Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the 2010 Texas Rangers. Or should I say, the first-place Texas Rangers, and we’re not just talking about the first few games of the season.

We’re almost to the month of August and instead of most of the radio stations, and the fans, already deep into conversations surrounding the upcoming season for the Dallas Cowboys, the Rangers are still very relevant, and for good reason.

No other time in the team’s history have they had this kind of record this deep into the season (58-41) and no other time in the team’s history have they looked like a legit World Series contender.

What is funny about that, at least to me, is the fact that the local radio station here in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area continues to get texts and e-mails asking the stations to stop talking about the Rangers.

You’d think fans would be excited about the fact that this team is finally a legit contender. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

I had a conversation, though a short one, with a close friend of mine who is not ready to “drink the Kool-Aid.”

While I’m fine with that, his reasoning was a tad off. He made point that this team doesn’t know what it’s like to challenge for a division title or a pennant for that matter.

To that point, he is somewhat correct. However, what he failed to mention is the fact that they have three players who absolutely know what it takes to get to the World Series, and two of them know what it takes to win.

Outfielder Vladimir Guerrero and catcher Bengie Molina were both members of the Anaheim Angels when they won the World Series over the San Francisco Giants in 2002.

Pitcher Cliff Lee, as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, made it to the World Series in 2009 before losing to the New York Yankees.

So while this team, as a whole, may have not challenged for a pennant before, they have guys that can teach the rest of the team just what it takes to win.

What this team also has, thanks to the addition of Cliff Lee, is an ace at the top of the rotation, especially in a best-of-five series, something the Rangers haven’t had since Nolan Ryan wore the uniform.

With Lee anchoring the rotation, they also have two guys who have been as solid as any in the big leagues this season.

Right-hander C.J. Wilson (9-5 3.03 ERA) and right-hander Tommy Hunter (8-0 2.09 ERA) have been two guys that have kept the Rangers in front of the Angels for the majority of the season and are two reasons why they currently hold a seven-game lead in the AL West.

Outside of Lee, Wilson, and Hunter, the back end of the rotation gets a little cloudy. Matt Harrison, Rich Harden, Scott Feldman, and Colby Lewis could round out the last two spots in the rotation except for the fact that Harden and Feldman haven’t exactly been what the Rangers had hoped at the beginning of the season.

Offensively, they have the weapons to put up runs against even the best pitchers in the game right now. Outfielders Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz, along with designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero have combined for 56 home runs and 200 runs batted in, while all three are also hitting .300 or better.

Next to those three, you’ve got guys like third baseman Michael Young (.301/15/58) and second baseman Ian Kinsler (.301/6/38), who also make for legit offensive weapons.

Imagine, if you will, being an opposing pitcher having to face Ian Kinsler and Michael Young, then having Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, and Vladimir Guerrero still waiting in the wings.

Those five guys alone would be enough to make me wonder who I should and shouldn’t pitch to.

This isn’t the team that has faltered year in and year out in the late part of the season. This isn’t the team that holds a slim lead in the AL West and tanks before the month of August is even over.

While Texas grabbed left-hander Cliff Lee out from under the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Angels responded with the addition of Dan Haren.

It’s only a matter of time before we know just how much help Haren will be for the Angels. With the Rangers up seven games, it might be too little, too late.

While there are those who won’t believe in this team until they are named the AL West champions, there are others who would rather stop talking about baseball altogether for no other reason than the Dallas Cowboys started training camp this past weekend.

But why people want to give more attention to something that couldn’t be more meaningless, like NFL training camp, instead of a team who’s deep into a divisional race, I’ll never know.

I know Texas is a football state and I know that most would rather go to a Cowboys game than a Rangers game regardless of how good, or bad, the Cowboys are.

The Rangers have earned the attention to this point because they continue to prove themselves night in and night out.

While they were swept by the Baltimore Orioles prior to the All-Star break, I think they more than made fans forget about that with series wins over Boston and Detroit on the road, as well as three out of four against the Angels in Arlington.

The road only gets rougher for the AL West leaders. The month of August is where this team will prove itself once and for all.

After road trips to Seattle and Oakland to start the month, the Rangers play series against the Yankees, Red Sox, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Minnesota, and Kansas City.

Those series alone will make or break the remainder of the AL West chase for the Texas Rangers.

This team has a chance to do something no other team in its history has done. They have a chance to go to the World Series, and more than that, they might have a legit chance to bring home the biggest prize in the industry.

While Rangers fans want the media on their side, it’s unfortunate that the football fans in the area outnumber them.

Even if the Rangers bring home the World Series trophy to North Texas, the Cowboy fans will still make the argument that they have more championships in their trophy case.

It’s the same argument that Yankees fans make to every other baseball fan of every other team there is.

The Rangers deserve the attention right now. They’ve had the kind of season that deserves the spotlight.

The football fans want them to fall on their face for no other reason than to have the spotlight all to themselves as is usually the norm this time of year.

While me, personally, I’m not a Rangers fan. But I’m hoping they keep fighting all the way to the AL West championship and the ALCS. That way, the football fans will have to endure baseball talk for another few months.

The Cowboys are fighting for nothing more than a roster spot while the baseball team in the area is fighting for something that actually means something.

So, as long as that remains true, the spotlight should stay on Rangers’ Ballpark and the Texas Rangers baseball team.

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