According to Ronald Blum, a writer for AP Baseball,
Can you honestly reveal the number of individuals who chose Arizona and Texas as the teams to face off in the World Series?
The odds for a Rangers-Diamondbacks game were 1,750 to 1 when betting began last autumn.
However, with the current format of 12 teams qualifying for the playoffs, simply performing well throughout the six-month regular season is no longer enough. It has now become a mere ticket to the playoffs, rather than the ultimate goal. This has resulted in the Longshot Series, which will kick off on Friday night at Globe Life Field.
“According to Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo, once a team makes it to the big dance, anything is possible. This statement was made before Tuesday night’s 4-2 victory over Philadelphia, which secured Arizona’s spot in the World Series for the first time since 2001. Lovullo added that the regular season records and expectations can be disregarded, as the teams that earn their spot in the playoffs deserve to be there.”
The top teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves, are now watching from home. They were eliminated in the Division Series, and even last year’s champion Houston was beaten by Texas. The New York Yankees didn’t even qualify for the playoffs.
Instead, the third all-wild card game in Major League Baseball will take place. It will feature a matchup between the Grand Canyon and Lone Star, both second-place teams, in ballparks with air conditioning and retractable roofs. This could potentially be the first all-indoor World Series.
The previous two wildcard games were both decided in seven games. In 2002, the Los Angeles Angels emerged victorious over the San Francisco Giants, while Bruce Bochy’s Giants claimed their third championship in five years by defeating the Kansas City Royals in 2014.
Both Texas and the Diamondbacks have not finished in last place or suffered 100-loss seasons for two years.
“Occasionally, the final obstacle to overcome is the victorious mentality that comes after enduring several losing seasons,” Bochy stated.
Bochy, 68 and in his 26th year as a big league manager, joined the Rangers last October. He is going for his fourth title, which would tie with Walter Alston and Joe Torre for fourth most behind Joe McCarthy and Casey Stengel (seven each) and Connie Mack (five). All prior managers with three or more are in the Hall of Fame.
“I am not thinking about myself. I am relying on my team, believe me,” said Bochy. “It’s unbelievable that I am in this position, to be honest. After sitting at home for three years, now I am heading to the World Series. It’s definitely something special, but my focus is on my team and finding a way to win a championship for them.”
The Washington Senators, who later became the Texas Rangers, began playing in 1961 and have played a total of 10,028 games without winning a title. This includes 9,964 regular season games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, and an additional 64 games in the postseason. This puts them second behind the Cleveland team, who last won a title in 1948, for the longest drought in baseball.
The Rangers were defeated in the World Series in both 2010 and 2011. They are now one of six teams that have yet to win a title, along with Colorado, the Seattle Pilots/Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego, the Seattle Mariners, and Tampa Bay.
The only championship for Arizona was achieved through Luis Gonzalez’s ninth-inning hit against the Yankees’ Mariano Rivera in Game 7 of the 2001 season.
At $228 million, Texas entered the playoffs with the sixth-highest payroll, while Arizona ranked 20th with a payroll of $127 million.
Both teams came back and secured their spots in the World Series while playing away from home. This is the first time since 1985, when the LCS changed to a best-of-seven structure, that both leagues saw road teams win Games 6 and 7.
After losing Jacob deGrom due to an elbow injury, the Rangers added Max Scherzer and Jordan Montgomery to their pitching rotation, which already included Nathan Eovaldi and Andrew Heaney. Adolis García has hit seven home runs and has 20 RBIs in the playoffs, while also receiving support from players such as 2020 World Series MVP Corey Seager, Mitch Garver, and Josh Jung.
The Diamondbacks of Arizona are guided by Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly, and Brandon Pfaadt on the pitching rotation, while their offense is fueled by Gabriel Moreno, Ketel Marte, and rookie Corbin Carroll. Torey Lovullo, aged 58, is currently in his seventh year as manager and has finally returned to the playoffs after his 2017 team was eliminated by the Dodgers in a sweep during the Division Series.
Despite being undefeated on the road during the postseason, Texas will have the advantage of playing at home due to their record of 90 wins compared to Arizona’s 84. This could potentially make them the second team, after the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006, to win the World Series with the second-lowest number of wins in a full season. The Diamondbacks and Rangers have split their previous matchups, with Arizona winning two games in May and sweeping two games at home in August, including a dramatic 11-inning victory with back-to-back doubles by Perdomo and Tommy Pham off Will Smith. In total, the Rangers hold a slight lead of 28 wins to 25 losses in regular season games against the Diamondbacks.
There are a few shared connections. Lovullo’s team consists of bench coach Jeff Bannister, who was the manager for the Rangers from 2015-2018.
Scherzer was selected by the Diamondbacks and played for them in his initial two years (2008-2009) before being traded to Detroit.
Five top pitchers, including Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Jamie Moyer, have all had stints with both the Phillies and Rangers.