The Dallas View: The Texas Rangers Heartbreaking Game 6 Loss Will Lead to Game 7 Win
Where do you start when you want to talk about one of the most intense, back and forth, thrilling, emotional, and ultimately (for Texas Ranger fans) heartbreaking games in baseball’s history?
So many baseball points to talk about – inning after inning after inning of them. So many thoughts, what ifs, and if-onlys.
One of the greatest parts of World Series baseball is that every key play and every key decision is dissected during and after the game. Was that the right pitching change? Should the outfield have been playing more shallow? Should the infielder have gone straight to first instead of looking at second?
This particular World Series game had more dissectible moments than any in memory. 11 innings of baseball chess at its finest that every sports media outlet in America will be talking about ad infinitum. From a Ranger perspective, incredible highs – Josh Hamilton’s heroics, Mike Napoli again having an MVP-caliber performance on offense and defense, Michael Young redeeming himself after shaky defense with more hits, Derek Holland coming in and calmly getting the Rangers out of a bases-loaded jam. And unthinkable lows – Neftali Feliz unable to get the third out of the 9th and Scott Feldman unable to get the third out of the 10th. And finally, Mark Lowe’s last pitch of the night landing 15 feet over the center field wall thanks to new MVP-candidate David Freese.
The bottom line is that the Rangers made it to the 11th inning of Game 6 of the World Series by being a stubborn, resilient, and talented team. That’s the team that will have to show up in Game 7.
We will all be second guessing Ron Washington all day on Friday, until the first pitch. He’ll be as second-guessed as a U.S. president while we all try to figure out what went wrong. He can’t let that get to him - he has to instill confidence in his team. A team that’s injured – Hamilton’s groin/hernia will still be a problem, Nelson Cruz has a tight groin that took him out of this game, and Mike Napoli has a sprained ankle. A team that’s even more emotionally bruised, being one strike away from a World Series Championship with a two run lead on two separate occasions.
The good news for the Rangers is it takes four wins to be a World Series champ – and St. Louis has three, just like the Rangers. When Game 7 starts, it’s anyone’s game.
The Rangers need look no further than their Dallas sports brother, Dirk Nowitzki, for wisdom and inspiration. He’s a man that knows the pain of shouldering a historic series loss – and a man that knows how to overcome it.
“Heartbreaking loss. But there is nothing better in sports than a game 7. Every competitor loves this situation. Can't wait until tomorrow,” he tweeted minutes after the Rangers loss.
And he’s right. The Rangers just had a historic collapse on national television, but they’ve also been presented with the opportunity for a historic recovery.
Ron Washington, Nolan Ryan, and Jon Daniels have built a team that has proven time and time again that they’re never going to go down without a fight. They need only to look at Game 6 as proof – they overcame St. Louis leads and comebacks repeatedly to be in position to win. The Rangers have to focus on those successes rather than dwell on the failures.
St. Louis proved that they too are stubborn, and found a way to get the win. Tony LaRussa outmanaged Ron Washington, the Cardinals pitchers were able to contain the Rangers just enough, and the Cardinals hitters showed an unbelievably remarkable level of never-give-up attitude to claw their way back in extra innings.
But in Game 5, the opposite was true – Washington bested LaRussa, the Rangers pitchers shut down the Cardinals, and the Rangers bats came through in the clutch.
I’m going to remember Game 6 as one of the most back-and-forth and gut-wrenching sporting events of all time. But in the end, it’s still just one game. You have to win 4.
As sports fans, we have to look at Game 7 as an opportunity for our team to prove itself on the biggest stage. As athletes and competitors, the Rangers have to welcome it as an opportunity to show the world that they refuse to be remembered as the “other team” in one of the greatest games of all time.
And we all have to remember that this win or lose, this is why we watch sports. The despair, the hope, the sadness, the joy. It doesn’t always end the way we want it to – just ask fans of the 2006 Mavericks. But sometimes, those stumbling blocks are just what we need to learn how to be champions.
The Rangers could just ask 2011 NBA champion Dirk Nowitzki.
Follow Dallas-based writer and sports nut Andrew Kaufmann on Twitter, @andewk. And random hot tip - follow America’s favorite mustache, @Dutchstache.