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Baseball

The Texas Rangers Are World Series Champions

A decades-long wait is over, and nothing will ever be the same.
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Mitch Garver put Texas in front to clinch its first World Series. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

After 52 years in North Texas, the Rangers—finally—won the World Series.

I always suspected I’d write that sentence someday, just as I presume I’ll eventually do so for the Cowboys and the Super Bowl. It is awfully difficult for big-market franchises with any modicum of brain power, spending power, and star power to stay down forever, and the Rangers have spent good chunks of the last quarter century flush in all three. Sooner or later, they were bound to get theirs.

But absolutely no part of me imagined that we would be here, now, watching this team do what five decades’ worth of other Ranger squads could not. Not one year after losing 94 games and two years year after dropping 102 in the club’s first triple-digit-loss season since 1972. Not yet. The 2023 Texas Rangers were supposed to be several injury breaks and several more relievers away from achieving baseball immortality. They were supposed to be too inconsistent to win big. Too light on playoff seasoning and all the steel that provides.

This year was the prelude, not the full concerto.

Except it wasn’t.

The Rangers’ ascent from baseball’s depths to its absolute pinnacle felt equal parts instantaneous and painstaking, a fast sprint to complete a long marathon. This was an exhausting baseball team, but an incorrigible one, too, which is how no setback—however daunting, frustrating, and occasionally self-inflicted—proved too big to overcome.

And so, they did.

And now, everything has changed.

The Rangers are no longer the lesser child among the region’s big four teams, not after they—not the big, bad Cowboys, nor the Luka Doncic-led Mavericks, nor the perpetually contending Stars, but the historically hapless Rangers—are the team to end North Texas’ 12-year championship drought. They are the kings of North Texas, the new measuring stick for on-field excellence.

Corey Seager is on the fast track to becoming one of the best Rangers of all time. Adolis García is a North Texas playoff legend. Bruce Bochy, until proven otherwise, is infallible. Jose Leclerc, fallible at the very worst moment against Houston, is redeemed. So, too, is Marcus Semien after the insurance homer in Game 5 and that bombastic Game 4, which, thanks to one of those lovely improbabilities that makes baseball so wonderful, will nevertheless be known as The Andrew Heaney Game. Jordan Montgomery and Mitch Garver are about to get paid. Evan Carter, who now has almost as many career postseason plate appearances as regular-season ones in his two-month-long career, will soon enjoy one of the most anticipated rookie years in decades around here. Nathan Eovaldi, signed to be Jacob deGrom’s understudy in the rotation, is now deGrom’s benchmark for how spectacular a thirtysomething coming off a second Tommy John surgery can be.

A week ago, I wrote that the key to understanding this group and its many, many twists and turns was to examine them less through trends than possibilities. Why not the Rangers, I wondered, before winding down with the following:

Why not the Rangers, who have spent seven months defying, disproving, and disabusing every notion that an obviously flawed team cannot also be a great one, a special one, perhaps even a transcendent one?

Why not the Rangers?

Why not now?

The answer, we know now, is that there was no answer—no stopping this team that, for so many reasons and on so many occasions, seemed destined to become like the other 51 Texas Rangers teams who never knew November baseball. This was not the most talented Texas Rangers team of all time, and it damn sure wasn’t the healthiest or the least calamitous.

But it was the most determined, the most resilient, the absolute toughest to kill.

The hottest team in baseball through the All-Star break couldn’t solve the 2023 Texas Rangers.

A 100-win team couldn’t scratch them.

Their archnemesis couldn’t outlast them.

An even more improbable World Series foil couldn’t shock them.

If all of that doesn’t make this the best Rangers team of all time, it undoubtedly makes it the greatest—although, it should be noted, the competition for that first title didn’t employ a hitter as good as Seager or a manager on par with Bochy, either. And they are certainly the benchmark for all the Texas Rangers squads to come, ones that could soon be even more talented once uber prospect Wyatt Langford bursts onto the scene and if deGrom returns to full form.

Come next spring, baseball will regard the Rangers as predators, not prey. This is the gravitas, the respect, they’ve earned by outlasting 29 other teams. They will never again be grouped with clubs like Seattle, Colorado, Tampa Bay, Milwaukee, and San Diego in the cloister of franchises yet to taste World Series glory. They will never again be seen as less than.

Someday, perhaps someday soon, a different Rangers group will surpass this one. A bigger, badder bunch, with no fewer than two relief pitchers who don’t make everyone queasy. But that team won’t be the first team, the catalyst. Only one group of players could carry the idea of Texas Rangers, Championship Ball Club, into reality. You just finished watching them withstand an ocean of Arizona Diamondbacks baserunners before drowning themselves in confetti and cheap champagne.

One team had to go first. And at long last, one team has.

Author

Mike Piellucci

Mike Piellucci

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Mike Piellucci is D Magazine's sports editor. He is a former staffer at The Athletic and VICE, and his freelance…

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