Texas Rangers

Oct. 1, 1996: Where Were You When the Rangers Won Their Playoff Game? Their Only One.

The defending Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys were 2-3 under Barry Switzer and on their way to a playoff loss to the Carolina Panthers.

The Dallas Mavericks were embarking on a season that started with head coach Jim Cleamons and the Three Js -- Jason Kidd, Jim Jackson and Jamal Mashburn -- but ended in a 24-58 disaster that got Kidd traded, Cleamons fired and Don Nelson a job.

The Dallas Stars were new, and hockey at Reunion Arena was still fresh.

Our President was Bill Clinton; we were still staggering from the Atlanta Olympics bombing; Jerry Maguire was showing us the money; your 14-year-old son wasn't yet born; and everyone was doing the "Macarena." Shoot, I had a wife, a job at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, hair and a Nissan Pulsar complete with T-Tops.

Yep, Oct. 1, 1996 was a loooooong time ago.

So long ago, in fact -- roundabout 5,100 days -- that the Texas Rangers were playoff winners. For the first, and only, time in their franchise history.

Take heart, Rangers fans. As you watch Game 1 of the 2010 ALDS against Tampa today, know that it is possible for your baseball team to win a post-season game.

Once upon a time ...

The Rangers are the only team in Major League Baseball to have never won a playoff series, and they carry a nine-game post-season losing streak into today. Hard to believe things got off to such a roaringly good start.

On Oct. 1, 1996 the Rangers strutted into Yankee Stadium for their first-ever playoff game. A 90-win team under the guidance of manager Johnny Oates, Texas was led by Pudge Rodriguez and Juan Gonzalez and Will Clark. The Yankees featured Bernie Williams and Wade Boggs and Darryl Strawberry and a catcher named Joe Girardi and, oh yeah, a rookie shortstop named Derek Jeter.

Honestly, the Rangers made it look easy in Game 1 of the 1996 ALDS. Pitcher John Burkett hurled a complete game, scattering 10 hits, and Gonzalez and Dean Palmer each hit homers off David Cone in the 4th inning as the Rangers cruised to a 6-2 victory.

Texas hasn't won a playoff game since.

Frustrating, because they almost won that series. In Game 2 Texas led 4-1 after three innings behind two more Juando homers. But New York forced extra innings with runs in the 7th and 8th and won it 5-4 in the 12th when Palmer threw away a sacrifice bunt attempt, allowing Jeter to score the winning run.

Back in Arlington, the Rangers lost tight games -- 3-2 in Game 3 and 6-4 in Game 4. Texas was then swept by the Yankees in '98 and '99, making the all-time playoff mark a miserable 1-9.

Maybe it's just me, but 4,000 days between playoff wins seems about long enough.

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Richie Whitt
Contact: Richie Whitt

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