Granddad Would Have Loved This

Nineteen years ago, I sat in my grandfather’s bedroom on a summer afternoon and talked baseball with him. We talked about the Texas Rangers and how they were faring. I remember talking with him about a young outfielder named Juan Gonzales and my grandfather’s expectations for him. A few minutes later my grandmother came in and ushered me out of the room so that Granddad could rest. He was bedridden with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. That conversation was the last I had with my grandfather; he passed away a few weeks later.

He was a devoted fan to his Cowboys and his Rangers, if a somewhat jaded one. His favorite phrase to utter as the ballgame inevitably fell apart was, “Well, there goes the ol’ ballgame.” He wasn’t a curmudgeon, merely a realist. He knew the game, and he knew the inevitability of the Rangers’ fate. It became something of a humorous thing for my family, but when he said those words, he was usually right.

I feel like that’s the kind of following that the Texas Rangers had. Growing up in West Texas, the Rangers were my team. My grandfather’s phrase colored my expectations for the Rangers and still does. As the Rangers struggled down the stretch of the regular season, I thought to myself that the inevitable post All-Star break slump had finally arrived, they were going to choke, and end up watching the playoffs from their living rooms yet again. But it didn’t happen.

When the Rangers dropped two games at home in the ALDS when they had the chance to send the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays home, I thought that we were doomed to another year as the only baseball franchise without a postseason series win. But that didn’t happen.

When the Yankees exploded in the 8th inning of Game 1 to take a 6-5 lead, I thought, “Well, there goes the ol’ ballgame… and the series.” I expected the Rangers’ confidence to crumble and the Yankees to plow through the Rangers like they had in the Rangers’ only three previous playoff appearances. But that didn’t happen.

In Game 4, the Yankees took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the 4th Inning and A.J. Burnett looked solid, I thought to myself, “Well, there goes the ol’ ballgame.” I thought the Rangers were going to fizzle, and that the Yankees were going to climb back into the series. But that didn’t happen. Instead, Bengie Molina hit a first-pitch, two out curveball down the left field line and into the Yankee Stadium bleachers, clinching a 3-1 series lead.

After a slight, but not unexpected, speed bump in Game 5, the Rangers dominated the Yankees in Game 6 to send the Yankees home crying and the Rangers to their first-ever World Series. They dominated. They made the Yankees pay for their strategic decisions and their mistakes. It was a beautiful thing to watch. As Alex Rodriguez watched as a Neftali Feliz slider slipped past him (poetic justice for a player who called the Rangers “24 kids” when he demanded a trade out of Arlington), the celebration that had been building in the stands exploded onto the field, the traditional team dogpile happening somewhere between home plate and the pitcher’s mound. The Rangers had defeated the New York Yankees. They are going to the World Series.

Granddad, I think we can finally retire the saying.

He would have loved this team. These Rangers love baseball; watch for a few innings and it becomes apparent. From The Claw and The Antlers to the ear-to-ear grins after a home run, to manager Ron Washington pounding the rail and running in place as his players race down the basepaths, it’s easy to see that these Rangers love the game of baseball, and they love each other. When one struggles, another steps in with a clutch hit or play in the field. They are family. They’re the kind of team to believe in. They were my grandfather’s kind of team, where everybody contributes, nobody loafs, and fun is had all around.

Granddad would have loved this.


1 Response to “Granddad Would Have Loved This”

  1. 1 Vicki October 23, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Awesome read. Thanks for your post and the reminders of my own maternal grandfather (who was an Astros fan). We watched the game last night and it was so great to see the Rangers come together and pull of the upset of the season. And how fitting that A-Rod should be the last batter of the series.

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