So today I am showing you this 2004 Classic Clippings All-Star Lineup card featuring Hank Blalock and a piece of his jersey. Oh, and two other guys from other teams without jersey pieces.
This card doesn't really have a lot to do with today's post but I usually post either game-used of autographed cards on Thursdays and I couldn't come up with one to match my thoughts. Well, maybe Hank Blalock does. He kind of reminds me of a bummed out feeling what with his injuries and all.
I have that bummed feeling after last night's game. Texas lost at Tampa Bay to finish up a sweep by the Devil Rays. Three losses in a row and 3-7 in the last ten games. Ouch! Of course they still lead the second place A's and Angels by eight games so it isn't like they fell out of first. Still, that kind of play isn't good news. It actually gets a little worse when you look into it a bit, even if we assume the Rangers still win the division and make the playoffs.
Ok, so Texas won't have the best record in the American League going into the post-season. That privilege will probably go to the winner of the A.L. East. The Wildcard will also likely come out of the East so the Rangers and the Central champs will both end up playing East teams in the first round. If Texas can get their act together they might get home-field advantage if they draw the Wildcard. That would mean a better record than the Central winner though and right now the Twins are playing better ball than Texas is. Most likely scenario is an on the road series against the East champs. If it's New York then we revisit 1996, 1998, and 1999. Ugly.
Even if Tampa Bay wins the East things don't get much better. Not only did they sweep the Rangers in this last series but Texas can't seem to win in the East. This season the team has a losing record playing in East ballparks. They have lost convincingly in New York, Tampa Bay, and Toronto. The only wins of any significance have come in Boston and they haven't played in Baltimore yet.
In summary, I still don't think the Rangers will wilt in the Texas heat down the stretch. I am concerned that they will wilt under the October pressure. Sure hope I am wrong.