Rangers: How Manager Jeff Banister Can Change History


Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister can change the course of history with a regular season-ending win against Los Angeles for AL West title.

At this point, it seems like weeks ago that the Texas Rangers clinched that American League Wild Card playoff spot against the Los Angeles Angels last Thursday night. That accomplishment was supposed to be followed up with a victory – just one – over the remaining three games to clinch the AL West division championship.

Well, Rangers fans are still waiting.

Saturday’s historic collapse in the 9th inning against a division rival that’s still desperate for a miracle to extend their season was certainly a letdown. This has created more than just a late, ill-timed two game losing streak against an Angels club that should already be making vacation plans for the winter.

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Instead, the division is still up for grabs on the final day of the 2015 baseball schedule.

Further, there’s now a formula for this club to develop a major complex about itself.

This is precisely what first-year manager Jeff Banister must avoid. This job, alone, may be his biggest challenge of the season, and that’s saying a whole lot.

Bannister has to disallow his club from falling into any kind of slump, and I mean a mental slump.

The reality is that Sunday’s loss was not Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, even if former St. Luis Cardinals annoyance David Freese is among the current Angels that are bedeviling the Rangers.

Sunday’s loss was merely game No.161, which obviously means there’s still one more game to play. It’s critical that Bannister is able to get inside the mind of his club and make one thing clear, something that former manager Ron Washington was apparently never able to do:

The Rangers – not the Angels – are in control.

While it’s true that the Rangers don’t even have to win on Sunday to take the division, Texas really needs a victory against Los Angeles to immediately exorcise demons of the past that probably still linger in the minds of those few players that still remain with the Rangers some four seasons after the ’11 World Series collapse.

If nothing else, the Rangers need this win for a fan base that has never completely bought in to baseball in the Dallas-Ft.Worth Metroplex. Yes, fans have shown up, made noise, painted their faces and brought the homemade signs to raise when the stakes were at their highest.

The problem is that Rangers fans have never been fully rewarded for following this team while certainly welcoming the idea that this ball club can join the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Stars and the Dallas Mavericks on the world championship stage.

That can begin to change as early as Sunday.

A win against the hanging-by-a-thread Angels earns Texas a true playoff series as opposed to a meager one-game ‘play-in’ to determine which of two teams gets to advance to an American League Division Series.

Yes, a Wild Card berth can work, the Rangers already having earned that.

But the true prize, at least for right now, is advancing deeper than a silly one-game trial that can completely end what has turned out to be a historic season in just a few hours.

Prior to today’s Angels win, teams had lost 1,761 CONSECUTIVE games when trailing by four runs in the 9th on the road.

Bannister has no interest in the 95-loss season of a year ago. He doesn’t think about the abbreviated one-game postseason runs in 2012 and 2013. The first-year skipper certainly can’t occupy himself with those World Series defeats of 2010 and 2011.

Saturday’s loss borders on a complete fluke, as pointed out immediately following the game by Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw, courtesy of MLB.com.

The reality is that Texas is better than Los Angeles, a fact proven by the Rangers’ ticket already pocketed for this year’s postseason.

Bannister simply needs to guide his club to a win on Sunday. What happens thereafter is completely irrelevant, at least for now.

Rangers fans want to know that this Rangers organization can finish and take what’s been placed before them, especially when either an out or as little as a strike is all that’s needed to become a champion.

If Bannister can accomplish this task, he’ll have already rewritten Texas Rangers history and made it his own.

Next: Rangers Final Shot To Clinch AL West

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