatic clinch on the last day of the regular season, it was on to the playoffs for this team of 2010 copycats.
True to form they went into a hostile environment and won game one. Thus effectively stealing home field advantage in the series. The dome in Toronto is a much better facility than the Rays home field in St. Petersburg, and the crowd in Toronto, whose team had not been in the playoff since 1993, was starved for a win. Unlike the old folks in Florida, the Canadians were loud and proud in game two. That game became an instant classic as the Rangers beat the Blue Jays in 14 innings. Then, just like 2010, the Rangers left town hoping to not visit that domed stadium again.
But in both years, a funny thing happened on the way to a sweep. Well, not ha-ha funny. Actually what happened to the Rangers in games three and four both years is not funny at all – at least if you’re a Rangers fan. The thing we must remember is that Rays in ’10 and the Jays this year are champions of the always tough American League East, and champions do not go down without a fight. And so the fight is on as we get to the final scene of this script. Can the Rangers copy 2010 again?
Game five that year saw the newly acquired ace throw a complete game. It saw Elvis Andrus score from second base on a ground out. It saw a Rangers team seize the momentum it had lost in Arlington and win it’s first ever playoff series. Can the Rangers follow that script? Tune into FS1 today at 3:00 and find out.