As I kept tabs Wednesday on the buzz surrounding the arrival of Baseball Easter (aka Pitchers and Catchers Report) for the Texas Rangers, I felt, as seemed to be common, a charge of excitement. I’ve been looking for a good reason to start writing more in this space, and PACR gave me that impetus. So, I’m going to resolve to try (operative word) to offer some sort of unique perspective on the Rangers on a regular basis. I don’t know yet what niche I will be able to carve out (if any), how many people will read it (if any), or whether there’s even any need for my thoughts, since we are fortunate to have a slew of must-read Rangers material in this market already (see BBTiA, Lone Star Ball, Newberg Report, Scott Lucas).
As I listened to the Hardline on Wednesday, I was surprised to hear Mike, Corby and Danny dredge up the heartbreaking ending to World Series Game 6, and worry aloud whether the club would be able to collectively put that evening in the rearview mirror. Each went on to elaborate the degree to which thinking about that evening still left him feeling somewhat ill. As did most Rangers fans, I’m sure, I hung on every twist and turn of Game 6 on the evening of Thursday, October 27. At the outset of the bottom of the 9th inning, I turned down my TV sound and tuned in to ESPN 103.3 FM. The expectation, at the the time, was that I would soon hear Eric Nadel call the final out of first-ever World Series title for the Rangers. I stepped into the hallway of my home prior to Neftali Feliz’s 1-2, 2-out pitch to David Freese, cutting off my line of sight to the television, so that my only experience of the final out would be Eric’s voice. Due to the television delay, I experienced the double deflation of hearing Eric describe the action, then stepping back into the living room just in time to see Freese connect on the game-trying triple. Agony. I watched in disbelief the next half-inning as a clearly hobbled Josh Hamilton hit a 2-run moon shot to right-center, actually ripping off my shirt in the process of celebrating in my living room. Ecstasy. And, well…everyone knows the rest. There’s no sense in laying it all bare again.
FLD Mike had invited me to a Paul Simon show on Friday, October 28, and, due to the rainout of Game 6 on Wednesday, and David Freese’s heroics Thursday, the concert now coincided with the final World Series game. No matter how much I tried to be optimistic about Game 7, I ultimately decided to attend the show in order to guarantee myself one really great thing to come out of Friday night…I just couldn’t shake the feeling of impending doom. Mike and I followed the action on our phones and on the lobby televisions at the Verizon Theatre, but it became apparent by the middle innings that the game was slipping away. So, I focused on Mr. Simon instead. My disappointment subsided, and then…it was just gone. I rarely thought of it again.
Almost immediately, my attention was drawn to discussion and video footage of eventual Rangers acquisition Yu Darvish…if memory serves, someone posted a link in a comment thread at BBTiA in the wee hours after Game 7 to a Japanese League playoff game in which Darvish was pitching. The Hot Stove heated up (one of my favorite times of year). I waved goodbye to C.J., and followed every Twitter handle that I could find during Darvish mania. Holiday 4-Pack tickets went on sale at texasrangers.com. The renewal was already in full swing for me. Though it became clear that Nelson Cruz could have, and probably should have, caught Freese’s drive in the 9th, I never played what-if in my mind. I never felt let down by Cruz, or Feliz, or Michael Young’s two errors earlier in the game, or the Allen Craig home run in the 8th inning because Wash left the Dutch Oven in one batter too long. I’m glad that our metropolis has spared those guys, particularly Cruz and Feliz, the vilification that other towns have heaped upon their sports figures who didn’t seize the moment when the spotlight was brightest. I have complete faith in the way that the psychological needs of the players will be handled by Ron Washington and his staff as we move forward into the 2012 season. I feel privileged to have seen two seasons of championship-caliber baseball up close and personal after following this team since the early 1980s. I have the utmost confidence in the front office to keep this thing going. Most of all, I genuinely believe that the Rangers are in the midst of a historic run, and will have an enduring moment or two in the spotlight before all is said and done with this crew.
I’m over Game 6. I’m ready for April 6. I’ll see you at the Ballpark.