The Rangers win their first World Series title
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
ERIC NADEL: Ranger fans, you're not dreaming. The Rangers are the World Series champions after 52 years in Texas, 63 years in the franchise.
JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:
That was longtime Texas Rangers radio broadcaster Eric Nadel making the winning call as the Rangers took down the Arizona Diamondbacks. Not many baseball experts would have foreseen the Rangers making a World Series run, but thanks to some clutch hitting and sharp defense, they can now be called champions. To help us recap Texas' win, let's talk now with Levi Weaver. He's a baseball writer for The Athletic and was at last night's game. Thanks for being here.
LEVI WEAVER: Hey. I'm happy to do it, and I'm really happy to hear you guys use Eric Nadel's call. That was pretty special to me to hear that guy. He's been with the team for 45 years. For a lot of people, he is the voice of the Texas Rangers baseball - so very cool of you guys to use that audio.
SUMMERS: Levi, the Rangers were one of the few remaining MLB teams to have not won a World Series title. That all changed last night. So tell us. What is the vibe in Texas right now?
WEAVER: You know, there are just so many baseball demons that have been exorcised. You know, the 2011 World Series ended in absolutely heartbreaking fashion for the Rangers. Game six is - I've seen it described as game six is a curse word in Texas, I think. And it seems like, you know, for the last 52 years, the Rangers would do just enough cool things or promising things or provide just enough hope to keep fans engaged and then find some new and cruel way to break their fans' hearts. And, you know, just - the laundry list is a mile long. But that all kind of goes away now, right? The Rangers finally won a championship. Their fans can take a deep sigh and relax, and none of the things that used to hurt really hurt nearly as much as they used to.
SUMMERS: I mean, this is an incredible turnaround from the team last year. They had the worst record a team has ever had the year before winning the World Series. In a couple sentences, how did they do it, and what kind of changes did they make?
WEAVER: Well, there's a couple of things. The obvious one is that they hired Bruce Bochy to manage the team, and Bochy had won multiple World Series as a manager of the San Francisco Giants. In fact, the first time the Rangers ever went to the World Series in 2010, it was Bochy managing the Giants that defeated them, so they knew firsthand what he was capable of. Second, they signed some starting pitching. And, you know, one of those guys, Jacob deGrom, only lasted, I think, six starts. But Nathan Eovaldi was an absolute horse in the playoffs and in the postseason. And he was the guy on the mound last night in the clinching game. They also traded for Jordan Montgomery at the trade deadline, and he was great all postseason. So the starting pitching really carried them.
The other part of it is that, you know, despite the team's record last year - there's something called the Pythagorean record. Basically, the computer looks at the statistics and goes, well, you know, if you score this many runs and you allow this many runs, you should win X amount of games.
WEAVER: The Pythagorean record last year was much better than their actual record, so I think they were closer than people thought.
SUMMERS: All right. We've got a couple seconds left here. Rangers manager Bruce Bochy was a little coy on whether he'd be back next year. Gut reaction - what do you think?
WEAVER: I think he's back. I think he comes back next year.
SUMMERS: That's Levi Weaver, baseball writer for The Athletic. Thank you so much.
WEAVER: Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HIGHER")
CREED: (Singing) Can you take me higher to a place where blind men see? Can you take me higher to a place with golden streets? Although I would like the world to change, it helps me to appreciate those nights and those dreams. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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