It’s October, and after six seasons since baseball’s return to the Nation’s Capital, we have not yet had the opportunity to root, root-root for the home team in the MLB playoffs. As the District continues to wait for the day to christen postseason baseball at Nationals Park, I suggest an alternative course. Nay, I write with a plea: support the Texas Rangers as the ALCS kicks off this evening in Arlington, Texas. I say this because cheering for the Texas Rangers over the New York Yankees is truly a vote for part of Washington D.C.’s sports past.
American League baseball? Here on the hallowed pages of We Love DC? Believe it. And trust me, we deserve some baseball to cheer for after the summer we went through.
It was a long season, between the shut down of Strasburg, the zaniness of Nyjer Morgan and the patrons-dressed-as-seats through much of the later months of the campaign. Go read Tom’s great wrap-up when you get a chance, it’s fantastic, but the year may be summed up by this: Tom got into a fight with a commenter because they were arguing on the validity of season grade of C+ as a positive.
If you love baseball (which I do), you may need something to get you through until Pitchers and Catchers. With the Nationals done for the year, don’t forget that there were a few other ball clubs checkered across Washington’s history. Rachel looked at where one part of DC’s baseball history came from – Montreal – in a great feature back in July, and one reader, William, helped shed more light on the other aspects of our history – life as the American League’s Washington Senators:
The second Washington American League team was always known as the Washington Senators and played in DC from 1961 through 1971. They were generally terrible in DC and then moved to Texas, becoming the Rangers, where they have been, almost certainly, the worst franchise in the history of American sports.
William was correct. The Senators/Rangers franchise has historically been worse than really any team that’s been around for half a century. Yes, the Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908, but at least they have successfully advanced in the playoffs, even as recently as within the last decade. And, sure, the NFL’s Cardinals haven’t won a title since 1947, but at least they made the Super Bowl just over 18 months ago. For the Rangers, it wasn’t until earlier this week that the club won their first playoff series ever.
I know what you’re thinking, “Man, the Expos were pretty bad, too, and the Nationals haven’t been that much better.” Well, the Expos do claim (albeit creatively) a division title from 1981, and they even picked up a win in the NLDS before falling to the Dodgers in the pennant series. For a team that started almost a full decade after the Senators/Rangers, they were relatively faster in earning postseason success, achieving the win in year 14, not year 50.
I provide all of this context to solidify my point/request: cheer for the Rangers. They are an underdog with a few remarkable stories of recovery (go read about Josh Hamilton and what he’s overcome, not to mention the cool way his teammates recognized that feat earlier this week). They have a pitcher who is with his fourth team in two seasons, a left-handed cannon by the name of Cliff Lee, looking to show that he can carry the Rangers on his shoulders. (Yeah, he’s left-handed, my bad, thanks commenters).
And they’re playing the Yankees! The Evil Empire themselves (<—Red Sox fan bias). How great would it be for our former city inhabitants to prevent back-to-back Yankee championships and fill into the potential match-up with the Phillies. The Rangers are one of only two teams (along with the San Francisco Giants) who can prevent another Yankees/Phillies matchup in the World Series. They could even help the District get even for those of us who had to deal with Philly infiltration throughout the season.
Interestingly, the Rangers can also avenge another set of ex-Senators. The Twins, who were swept by the Yankees fairly quickly in the first round, also once called Washington home. So, Texas Rangers, here’s what I ask of you: beat the Yankees, for Washington D.C., and somewhere, at least one small part of Washington will be cheering for you. Join me?