Brothers could face each other in World Series
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 30, 2011 1:48 PM
Within hours after their respective teams had clinched playoff berths in the 2011 Major League Baseball divisional series, Johnny Narron pulled out his cell phone and sent a text message to his brother, Jerry.
Johnny's phone buzzed later that night.
Jerry repeated the message to his brother.
The two siblings who grew up and coached in MLB ballparks around the country continue their respective careers this weekend.
Johnny serves as the assistant hitting coach for 2010 World Series runner-up Texas, which won the American League West title. The Rangers (96-66 overall) begin defense of their AL pennant at home today in a best-of-five series against Tampa Bay, which earned the wild-card spot on the final night of regular-season play.
Jerry is the bench coach for the Milwaukee, which secured the National League Central division title. The Brewers, who also finished the season 96-66, start the playoffs at home Saturday against NL West champ Arizona.
"We're definitely very excited for each other," said Johnny, who spoke with the News-Argus by cell phone Thursday evening. "There is an awful lot of baseball to be played between now and the World Series, but that would be a wonderful thing to face him in the World Series.
"It would be hard because he gets after you."
Should Johnny and Jerry reach the World Series, they would become the fourth set of brothers in MLB history to accomplish the feat.
Jimmy and Doc Johnson became the first set of siblings to play for a World Series title in 1920. Bob and Irish Meusel competed in three straight World Series from 1921-23 with the Yankees and Giants, respectively.
Clete and Ken Boyer, who played for the Yankees and Cardinals, respectively, faced each other in the 1964 World Series.
"The Rangers, you know, are loaded and everybody in baseball expects them to be in the World Series," said Jerry, who also spoke by cell phone with the News-Argus on Thursday evening. "I'm glad my brother is part of that over there along with Josh (Hamilton). There are some guys who are still there when I was managing (Texas)."
Johnny recalled the clubhouse scene after San Francisco recorded the final out in last year's World Series. The team realized they had unfinished business and carried that determined attitude into spring training.
Early-season injuries to Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre slowed the Rangers down a little bit. But the trio rebounded to combine for 86 home runs and 286 RBI, and put Texas back into the postseason.
"We have a really competitive group led by Michael Young, who is the heart and soul of this team," said Narron. "He expects them to play hard and hold themselves accountable. We came so close last year ... you could see it in their eyes and their tone of voices as they spoke. They had some unfinished business.
"These kids pulled together and found a way to get to back to this point."
Pitching helped, too.
Texas had the third-best starting-pitcher earned run average (ERA) this season in the AL, and its bullpen logged the 12th-best relievers' ERA. x is expected to start against the Rays.
A pitching staff overhaul also paid off for Milwaukee.
The Brewers traded prospects for right-handed Zack Greinke, the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner who was 11-0 at home this season. Former Toronto hurler Shaun Marcum, emerging ace Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf give Milwaukee a worthy postseason rotation.
Takashi Saito will come out of the bullpen.
"We've used our five starters all year except for Greinke, who didn't make a couple of starts early in the season because of his (rib) injury," said Jerry. "We've pitched extremely well. In a three-out-of-five series, it's really who just plays well for a couple of days. I don't care what level you're playing at, it all comes back to pitching."
Gallardo gets the opening-game nod against the D-backs and Greinke, on short-days rest, could possibly throw in game two.