ARLINGTON -- During their march toward the franchise's first World Series appearance, the Rangers debunked two long-held postseason beliefs: Home-field advantage is important and previous playoff experience matters.They won all three games against the Rays in St. Petersburg before taking two of three against the Yankees in New York. Then, with a 6-1 win at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Friday night, they beat a team that came in with a clear advantage in the postseason-experience category. The Rangers will essentially look to do the same en route to the franchise's first World Series title. "We're obviously programmed to simply play the game and to move on from things -- play with emotion, play hard and play with what's presented to you," Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "And we have a lot of guys on this team that are very confident individuals, confident players, and it's paid off."
For 23 of the 25 players on the Rangers' current postseason roster, this World Series appearance will be their first.Heading into this season, that roster had accumulated 81 games of postseason experience -- comparatively, the Yankees had 601 -- and 20 of the Rangers' 25 players were heading to the playoffs for the first time in their careers. With five days remaining until the start of the World Series, they won't have a hard time deciding where to turn among their teammates if they want to get a feel for what they'll be up against next. Among the players, only Bengie Molina and Cliff Lee have played in a World Series game, and only Molina can boast a championship ring. Lee, of course, has a World Series trip fresh in his memory. He was there for the Phillies last year, when they lost to the Yankees in six games. Lee, who was embarking on his first postseason trip last year, wound up starting two games, going 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA in the Fall Classic. Molina went to the World Series as a member of the 2002 Angels, who beat the Giants in seven games despite the heroic efforts of Barry Bonds (.471 with four home runs). Molina started all seven games of that series behind the plate, batting .286 with two RBIs. Eight years later, he's headed back. "I always said that this might be my last year," Molina said. "I thank God for the beautiful career I had, and I ask him, if I'm going to go, I'm going to go in style. And that means going to the World Series. And he did it for me." Outside of the players, though, there's plenty of experience among the coaching staff and front office. Club president Nolan Ryan was a 22-year-old pitcher for the 1969 Miracle Mets. Third-base coach Dave Anderson was in the on-deck circle as a decoy in the 1988 World Series, only to be replaced by Kirk Gibson before he hit his heroic Game 1 homer against Dennis Eckersley. Bullpen coach Andy Hawkins had three relief outings as a member of the Padres in the 1984 World Series (putting up a 0.75 ERA), though his club lost in five games to the Tigers. Hitting coach Clint Hurdle managed the Rockies when they lost to the Red Sox in the 2007 World Series, and he was the Royals' right fielder when they went to the 1980 World Series. Hurdle went 5-for-12, but Kansas City lost to the Phillies in six games. And bench coach Jackie Moore served as bench coach for the 1990 Reds team that swept the A's to win it all. The World Series experience of the two clubs the Rangers could face varies greatly. The Phillies, of course, have won the National League pennant each of the last two years and won it all in '08. Roy Halladay is the only one of their starters who hasn't played in a World Series game. With regards to the Giants, only six players have previously played in a World Series game: Jeremy Affeldt, Pat Burrell, Javier Lopez, Edgar Renteria, Aaron Rowand and Juan Uribe. For the Rangers, none of that seems to matter anyway. "We don't care," outfielder Jeff Francoeur said. "We're going to go out there and play baseball when we step between the lines, and what a great job we've done."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Gonzo and 'The Show'. Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.