Remember when fans, long ago, and baseball pundits told everyone that you couldn’t buy a World Series? It was more water-carrying for a majority of owners who didn’t want to spend, but it was baseball truth that a team couldn’t sign free agents all over the field and watch it all come together to win a championship.
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Well, the Texas Rangers bought two MVP-level players in the offseason before the 2022 season (yes, Marcus Semien has played at an MVP level along with Corey Seager). Jon Gray was a part of that spree too. Then they got Jacob deGrom this past winter, along with Nathan Eovaldi, never thinking one pitcher was enough.
Oh sure, it wasn’t just free-agent signings. Jonah Heim turned into one of the best catchers around. Josh Jung is this generation’s Scott Rolen, or projecting that way. Something clicked for Adolis Garcia. Evan Carter came to the rescue late in the year. That’s internal development (though Heim was a trade). Gotta splash that in as well.
Perhaps the most important thing the Rangers did was that they didn’t stop trying. When deGrom blew out his elbow, and the ship started to list, they didn’t shy from being all-in and tried to cash out whatever they could, like some teams that talked big (*cough*Mets*cough*). Lose deGrom out of the rotation? They traded for Max Scherzer. And just to back that up, they also got Jordan Montgomery, never thinking they had enough. That was after they brought in Aroldis Chapman to shore up the pen. Even hiring Bruce Bochy was a go-for-it move. Bochy wasn’t getting out of the rocking chair to “develop” players. He’s beyond that.
The Mariners can futz about with their aim for 88 wins or whatever it was. The Astros can claim that they don’t have to pay any of the stars they produced because they’ll develop the next one. The Dodgers can even try to duck under the luxury tax. The entire AL Central can go to the zoo. The Red Sox can pretend they’re a small market team. The Orioles can never turn their wealth of prospects into something that will put them over the top.
Well, one didn’t make the playoffs, losing their spot to the Rangers. Both the Astros and Dodgers suffered this year from not getting the big hits they needed. Can’t help but wonder if Seager, Springer, or Correa just might have helped. Everyone else is on the couch too.
Meanwhile, Seager will be taking home the World Series MVP — for the second time — with his ring. Semien got through a rough October just in time to be a key cog in Games 3-5 of the World Series, including the homer that iced it all. Montgomery and Eovaldi were studs throughout, the latter dueling with a guy throwing a no-hitter on the other side.
Perhaps the landscape now allows for a team that really tries to stand out, because so many aren’t. Maybe that’s why the Phillies can go to back-to-back NLCSs.
Those are discussions for another time. All Rangers fans care about is their team gave them a team to get excited about, and it delivered. They won’t care about taxes or sustainability or long-term outlook. Flags fly forever. It’s easier to get those flags if a team does everything possible to get them. It’s sad that it feels so rare, but satisfying to watch it work. At least one other team is going to be inspired to do so. Somewhere.
Bobby Knight died. He won a lot of basketball games as a college coach at Indiana. He was also a textbook bully, a racist, and pretty much a sh*tbird of a person. No doubt if any of his players whom he bullied incessantly because he was the coach and was untouchable had actually squared up to him he would have pissed himself. Knight could have accomplished all he did as a coach while treating everyone around him with respect and decency, but that wouldn’t have made him feel like a king, which is probably what he was really after. His biggest fans are those who think yelling and treating people like dirt makes one a man, only because they’re somehow even smaller and sadder people than Knight was.
Anyway, here’s Lesley Visser putting him in his place, which he clearly was never prepared for:
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