Yu Darvish "doesn't fight," wrote one Dallas-area media member earlier this week as the painful September slide of the Texas Rangers continued. "He's crumbling under the pressure" and "not mentally tough," added multiple fans commenting on the site of the Dallas Morning News.
It's not particularly difficult to understand why Rangers fans are so agitated right now, because for the second season in a row, their team is collapsing down the stretch and ceding control of a division they once dominated to the rival Oakland Athletics. After consecutive World Series defeats in 2010 and 2011, the 2012 Rangers squandered a season-long run in first place by succumbing to a sweep in Oakland in the final series of the season.
This year, they spent 95 days atop the West and were within a half-game of first as recently as Sept. 6, but after dropping nine of 12 -- including another sweep at the hands of Oakland -- Ron Washington's team now finds itself 6 1/2 games behind the Athletics and on the verge of being knocked out of a playoff spot entirely.
There's no shortage of places to put that blame, but the bulk of the frustration seems to be landing on Darvish, mainly because the Texas ace hasn't pitched the Rangers to a win in any of his past six starts dating back to early August -- including two painful losses against Oakland. So Darvish, as the narrative goes, doesn't have "the will to win" and isn't living up to his ace billing, right? Well, not quite.