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A Lone Star Series for the ages
The Rangers and Astros have shared a lot of bad blood. Now they're facing off for the pennant.
This was the matchup I wanted.
My favorite team, the Texas Rangers, vs. the Houston Astros.
These teams have shared a lot of bad blood, from benches clearing and trash talk to media members and the team’s social media accounts pouring kerosene on the growing flames.
The in-state rivals wound up tied at the end of the regular season; Houston was awarded the AL West title by technicality from having a better head-to-head record.
At the time, I had hoped that the score between these teams could have been settled.
Winner takes it all.
Because Texas and Houston dismantled the rest of the American League playoff field, they are now facing off in a Lone Star Series for the ages with the pennant hanging in the balance.
It's fitting that these teams are still standing. The Astros have been a model of consistency, reaching the ALCS for seven consecutive seasons.
The Rangers, meanwhile, have been resurgent this season — and for stretches, the league’s best team — after being stuck in baseball's abyss for the better part of 12 years.
In order to return to the Fall Classic, the Rangers will have to slay the dragon and beat Big Brother.
This year reminds me a little bit of the Rangers' playoff run in 2010. The team acquired key contributors, leaned on out-of-nowhere rookie help, picked up a clutch, gutsy starting pitcher at the trade deadline, found a closer, and then had to vanquish a favored rival that had haunted them, in that case the Yankees, in the ALCS.
I recognize the history of other rivalries — Yankees and Red Sox, Giants and Dodgers, Padres and Dodgers, Cubs and Cardinals, Astros-Cardinals ... the Astros-Rangers rivalry has been relatively new, with Houston only moving to the American League in 2013. But this season, the Astros-Rangers rivalry has burned blue-flame hot.
This is the first seven-game playoff series featuring intrastate rivals since the 2002 World Series between the Angels and Giants, and before that, the 2000 Subway Series that pitted the Yankees against the Mets.
I don't know what's going to happen in this series. Houston's a scary team that has played well against the Rangers this year.
But the Rangers are a different team than the one the Astros previously beat. A team that's come alive in October.
During the course of their rivalry, these teams have passed a silver boot trophy back and forth to celebrate the team that won more head-to-head games.
The American League championship trophy would mean a whole lot more.