Feliz Navidad!

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And now you know why I didn't exactly shed a tear that the Texas Rangers decided against acquiring Roy Halladay in exchange for a package that included one Neftali Feliz.

In a word: WOW!

Merry Christmas, Rangers fans.

The 21-year-old righty made a spectacular Major League debut last night in what turned out to be a kick-to-the-crotch 3-2 loss to the Oakland A's, striking out the first four batters he faced and routinely touching 100 mph on the radar gun. No pitcher since 1962 had struck out the first four batters of a debut before Feliz turned the trick.

And it wasn't merely what he did, but how he did it: During Feliz' scoreless two innings, his first two pitches hit 99, he threw an 82 mph curve, a 91 mph splitter and his 30th and final pitch was a 101 mph fastball.

I believe it was about a year ago ... yes, it was last August that I was priming you for this day. Remember?

With the Angels 15-3 since the All-Star break and about to get back hitters like Torii Hunter and Vlad Guerrero, winning the West is getting more far-fetched by the day. The Rangers are in the Wild Card hunt, but consistently winning games while mustering only six (Sunday night) and seven (Monday night) hits per game is ultimately unrealistic.

In the big picture, it's okay. This isn't the year. It's the year before the year.

Again, bringing in Halladay would've increased the Rangers' chances in 2009 and 2010. But it's difficult not to salivate over a next decade that should include dominant pitching from the likes of Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter and Feliz.

After his dazzling debut, by the way, Feliz is only 5,710 strikeouts behind all-time leader Nolan Ryan.

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Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


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