Mac Engel

It’s barely March, and the Rangers’ season already seems lost

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish (11) stretches before throwing during the first inning on Thursday. It appears likely it will be the only inning Darvish works this season.
Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish (11) stretches before throwing during the first inning on Thursday. It appears likely it will be the only inning Darvish works this season. Star-Telegram

Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister encourages everybody to feel what you need to feel after hearing that the best pitcher on the team is likely gone for the season.

Mr. Banister, on behalf of your loyal fan base, allow me to “feel” the following regarding the news that Yu Darvish is likely out until 2016: *&^%$!! Bleeping! Bleep! Bleep! Are you bleeping bleep kidding me?!

It’s the first week of March, and it already feels like the Rangers are playing out the string.

One does not have to believe in voodoo to know that the Texas Rangers are indeed cursed. Every time I think the Curse of Nolan Ryan is just a joke, something dramatic happens to solidify the fear that this is real.

With this franchise, the surprising news isn’t that Darvish is likely lost for the season, but that a piano didn’t fall from the sky and fall directly on top of him.

Upon hearing the news Saturday morning that Darvish will likely require Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, it dawned me on what this franchise is — the Cubs South. We all revel in the fact that our hometown baseball team is not known for winning but defined by horrible luck. Now that the Red Sox are good, the Cubs and Rangers have the market cornered on sports masochism.

The Rangers are the lovable losers of the South. They try, they spend money, yet are cursed in a way that defies the absurd, and only the Cubs can relate.

Nolan Ryan is the Billy Goat, the Ballpark is Wrigley, and Nelson Cruz is our Steve Bartman. Owners Ray Davis and Bob Simpson may as well plant ivy along the outfield wall at the Ballpark to complete the transformation.

This Darvish news means Derek Holland is your ace, Yovani Gallardo is your No. 2, and Jack Daniels and Bud Lite are your friends. No franchise in professional sports has embraced partying while their team suffers through another season the way the Cubs do every year, so the Rangers would be wise to follow suit.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat it — it’s not the news we wanted,” Rangers GM Jon Daniels said Saturday. “Personally, I am not going to the buy into the, ‘Here we go again’ deal. I’m just not.”

JD may not, but it is hard for the rest of us not to. The cruel, the tragic, the dumb, the laughable and the painful just keep happening. This is not the way baseball go. This is the way the Rangers go.

The Yu news is consistent for a franchise that just this century has experienced the following: signing the best player in the game to the richest contract in history and later having to trade him for pennies on the dollar (A-Rod); team bankruptcy (Tom Hicks); a GM who betrayed the GM in waiting (John Hart-Grady Fuson); a manager admitting to cocaine use (Ron Washington); PED use (Nelson Cruz); the Josh Hamilton drama; a fired owner (Chuck Greenberg); the death of a fan falling from the stands; the excruciating loss in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series; the departure of a franchise icon from the front office (Nolan); 13 players missing at least 100 games to injury last season; Washington mysteriously quitting.

And, because I don’t want to leave my friend out, even one of the beat writers who covers this team tragically died last year — Richard Durrett, you are eternally missed.

The Darvish twist is hardly aberrational. As Rangers fans and Rangers followers, we are simply conditioned for it. Following social media after the news popped, the collective reaction was “Texas Rangers gonna do what Texas Rangers gonna do.”

To say this team is cursed because of Nolan’s departure is to ignore this club’s horrid history before he arrived as a team executive in 2007. But since he left, the bad news that has followed this team is something the North Siders in Chicago can relate to.

Since Nolan left, the Rangers have dealt with catastrophic injuries to Holland, Jurickson Profar, Prince Fielder, Martin Perez, Matt Harrison, Mitch Moreland and now Darvish. This latest injury guarantees the Rangers will have at least 13 players in a little more than one year to miss at least 100 games.

If (when?) Darvish has surgery, the Rangers will already have two players out for the year, with Profar having returned to his throne on the DL. Imagine how ugly this could get when the real games start.

I am not buying Yu’s elbow popped because of the workload in his tenure. These injuries happen to big league pitchers at an increasing rate. A near-record 31 big leaguers had Tommy John surgery last year, including Perez.

No one can prove why it happened, and at this juncture that doesn’t much matter. It happened, and the Rangers will be without their celebrity ace pitcher in Banister’s first year.

“Feel what you need to feel with all of this,” Banister said. “Once that is over with, fan base, organization, players ... focus back inward, come together. We can either crumble, give in, or we can galvanize, become stronger.”

Sounds great. Right now, it’s safe to say most Rangers followers just feel like shouting: *&^%$!! Bleeping! Bleep! Bleep! Are you bleeping bleeping bleep kidding me?!”

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @macengelprof and The Big Mac Blog

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