The Astros have been a wonderful addition to the AL West

Posted Monday, Aug. 19, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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engel Not often does any Major League Baseball club feel the need to thank its lead car salesman, Mr. Bud Selig, but in the case of the Texas Rangers and every other 2013 AL West team a note of gratitude is in order.

The Houston Astros have been a wonderful addition to the division, providing ample opportunities to end losing streaks, increase home run totals, lower ERAs, flirt with no-hitters, and rest bullpens.

Texas improved to 12-2 against Houston this season after Monday night’s win. The Rangers play the Astros five more times this season, too.

The only other club the Rangers have double-digit wins against … wait for it … Josh Hamilton’s California Angels.

Not only have the Astros provided a wonderful chance for your Rangers to get obese against their Triple-A roster, they are also reminder of just how bad it can be, and how good we have it here.

Your Rangers haven’t even won a World Series and suddenly we’re collectively behaving like an entitled Damn Yankees fan whose birthright it is to at least win the division. Consider this — there exists now a generation of North Texans who only know the Texas Rangers as winners and the Dallas Cowboys as not-winners.

In five years this team has spoiled us. This whole generation of FW/ders has zero perspective of just how long the Rangers honked.

“Super spoiled,” shortstop Elvis Andrus told me. “If we lose a few games now it’s a big deal.”

We forget now but it was not that long ago when the Texas Rangers could lose three games in a double header and no one was either surprised, or bothered. Now, this team goes on a four or five-game losing streak and all hell breaks loose.

Under any other circumstance manager Ron Washington would be up for a lifetime contract and a statue next to team czar Nolan Ryan, but for some reason he remains a lightning rod in the greater tri-state Metroplex.

Whine and hate if you must but ask any Rangers fan over the age of … 20, and he/she should know how good we have it here now. If you don’t think we have it good here look across the field at the opposing dugout.

When you type “Houston Astros” one of the Google thingy automated prompts that pops is “Houston Astros lose 100 games” (that’s true).

It was not too long ago this Astros team was the first team from the great state a Texas to make the World Series ... in 2005. Now, they are the Rangers that so many of us once knew.

“From ’05 to now, it is shocking to see,” said Rangers designated hitter, and former Astros mainstay, Lance Berkman.

To win a World Series we now realize first-hand, requires a degree of luck that perhaps only the Almighty can influence. To be competitive, go to consecutive World Series and make three straight playoff appearances, should never be taken for granted.

“Fans have a short memory. It is very difficult to sustain that level of success they are having,” Astros catcher Jason Castro told me. “It’s a hard thing to do in sports, especially baseball.”

It is in this moment of irony that former Rangers owner turned pariah Mr. Thomas O. Hicks deserves the teeniest, tiniest bit of credit: His final goal for this team was to go the hard way and build a team that won every year. He wanted to build the Atlanta Braves, a team that simply won all the time.

I remember him telling me one day in 2005 he thought the Braves string of then 14 consecutive playoff appearances was even more impressive than their one World Series title. Not sure their fan base agrees; the Atlanta Braves have become an adjective, used to describe a highly successful team that wins a lot, but not the title.

The Rangers have a long way to go before reaching the Braves’ level of success, but the way it is set up, the club is in a good position to be competitive for several years.

Yes, winning a World Series or two is the ideal and the reality is the club should have one by now. They had 2011 in the bag. Will it be painful/frustrating if these Rangers don’t win the World Series, as I fully expect? Absolutely.

But it beats the alternative. It beats being the Astros.

We know that, we just forgot.

For now, while they still stink, the Astros not only provide the Rangers a slew of wins but also a nice reminder to enjoy what you have.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @macengelprof

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