If the season ended today there is a very high probability that the Red Sox and the Rangers would face each other in the playoffs, either in the wild-card round or in the ALCS.
If the Yankees win the East, then chances are, the Red Sox and Rangers would meet in the first round.
If the Red Sox win the East, then most likely they will have to play each other in the ALCS, which is a high probability. There's no reason why the Red Sox shouldn't easily defeat the anemic AL Central winner in the ALDS and there's no reason why the Rangers shouldn't defeat the Yankees in the ALDS after the spanking they gave them last year in the ALCS.
Anyway, the way this thing is unfolding, it looks like the Red Sox and Rangers are on a playoff collision course.
And it's a series I like forward to because of the many story-lines, particularly as it pertains to the 1999 and 2000 MLB Drafts. Here's a look--
- It'll mark the first time that 1999 No. 1 overall pick Josh Hamilton faces 1999 No. 2 overall pick Josh Beckett in an all-important playoff series. When Beckett was winning championships with the Florida Marlins and the Red Sox a lot was made about how the then-Tampa Bay Devil Rays made a fatal mistake in taking Hamilton over Beckett with the No. 1 pick. Of course, this was during the time when Hamilton was going through the roughest period of his life with drug and alcohol addiction. And as is always the case, it's very easy to knock a man when he's down. Those detractors ended up with "egg on their face" as they underestimated Hamilton's relentless will to survive and persevere. The Great One worked his way back to the majors and is now the leader of the dangerous Rangers (Murderer's Row) lineup. Beckett is still the leader of the excellent Red Sox pitching staff. A Beckett-Hamilton confrontation in a crucial playoff series is (most definitely) a must see.
- Who will put up better numbers during the series? The 2010 AL MVP Hamilton or the more-than-likely 2011 AL MVP Adrian Gonzalez, who was the No. 1 overall pick in 2000, the year after the Hamilton-Beckett draft.
- Or maybe Ian Kinsler will steal the show? Kinsler was the 879th pick in 2000, the year Gonzalez went No. 1.
- Or will Carl Crawford light it up and be the series MVP? Crawford was the 52nd pick in the Hamilton-Beckett draft of 1999.
- Or will John Lackey win a crucial game for Boston? He was the 68th pick in 1999.
- Will Bobby Jenks pitch in a crucial late-inning situation for the BoSox and preserve a slim lead? Jenks was the 140th pick in the 2000 draft.
- And finally, will Mike Napoli be the unexpected hero for the Rangers with a series-changing clutch hit? Napoli was the 500th pick in the 2000 draft.
So as we can see, the 1999 and 2000 drafts produced a lot of key pieces for these two AL juggernauts.
Anyway, I'm sure Yankee fans and "whoever-comes-out-of the-central" fans have other ideas but there's no question that the Red Sox-Rangers will be the "Clash of the Titans" series to watch out for.
UPDATE: The Rangers ran their winning streak to a major-league season-high 12 games in a row.