Hearts and Minds

One of the benefits to having lowered expectations for the Rangers, is I'm really starting to enjoy the little things again. It's a nice reality check, something I haven't felt about baseball since 2010. 

See, it's 2014 now, so it's easy to forget: At the end of May in 2010, the Rangers were 26-24. Their rotation (at the time) featured Rich Harden, Scott Feldman, first-year starter Derek Holland, first-year starter C.J. Wilson and a first-year-back-from-Japan Colby Lewis. That wasn't exactly a world-beater starting five, and, with a barely-better than .500 record, no one could have forecasted what happened next. 

In June of that year, Texas went 21-6, propelling them to 47-30 overall -- 6.0 games better than the next-best AL West foe -- and our expectations as fans have never really gone down from there. From Josh Hamilton's sometimes-greatness, to Cliff Lee's playoff brilliance, and through all of our scarred souls for having seen Game 6 of the 2011 World Series... we have expected championship-caliber baseball from the Texas Rangers. We haven't stopped expecting the Rangers to win.

Until now. 

Texas will have to go 6-1 over their next 7 games to match the pace of the 2010 club, and 70-49 (.588) the rest of the year to equal that club's 90-72 record. I'm not going to be the crazy person who suggests they are going to do it, but who would have believed the guy who predicted success after May in 2010? 

It's not the same thing. I know. I get it. None of us have ever seen a roster so littered with disabled list stints, such a tattered, ineffective offense, or a rotation designed from an elaborate game of musical chairs. As a baseball fan it's a premium letdown to see Matt Harrison's career in jeopary, Martín Perez's promising April derailed by a torn UCL, Kevin Kouzmanoff's back to fall off, et. all. It's hard not to imagine what could have been if such a bulletproof franchise hadn't ran into so many holes so early on in the season. 

All hyperbole aside, it's time to adjust expectations. The Rangers aren't the front runners anymore, they're the underdogs. Since the end of June in 2010 -- almost four full years ago -- we haven't really been able to say that. While I like my favorite baseball team to be a winning baseball team, part of me is rejuvenated at the challenge this season presents. 

It's hard now to have perspective. But if you remember correctly, it wasn't that long ago when, like now, no one expected much of anything from the Rangers.