Anger. Disappointment. Frustration.
I admit it. Mere minutes after watching my beloved Rangers drop Game 7 of the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals, I can’t help but feel negative thoughts about this great group of 25 young men who came within an eyelash of being World Champions themselves. Anger at watching the offense once again fall victim to a finesse pitcher who looked very hittable in every one of the six plus innings he pitched. Disappointment in a pitching staff who looked more like they were trying to keep from losing than actually confidently going for a win. Frustration in knowing in my heart that my team was the better team but once again fell short of the prize they had worked all year for.
I’ve cited one Ron Washington before and I’ll cite him again. Wash always says it’s not about who has the best team but who plays the best baseball. In the case of this World Series, maybe that’s not even correct. The Cardinals didn’t play the best baseball, they played better baseball. Neither team played their best, really.
I hated seeing Chris Carpenter throw an assortment of junk and baffling the Rangers hitters, while at the same time thinking he probably deserves to be the Series MVP.
It’s hard watching a team celebrate their well-earned victory while knowing that, with the exception of the first baseman, I don’t know if they have any position players I’d rather have than their current Rangers counterpart (I really love Yadier Molina, though. Just wouldn’t swap him for Napoli considering the year he had this year.). I felt the same way about the Giants last year. Offensively, the Rangers have been the superior team going into the Series two years in a row. Two years in a row, the opposition’s offense found more ways to do the job, while their pitching staff figured out how to slow the Rangers down. Incredibly frustrating.
Nobody wants to believe this. I don’t want to believe it, but it’s time for American League folks to realize the National League has superior pitching. The Giants had it last year. The Cardinals had it this year. It sometimes seems baffling, because I see pitchers like Kyle Lohse and Edwin Jackson, who’ve been hit around when they were in the American League, resurrect their careers in the National League. In fact, four of the Cardinals pitchers were pitching in the American League earlier this season. One of them, Arthur Rhodes, pitched for the Rangers and did so poorly they had to release him. Naturally, he pitched well in the Series against Texas.
I had to watch a Game 6 in which both teams made really unnecessary and ugly errors, but it was the ones my team made that came at the most critical juncture of the game. I could live with the errors if they were honest ones. The ones Texas made late in the game came out of bad decisions, something I’ve rarely seen this team do: Elvis Andrus not throwing to second for a force-out, only to see Matt Holliday beat his throw to first; Michael Young thinking for a split second about throwing to second, then bobbling the ball and not even getting the out at first; Nelson Cruz apparently misjudging either how far away the wall was or where the ball was, resulting in David Freese’s game-tying triple in the 9th inning. I saw our starting pitchers, so good in the regular season, struggle night in and night out, with one glaring exception in Derek Holland. In Game 7, I could sense the fear in Matt Harrison’s eyes.
For two games, I got incredibly tired of the Cardinals scoring runs while hearing Joe Buck and Tim McCarver say “without a ball leaving the infield.” A World Series record number of walks. Not to mention the hit batters. Not pretty at all.
I’ve just heard David Freese announced as the MVP. Just as deserving as Carpenter, I suppose, but my goodness, that boy needs to work on his defense.
The good news for Texas is most of this team will be back in 2012. CJ Wilson may or may not be back, but he’s about the only critical piece. I just read today that pitching coach Mike Maddux may be considered for the Red Sox managing job. I hope that doesn’t happen. He’s been the best pitching coach in the history of the franchise.
One year ago, it was good to be there. Losing to the Giants in 5 games wasn’t fun, but for fans like me who’d never experienced it before, we were proud of our boys. This year, there were real expectations, and they almost came to fruition. One strike away. Twice. Like every other fan, and like every Rangers player, I’ll get over it soon enough. When late February comes around, I’ll have that same sense of optimism when the boys head to Surprise, Arizona for Spring Training. I also fully expect the Texas Rangers to be right back in the World Series hunt and maybe this time, they’ll get that final strike to put it away.
At this moment in time, though, this hurts. This hurts a lot. As much as it pains me to do so, in all sincerity I say congratulations St. Louis Cardinals. You deserved it. You really did.