Those who were there swear even now that Sandy Koufax was close to tears when he announced his retirement at 30 in November 1966. Prince Fielder, forced to retirement fifty years later at 32 (yes, that was Koufax’s uniform number) because of two spinal fusions in his neck, was in tears when he announced it.
Whatever it is they say about karma, Rougned Odor is going to hear more about it than he probably cares to hear. At least until he and his Rangers return to another postseason, preferably unscathed by a throwing error to leave the current postseason, or a stupid brawl over reactions to last-minute paybacks for things months in the past.
Police brutality—by or against—is a horrible thing. Unless you’re the Toronto Blue Jays against the Texas Rangers in the first two American League division games. The set goes to Toronto with the Rangers very much in danger of losing not only their badges but their minds.
Name one Ranger who expected to get destroyed 15-3 over the course of the two games. Name one who expected Cole Hamels to get billyclubbed for seven runs (six earned) in three and a third in Game One, or possibly still-slightly-ailing Yu Darvish to get bludgeoned for as many home runs as he had strikeouts in Game Two.
It’s getting to where someone can’t even reach his 3,000th hit without being sandwiched tightly around less than happy news. You’d think Ichiro Suzuki could turn on Chris Rusin’s 2-0 service Sunday and rip it off the top of the right field wall for a triple without players bearing sadder news overshadowing him.
Not that the terminally modest Ichiro would complain, mind you. But he shared Sunday with Alex Rodriguez’s gracious announcement that he would give in to the Yankees essentially firing him as a player while planning to make him an advisor and field instructor.
It turns out that I was right in how I called at least two of the punishments handed down for the Texas-Toronto basebrawl game Sunday. Elsewhere, there were a few surprises.
Rougned Odor, whose roundhouse to Jose Bautista’s face exploded what Matt Bush’s drill of Bautista and Bautista’s hard but nowhere near dirty slide into Odor at second base merely ignited, got eight games and a $5,000 fine. Bautista got one game off. Thinking twice, he should have gotten none and Odor probably should have gotten more.
So who’s going to get what as a result of 25 Rangers and one riot Sunday? That’s only the number one question around the game before today’s activities begin. There are obvious prospects and a few vague ones alike. If you were Joe Garagiola, Jr., baseball government’s enforcer, as it were, how would you rule? Herewith my call:
That was then: The Texas Rangers (the law enforcement outfit, that is) lived by the motto, “One riot, one Ranger.” The motto was fashioned by a Ranger captain, William McDonald, when he was sent to Dallas in 1896 to stop (wait for it) a prize fight.
This is now: The Texas Rangers (the baseball team, that is) lived Sunday by the apparent motto, “25 Rangers, one riot.” In their final game of a series and the season against the Toronto Blue Jays. All on behalf of avenging . . . a bat flip in last fall’s postseason.
Elvis probably wanted to leave the building. So did Mitch and Rougnie. And there isn’t a man, woman, child, or extraterrestrial spirit in Texas, Ontario, or the world who’d blame them.
But they didn’t. And Elvis Andrus stood at his locker after it ended, took it like a man, and didn’t flinch once.
“Everything went down since my first error,” Andrus said, after the single most insane seventh inning perhaps in all baseball history dug the grave of the Texas Rangers’ otherwise miraculous season.
Sometimes being one of nature’s lesser endowed base stealers pays off richly. Even in a game when maybe your biggest bopper has to come out with nasty back spasms. Even when the other guys figure they’ve got you dead to right on a planned pickoff contingency.
And in part because the Toronto Blue Jays forgot about what the man at the plate was thinking, when they set up on a leftward-heavy infield shift to try trapping Rougned Odor in the top of the third Thursday, the Texas Rangers came away from American League division series Game One with a 5-3 win.
It may not be advisable to say it to Astros lefthander Dallas Keuchel’s face, of course. But yes, the Rangers are back from the dead. And if Wednesday night’s proceedings in Arlington were any indication, these Rangers would like nothing more than to leave those Astros—and everyone else in the American League West—for dead, too.