Ten years ago it was a dream season for Iván Rodríguez.
1999 will never be erased from his memory.
His team, the Texas Rangers, won the American League West Division pennant, while individually, he won the American League Most Valuable Player Award.
Sadly, the Rangers were swept by the New York Yankees in the league Division Series for a second straight year and eliminated for the third time in four seasons.
Texas lost nine consecutive postseason games, all versus New York in Division Series play. In fact, the only time they beat the Bronx Bombers was in Game One of the 1996 Division Series at Yankee Stadium.
Since then, the Rangers have never made another postseason run. If they can catch up to the Boston Red Sox in the next three weeks for the American League wild card, it could be not only their comeback year, but also a chance to finally play in the Fall Classic.
If that happens, Manager Ron Washington has publicly stated that “Pudge” Rodriguez has been one of the key players in the team’s resurgence.
Rodriguez arrived in his Rangers cradle back in mid-August via trade from the Houston Astros. Let’s not forget Rodriguez started his Hall of Fame-bound career in a Rangers uniform, from 1991 to 2002.
At the beginning, many thought that his return was simply one in which a player returns to his old team for a farewell tour.
His desire and big ego won him back the everyday catcher position. His batting so far has been hot, with sparks very similar to the ones that gave inspiration to the World Champion Florida Marlins back in 2003.
On Sept. 28, we will know the fate of the Rangers–and the same for Ivan Rodriguez.
No matter what, do not expect any retirement announcement. “The way I feel and the shape that I am in, I know I’m going to play for years and years,” Rodriguez said.
Even though his long resume includes 14 All-Star selections, 13 Gold Gloves, seven Silver Slugger and MVP awards, he is not planning to give up yet.
By the way, don’t forget that he is the catcher with the most games played in Major League Baseball history.
However, he is still pursuing one more record: 3,000 hits.
Since he was a kid, as most Puerto Rican players, one of his heroes was Roberto Clemente. Among friends, Rodríguez has mentioned to truly honor Clemente, he would like to share the limelight with him in Cooperstown.
While it is well known that the present finances of the Texas Rangers are very delicate, Rodríguez has said he wants to to the team–that remains to be seen.
No matter what happens, there should be no doubt that Rodríguez deserves to be signed by a team for his 20th career season. His strong leadership and still-average hitting deserves the chance.
The 37-year-old catcher is not ready to quit just yet.