Saturday, October 23, 2010

Texas Rangers: American League Champions!!!

American League Champions 2010
Late October in Texas is when the sports-minded Texan is full throttle into football, any kind of football - pee wee, High School, college or the NFL. Basketball season is just beginning and the NHL is in the first few games of its season. Pro sports in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have produced World Championships galore. The Dallas Cowboys have played in eight Super Bowls, winning five of them. The Dallas Stars have appeared in two Stanley Cup Finals and brought home Lord Stanley's Cup in 1999. The NBA entry in the Metroplex, the Mavericks finally made it to the NBA Finals a few years ago. The Texas Rangers? Let's just say that October for the Rangers usually means planning a long vacation to Mexico or the Bahamas. Until this year! I am going to write a sentence that until about 11:15 EDT last night was nothing more than a fantasy- or a drunken dream. The Texas Rangers are going to the World Series! I didn't stutter and your ears ain't flappin'. The Rangers are the American League Champions and as such, will travel to either Philadelphia or San Francisco in their quest to win the Fall Classic.

As I was watching the last couple of innings of Game 6 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees last night, a flood of memories rushed through my mind. I was at the third game the Rangers ever played in Texas, at old Arlington Stadium in 1972. I don't even remember whether they won or lost, I was just excited that Major League baseball had finally come to the Metroplex.

Here are some of those memories:
  • The '72 Rangers sucked. Bad. I think this was the team that was so bad they were called The Strangers by local Media. It was that bad.
  • Jeff Burroughs was the MVP of the American League in 1974. 
  • Jeff Burroughs vs Reggie Jackson pre-game Home Run Contest. I'll tell that story another time.
  • Ten Cent Beer Night in Cleveland in 1974. Hilarity, beer-tossing and a riot ensued. Ten Cent Beer Night never happened again.
  • Burn a Disco Record Night in Chicago. I don't remember the year, but on paper it looked like a good idea. It wasn't.
  • Rangers pitchers wife-swapping. BTW, the guys who did the wife swap came to Texas from, you guessed it, the Yankees. 
  • David Clyde.
  • Eddie Chiles
  • Eddie Stanky - Manager for a Day.
  • Nolan Ryan. I was lucky enough to have seen Ryan pitch as an Astro and a Ranger. The meanest SOB to ever chunk the rock, except maybe Bob Gibson.
  • The ball bouncing off Jose Canseco's head over the fence for a homer.
  • Oh, yeah! The guy who went into a catatonic trance in the locker room! Roger Moret? Help a brutha out with that one.
  • Eric Nadel. The Best Baseball Announcer I Have Ever Heard. Period. The guy is amazing.
If you've got a memory of the Rangers you'd like to share, please do so. As always, the comments are open

After 39 years of mostly ineptitude, weird plays and weirder players, the Rangers are the American League Champions. And they beat the Damn Yankees to get there. The sight of A-fraud's knees buckling when Neftali Feliz froze him with a curve ball to end the game is Shakespearian in its drama.

Other than the game itself, one moment stood out to me like a Klan member at a Juneteenth celebration. When Josh Hamilton accepted the ALCS MVP trophy from Mrs. Autry, he thanked God for his success and the crowd cheered! Loudly. God bless Texas and kick some Philly/San Fransissy ass!!!

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All Original Material © Toby Shoemaker