After 52 seasons that started with the old Washington Senators moving from Washington D.C. to a frying pan of a baseball stadium in Arlington, Texas where they were fated to spend decades scratching and clawing for simple relevancy, the Texas Rangers have finally become the most relevant team in all of baseball. The long and agonizing wait for a title that was painfully close to being over in 2011 is finally over here in 2023. The Texas Rangers are World Series Champions and they did so in an impressive five-game victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Before we really get into how this was finally able to happen for the Rangers, we have to acknowledge the Diamondbacks and how impressive it was that they were even able to make it this far in the Postseason. If you had to rank the 12 teams in the Postseason bracket this season before it all got started, the D-Backs would’ve been the strongest candidate to be ranked No. 12 overall. Thanks to Corbin Carroll being electric, Ketel Marte stepping his game up in a major way and pitchers like Merrill Kelly, Brandon Pfaadt and their bullpen stepping up in a huge way, the Diamondbacks were able to beat the odds with stunning regularity before ending up as the last team standing in the National League.
For a while in Game 5 of the World Series, it seemed like Arizona was going to be the last team standing on the night in order to force the series back to Arlington. Zac Gallen lived up to his reputation of being a very strong pitcher at home and carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning. Arizona’s offense showed signs of life but they were unable to break through and deliver the big hit that had come for them on multiple occasions during this run. They had their chances to keep the series going but unfortunately, this was an example of all good things eventually coming to an end.
With that being said, this was an amazing run for the Diamondbacks just two seasons after losing 110 games basically by accident in a non-tanking season. Not only should this give Arizona hope for the future but it should also inspire every other fanbase in this current era of expanded playoffs. This is now two seasons in a row where the NL has been represented by the sixth seed.
The Cincinnati Reds were only two games behind Arizona. The Chicago Cubs only missed out by one game. Maybe we’d feel a lot differently about how this season went for the San Diego Padres if they had won just three more games instead of finishing 82-80. The point is that if you’re a team on the bubble at the trade deadline, you should go for it — you may not end up like the Diamondbacks or the 2022 Philadelphia Phillies but you at least owe it to yourselves and your respective fanbases to give it a shot since there’s now definitive proof that anybody can make a run in this current era.
While building a team that is good enough to hang around until reinforcements arrive at the trade deadline is good and well enough, there’s also the option to take the path that the Texas Rangers took to eventually lifting the trophy. In an era where every single Major League Baseball franchise is now worth at least $1 billion (according to Forbes), it’s possible for any team to spend big if ownership wants to. Just like the Diamondbacks, the Rangers were also moribund in 2021 and lost 101 games in their first season with full attendance at Globe Life Field. Unlike the Diamondbacks, the Rangers decided that the path to curing their on-field woes was to break out the checkbook and go nuts in free agency.
Texas pulled off a huge coup in free agency ahead of the 2022 season when they signed Corey Seager and Marcus Semien. One year later, Seager was the man who got the Rangers’ offense going in the seventh inning by breaking up Zac Gallen’s no-hitter and Semien was the one who broke the game wide open with his two-run homer that made it 5-0 in the top of the ninth inning. It cost the Rangers $500 million in order to bring them both in — $325 million over ten years for Seager and $175 million over seven years for Semien. I’d say that’ll end up being half-a-billion dollars well spent, right?
Even though the first year of Jacob deGrom’s five-year, $185 million contract didn’t go anywhere near as well as they would’ve wanted, Texas must surely be feeling great about every single penny of the two-year, $34 million contract that they agreed to sign Nathan Eovaldi to during this offseason. Eovaldi gave the Rangers six strong shutout innings as he managed to go toe-to-toe with Zac Gallen who had been pitching the game of his life through six innings. While Eovaldi was nowhere near as sharp as Gallen was, he still managed to escape pressure on numerous occasions and his work tonight was invaluable as it helped to keep the Rangers right there in the game and in position to strike once their offense woke up.
While the story of the 2023 Texas Rangers shouldn’t just be distilled down to Shane McMahon’s theme song being played on repeat, it is proof that strong financial backing will go a long way towards building a team that can be relevant. The dynamic Adolis García probably doesn’t get a chance to have the incredible run that he had this Postseason without the free agent spending that helped put a strong team around him. Max Scherzer doesn’t come to town unless a team like the Rangers was willing to take on a bit of financial responsibility to pay him now that he’s been traded from the New York Mets. Adding onto that, the aggressive and ultimately successful trade deadline that the Rangers had wouldn’t have a chance to come to fruition if ownership was skittish about spending money.
Ownership bought in (both literally and figuratively), which allowed the organization to buy in from the front office all the way down to the players on the field doing all the actual work and making things happen. While it might be wishful thinking to believe that every MLB team is going to start engaging in spending sprees, the success of the Rangers should at least motivate some other teams to start splashing some cash so that they can eventually attempt to emulate what is now a proven and successful formula for victory.
Whether you build your way to success or you buy it, the point is that flags fly forever. The Rangers definitely bought their way into a World Series victory and you can bet that the franchise and its fans will be laughing all the way to the bank after the parade on Friday and long into the offseason as well.