Texas Rangers Fans: Let's Go Yankees! Clap ... Clap ... ClapClapClap!!
I've seen Mavericks' forward Popeye Jones inadvertently tip a jump ball into his own basket, giving the Cleveland Cavaliers two points. I've seen Cowboys' defensive lineman Leon Lett inexplicably attempt to recover a blocked field goal on an icy Thanksgiving field at Texas Stadium, handing the Miami Dolphins a victory. I've even seen - and tipped - a one-arm stripper at The Clubhouse.
But yesterday was a first for my eyes: the Rangers won a baseball game via a walk-off strikeout.
In a surreal season that's as weird as it is wonderful, Rangers 6, Mariners 5 was the wackiest climax of 'em all. Score the winning play: Strikeout, Wild Pitch, E-2. Never seen a player mobbed on the field for a check-swing strikeout at a pitch that bounced two feet in front of the plate, but that's exactly what happened to Nelson Cruz Wednesday afternoon.
But shortly after Mitch Moreland scampered from first on the bizarre play to score an unlikely run in a meaningless game, my thoughts turned to next week.
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Who do we want the Rangers to face in the American League Divisional Series: Yankees or Ray?
Easy: The Bronx Bombers.
The Rangers, who will play the winner of the AL East, are 4-4 vs. New York; 2-4 vs. Tampa. And I think they match up better physically and psychologically with the defending champs.
*Texas swept the Yankees in Arlington earlier this month. Without Josh Hamilton.
*Though they were swept in New York in April, that was a different Rangers team. Scott Feldman and Rich Harden were on the mound and Jarrod Saltalamacchia behind the plate. Yikes.
*The Rangers have twice scored off Yankees' Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera this year. That's a huge advantage if they need a run in the 9th to tie.
*Remember, Cliff Lee beat Yankees' ace C.C. Sabathia in Game 1 of last year's World Series.
I fully realize Yankee Stadium is a hallowed, initimidating place where nary a division flag flies. And I know the Rangers are 1-9 in the playoffs against the Yankees. Look at it this way: Either it's been almost 4,000 days since the Rangers won a playoff game on October 1, 1996. Or the only post-season game they've won was against the Yankees in New York.
Problem is, I think it's going to be the Rays. They own a half-game lead entering the season's final weekend, they have played one less game than New York and they own the tiebreaker.
Tampa's Tropicana Field isn't quite as sexy (or near as crowded) as Yankee Stadium, but the Rays might just provide the Rangers with a more difficult opponent.
Still, hard to ever root for the Yankees.
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