The Texas Rangers have one thing in mind–winning that World Series that has eluded them the past two years. It is the only acceptable goal for the 2012 Rangers campaign. Though we are only ten games into a season that spans six months they are doing the right things on and off the field. An 8-2 record is good enough for best in the American League while trailing only the Dodgers (9-1) for the best record in the MLB.
Texas may be known for their big bats but they are also getting it done on the mound. They already have seven quality starts in the first ten games from their rotation. Yu Darvish seems to be gradually shaking the jitters out of his system. His first two starts have been shaky, but he has shown improvement. In his last outing he struck out four batters and only gave up earned run in five-plus innings to help get a 6-2 win over the Twins. Those are far from the numbers that Nolan Ryan thinks Darvish is capable of. Well, at least Ryan hopes that Darvish will be an ace or he’ll want his money back. The shakiest part of their pitching has been new closer Joe Nathan. Both of the Rangers losses have come with Nathan on the mound. But Ron Washington got Nathan back out there in a less stressful situation to get his confidence back. The nerves calmed and Nathan ended up getting a save against his former team, the Twins, later in the week. The pitching staff overall has an earned run average of 2.22 (second best in the league). It’s hard to lose if no one can score on you.
Let’s not forget about those bats waiting in the dugout. The Rangers rank in the top ten in runs scored, slugging percentage, and batting average. Josh Hamilton already has four home runs. Michael Young has nine runs batted in. And Ian Kinsler has scored eleven times. He crosses the plate on average more than once a game. That is exactly what you want from the top of your lineup. With the hot starts by the pitching staff and lineup the Rangers have outscored their opponents by twenty-one runs. Only the Cardinals have outscored their opponents by more (23).
But the moment that outshines anything the Rangers will do during April and probably the rest of the season happened off the field. A couple weeks ago the Rangers organization unveiled a statue dedicated to Shannon Stone, the fan that died from injuries incurred after a fall while trying to catch a baseball in the outfield stands at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. It is a bronze statue of Stone and his son Cooper holding hands, smiling, and looking at each other. Texas got this right. They found a way to honor the death of a fan and his surviving family while honoring all other Rangers fans. The statue is titled “Rangers Fans,” which helps depict what fans can expect when they enter the stadium. They can expect to enjoy great baseball with great company–family and friends. What a great message by the organization. Josh Hamilton, the player that threw the ball in Stone’s direction, has kept in touch with the family and stayed a while after the unveiling to mingle with Cooper and other family members.
In my opinion (and I am sure his family would agree with me) the perfect way to honor Shannon would be to win the World Series in October. If they continue to play like they have so far, I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t.
Will the Rangers win it all? Do you think creating a statue was the right way to honor a fan? Let me know on Twitter @Believelander.
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