Clicking on All Cylinders
In my day job, it would be such a great play on words. I could start Rangers Live by saying, “The Rangers are playing well, but they are not clicking.” A question mark would form over the heads of my collective audience and then I would nail the punch line and say, “actually they are clicking, but they are not clique-ing.” Isn’t the English Language great? Two words that sound the same but are spelled differently and, of course, their meanings are vastly different.
The truth is the Rangers are clicking like few in team history ever have. One of the reasons is that there are no cliques. Cliques can undo a good team quickly. There have been teams that won in spite of cliques. The ’95 Cowboys won Super Bowl XXX despite the fact that some on the coaching staff were trying to paint some team leaders as racist or worse. Of course, that team had already won two Super Bowls so they knew how to win and were able to overcome the immaturity of some coaches.
It is my belief that clubhouses and locker rooms are some of the least racist places on earth. In the context of a team the individuals all understand the truth; that is, “We all want the same thing and if we work together were can achieve it.”
This group of Rangers gets that. This is an almost perfect mix of youth and veteran leadership. Adrian Beltre is the elder statesman even if he is not the oldest player. He leads the position players. Prince Fielder was a great leader too and will continue to be a great teammate. He is the guy that takes youngsters under his wing and shows them the ways of Major League Baseball. Colby Lewis is the leader of the pitching staff, but he gets help from the likes of Cole Hamels who leads by example. Add in veterans Shin Soo Choo and Yu Darvish and you have find a mix of virtually every ethnicity in the game today. Differences are acknowledged and celebrated, but the reality is that the similarities among these may far outweigh their differences.
At the trade deadline the Rangers added three more guys who had been leaders on their teams. Jeremy Jeffress had become the closer in Milwaukee and the leader of the bullpen. Jonathon Lucroy is a natural born leader who would be a leader no matter what profession he chose and Carlos Beltran is the kind of guy who inspires others to ask questions. He is 39 years old and does not shy away from his role as a leader even on a new team. On his second day in the clubhouse (the team was in Baltimore at the time) a group of players gathered around his locker. Some players, literally, sat on the floor to hear him impart wisdom of nearly two decades in Major League Baseball.
It is every team’s goal to get character players but the 2016 Rangers have achieved that like few teams I have ever been around. These guys mess with each other, they support each other, they like each other and they love each other. In sports we call that chemistry. This team has it! Listen close and you will hear them clicking not clique-ing.