Thanks to my 8-year-old son's intense but not at all unpleasant love affair with baseball, I've spent way too many evenings in recent days glued to the MLB Network watching Tampa Bay and/or Boston slug it out to see which team lands the American League wild-card spot. Because if the Rangers beat the Angels tonight for a sixth straight W, they'll play one or the other at the Ballpark in Arlington beginning Friday at 4:07 p.m. (The Rangers could lose and maintain home-field advantage, of course, but only if the Tigers also drop their final game of the regular season to the Indians, which is rather unlikely given Detroit's nine-game win streak over visiting Cleveland, which is one game under .500.)
Tigers win and Rangers lose, Texas goes on the road Friday to play the Yankees at 7:37 p.m. Friday. And Texas doesn't wanna play the Yankees, at least not in the first round: Ron Washington's club is 2-7 against New York this season, having been outscored 35-62. And a few of those games ended with Yanks 12, Rangers Not 12.
Of course, the thinking right now is that you want to play the Red Sox. And at home, where the Rangers are 52-29 this season. Texas is 6-4 against Boston -- including the three-game win streak to open the season at the Ballpark. (Then, of course, there was the late August series at home, where the Sox clobbered the Rangers three games to one.) The Rangers outscored the Red Sox 65-57 this season. Ah, but Texas also played well against Tampa Bay this year, winning five out of nine (three of which were shutouts) and outscoring the Rays by 41-26. But Tampa Bay's on the upswing; Boston's on its death bed, or so it appears.
I was talking to my old friend Jamey Newberg about this today. Far as he's concerned, the best thing that can happen for the Rangers is Tampa Bay and Boston have to play each other in a one-and-done tomorrow that'll screw with playoff rotations. John Lester's already starting for Boston tonight on three day's rest; David Price's going for Tampa Bay tonight. "Push 'em back to Game Four" of the ALDS, Jamey said. But then he offered these words of encouragement: "They way we're playing right now, all the teams in the AL should fear us." Except maybe the one with Justin Verlander.
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Wait. Good Lord. Where was I going with this? Oh, right -- something about the MLB Network and the post-season. Maybe you've seen those "Legends Are Born in October" spots featuring that awful Tinie Tempah song. They've been airing during every commercial break. Tonight, though, the Rangers finally get their own spot, a 30-second highlight reel from last year's joyous post-season. Watch it early here. That's where I was going with this.