No matter how badly a professional sports team performs, there’s always hope for brighter days ahead.
Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers are living proof of that, advancing to the 2023 World Series after both teams went through 100-plus-loss seasons just two years ago. During the 2021 campaign, Texas finished dead last in the American League West with a 60-102 record, a distant 36 games behind division-leading Houston Astros. During the same season, the Diamondbacks were a dismal 52-110 and a solid last in the National League West, an embarrassing 55 games in arrears of division-leading San Francisco Giants.
Now, Texas is on top of the baseball world after their five-game series victory over Arizona, which can legitimately lay claim to being the second-best team in Major League Baseball. It was the first-ever Series’ title for the Rangers’ franchise.
So how did they do it? Well, they spent some money. Gobs of money. Offensive stars Marcus Semien was signed as a free agent from Toronto, while Corey Seager, the World Series MVP, arrived in the same fashion from the Dodgers. Those two guys represented a $500 million commitment. Then they improved their pitching staff, adding Nathan Eovadli from Boston and Andrew Heaney, a long-time Angels pitcher, via free agency. The two combined for 22 victories this year. Oh, they also signed Jacob deGrom from the Mets, but his season ended in April due to injury.
But good pitching depends on good hitting to be successful and that’s where Semien, Seager and Adolis Garcia come in. The latter smashed 39 home runs and drove in 107 during the regular season and was lethal in the playoffs, hitting seven homers in 12 games, before suffering a season-ending in Game 3 of the World Series. Garcia was sold — yes, sold for cash considerations — by St. Louis Cardinals in 2020 and hit 97 homers over the next three seasons.
The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, had a larger hill to climb but from 52 wins in 2021, they improved to 74 wins in 2022 — still 37 games from the top — and got into post-season play this year by winning 84 games and earning the NL’s final wildcard position, one game better than Chicago Cubs.
Their route to success? After enduring a 16-34 mid-season slump, the D-backs were sparked by rookie phenom Corbin Carroll, who hit .285 with 25 home runs and 54 stolen bases. Ketel Marté, Christian Walker and former Blue Jay Lourdes Gurriel, Jr., combined for 82 home runs and pitcher Zac Gallen, 17-9, led a decent pitching staff.
In all, the Rangers and D’Backs have given hope to fans of every struggling professional team that competitiveness, followed by success, capped by championships, might be just around the corner.
It’s true: Management and money can combine to eliminate misery.
- TV broadcaster and former NBA star Charles Barkley, on Memphis Grizzlies’ Ja Morant getting suspended for being caught in public with a gun and then having another gun-related video circulate two months later: “Kid can’t be that stupid … he’s getting paid close to $100 million and the only thing you have to do is don’t be a fool. Just play basketball. Ain‘t like it’s a real job….all you have to do is dribble a stupid basketball and stay out of trouble.”
- Headline at fark.com: “Nick Saban drives his Ferrari only on Wednesdays, but not if it’s raining. This is certainly comforting to Alabama school kids who still don’t have enough to eat.”
- Bob Molinaro of pilotonline.com., who wonders … “If women and girls are still tuning into Chiefs’ games in great numbers to catch a glimpse of Taylor Swift, can they really claim to be the smarter sex?”
- RJ Currie of sportsdeke.com: “If you weren't familiar with the term Frozen Frenzy, it refers to a day like Oct. 24 when all 32 NHL teams played. In Winnipeg, it also refers to any day from November to March when you're late for work and your car won't start.”
- Marcus Thompson II in the Athletic, on the slumping San Francisco 49ers, who lost three straight after starting the season 5-0: “This Halloween, the 49ers are dressing up as mediocre.”
- Super 70s Sports, on X: “Is everybody else as excited about the NBA in-season tournament as I’m not?”
- Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel “I’m not saying no one is watching the Diamondbacks-Rangers World Series, but I think it just got beat in the ratings by a two-hour documentary on antique door knobs.”
- Another one from Bianchi: “The New York Giants were down to their third-string quarterback Tommy DeVito in last week’s 13-10 loss to the Jets. I think Danny DeVito would have even more effective.”
- Former SI columnist Rick Reilly, on X: “You could fit all of Bobby Knight’s charm in a shot glass.”
- Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg: “Did not have the best Halloween. I went as a Chicago Bear and kept missing the doorbells.”
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