Watching episodes of Walker Texas Ranger is just as fun now as it was when the show was being produced. Chuck Norris’ Shatner-espque acting, the ridiculous storylines and the slow-motion metal-soundtrack fight scenes make it cheesy television gold. One of the other things that make the show iconically terrible is the theme song, which Norris provided the lead vocals for himself.
The lyrics to the song, Eyes of the Ranger by Tirk Wilder, are accurate descriptors of what the 2015 Texas Rangers have become.
“In the eyes of a ranger” – remember when Texas traded five prospects and Matt Harrison for Cole Hamels? A popular perception is that the move was made for 2016 and beyond. Hamels still had intentions for 2015, quoted in a MLB.com article saying that he believed in the Rangers’ chances to qualify for the postseason in 2015. It appears that Hamels had stellar vision.
“The unsuspected stranger” – When Hamels was acquired on July 31 (the non-waiver trade deadline date) Texas sat seven games behind the Houston Astros in the American League West division and three games behind the Minnesota Twins for the AL’s second wild card at 53-51. Since that date, the Rangers have gone 24-14 (.632), passed the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the AL West standings and several teams in the wild card.
Going into play on Saturday, Sept. 12, Texas has a game lead on Minnesota for the AL’s second wild card and trails Houston in the AL West by a mere game and a half. They are only 3.5 games behind the New York Yankees for the AL’s top wild card, meaning that even if they don’t catch and pass the Astros for the division, they still have a great chance to host the AL wild card game.
“Had better know the truth of wrong from right” – the reason behind Texas’ resurgence is simple execution of the things that lead to winning baseball games. The Rangers’ had the fourth-highest batting average in the majors during the month of August at .275, helped greatly by accumulating the third-fewest strikeouts in MLB during the month. The defense also improved since the beginning of August. The batting average on balls in play against Texas in the month was a low .289, eighth-best in MLB.
“Cause the eyes of a ranger are upon you” – Texas has played its best baseball against the teams which it trailed going into August. In the last 18 games against the Baltimore Orioles, Houston, the Angels, the Twins, the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays the Rangers have gone 12-6. Those 12 wins include three three-game series sweeps.
“Any wrong you do he’s gonna see” – the Rangers weren’t the only team who has been doing damage to the teams that Texas is/was trailing in the standings. Those teams have been doing plenty of wrong. The Astros have gone 18-19 since July 31. The Angels and Baltimore have been even worse at 16-22. Tampa Bay has broken even at 18-18.
“When you’re in Texas look behind you” – Arlington has been a great place for Texas over the past month and a half. All three of those afore-mentioned sweeps came at Globe Life Park, and the Rangers are 14-4 at home since July 31. The run differential in home games for Texas since July 31 is an impressive plus 40. The last time the Rangers’ pitching staff allowed a run at Globe Life Park was Saturday, Aug. 29.
“Cause that’s where the rangers are gonna be” – Going into play on Saturday, Sept. 12, Texas has 22 games left on its schedule. All but six of those contests are scheduled to be played at Globe Life Park.
Whether or not the Rangers will surpass the Yankees or Houston for either the AL’s top wild card or the AL West lead remains to be seen. It’s very possible that Minnesota may yet swipe the second wild card spot from Texas. Regardless, the emergence of the Rangers as playoff contenders can be summed up with one of the worst television theme songs ever.