By Ben Dieter
Fifty-two years is a long time for a franchise to wait for their first-ever world championship. The Texas Rangers moved from Washington, D.C., in 1972 to become the Texas Rangers.
No one, Rangers fans and media included, expected this Texas team to hoist the commissioner's trophy at the end of the 2023 season. I had them picked third in the American League West behind the Astros and Mariners in my pre-season picks.
Fans who followed their run throughout the playoffs know that this team had to fight to win it all. They broke records along the way.
Texas now has the player with the most RBI in a postseason (Adolis Garcia with 22). Evan Carter set the record with the most doubles in a postseason. Carter is 21, by the way.
Also, the Texas Rangers won 11 straight road games to win the Fall Classic. That has also never been done before.
This year was the Rangers’ third shot at winning it all. The first came against current team manager Bruce Bochy and his San Francisco Giants in 2010. The next year the Rangers went into the fall classic as the favorites to defeat Tony La Russa and his St. Louis Cardinals.
Both series ended in a loss for Texas, and the 2011 series against the Cardinals was the most difficult series for fans and players alike to get over.
Fast forward 12 years, and the Rangers had quite the run to the World Series. It began with game 162 in Seattle.
Losing game 162 to the Mariners meant that the Rangers lost hold of the American League West and handed it to the Houston Astros. Instead of a few days off to rest, the Rangers had to fly across the country and take on the 99-win Tampa Bay Rays.
The team got on an airplane in Seattle defeated and got off the plane in Tampa ready to win. And it showed from the first game on. After disposing of the Rays in a sweep, the Rangers flew to Baltimore to face a 101-win Orioles team.
The Rangers did what good teams do and took game 1, securing a road victory in the series. That was their third straight road win. After taking the second game as well, the Rangers held a commanding 2-0 series lead over the Orioles in a best-of-5 series.
Finally back in Arlington, the Rangers disposed of the Orioles in game 3 and headed to Houston to take on the division rivals and reigning World Champion Houston Astros.
The Rangers proceeded to win game 1 and game 2 in Houston, and they were halfway to the World Series. Then the first bump in the road hit. The bump was named Jose Altuve. Houston’s second baseman dominated the Rangers in Arlington during the regular season, and that continued in the postseason.
Houston took all three games in Arlington, including a come-from-behind win in game 5. Once again, the Rangers had their backs against the wall, one game away from elimination.
The two teams headed back to Houston, and that is where Adolis Garcia became a Texas legend. The American League Championship Series MVP hit 3 home runs in the last two games of the series and helped send the Rangers to the World Series for the third time.
The Rangers had now tied the 1996 Yankees for the most consecutive road wins in a postseason. They had at least 2 more road games to go.
The Rangers set the tone for the World Series by walking off the Diamondbacks in game 1 with a, you guessed it, Adolis Garcia walk-off homer. A ninth-inning homer by Corey Seager set up the walk-off.
After badly losing game 2 in Arlington, the series shifted to Arizona. The Rangers shattered the previous record by winning all three games in Arizona, making them 11-0 in the 2023 postseason on the road.
The key to finally breaking the postseason championship drought was one thing no one counted on with the Rangers: the bullpen. Names like Josh Sporz, Aroldis Chapman, Cody Bradford, Jon Gray and Jose LeClerc were lights-out in almost every appearance for Texas’ bullpen corps.
There is always an element of luck or good timing for teams to win a championship. The Rangers found some of both with their amazing bullpen in the 2023 postseason.
Rangers fans have waited a very long time to declare that their team is the World Champions. I hope they can enjoy this championship for a long time and remember how hard it is to win it all. It was a real joy to watch and witness as someone who covers the team. Is it Spring Training yet?
Ben Dieter has been covering the Rangers since 2009 for various publications and websites including www.therangerreport.com, www.dalsportsnation.com and www.nolanwritin.com. He also is the host of the Ranger Report Podcast.