PHOENIX – Sorry, Creed. The answer is: No.
You cannot take them higher.
The Rangers are world champions.
No-hit for six innings on a warm Wednesday night in the desert, the Rangers put more than 50 years of futility to rest with a 5-0 win over Arizona to clinch their first World Series title. They won the best-of-seven series 4-1.
On the way to the title, the team that adopted the 1990s postgrunge band Creed’s anthem “Higher,” for much of the second half of the season and which happily scarfed hot dogs wherever it could find them won all 11 road games they played in the postseason, an MLB record.
Diamondbacks pitcher Zac Gallen didn’t allow a baserunner through four innings and didn’t allow a hit through six, but it also meant facing the Rangers’ lineup a third time. No. 2 hitter Corey Seager, who won his second World Series MVP in a four-year span, squibbed a curve ball through the empty left side of the infield to start a rally. Mitch Garver’s single drove him home.
The Rangers scored four runs in the ninth to blow it open. It was punctuated by Marcus Semien’s two-out homer. It was his second homer in as many games after going without one for the postseason.
Seager, who won the MVP in 2020 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, will join Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax and Reggie Jackson as the only two-time World Series MVPs. He hit three homers and drove in six runs in the series.
But the win was built by pitching. Which is the difference between this Rangers championship team and all the teams that came before.
Nathan Eovaldi, a World Series hero once while with Boston, matched Gallen in zeros for six innings. Eovaldi was one of five free-agent pitchers GM Chris Young signed over the winter as he sought to remake the pitching staff. Eovaldi went 5-0 over the postseason in six starts; he became the first pitcher to win five starts in a single postseason.
Aroldis Chapman, the first in-season acquisition made by Young during the summer, got two outs in the seventh. Josh Sborz, whom Young held on to when it looked like he had no spot on the roster, got the final seven outs to finish off a dominant postseason.
They are the third team to go from losing at least 100 games to winning the World Series two seasons later. The two teams that previously did it were branded miracles: the 1914 “Miracle” Boston Braves and 1969 “Miracle” New York Mets. They need a nickname. The “Miracle Rangers” doesn’t have quite the same ring. Better maybe: Resilient Rangers.
It’s how manager Bruce Bochy, back in the game for the first time since 2019, often referred to his team during challenging times this season. Bochy should know. He’s won four World Series with two franchises. He’s the sixth manager to win that many titles.
“I think we had to deal with more this year than any year I’ve ever had to manage,” Bochy said before Game 5. “And that’s what makes me proud of these guys. They were constantly focused forward. And they kept doing that.”
It certainly didn’t make sense to look backward. There just wasn’t much to the Rangers’ previous history.
When the year began, only the Cleveland Guardians, who last won a World Series in 1948 when they were the Indians, had an active championship drought longer than the Senators/Rangers.
The franchise is in its 63rd year. It’s nearly Medicare eligible.
Over the course of their first 51 seasons in Texas, they’ve mostly been losers who passed summers in a sweat box where fans idled away the time waiting for Cowboys training camp to start. They lost 100 games in their first season in Texas, ran the best hitter alive completely out of the game and went 25 seasons before even making the postseason. Then went another 15 before winning a postseason series. Went to the World Series in 2010. Nearly won it all in 2011. One strike away twice. Funny, you can almost laugh about it now. OK, maybe not. But you can smile.
“I’d be thrilled to be considered a member of the second- and third-best teams in franchise history,” said Michael Young, a member of the 2010-11 teams and the player to play the most games in a Rangers uniform. “I saw Adrian [Beltre] said that this championship would be a bit of a weight off the ‘11 team, and I agree. It doesn’t change history, but it gives us more of an opportunity to focus on the countless positive moments we had.
“I’ve loved showing support for these guys over the last couple weeks. The players and staff deserve so much credit, and for our fans, they can say they have a title in all four sports. Forever. Makes me super proud.”
Said Tom Grieve, who played or worked for the organization for 55 years: “This is a huge source of pride because the team I love, played for and spent most of my life working for will always be known as a champion and not a team that came close but never won. It’s a great joy for our fans, who live and die with the team’s success.”
Over their 52 seasons, the Rangers lost more often than they have won. They’ve had 29 losing seasons.
You could pretty much sum up the story of the franchise with this little vignette from their first spring training, the only one under the Hall-of-Famer turned manager Ted Williams. He listened as his coaches debated the intricacies of setting up cut-offs and relays until he’d had enough.
“Let’s go hit,” Williams said. Perhaps he added a profanity for exclamation. Maybe two.
Over the years, that’s one the thing the Rangers did. They hit. Sometimes it was the baseball. Sometimes: The opponent. If you made a historical hype video of the first half-century of Rangers baseball, it would include at least as many haymakers as World Series trips. Nolan Ryan’s noogies and Rougned Odor’s right cross will always get a roar from the crowd, but they no longer represent the crescendo.
Speaking of Ryan, the best thing you could previously say about Rangers pitching: They once signed a 42-year-old right-hander. Might still be the best. But the move at least has competition from the 41-year-old righty they added in December 2020: Chris Young.
It was Chris Young, who pitched for the Rangers for two seasons, who arrived as GM resolute to build a champion.
He and then president of baseball operations Jon Daniels sold owner Ray Davis on a vision back to contention that included an investment of more than $500 million in free agent contracts after Young’s first winter. That brought Marcus Semien and Corey Seager. After Daniels was let go in August 2022, Young convinced Davis to add Bochy and another $250 million in pitching additions. And he kept reinforcing the staff as it wore down over the course of the season.
With every move, Young would say: “You can never have enough arms.”
Turns out, the Rangers had just enough. To lift the World Series trophy for the first time.
They can’t go higher. They stand on top of the baseball world.