Saturday, October 23, 2010

Field of Dreams

Baseball fans in these parts have been dreaming for a long time.

The local major league baseball team, the Texas Rangers, began its existence as the Washington Senators in 1961. Following the 1971 season, the team relocated to north Texas and has gone under the name of the Texas Rangers since 1972.

It took the Rangers nearly a quarter of century even to get into the postseason — and they only recently tasted victory in the playoffs for the first time — but, although most of the early Rangers teams weren't very impressive, loyal baseball fans still sang the official team song before each home game and after the team's triumphs between 1975 and 1980 ...

... And dreamed of scaling baseball's heights.

Those long–suffering fans are entitled to savor the Rangers' American League championship, writes Richard Justice in the Houston Chronicle. It's been a "long, odd, agonizing trip," he says, "and because it has taken 39 years, because the Texas Rangers have had a view of the bottom of the baseball world for so long, this moment is that much more special."

This morning, the Rangers are closer than they have ever been to proclaiming themselves kings of the baseball world. Believe it or not. And even I have to pinch myself at times to remind myself that — wait for it — the World Series really is coming here.

We already knew that the Super Bowl will be played here next February. They determine those things years ahead of time. But there was no way — until last night — that anyone could have known that the World Series would be played here just a few months before.

America's two greatest professional sports championships will be played here in north Texas within four months of each other. How incredible is that?

As Jon Paul Morosi writes for Fox Sports, the Rangers' series with the New York Yankees was pretty one–sided. With the exception of a single late–game meltdown, the Rangers simply overwhelmed New York.

Surprisingly, it never really was close.

Evan Grant writes, in the Dallas Morning News, that the Rangers need an icon that is worthy of their never–say–die resilience.

"All things locally are now officially possible," writes Randy Galloway in the Fort Worth Star–Telegram, "even logical."

And, after the Rangers disposed of the two best teams in the American League, who's to say they won't be able to toss aside either the Giants or the Phillies like rag dolls in the World Series?

I guess, to a certain extent, the Rangers have a lot of folks in this city dreaming this morning. Even me. And I'm not even that much of a baseball fan anymore. I used to be — and I still pull for the team I have always pulled for, the Los Angeles Dodgers, even though I've never lived less than two time zones from L.A. — but it's been more than 10 years since I attended a game.

Anyway, I stand corrected. I was skeptical about their chances against the Yankees, and they proved me wrong.

As Galloway said, all things now seem possible. Perhaps we'll have a World Series parade in Dallas in early November.

North Texas is an area that is hungry beyond words for a champion. It's been more than a decade (and, pardner, that's a long time by Dallas standards) since a champion in any professional sport was crowned around here — and that was in, of all things, hockey!

The basketball team did play in its championship series a few years ago but fell flat.

And the football team hasn't lived up to local preseason expectations for 15 years.

(That's a lifetime for you and me.)

Now, the Rangers can erase — at least, temporarily — the disappointments and the frustrations that have been shouldered by sports fans in this city for years.

I think it is safe to say that, if this city must wait another 39 years for a World Series to come to Arlington, most of us will not be around to see it.

So, for those of us who live here, this is probably our chance.

But this is their moment.

Both the Giants and the Phillies have had their opportunities to win it all in my memory. But not the Rangers. Never before.

My father always encouraged me to root for the underdog. He grew up in Dallas, but he wasn't a product of years of pulling for the woeful Rangers. He'd been away from the Metroplex for many years before the Rangers came to town.

I don't know if the Rangers will be the favorites or the underdogs in this World Series.

And I've been a National League partisan most of my life.

But I'll pull for the Rangers in this World Series.

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