Texas Rangers’ stealing Adolis Garcia from St. Louis Cardinals is payback for World Series loss

Before the Texas Rangers went on this current playoff run, the last time Adolis Garcia’s mother saw him play in person was 2015, when he was still playing for a team in his native Cuba.

Before he “disappeared” on his way back to Cuba from playing for a team in Japan on a layover at an airport in Paris in August of 2016.

She was scheduled to be in Arlington, along with his brother, on Friday evening to watch her son play in Game 1 of the 2023 World Series between the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks.

She picked a decent time to watch her son play in person.

In recent years the Rangers blew through money like a bitter ex-spouse to find happiness. Yet, their best investment is a Cuban outfielder the St. Louis Cardinals dumped for basically nothing.

It is slightly ironic that the franchise that crushed the soul of the Texas Rangers gave them a player that has them back in the World Series for the first time since they “didn’t win” against the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2011 World Series.

For the second time the World Series has been played at Globe Life Field, one of the star outfielders is a Cuban that the Cardinals quit on; the first was Randy Arozarena of the Tampa Bay Rays, who lost in the COVID World Series at Globe Life Mall in 2020.

There is no just compensation for losing a World Series the manner in which the Rangers did to the Cardinals, but stealing Garcia away from that franchise at least is a boot spur to their red beak.

Twelve years to the day after the Cardinals stole Game 6 of the 2011 World Series with painful late-inning theatrics, Garcia did the same thing to Arizona with an 11th inning walk-off home run to win Game 1 of the 2023 World Series.

Garcia’s performance Game 1 broke the Cardinals’ David Freese’s MLB-record for RBI in a postseason with 21. The year Freese set the mark, 2011. A few of those RBI came against the Rangers.

Garcia now has eight home runs and 22 RBI in the Rangers 13 postseason games.

“I think I always knew what I could do in baseball,” Garcia said the day before the World Series started. “I always trusted my abilities and my skill set, and thought if the team would trust me I would be able to show that.”

When the Rangers purchased the contract of Garcia from the Cardinals in December of 2019 they basically knew what everyone else did: He was once a top prospect from Cuba, and that in his brief time as a pro he struggled. That he was far more potential than production.

Evaluating Cuban players remains more of a guessing game than the rest. Although the United States’ relationship with the communist island nation near Florida is more open, that opening is still mostly a narrow crack.

J. Gabriel Castro, the lead attorney for BAL’s Sports and Entertainment team, a firm that handles immigration issues for athletes all over the world, said that Cuban players who want to play in America still have to resort to what essentially amounts to being smuggled into the country.

This often means associating with some unsavory people who coordinate these “trips.”

“When the Obama administration lightened the embargo, teams were then allowed to sign players directly from Cuba. But that changed back quickly under the Trump Administration,” he said. “MLB and the Cuban Baseball Federation in 2018 came to an agreement among themselves, but this too was overruled by the Trump Administration. Placing us back where we started.”

Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. grew up with Garcia in Cuba, and said, “(Coming to the U.S.) is kinda of a touchy process. It’s real difficult.”

Compared to some of Garcia’s native countrymen who have resorted to scary measures to come to the U.S., his arrival here was easy. The challenge was proving he could hit major league pitching.

In 2020, he was with the Rangers’ minor league squad that worked out by themselves in front of zero fans because of COVID.

“I actually played a lot of third base and really liked it,” he said.

In 2021, on a bad team, he showed everyone that he had that pop and power. He was an All-Star.

In 2023, “El Bombi” became a thing. (FYI: The nickname comes from a childhood friend, who gave it to Garcia because he said his looks like a light bulb.)

“We played together since we were young and I knew all he needed was that opportunity to show that talent that he has,” Gurriel said. “I’m very proud of him. We know the sacrifices we’ve had to go through since we were young.”

Adolis Garcia won the American League Championship Series MVP with a hitting performance against the Houston Astros that was reminiscent of some of the great hitters who played for the Rangers.

Adolis Garcia now fits among Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez, Michael Young, Julio Franco, Ruben Sierra, Josh Hamilton and a few others.

It was only too fitting that Garcia won Game 1 with one of the most memorable walk-off home runs in World Series history.

“It’s definitely been worth it. If I had the opportunity to do it all over again, I would,” he said. “It’s been really great.”

There is no exact compensation for what the St. Louis Cardinals did to the Texas Rangers in the World Series, but robbing them of a player who may just lead them to their first ever title would be, as the kids say, “All the feels.”