A new era of Texas Rangers baseball has a new tradition.
It had to wait until the third game of the season, but manager Chris Woodward revealed a new post-win tradition that will help unify the 26 players in the clubhouse. And Woodward was a little overexcited about debuting it.
"Every game we're gonna celebrate the s*** out of — sorry, for the camera —the crap out of every win," Woodward said to his players after Sunday's win over Kansas City. "We've got a little prize [for the] player of the game. ... Obviously, we have an identity we want to create here. We talk about culture a lot. We talk about the way we play. The guy that represents that, it's not going to be the guy who has the best stats. It's going to be the guy who represents exactly what we talk about: the grit, the competitiveness, the 'F-You' mentality. All of that. Everything we've talk about up to this point."
That player of the game prize is a cowboy hat, painted with the design of the Texas state flag. From here on out, each player will hand it on to the next player deemed worthy after every win. To get things started, Chris Woodward awarded Jordan Lyles as Sunday's player of the game.
Lyles earned the win, pitching 5 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs, striking out eight hitters with no walks. Most importantly, he pitched two vital shutdown innings after the Rangers scored three runs in each of the second and third innings — something Rangers pitching failed to do after offensive outbursts in the first two games of the season.
The Rangers set out to establish a competitive culture at the start of spring training, and continued to preach it throughout its entirety. From the top down, there is every indication that the 26 players in the clubhouse have bought in to this gritty, underdog mentality.
Maybe the post-win cowboy hat will help the players dive deeper into this newfound identity. At the very least, it's great social media content.