* Not much is known about the Texas Rangers, who have moved on to the American League Championship Series and will be taking on the New York Yankees beginning Friday night in Arlington.
Texas had never won a post-season series until winning Game 5 of the ALDS on Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Rays behind big-game left-hander Cliff Lee. Texas is the last of the 30 big-league franchises to win a post-season series. Forgive Rangers fans for not knowing how to react.
Texas has had a few decent teams over the years and a couple of real clunkers, especially when the franchise was in Washington and called the Senators. Mostly, though, the Rangers have just been there, neither really good nor really bad.
The Rangers had only their fourth 90-plus win season in 2010. The two best Rangers teams in history were the 1977 version, which went 94-68, and the 1999 Rangers, who were 95-67. They went about their success in vastly different ways.
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The ‘77 squad relied mostly on pitching. With Gaylord Perry (15-11), Doyle Alexander (17-11), Bert Blyleven (14-12)Perryand Dock Ellis (10-6) as the anchors of the staff, Texas ranked third in the American League with a 3.56 ERA.
The offense had only one player with more than 75 RBIs: third baseman Toby Harrah, who hit 27 homers and drove in 87. Others on that Rangers team included: catcher Jim Sundberg, first baseman Mike Hargrove, second baseman Bump Wills, shortstop Bert Campaneris and outfielders Claudell Washington and Juan Beniquez.
The ‘99 Rangers were loaded with offense, led by first baseman/DH Rafael Palmeiro, who batted .324 with 47 homersGonzalezand 148 RBI. He was far from a one-man wrecking crew, though. Outfielder Juan Gonzalez batted .326 with 39 homers and 128 RBI. Catcher Pudge Rodriguez chipped ine, with a .332 average, 35 homers and 113 RBI. Todd Zeile and Rusty Greer also were big offensive threats, which made up for the Rangers’ woeful lack of pitching. Texas’ 5.07 ERA was atrocious and no starting pitcher had an ERA better than 4.79. Right-hander Aaron Sele did manage to win 18 games.
Those Texas teams lacked balance. Not this one. The 2010 Rangers have a quality offense and outstanding pitching, in the starting staff and the bullpen. Cliff Lee, who beat Tampa Bay, 5-1, in Tuesday night’s series-deciding game, now has a career record of 6-0 in the postseason and a 1.44 ERA. That’s historic stuff, right up there with the greatest postseason pitchers in history.
In 56 1/3 postseason innings with Philadelphia and Texas, Lee has allowed only 38 hits, walked six and struck out 54. Most amazing is that he’s allowed exactly one home run. With Lee anchoring this staff – although not getting a start until Game 3 against New York – the Rangers might give the Yankees all they want in the ALCS.
* The longer St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa puts off making his decision about whether to return to STL in 2011, the more undecided I become.
I’m starting to feel a willingness to let go and move on. I think after 15 years, enough might be enough. Listen, I’m not one of those fickle Cardinals fans who blames La Russa when things don’t go well. I think he’s one of the best managers in the history of baseball and his record validates such a statement.La RussaBut maybe the Cardinals, who were stale in 2010 and have missed the post-season in three of the past four seasons, need a kick in the pants. It appeared to me that La Russa was less patient and more prone to being emotionally prickly this season. I’m not sure he’s content at this stage of his career. He might also need a new challenge, although he has said time after time that he doesn’t want to manage anywhere other than St. Louis, although if the New York Mets bring La Russa buddy Sandy Alderson on board as general manager it might change those dynamics. Alderson and La Russa were together in Oakland in the day.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that I’m torn. Part of me wants La Russa to return because he’s such a good manager. But a part of doesn’t, because I’m not sure he’s in sync with his clubhouse as he used to be.
My Facebook Friend
Evie HaertlEvie, rightEvie is the daughter of KWCH sportscaster and “Sports Daily” co-host Bruce Haertl, with whom I’ve worked in radio for nearly 10 years. Evie is a gem. She’s now 21 and in her third year at KU. I’m not sure what she’s studying; I’m not even sure if she is studying. I just know that Evie is a fun, bright, engaging person and I always enjoy being around her. Here’s what Evie had to say about our Facebook friendship:
“I’m 21 years old, 5′2” female (thanks for clearing that up, Evie). I met you (Bob) through your work with my dad. We’re both real life friends and Facebook friends because you need my youthful optimism and I need your mature and logical view on the world. And I enjoy talking movies with you and making fun of you on occasion.”