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Sunday morning A.L. Champion stuff

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It still hasn't really sunk in yet, I think, that the Rangers are going back to the World Series, are the A.L. first team since the turn of the century Yankees to go to the World Series in back-to-back years.

Growing up in the late 70s and the 80s, the Rangers were sort of the anti-Cowboys...the Dallas Cowboys represented organizational greatness, a team that was a perennial contender, that epitomized what other teams strived to be.  The Rangers, on the other hand, epitomized mediocrity and irrelevance.

It is amazing, when you consider that the Rangers have been in existence since 1972 (and the Senators, before them, since 1961), but this franchise has only had 10 seasons in which they've won as many as 87 games.  Three of those seasons were the late-90s playoff teams.  And now, three of these seasons are the past three years, in which the Rangers have won 87, 90 and 96 games,* the only time in franchise history the team has won 87+ games in three straight seasons, and only the third time in franchise history the team has had three consecutive seasons above .500.**

*  The other four seasons were 1977, 1978, 1986, and 2004.

** The other two times were from 1977-79 and 1989-91.

So seeing the Rangers emerging as a dominant force in the American League seemingly goes against everything I've spent the 35+ years of being a Rangers fan coming to expect.  And the best part of this is that this success is something that looks like it can be sustainable.  One of the realities of the late-90s was that the Rangers organization did not have a strong farm system, and there was a sense that they were racing against the clock, trying to win before the window slammed shut.

This Ranger franchise has a ton of talent on the field, a great front office, one of the strongest farm systems in the game, and ownership that has put the $70 million payrolls of Tom Hicks to shame, that is willing to spend like this is a big market team.

This team, as current situated, is in a position to a playoff contender for years to come.  

Its a great time to be a Rangers fan.

Links after the jump...

Jeff Wilson's game story talks about the pivotal third inning, where the Rangers scored nine runs.

T.R. Sullivan's game story leads off by mentioning that Michael Young called the blowout before the game, telling the offense to "put up a 10 spot" on the Tigers.

Richard Durrett has his rapid reactions to the game.

Evan Grant writes that Michael Young justified Ron Washington's faith in keeping him in the cleanup spot.

Anthony Andro has a story about Nelson Cruz, ALCS MVP.

Andro writes that Derek Holland was battling food poisoning yesterday.  Andro also has a piece taking a closer look at the 39 minute third that turned a deficit into a huge lead.

Jeff Caplan has a story on Josh Hamilton battling through injury and having a big game yesterday.

Gil Lebreton has a column on the greatness of Nelson Cruz.

Randy Galloway has a column about the greatness of Michael Young.

At the Rangers' website, Bryan Hoch writes that the Rangers advancing in the ALCS despite not getting a single quality start from their rotation is a tribute to the bullpen depth and the offense that the Rangers have.

The S-T's notes talk about Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre sitting out Friday's workout, Endy Chavez starting in place of Mitch Moreland, and every pitcher having been available, if needed, yesterday.  Gerry Fraley writes that the Moreland benching stems in part from the team's "frustration" with Moreland's inability to shorten his swing.

ESPN Dallas has a collection of audio clips from the post-game last night, including Jon Daniels, Ian Kinsler, and C.J. Wilson, among others.

Randy Jennings writes that the Tigers acknowledge that some close calls went against them last night, but don't blame the loss on them.

Caplan writes about the Rangers' recruitment of Adrian Beltre, and how Beltre came close to signing with another team that Beltre wouldn't identify, but which was probably the Angels.