On April 10, 1961, the second Washington Senators team played their first game of existence, with the team replacing the original franchise, who moved to Minnesota and became the Twins. The team went 61-100 in their first year of play, and in 11 seasons in Washington, the team only had one winning season, coming in 1969. The Senators moved to Arlington, Texas in 1972, becoming the Texas Rangers. It would take them three seasons to enjoy their first winning season, but playoffs would be a long wait for them.
When the Rangers won the American League West in 1996, it was the first time that they reached the postseason in their history. It was also the first of three division titles in four seasons, but none of them resulted in an advancement in the postseason, with all three losses coming against the New York Yankees. The Rangers wouldn't reach the postseason again until 2010, and that year saw them win the American League pennant for the first time ever. They would win another pennant a year later, but neither resulted in a championship. This year is the Rangers' first pennant since those back-to-back years, and they would enter Game Five just one win away from their first championship.
The pitching matchup for Game Five between the Rangers and the Arizona Diamondbacks was Nathan Eovaldi vs Zac Gallen, and it was very quiet. Gallen was even pitching a no-hitter, but the D'Backs couldn't get runs of their own. Gallen took the no-no bid to the seventh inning, but Corey Seager's lead-off single ended the bid. That would get things going, as Mitch Garver ended up driving in the game's first run, and all of a sudden, the Rangers were up 1-0 and ended up nine outs away from winning the Fall Classic. It was six outs after the seventh. The Rangers had a bases loaded threat in the eighth, but nothing came of it, though the D'Backs went down in order, putting Texas three outs away.
Now, the score was 1-0, so I figured that Texas needed about two more runs to really ice this. They put their first two runners of the inning on base, and then Jonah Heim came up and delivered what was supposed to be an RBI single. However, a fielding error caused both runners to score, and Heim ended up on third. Later on, Marcus Semien delivered with a two-run shot of his own. It was 5-0! Geraldo Perdomo struck out to start the bottom half of the ninth, Corbin Carroll grounded out, and Ketel Marte, with a postseason hit streak on the line, struck out looking.
They did it! In their 63rd season of play, the Texas Rangers won the World Series! Texas won Game Five, 5-0, over the Diamondbacks to capture their first World Championship in franchise history. When that ninth inning started, I thought of 2011, the year where the Rangers were one strike away on two occasions in Game Six, but lost that game and went on to lose Game Seven. Because of that, it was fitting that the final out that sealed the Rangers' first championship was a strike out. I'm so happy for this team. I was pulling for them because they hadn't won one, and now they have. I do love seeing first time champions, though the one five years ago was quite tainted. It's nice to see a Texas baseball team actually win a World Series fair and square for a change.
Corey Seager earned the World Series MVP nod this year, the fourth player to win it twice (he was also the MVP of the 2020 WS). Seager homered three times in this year's Fall Classic, and his single ended Gallen's no-hit bid. With this championship, every team in the Dallas area has won one; the Mavericks have an NBA Championship, the Stars have a Stanley Cup, the Renegades won the XFL Championship, and the Cowboys have five Super Bowls. Regarding MLB alone, the number of teams looking for their first championship is now reduced to five: Rays (reached in 2008 and 2020), Rockies (reached in 2007), Padres (reached in 1984 and 1998), Brewers (reached in 1982), and Mariners (never reached).
As for the Diamondbacks, major congratulations to them on a very surprising an unexpected season. Nobody had this team in the postseason this year. The expectation for Arizona was that they would finish fourth in the National League West. To paraphrase the Michael Jordan meme, "they took that personally." Some of the National League teams who were supposed to make it to October fizzled, and the Diamondbacks capitalized and nabbed the last spot in that NL's postseason picture. They swept the Brewers in that Wild Card Series, they swept the Dodgers in the NLDS, and they won a seven-game NLCS over last year's upstart team, the Phillies. The 2023 Arizona Diamondbacks ended up being the MLB equivalent of the Florida Panthers and the Miami Heat from earlier in the calendar year. Kudos to them for shocking the world and raising expectations.
So ends another MLB season, the first to feature a truly homogenized schedule, with every team playing everyone else in the league. It was quite a thrilling year, and it led to a World Series that nearly no one saw coming. We will see next year of the Rangers can maintain the momentum of finally becoming champions, but for now, the only thing they should focus on is celebrating their biggest moment in their franchise history.
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