OPINION: Stern: Adolis Garcia's postseason surge is ultimate revenge


Adolis Garcia's spectacular postseason, which has included seven home runs and 20 RBI over 12 games, has been the perfect way to raise his middle finger to those who've doubted him over the years. The slugger's innate ability to go deep in the Rangers' most crucial moments is fitting for a player who's bet on his skillset and been slept on by those around him.

Nearly four years ago at this time, Garcia was a little-known, light-hitting player in the Cardinals' system, running out of time to make his major league dreams come true. At the age of 26, he was designated for assignment before being dealt to the Rangers for cash considerations. After being dumped out on the street like a batch of damaged goods, it would've been easy for him to give up. Instead, Garcia took it as an invitation to shift his game into an extra gear.

Fast forward to this October, and Garcia's firmly established himself as one of the league's best hitters, playing a crucial role in Texas' upset of the reigning champion Astros in the ALCS. Not only did Garcia perform at the highest level on the biggest stage, but he proved the moment wasn't too big for him, while showing he just needed the right situation to position himself for success.

Perhaps he angered the Astros and baseball traditionalists by taking an extra moment to observe his moonshot blasts during the series. But at the end of the day, who cares? Sports always involve bad blood between rivals, which means there should be nothing wrong with showboating in the opposition's face (when appropriate, of course).

The Astros were one of the 29 other franchises that passed on Garcia when he initially hit waivers, and he's allowed to soak the moment in. While Astros catcher Martin Maldonado believed Garcia's sightseeing antics and reaction to being drilled by pitcher Bryan Abreu were excessive, his comments after a 5-4 win in Game 5 served as bulletin board material. "The worst thing he did was wake up the Houston Astros," Maldonado told the FOX postgame crew.

Apparently, his comment served as a bad omen, with Garcia and the Rangers outscoring them, 20-6, in the last two games. The veteran catcher should've just kept his mouth shut, and let his play talk. The biggest takeaway from the situation? Don't poke the bear.

Garcia was in fact the bear Maldonado poked. In the ninth inning of Game 6, he forced a do-or-die Game 7 by crushing a grand slam into the Minute Maid Park seats. Then, in Game 7, he smacked a pair of solo shots -- one that put Texas up 4-1 in the third inning, and one that helped increase the team's lead to eight runs in the ninth. With Houston playing the role of Superman in front of its home crowd, Garcia became the Kryptonite, time and time again.

At any step of Garcia's baseball journey, it would've been very easy for him to verbally express his frustration. Instead he kept a strong belief in his abilities, while letting his performances do the talking. The stats speak for themselves. Garcia recorded 15 RBI during the Lone Star showdown, an ALCS record, and homered in four consecutive games. That's not even accounting for the fact that his postseason journey isn't over yet.

Garcia must be salivating at the thought of facing a vulnerable Diamondbacks pitching staff in the World Series. Playing a huge role in eliminating the goliath of the American League -- and a division rival -- must feel nice. But there's still much to prove for an organization that lost 102 games just two seasons ago.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals are sitting at home after a mediocre 2023 campaign, wondering how they let Garcia walk as a slew of underachieving players have taken his spot. Garcia, who's the author to the final chapter of this big league season, has a prime opportunity to silence everyone who once doubted him.

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