The Rangers are saying all the right things. But how are they, really?
Even though water cooler chats have been phased out, thanks to modern technology that now allows for us to “talk” without actually having to speak face-to-face, I’m guessing that work productivity still hit an all-time low this morning.
Facebook and the Twitterverse — our modern-day variations of the antiquated “water cooler” talk, has been abuzz for about 17 hours and counting, ever since Game 6 of the World Series began as an embarrassing series of defensive blunders on both sides and transformed to quite possibly the greatest Game 6 in history.
As I watched the Rangers come within a strike from winning the World Series over and over again, only to lose, I couldn’t help but harken back to Game 5 of the NLCS in 2005, when the Astros were within a strike of winning the pennant before Albert Pujols hit the home run off Brad Lidge.
I’m not bringing this up with intentions of punching Astros fans in the stomach, again. And that game bears very little significance to last night’s, except for the fact in both cases, the team closest to the finish line blew the lead and eventually, lost the game.
No, I bring it up because I found what happened after that game in ’05 somewhat fascinating. The overall attitude among the players was pretty positive, as the Astros still had a 3-2 lead in the series. But there was still a somewhat sick feeling that everyone was trying to ignore but couldn’t deny was very much a real thing.
I remember asking a member of the support staff before Game 6 in St. Louis, “So, I’m assuming everyone’s still staying pretty loose through all of this, right?” This person gave me a one-word, flat answer: “No.”
I also recall a weary-looking Lance Berkman walking onto the field from the dugout for batting practice and saying to a couple of us, “If we don’t end up winning the pennant, I might retire.”
I doubt Puma was serious, but we’ll never know, because the Astros, behind an absolutely dominant performance by Roy Oswalt, indeed won the pennant. But there was anxiety among the players and staff, even if most wouldn’t acknowledge it out loud.
It makes me wonder about the Rangers’ mental state heading into tonight’s Game 7. I’m really not a believer in momentum — after all, in ’05, the Cardinals had all the momentum in the world and it didn’t matter, because Oswalt pitched the game of his life. But tonight the Cardinals will be playing in front of their hometown crowd, less than 24 hours removed from receiving some unbelievable heroics from their hitters.
I can’t help thinking the Cardinals, who weren’t supposed to win the Wild Card, were most definitely not supposed to beat the Phillies in the Division Series, had little chance to top the powerful Brewers in the NLCS and were clearly the inferior team of the two playing in this year’s Fall Classic, might actually pull this one out.
I can’t wait to find out how this one ends.
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