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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5 Comments

I remember that game well. I was there. But I never really blamed Pujols (although I hate playing against him), I blamed Lidge. He always seemed to let us down, and then he’d walk off afterwards not showing a bit of remorse, not one bit! He’d be interviewed about it, and he’d make some smug, casual remark like “Oh well, no big deal.” Yes, Lidge, it WAS a big deal, and you let us down too many times. I’m not really rooting for either team tonight, but I will root for Lance, because Berkman will always be an Astro in my mind. And because my family lived in New Braunfels when Lance and his family did, and they all graduated from high school there, even though from different schools. Lance was a Cougar, and my kids were Unicorns. I always figured his nickname “Puma” came from the fact that he was a Cougar in h.s., but I’ll never know. Anyway you slice it, Lance is a home town boy, so I hope he gets his ring. I just wish he’d done it in an Astros uniform.

I can’t agree more. Being an Astros fan living in Cardinals/Royals country that game last night turned the tables.

They wont go away :-)

What the Astros had that the Rangers don’t is a dominant starting pitcher.

I hope the best Texas team wins tonight. Lance Berkman pretty well sank his ship, in an interview he had last year here in Houston. Lance and Roy Oswalt, didn’t
want to be here…..so be it. I absolutely *HATE* Tony LaRussa.
I will N E V E R cheer the Cards. EVER.

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