October 23, 2010
Just finished watching my former team win a spot in the World Series against my current team. It’s amazing that it has turned out this way. I wonder if that’s ever happened before: one player who, in a single season, has been a starter for the two teams that end up playing in the World Series.
But believe me, I’m pulling 150 percent for the Rangers. I love the guys on this team, and I love these fans. When the umpire rung up A-Rod for the final out of the game, all I remember is bolting for the mound and jumping onto Feliz. Everyone else on the team ran in from the bullpen and the dugout and threw themselves on us. I suddenly found myself flatted on the bottom of the pile. I could hardly breathe – that’s a lot of poundage in that pile. I had the ball in my glove and suddenly someone took it out. I later learned it was Feliz, which was fine. But I’m lying there on the infield dirt. I can’t move a muscle – and my face is smashed into Feliz’s Afro. That was nasty. And Matt Treanor is kissing me on the cheek. It was crazy.
When everyone finally peeled themselves away, I looked up into the stands. It was incredible. All through the stadium, tiny bursts of light flashed from thousands of cameras. I could see people cheering and crying. I saw signs that said, “We Believe!” Confetti fluttered all around us. I saw the scoreboard blazing with the words, “Hello World Series!” I felt as if I was in a dream. When you’ve been around the game as long as I have, you take nothing for granted. You know how rare and special these moments are. I loved making a lap around the field. The fans here have waited so long for this, and I’m so grateful I got to be a part of it.
I sought out Colby Lewis on the field and hugged him and told him how much I respect and admire him for how he pitched. With so much at stake and so much pressure, he was absolutely locked in. He is exactly what this team is all about: guys who believe in themselves and in each other.
I admit that it’s going to feel weird to play against the Giants. But it’s also a great feeling. I have lots of brothers over in that clubhouse, not just the players but the coaches and clubbies and trainers. So, of course, I was rooting for them all the way, yelling and cheering at my TV.
I know one of the story lines of this Series will be me and Buster Posey, the rookie who replaced me on the Giants. People seem to have a hard time believing that Buster and I have nothing but affection for each other. He’s a talented, smart and humble kid. I appreciate how he conducts himself and the credit he gives me for teaching him a few things. He texts me all the time, including after we won the pennant Friday night. And I texted him and other Giants players tonight, congratulating them. I’m so happy for all of them. I know how hard they worked.
Do I think my knowledge of the Giants will help me and the Rangers? I sure hope so. But I don’t think it will help to the degree people might think. Obviously, I haven’t been watching their hitters lately, so it will be our scouts and our pitching giving the pitchers and catchers the most accurate and up-to-date info. And as far as hitting the Giants pitchers, I might drive myself crazy trying to out-think them. They know that I know what they like to throw in certain situations, so they’re not going to throw it, or maybe they will because they’ll think I won’t be expecting it. Or something like that. Anyway, I could twist my brain into a pretzel instead of just getting into the box and hitting the ball.
I can’t wait to get to San Francisco and start playing. This is going to be an amazing Series. Both teams have heart. Both teams are fearless.
It’s amazing to think that no matter who wins, I’ll have my second World Series ring. If this is my last year in baseball, what better ending than to have contributed to both teams in the World Series? I couldn’t ask for anything more.
OK, I could ask for one more thing.
Another rush to the pitcher’s mound, another stadium filled with flashing cameras and a scoreboard ablaze with the words, “World Series Champion Texas Rangers!”
Sorry for the delay in getting this post out. I wanted to get something out as soon as we clinched in Oakland but you know how it is. Anyway, that day in Oakland was awesome. It was an amazing feeling – I haven’t felt that way since I was with the Angels in 2002.
I wish everybody in their lives could experience this at least once. There is nothing better than sharing a moment of complete joy with your team — the people who have been working so hard together. It’s so much more satisfying than achieving something individually. It’s hard to put into words, really. You just look at each other in the clubhouse, with the champagne flying everywhere and everyone hugging, and you want almost to burst with emotion. We all did it together. Everyone contributed. Everyone believed.
The only down side was that we didn’t do it at home in front of our fans. That would have made it perfect.
I feel very lucky, needless to say, to have joined this team. One of the best parts, which I couldn’t have expected, is getting to know Matt Treanor. From the outside, maybe, Matt and I should be rivals. We’re sharing the catching position. Each of us, of course, wants to be behind the plate more. We’re both very competitive. We both hate sitting on the sidelines. But Matt and I have become great friends – and so have our wives. They’re already planning an off-season vacation for all of us.
The thing about Matt and me is that we both care about just one thing: Winning. Neither of us cares about individual statistics. We don’t care about personal goals. We both just want to win this thing. So that’s why it works.
So when I’m playing, he’s there between innings helping me with strategy, giving me feedback on this batter or that batter. And I’m there doing the same for him. We watch video of opposing batters together. We meet with the pitchers. We share whatever information we have.
Maybe it’s because we’re both veterans who understand it’s all about the team and winning. As much as baseball seems like an individual sport in a lot of ways – you’re by yourself on the mound or in your position on the field or and at the plate. But all the parts have to work together. Players have to trust each other and pick each other up. And that’s how Matt and I have always played. And as we’ve gotten older, I think, the team concept only becomes more important.
Matt and I both take pride in the fact that our pitching staff has a chance to finish the season with a sub-4.00 ERA for the first time since 1993. I take some satisfaction, too, in learning the Rangers pitchers pretty quickly and learning the American hitters. Matt has helped a lot there, too.
Do I wish my performance at the plate were better? Of course. But it was nice to see bench coach Jackie Moore quoted in a story today saying of Matt and me, “They know they’ll win more games with the way they call pitches than they will with their bats.”
That’s why the Rangers are in the post-season. We know our roles and play as a team.
This team also understands that we can’t slack off just because we have clinched the division. We need to keep the intensity up so when we begin the playoff games, we it the ground running.
Off to the field. Thanks for reading!