Whatever you think of our passion for our Texas Rangers, I have more baseball math for you this morning.
You may still think we (me) are (am) too cocky, brash, and abrasive in our joy over the Texas Rangers’ trip the World Series.
Fine. I’ll stand in the box and take whatever pitch you want to throw.
Even if you want to throw AT me.
But I’d ask you to consider the following math:
Let me explain…
SIXTY TWO YEARS.
The franchise known as the Texas Rangers has never won a World Series in its now sixty-two years of existence. Created in 1961 as the Washington Senators, that streak is now longer than any other current baseball franchise by a factor of one to four decades.
I don’t know if it’s the longest World Series winless streak in all of baseball *history,* but at 62 years, it’s got to be in the running. (Somebody, somewhere, knows this, I am confident…)
Cubbies fans, Bosox fans…we feel ya.
If you ever wondered why we Rangers’ fans loved ya’ll so much…why we were SO happy for you in 04 and 16….this is why. We understand, in every fiber of being, what it means to root for a team that breaks your heart, again, and again…and again. After the Cubs win, my friend Niki sent me a Cubs WS shirt, that I still wear with pride. I hope one day to return the favor. And I bought a Red Sox hat in Fenway, after their curse was gone, and proudly wore it the next week behind home plate at a Yankee Stadium game.
We really do feel ya.
And, may I gently remind you…Not to take anything away from the magnificent banishment of your OWN curses…both of your teams *had* previously won a championship, somewhere in their history.
Our Texas Rangers?
Sixty two years of NEVER.
For everyone else reading, again whatever you think of our passion, please know that the passion comes *from* the long suffering.
This is exactly why —as many of you know— I didn’t/couldn’t watch any of those first seven playoff games this year.
Sure, partly because I had a ridiculous baseball superstition that somehow I could will them into winning (I know, I know). But *mostly* –and this is absolutely true— mostly because I just could not stand the heartbreak again.
Our passion/heartbreak comes from very specific places:
It comes from watching the Cinderella stories of those Cubs and Red Sox and yearning for that kind of storyline here.
It comes from watching cheaters win, and remembering how we were denied a franchise for ten years.
It comes from every heartbreaking afternoon we spent in the 100 degree concrete/aluminum hell of Arlington Stadium.
It comes from the hope that the elegant “The Ballpark” gave to us, and then took away.
It comes from the Fathers and Grandfathers who first took us to games as kids…who taught us to fill out scorecards and bought us hotdogs, and always made sure we took our gloves to catch the foul balls…
Fathers and Grandfathers now gone…who did not live to see our curse lifted…who taught us the history of the game, and helped us to understand our place.
And whom we remember, with every current pitch.
Our place? The Texas Rangers’ place in the quantum physics of the baseball universe is as perennial heartbreakers. That’s the lesson is the *only* lesson you learn if you are a Texas Rangers fan.
I miss my Dad so much. And even though, according every known law of physics in the baseball universe, we are credibly about get our hearts smashed once again, I *still* wish he was here, so our hearts would break again together, one more time.
My passion, our passion, comes from thousands of ticket stubs like these you see here, kept in thousands of drawers like mine, representing thousands of dashed dreams and heartbreak….credibly and arguably historically more deep heartbreak than any other current franchise.
The passion comes *from* the heartbreak.
Even the other night…even in the bottom of the ninth —ahead of the Astros by *seven runs*— I assure you NO TEXAS RANGERS FAN BELIEVED WE WERE GOING TO WIN!!!
I assure you…just ask them.
I was in two separate text threads at the time, and NOBODY I was talking to in that moment believed it was over.A part of this was because of our notoriously rickety current bullpen. Part of it was the heartbreak of sixty two years.
But most of it was because of what I now move on to remind you of…
We have gone to the World Series, twice.
Thank God my Father was alive to see those.
What a joy they were. What great years and memories. The Ballpark. Those red uniforms. (Still my personal faves…)
Those great guys.
But those two years ended in losses too, both to teams who I hated fiercely in the immediately aftermath…and now both of whom I admire and respect deeply. (Having Boch as our manger now definitely helps….)
So, dear friends, I do not need to belabor this point too much.
That said…journey with me now….deeper into the final hidden chambers, into the deepest parts of the broken hearts in every Rangers fan.
Actually “two times” has double meaning, connected to these last two facts. Two times, in one game, the Texas Rangers were one strike away from winning the World Series. Two times, our then 50-year curse was seconds —inches, as every true fan likes to say— away form being lifted; only to have the inevitable physics of the baseball universe enforce its crushing will once again.
We sat there…TWICE IN ONE GAME…and allowed ourselves to dare to think a few seconds into the future.
(“What is this going to feel like?”)
We watched a pitcher with the ball —eyeing the batter— as the inevitable unfolded…and for a brief, foolhardy second, we dared to hope.
But two times, in one game, with one strike left, the World Series hopes of the Texas Rangers were dashed.
THIS, dear friends, this is the deepest cut of all.
The ultimate example of Lucy pulling away that football on us. (Just go with it…)
Down inside all the chambers of a Rangers fan’s heart — far below all our current joy and braggadocio— there is THIS moment. Piled on top of it? All the other layers of archeological detritus and accumulated history I have just now described.
All of this, together, is why, as I’ve already noted, even with one strike left the other night, many of us could not dare believe, even then.
And so, I pull out these ticket stubs, and remember….
I remember how my Father bought them for me. (So many loved ones now gone, looking on with us. There is heartbreak there too….)
I remember the stomping vibration of the Arlington Stadium bleachers.
I remember seeing Hank Aaron in the flesh…the actual guy…the mythic figure.
I remember taunting Reggie Jackson from those bleachers.
I remember watching the debut of David Clyde, and my Jeff Burroughs poster that hung up in my room.
I remember Tom Grieve when he was a player.
I remember Jim Sundberg, and Pudge; both of whom, since I was a catcher, I had unusually strong connections to.
I remember the grace, style, and elegance of the Ballpark.
I remember how Wash talked about how his own heart was broken by our previous losses, and we all knew it was true.
I remember how happy everybody here was for him when he FINALLY got HIS ring….
I remember how Nolan Ryan was one of us for a while, and how now he is most definitely *not* once again.
I remember crying, the last time I left the Ballpark, because it was yet another lost of connection between me and my Father, and the many games we saw there together.
But most all of, beneath all we remember, we Rangers fans remember the heartbreak.
So, yes, we embrace the exuberant brashness of Doli.
We TELL you that we are daring to dream. But we don’t truly believe that.
Physics is physics.
Yes, we’re celebrating with a harsh edge that some of you find offensive. I get it. Keep throwing at us if you want. We’re used to it. Our skins and souls have hardened, perhaps, calcified from all I have just describe to you.
But, prick that braggadocious skin, and what we bleed is heartbreak…even now.
And so, I have yet to decide.
I might just be going on more walks this week.