How fitting was it to see the Texas Rangers clinch a spot in the World Series on a called third strike to Yankee Alex Rodriguez, whose contract with Texas almost a decade ago nearly killed the ball club.
Much has already been written about the historical win for the Texas ball club, which up until this season failed to beat the Yankees in any postseason matchup, let alone win a playoff game in its own ball park. But what the Rangers accomplished Friday night is cause for many cheers in baseball.
Yankee fans are no doubt upset with the loss. In theory, the Rangers should have been a cake walk for the New York club to appear in yet another World Series. But what the world saw was a surprising Ranger squad, which was very good this season and likely under appreciated.
Personally, I didn’t see this coming. Yes, Texas had the talent to “sneak” past New York, but do you ever really bet against Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera? And the way the Rangers defeated the defending champions was convincing.
Is this the changing of the guard?
With the resurgence of the Tampa Bay Rays this year — only two years removed from their first playoff berth and World Series appearance — and the rise of the Rangers; are we looking at a new core of excellence in the American League? Are the Red Sox — who failed to make the playoffs this year, but were favorites entering the season — and Yankees no longer the favorites moving forward? Will Minnesota ever be better than just American League Central Champions?
For true baseball fans, this really is an exciting time. What baseball lacks in some sense is parity; which the NFL — now considered the country’s most popular sport — has.
The saying in football is that: On any given Sunday, anything can happen. In baseball, the same is not always true. For years we could pencil-in either the Sox or Yankees as an American League Championship Series or World Series competitor. But moving forward, could we be moving toward a time where neither team advances past the first round?
What will happen in the future remains to be seen, after all it’s not like the Big Market teams are losing a ton of steam heading into next season. Derek Jeter may technically be a free agent, but he isn’t going anywhere.
But seeing fresh blood defeat a perennial power house is promising for the state of baseball — even if the Ranger victory means that a large portion of the East Coast fan base will start watching NBA opening-week games instead of the sports’ championship series.