Rangers return to World Series; Cliff Lee a prophet

It seemed innocent enough at the time.
Having just jumped ship to hop of the Philadelphia Phillies’
bandwagon, Cliff Lee sent his old teammate Ian Kinsler a text message
that simply said, “See you in the World Series.”

Who knew Lee was a prophet?

Now, Lee likely was insinuating he
thought his team would be there to match up with the Rangers.
Instead, the LeBron James of baseball will get to watch Kinsler and
the rest of the Rangers from the comfort of his own couch.

C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Derek
Holland, and Colby Lewis: not exactly a Murderer’s Row of starting
pitchers. But conventional or not, the Texas Rangers are back in the
World Series and this time appear poised to win it.

When Lee turned his back on the
Rangers, it looked like Texas’ moment of glory would be a fleeting
one. There was no ace to complement the potent lineup and “other”
guys in the rotation. And with the Yankees and Red Sox doing there
usual free-spending routine, the Rangers would simply be lucky to win
the tepid American League West.

96 regular-season wins and seven
postseason wins later, the Rangers are the first American League team
since the Yankees in 2000-01 to win consecutive pennants, and they
did it without Lee.

Joining the Phillies’ “Dream Team”
rotation was supposed to guarantee Lee a return trip to the Fall
Classic, but that’s the funny thing about baseball: nothing is
guaranteed, and the game is not played on paper.

Although, to be fair, if you look at
the Rangers offensive numbers on paper, you might wonder why the
other team even shows up.

But perhaps this is fitting. King
James broke the hearts of everyone in Cleveland with “The Decision”
and had his chance to play for the NBA Finals. Perhaps even more
fittingly, he gave way to the Dallas Mavericks and Dirk Nowitzki, who
was in attendance for Game 6 and celebrating with the Rangers after
their clinching win.

For Lee, odds are he will end his
career with a World Series ring on his finger. He has been there
twice and lost both times, and tried to come off as a humanitarian
for taking less money from Philadelphia to be in a place he truly
“wanted to be”.

Maybe he couldn’t handle the pressure
of being the number one guy, so he slid behind Roy Halladay as the
No. 2 in Philly. Wilson stepped up and had a stellar All-Star season,
even if his postseason numbers haven’t followed suit.

Colby Lewis was phenomenal in last
year’s playoffs and showed in 2011 that was no fluke. Derek Holland
showed flashes of true brilliance, hurling four shutouts. And Matt
Harrison proved to be durable and dependable as a
back-end-of-the-rotation guy.

And did we mention that lineup?

The moral of the story is that
baseball is still a team game, and one player doesn’t have to
make-or-break a club’s chances for success. The Rangers’ repeat
performance has proven that and more.

So as the Rangers prepare to take
another swing at a world championship, Lee can watch his old buddy
Ian Kinsler and perhaps even crack a smile that his “prediction”
came to fruition – well, at least part of it.

And if the Rangers win it all?

Well, Lee may actually have to make a
personal phone call.

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