The next person I hear saying that the Rangers have the biggest lead in baseball is going to get punched in the mouth. I don’t care if it’s Josh Lewin, the guys on the radio, or someone at my office, I will track them down.
Why, you ask? Because I’m sick of hearing that! It’s meaningless. It’s a pathetic way to drum up support for the team, and pretend they are better than they are. It avoids all mention of anything like context, or how badly the team actually is playing.
So, here’s the context: Yes, the Rangers have the biggest lead in baseball (excuse me while I punch myself in the mouth). Now, put them in any other division, and guess what? They wouldn’t be in first place anywhere else! Yeah, you heard me right, the great Rangers team, playing really good ball this year… and in the NL Central they’d be a game out of first, which is the closest they’d be to any of the other division leaders.
But, so what? They’re in the AL West, and the reason they have such a big lead is that the rest of the AL West sucks, not because of the Rangers. If any of the other teams were able to put together a run, they might be able to give the Rangers some serious competition. But even though the Rangers have gone 3-7 in the last ten, the Angels have only gone 5-5, so they pick up two games. Woohoo. Keep doing that, and they might be able to squeeze by the Rangers by the end. But they won’t, as my last post said, and I don’t believe the Rangers will go 3-7 the rest of the way either. Maybe 5-5.
Anyway, so what if they do have the biggest lead? Doesn’t matter if you win by one game or a hundred (except for the ability to rest people for the playoffs). I’m about 99% sure the Rangers are going to get into the playoffs. Obviously they’ll be the division winners, since they’re currently 6.5 games out of the wildcard after being humiliated in Tampa.
(Speaking of Tampa, you know the difference between Texas and Florida? After the game today, the Rays were hosting a senior citizen’s prom, complete with king and queen. Yep, that’s Florida, where people go to die.)
Now, let’s assume the races are settled in the AL. Minnesota has a 5 game lead in the Central, and the Yanks and Rays are 5.5 ahead of Boston. It’s possible someone will cough up one of those leads in the final month and a half, but if you were a betting man you wouldn’t get very good odds on it. One of the Yanks or Rays will win the East, the other will be the wildcard. Given that the wildcard cannot play the team from their division in the first round of the playoffs, that means they’re guaranteed to play the Twins and Rangers. Whichever team wins the East will host the Rangers, since the Rangers have an inferior record to the Twins. Does it matter which is which? Do you think the Rangers will have much success going to either Yankee Stadium or Tampa in the first round? No. They won’t.
I can’t even see it happening with Cliff Lee on the mound, unless he has some kind of magic playoff mojo. He can’t get any support here, plus he’s suddenly become mortal over the last couple of games. And yeah, if you think he’s re-signing with the Rangers, I have one of those famous bridges to sell you. He’ll say all the right things, but the look on his face in the dugout the other night should be all you need to see. A zillion Yankee dollars is what’s going to get him.
So, here’s my prediction, and it’s a bad one: The Rangers will probably win their second ever playoff game, but they still won’t win their first ever playoff series.
Finally, a little more food for thought: Since the eleven game win streak back in June, the Rangers are now below .500, at 23-24. Just a week short of two months where they haven’t even won as many as they lost. Thank you Angels for being so bad at the same time.