I don't think I have very much to say about what transpired last night. I already said much of what I wanted to say about Mike Napoli back near the outset of this month, and the only thing that I can think to add after his devastating coup de grâce against the Angels is this: Paying him more than $10 million a year over the next 3-4 years suddenly isn't sounding so far-fetched. As for the playoff-contending insanity that took place last night, that was undoubtedly one of the craziest evenings of my baseball life, and easily one of the most incredible, improbable, storybook endings in baseball history. I don't know if, or when, we'll ever see something like that again.
What I do want to talk about at some length, though, is this: Despite my assortment of hints at being burned out by baseball, I've never had more fun watching a regular season of Rangers baseball than I have this year. I've never watched a better or more resilient Rangers team than this one take the field and carve through its opposition with such regularity. If the way that this team played this year at any one of several critical junctures is any indication (including its incredible 14-2 run down the stretch to lock up the AL West pennant), I've never seen a Rangers team with a better killer instinct. I've certainly never seen a more dependable collective of starting pitchers donning the Rangers jersey, or a filthier group of late-inning relief talent ... and while this may not be the most devastating offense in Rangers history, this may very well be the most balanced collection of positional talent that we've ever had the privilege of watching take the field day in and day out.
A few days ago, one local columnist posited that if the Rangers don't return to the World Series this year, the fan base will be "disappointed ... and there's going to be a lot of finger-pointing." I didn't get that position then, and I don't get it now. Finger-pointing at who, exactly? The Rangers are about to storm headfirst into a small sample-sized battle to the death, where anything can (and will) happen in a 5-7 game stretch. They're going to do so as the defending American League champions, and as one of the best and most well-prepared teams to take part in this post-season. They're also going to play their damn hearts out for the fan base that adores them, for the manager that they themselves adore, and for each other. That's all anyone can really want or ask for from this ballclub.
The Rangers could win it all in the next four weeks. They could also fall flat and find themselves dead in the water by next Tuesday morning. And like the rest of you, I'll find this Rangers playoff run either exceptionally gratifying or highly deflating on the basis of what happens from this point forward ... but the really key point I want to make is that I'm going to be at peace with whatever happens the rest of the way, and so should you. Enjoy this ride to the fullest, regardless of what happens -- and even if things do go awry in the post-season, remember this as one of the very most special Rangers teams you ever had the privilege of watching. We're not always going to be this lucky.