Okay - I admit it. I am a fair weather fan.
Not that I haven't loved the Texas Rangers all my life. I have. But it has been a Tough Love kind of love. So much heartache and hurt - I had to show them the back door until they could clean up their act and show a sincere commitment to improving their life.
Every....single.....year.....for as long as I can remember, my mother and my younger brother have said, "This is our year." Granted, this may have been a valid statement in 1986 or 1989, but certainly not in, say....1985 or 1992 or 2004.
Some years began promisingly enough. But as every Rangers fan knows, you never count your chickens (or baseballs) until after the All-Star break. How many years have we Ranger fans began to get excited, only to see the whole season tank after the July All-Star break? So much so that I taunt my mother and brother every year when they begin to speak words of sweet hope. As they begin to extol the virtues of this year's promised-messiah players, I softly chant, "All Star break" until they hear me and usually scream something at me. But I am always right.
Until this year.
This year has made 38 years of waiting worth it. The Texas Rangers have finally fulfilled every single hope and dream any fan of theirs ever had (and despaired of seeing come to fruition). For the first-time ever, their pitching is there. Not just one player, but pretty much the whole dang bullpen. That is a change, for sure. And the hitting? It is something special. It makes you stand up and cheer, even in your own home.
Maybe it is a "girl" thing, but there is something else. They are a team. A classy team. I need something more than just talented, but big-headed, chest thrusting condescension (Lakers! Cowboys!!!) from my team in order to love them. The Rangers do not just meet that expectation, they blow it out of the water.
Josh Hamilton, when interviewed after being named the MVP of the ALCS, said he didn't want to talk about himself, but about his team. Because baseball is a team sport. Something many other players seem to forget. Anyway, it was the absolute right thing to say. It is about the team. Josh could never have been MVP of anything without his teammate. He probably shouldn't even be alive, the way things were going for him for a while.
You want a comeback story? Read up on Josh Hamilton. Sure, we all know that many sports players have rough lives or problem with substance abuse or drunk driving or illegal dog fighting or secret doping. It happens. It is an ugly side of talent, money, and the stress of proving yourself every time you step into your chosen arena. But not many fight against it the way Josh has.
And not only is he committed to a life-long war against his addictions, his team is in it with him. They stand alongside him. They encourage him. They give him shoulders to lean on, hands to hold. They celebrate their vistories with ginger ale, for heaven's sake! All so he won't be left out.
That is what sets this team apart. Now, I have read that many San Francisco fans have labeled this behavior as "right-wing, conservative, bible-thumping" Texas behavior. First, do they know most of the players are not from here, or live here, or will stay here long? That is just stupid.
And it might be their undoing.
"United we stand, together we fall".
The Texas Rangers have not only proven to their fans that they are worthy of admiration and devotion due just to excellent, exciting ball playing. They have given us all a reason to love them.