This is something that my childhood self didn't dream of because winning the World Series was what other teams did. Sure, I loved my Texas Rangers and followed and supported them through thick and thin, but the playoffs were games that we watched on TV, played by players from other parts of the country, vying for titles and making history.
I took to loving baseball at the earliest of ages. My mom says that I was dragging a plastic bat around before I could even walk and would sit perfectly still in front of the TV and watch every move of the Saturday afternoon game of the week. The game chose me, and not the other way around. It was in me when I was born, and there is no other explanation.
What Texas Rangers memories came to mind as they were winning the World Series?
Buddy Bell was, and still is, my favorite all-time player. He hasn't donned a Rangers uniform in over three decades, and yet as the game was winding down last night, I couldn't help but think of him. He never played in a playoff game, was underappreciated by the national media because of being on inferior teams, and was overshadowed by first Brooks Robinson, then Mike Schmidt, and George Brett. If he had worn pinstripes or perhaps Dodger blue, there is little doubt that he would now be in the Hall of Fame.
So, when I think of the Rangers and my childhood, they are great memories, but not of rings and parades. Being a lifelong Rangers fan is the exact opposite of being on a bandwagon. Texas would win some and lose some. They had some great players and some not-so-great ones. My Texas Rangers memories were a few hot summer nights when this country kid got to go hangout at Arlington Stadium each season and when I would fall asleep listening to Eric Nadel and the late great Mark Holtz when the boys were way out west.
My wife and I went to St. Louis in 2011 and watched helplessly from our third base line seats as we came within one strike (twice) of witnessing history. Instead, we had our baseball hearts ripped out, and that experience made this moment seem even more surreal. After that crushing loss, I honestly wondered if I would ever witness the Rangers hoist the Commissioner's Trophy. My life would have been just fine if it didn't happen, but I am so thankful and blessed that it now has.
First and foremost, this World Series title is about this resilient 2023 team. But it is also about the Rangers organization and this fan base. To say that we deserved this, is strong language that I personally can't get behind. But to say that it is long coming, and something that we should all enjoy, is spot on. This team and this moment have allowed longtime fans like me to be able to reflect on their Rangers journey and it has been special. And hopefully we have gained more fans that not only enjoyed this ride but will follow the team from here on.
So, soak it in Rangers fans! Use this time to reminisce about your personal favorite Rangers player or perhaps a favorite moment spent at the ballpark, watching the team on TV, or listening on the radio. Tell your kids, your friends, and your family about the Rangers and why you love them. The grind of 162 can make for a long season, so there should be no lack of celebration among the Rangers faithful.
The MLB offseason cycle starts quickly, but this is something that we can cherish from here on. I watched the final out recorded with my wife and daughters all huddled around the TV with me. It was special and something that we will all remember. And I know that there is supposed to be "no crying in baseball", but there might have been a few tears of joy as the moment hit me.
Congratulations Rangers, and congratulations Rangers' fans. Your 2023 World Series champions are the Texas Rangers! I sincerely hope that you enjoyed the ride!