I've had a killer real-life workload plus a boss enduring a health issue, so my end-of-season reports remain half-written. Maybe I'll recap 2016 next March as a preseason warmup. Instead, how about 11 things? Nobody's tried that yet.
1. Carlos Gomez (pre-Rangers career OBP: .310) is your leadoff hitter. Shin-Soo Choo (career OBP: .381) is batting 9th. Who am I to argue.
2. The lineup: Gomez, Desmond, Beltran, Beltre, Odor, Lucroy, Moreland, Andrus, Choo. The guys in bold weren't on the team last year, and Moreland was a bench player in last year's Game 1. Also missing from last year's Game 1 lineup: Chirinos, DeShields, Fielder, Hamilton, Napoli.
Roster, Prospects Game vs Cubs
3. OF Jared Hoying is on the postseason roster. He deserves it. 137 days ago, he was 106 days from playing out his last minor-league contract with the Rangers and becoming a free agent. Today, he'll hear his name announced by Chuck Morgan in a cathedral festooned with bunting. (I'm assuming there's bunting.)
Daughter's first baseball game (Jurickson Profar on deck)
4. The rest of the bench: Robinson Chirinos, Jurickson Profar, Ryan Rua, Nomar Mazara. Absent: Delino DeShields, Hanser Alberto.
5. LHP Alex Claudio is on the postseason roster. He deserves it. Claudio has been optioned eight times since joining the 40-man roster in August 2014, but he's been a Ranger without interruption since early July, holding opponents to a .244/.277/.298 line.
Darvish, Nicholas, et al.
6. The bullpen: Barnette, Bush, Claudio, Diekman, Dyson, Jeffress, Kela. Absent: Griffin, Holland, Scheppers.
Dusk at the Diamond
7. Cole Hamels is a Ranger. Yu Darvish cares about winning.
8. Sam Dyson isn't Zach Britton, but I would never begrudge Banny using Dyson in an unorthodox high-leverage situation. I've seen endless variations on "Baltimore couldn't use Britton in a tie game on the road because he's the closer. It just didn't work out. That's baseball." No. That's tautology. Put the best guys out there with the game on the line, and if it doesn't work, that's baseball.
Henry the Puffy Taco
9. I started writing a dissertation on Texas's one-run record (best ever), difference between actual and "expected" record (third largest ever), record versus winning and losing teams, etc. None of that matters. The Rangers are one of the statistically flakiest teams in history. So be it. Whatever happens in the next few days (and beyond, I hope), don't waste time drawing causation between the regular season shenanigans and the postseason. If the Rangers lose the series in several close games, they weren't "due." If the Rangers sweep by scores of 2-1, 4-3 and 6-5, that doesn't prove their "ability" to win close games.
Some fool on teevee (aside the estimable Nathan Barnett)
10. Hold onto every little scrap of happiness you can out of these games. Life is short, and we don’t know what the future holds. Enjoy the moment. And if Texas wins it all, enjoy it forever.
11. Thanks to...
The Texas Rangers front office and communications staff, coaches, players, etc.
Round Rock President Chris Almendarez, General Manager Tim Jackson, Veep of Public Relations and Communications Jill Cacic, Director of Broadcasting Mike Capps; the staff from the field, press box and playground for being so nice to my daughter
Frisco CEO Chuck Greenberg, GM Jason Dambach, Manager of Media Development Nathan Barnett, and computer/video wiz Justin Aguilar
The Corpus Christi Hooks and San Antonio Missions for indulging my media pass requests
Victorville Daily Press reporters Jacob Sundstrom (on-field, mostly) and Shea Jackson (off-field, mostly) for their coverage of the High Desert Mavericks
Hickory GM Mark Seaman, Director of Media Relations Aaron Cox and official scorer/reporter/historian Mark Parker
Spokane Director of Public Relations Bud Bareither
Every scout I pestered for info and gun readings
Aspiring scouts and front-office types on Twitter and elsewhere
Podcast partners Ted Price and Michael Tepid
Kate Morrison for filling in
Jamey Newberg for the opportunity
Whoever I should have listed but didn't
All of you for reading, and
Bye. Go Rangers!
Newberg Report (newbergreport.com)