There used to be a few minor leagues that split their seasons in two. They had first-half winners and second-half winners. Each half-season winner met in the playoffs.
They did that because players move through the minors so often that a certain team at the beginning of the season was literally a totally different team at the end. It held fan interest because if you were buried at the beginning, your team had new life midway through the season.
Because of the strike in 1981, major league baseball did the same thing. The strike happened midway through the season. When it resumed, they decided to just start all over. They set up an extra round of play-offs where the first-half division winners played the second-half winners in that first round.
In a weird quirk of fate, the Cincinnati Reds had the best record in all of baseball in 1981, yet didn’t make the playoffs. When the players went on strike, they were one-half game behind the Dodgers, 36-21 to 35-21. The Dodgers were declared the first-half NL West winners. The Astros finished the second half 33-20, a game-and-a-half ahead of the 31-21 Reds. The Astros won the second-half division, and lost to the Dodgers for the division crown. The Reds sat home and stewed.
It’s an interesting concept, this first-half, second-half thing. Makes sense in a minor league. Makes sense in a strike-interrupted season.
If only they could try it out this year.
Tuesday was the halfway point of the 2018 season. The Rangers finished the first eighty-one-game slate 35-46, eighteen games behind first place Houston. Dead last. Dead.
Hit the reset button and the Rangers are 2-0 in the second half of the season. In first place in the American League West. Heading for a playoff showdown with first-half winner Houston. If only.
lthe Rangers cannot lose their baggage. Like those pictures at that one party someone posted of you on Facebook, the past never goes away. The Rangers cannot lose their first-half baggage.
All the can do is play well when they have the opportunity. Which they have been now that they have this window in the schedule against their fellow bottom-feeding teams. This time through it’s the Chicago White Sox, who in most years would be the worst team in baseball but are, if this is the right word, fortunate enough to have the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles even worse.
The Rangers jumped on the White Sox for seven runs in the second, hit five home runs total, and cruised to an easy 11-3 victory.
It was all sparked by Rougned Odor. If ever there was a guy who needs a reset button, it’s Odor. His downward spiral started in September of 2016, continued through a dreadful 2017, and slogged on the first two months of 2018. He seems to have turned it around in June. After batting .206 in April with no home runs, and .203 in May with one, he is having a .259 June with three home runs.
Last season, though, he had an awakening in July. After a .196 April, a .219 May and a .208 June, he perked up for a .266 July, the only month his OBP was over .300. Unfortunately, he turned right around and batted .179 in August and .159 in September.
But he started the second inning last night with a home run, and added a single later in the inning. Two hits in one inning. He had seven in all of April.
Let’s hope second-half Odor in no way shape or form resembles first-half Odor. Or last year-Odor. And that his June is not, like last year’s July, a temporary accident.
Do-over on Rougned Odor.
Carlos Rodon (1-2, 3.70) vs. Bartolo Colon (4-5 4.72)
Game time: 7:05