August 2, 2012 — Today I know my team has heart. The Rangers have grit.
In this case, heart and grit mean the same thing — firmness of character; unflinching perseverance.
And heart and/or grit cover over a lot of flaws.
About 8 Texas time last night, my friend Shawn Skeen and I were enjoying beer and appetizers at a chain bar and grill when I looked over my shoulder at the bar television. The Angels had taken a 4-0 lead over the Rangers in the top of the third inning. A few minutes later, I glanced again to see the Angels had extended that lead to 6-0. With the Angels apparently on the cusp of a three-game sweep of the Rangers in Texas, I voiced my concern that the Rangers were on the verge of a dramatic collapse that might see them fall out of a playoff spot. And I further expected Texas to be looking up at the Angels in the standings in the very near future.
A little before 9, I arrived at my usual pub to see the Rangers making a move in the bottom of the fifth. Texas cut the lead to 7-5. But I watched Adrian Beltre strike out, leaving Elvis Andrus on third base. Four innings remained. Plenty of time for anything to happen. The thought occurred that this was the same location where I watched the Rangers, with a World Series so close we could taste it, fall in heartbreaking fashion to The Cardinals last fall.
A little after 10, the Rangers cut the lead to a single run as I explained to a girl that the Rangers were attempting to stave off disaster by rallying to beat the Angels. I’m pretty sure she thought I was being overly dramatic. Only time will tell.
Just past 10:30, I closed my tab and watched Chris Iannetta homer to give the Angels an 8-7 lead in the top of the tenth. I left the pub, hoping to find good news on my television when I arrived home.
Well, about 11, when I finally got around to flipping on my TV, I learned things got worse before they got better. The Angels surged ahead 10-7 going into the bottom of the tenth. But when I picked up the action, Texas had plated a run and had the tying run on base with no outs. David Murphy walked. Mike Napoli singled to left to load the bases. Mitch Moreland singled to drive in Mike Young. Ian Kinsler hit into an infield fly. And finally, Elvis Andrus hit a screamer right down the third-base line to score Murphy and pinch runner Craig Gentry. The Rangers celebrated the 11-10 walk-off win as if they had clinched the division, which didn’t seem the least bit inappropriate. Perhaps in that moment they did.
And with that, Texas regained its place as a team that I hope will win the World Series. Call it grit, perseverance, heart … whatever. It covers over a multitude of flaws.
(addendum: When I wrote this, I was operating under the mistaken assumption that it was a three-game series. It’s a four-gamer. As I watch right now, the Rangers trail the Angels, 8-7, in the bottom of the fifth. It should be noted, though, that I still feel good about things.)
Photo by Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram.