The baseball season is winding down and, thanks to a team from Texas, the game is fun for me again.
So the mid-year resolution of writing here once a week or more isn’t doing all that hot. But I bet I can do better.
For the first time in 23 years, I’m sitting on the eve of the World Series, with an actual rooting interest in the outcome. Sure, I was a “new” Braves fan when they went worst-to-first and lost the 1991 Series to Minnesota, but it hasn’t been since those same Twins in 1987 (same, but different, that roster turned over big time in four years) that I cared who won the Fall Classic. And the only real reason I cheered for the Twins is I “knew” many of the players from their minor league days. Before that, it was the 1979 Pirates in a Series, but I was five and still just rooting in my father’s shadow.
But this year is different.
On December 8, 1988, I woke up a die-hard Cleveland Indians fan. By the end of the afternoon, my favorite player, Julio Franco had been traded to Texas and, for whatever reason, I became a Rangers fan.
Almost 22 years later, I’m still here, and “my” Rangers are four wins from a championship. It’s unbelievable.
A lot of bad has been said about the Rangers this year, and maybe I’m a little (okay, a lot) biased, but I think it’s a good story. Manager Ron Washington (who played in the minors with a number of those ’87 Twins) admitted to trying cocaine last year, but kept his job. He now gets tested regularly by MLB officials and has been clean since. Stud outfielder Josh Hamilton has fought much more serious demons, has gotten a second, if not third, chance and is also living clean and being a role model to youth groups to not take the same path.
Even the entire franchise is taking advantage of a second chance. After years of mismanaged finances, the team went into bankruptcy, but has emerged with Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan as part of the ownership group. It’s new life for the team and it seems to show.
I’ve been a baseball fan pretty much since birth, but in recent years, it’s lost some of the fun. This year’s Rangers have made it fun again. I just hope they can finish the job.