I had a chance to go see a Rangers’ game, live and in-person. As though there is a difference. Anyway, this was my first time at Rangers Ballpark since the rather unceremonious ending to last season. What follows is a loose account of what I saw and everything falls into one of three categories; amused, concerned, or impressed.
-Impressed- by the look of the park, post renovations. It’s nice, ya’ll. I have no idea if all of the people I saw sitting in the center field pavilion area had seats somewhere in the stadium, but they all looked to be damn comfortable “reclining” in the metal-framed patio style furniture out there. The food looked great, but since I tailgate like an M-Fer, I was too full to sample. Next time, though, smokehouse BBQ place, next time me and you is gonna get ‘quainted.
-Concerned- by the fact that all of those folks were locked in to a HUGE television that was showing a broadcast of an event that they’d have been able to see live by walking about 30 feet to the left or right. Either way people, left or right. The game is actually being played just on the other side of the TV. I promise.
-Amused- by the new sports bar named after the liquor company named after the guy who used to take people’s booty. I spent about 4 minutes in there before I began looking for my boarding pass. This thing is so generic, it could be in Terminal D. Not sure what they were going for, but if “homogenous” was the desired design aesthetic, huge success. Avoid.
-Impressed- ‘cause I feel like I saw a true (very soon) Ace. I capitalized it on purpose. I think there’s about 8-10 of ‘em. I’m not alone in this estimate. People who know way more about baseball than myself have surmised a similar number. Unfortunately, he wasn’t wearing a Rangers jersey. Working the whole zone, tremendous off-speed pitches, great sequencing, evident competitiveness. Only a year older than his opposing pitcher tonight, but in my opinion, on a different level.
-Concerned- by the crazy number of “Boomstick” hot dogs I saw. I was under the impression that this was a bit of a marketing gag. A “look at this man-vs-food/stupid thing we created and sell for $26” style of marketing gag. If attention was the intention, it worked. Lots of local and even some national media turned their focus to this monstrosity during the first homestand. But it never occurred to me, or frankly (see what I did there?) anyone I know, that this many people would be ordering and attempting to eat the damn thing. Holy shit this hot dog is ridiculous and you look pretty ridiculous holding, buying, and eating it. Two regular jumbo dogs, add mustard for me please. No carry case other than the ones at the end of my arms needed.
-Impressed- by 80 grade arm strength in right field AND concerned by the fact that Tampa’s third base coach didn’t know it was out there…looming…lurking…waiting to do that thing it does. Arm cannons are awesome.
-Amused- by the growing and vocal faction of anti-wave fans. A guy in our section literally stood up and instructed everyone NOT to do the wave ‘cause it was distracting to the players. While he had his back to the field, telling us how distracting the wave was, the Rangers turned a triple play. Not really, but he wouldn’t have seen it if they had and he probably would have been mega-pissed if he’d missed that! (side note, he was wearing the only Cliff Lee t-shirt I saw all night)
-Impressed- by the fight in the Rangers. I don’t know why this surprises me, oh, wait yes I do, its called 1972-2009 Rangers Baseball. Seriously though, Fernando Rodney has guzzled from the fountain of youth and he is back to bringing some nasty filth to the bump, to, which the Rangers said, “piss off, get us out three more times and we’ll let you leave”.
-Amused- by the in-game production and entertainment elements that have changed over the last few years. The place sounds great, the scoreboards are conveniently placed and easy to navigate, the ribbon boards are only mildly annoying, and all the gimmicks are fun. I even like the “Texas Legends” race. I know the race is derivative, and it’s going on in every park now, but outside of a Nationals game who else has characters that can lay claim to being 100% tougher than you’ll ever be?
-Concerned- by the fact that when Big #32 went out, the Rangers lack of a right handed, bench bat meant that David Murphy was going to come in and spend three at bats reminding everyone why lefty-lefty matchups favor the pitcher and they especially favor a really good pitcher.
I watch a lot of Rangers baseball, so I didn’t really see a lot tonight a Rangers’ fan doesn’t see on most nights. I tweeted this week that these are the halcyon days for this organization and I truly mean that. I don’t know if this team is going to reach the ultimate prize, but I know what good, daily baseball looks like and it looks like the 2012 Texas Rangers. They lost tonight, to an Ace on what I feel is currently the second best team in the AL, but they show more in losses these days than you were likely to see in the wins of the past. They have a freakishly good third baseman, they have a great #2 lefty starter, they are patient yet explosive, they run well, and field even better. They play in a beautiful park filled with energetic, engaged fans decked out head-to-toe in team gear. The organization doesn’t always hit home runs. They sell an obnoxious hot dog and built a huge sports bar that would be more at home in the friendly, cozy confines of Chicago O’Hare. But make no doubt about it, from the product on the field, to the products around the field, the group that has been steering this ship for a few years now is good. Damn good. This is good baseball.
Thanks for reading and enjoy your baseball.