Bud Selig’s bouncing baby—the “extra” Wild Card Game—springs to life tonight for the Texas Rangers at 7:30 PM CDT. Here are some thoughts prior to the Rangers’ possible pilgrimage to the ALDS for a third-consecutive season.
The Yu Darvish Factor
• Yu Darvish essentially has his “ace” test tonight. If he wins, he’s an ace, end of story. Should the Rangers win, and he pitches poorly, he’s still a number one. Should he pitch poorly and the Rangers lose, well, he’s still a helluva lot better than the Ceej.
• This is the first time that Yu Darvish will face the Baltimore Orioles. In first-time starts, The Yu is 11-3 with a 3.12 ERA. Pretty impressive, more so if you consider that the majority of those decisions came prior to Darvish’s return-to-Japanese-League-Super-Awesome-Pitcher-of-Extraordinary-Magnitude-form.
• If Wednesday’s nearly-unmentionable 12-5 O-town debacle has left you skeptical not only about the Rangers, but of Yu Darvish as well, then consider this, cynical Sally: The Baltimore Orioles are a team that succumbs to strikeouts, and Yu Darvish is their worst freaking nightmare. Also, Captain contempt, C.J. Wilson ain’t starting tonight.
Joe Saunders “Factor”
• The greatness of The Yu is matched only by the awfulness of Joe Saunders. Joe freaking Saunders, man! My only concern: Joe Saunders pitches from the port side and can’t break glass with his heater. Two things the Rangers’ bats tend to struggle with.
Playoff Or Game 163?
• It’s goofy, but tonight’s game actually would have gone down even without the new Wild Card format since the Rangers and Orioles have identical records, it makes it hard to get too excited. In many ways, it’s just game 163, the baseball game equivalent of going to junior college right out of high school, and enjoying the heck out of a “bonus year.” Or what I used to enthusiastically refer to as “12th Grade Redux.” I mean, isn’t that exactly what the Orioles are—our JV discards?
• He could never consistently win as a Texas Rangers manager so why should he now? Sure, that’s an irrational thought. The Baltimore Orioles are essentially built from a Rangers’ scrapheap of prospects, pitchers, and Adam “Not Pacman” Jones. Personally, I think that says far more about the level of talent that the Rangers possess than the excellent job Showalter has done in Baltimore. Regardless, the 2012 Orioles are a far better team than anything that Buck Showalter had to work with during his Texas tenure.
Wednesday’s collapse sent me hurtling into a fetal position that only the promise of cheap beer and discount chicken wings could usher me out of. Yes, I was trapped in a childlike daze for hours after that 12-5 gut punch. So, in lieu of that, let’s take a trip into the excellent pre-adolescent game of “If/Then.” Why? Because it’s fun, and I’m sure as hades not going to “predict” anything…here goes:
If the Texas Rangers jump on the Baltimore Orioles early, and Yu Darvish continues to pitch the way he has, while once again destroying a first-time opponent, Then the Texas Rangers will win, and face the New York Yankees this Sunday in the ALDS.
If said Rangers win occurs, then I will still not buy this silly hat:
However, if said hat should happen to come adorned with another particular logo—hint: the same one that’s been on there since 2010—then I will most definitely purchase one—and still bitch about the $38.99 price tag.