Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rangers Fan in Angel Territory 

Hello Mr. Richter,

I wrote this recently and I think it would play well on  I was wondering if you'd have a look.  Main theme: the Angels organization's expectation to win is inspirational.

Dale Vaughn
Hollywood, CA

I grew up in Arlington, Texas, watching a wily Nolan Ryan complete his career of fooling hitters and hitting fools... where is Robin Ventura these days? I came of age with an MVP, cannon-armed Pudge Rodriguez behind the plate – who held opponent base burglars to one successful third base attempt… for a whole season… three times.  With those few individual references of greatness now squarely behind me, I am able to fully comprehend the accomplishments of the 2009 Texas Ranger team… and look forward to a new season.  This is probably the best my hometown organization has ever looked; and yet, they didn’t even make the playoffs last season because the Angels just didn’t seem to lose.

I should hate the Angels, but now that I am beginning my third transplanted season here, I only have respect.  This is a team that had by all means a disappointing regular season in 09 with injuries to star players, a slew of anonymous starting pitchers, and trouble finding simultaneous hitting and pitching dominance… and yet they just continued to find the W column.

People talk about the curses in Boston and Chicago… it makes me laugh.  The Texas Rangers have never even come close to a World Series.  They are the only active Major League team who has not won a playoff series.  They are one of three teams to never have played in a World Series.  The Texas Rangers are celebrating 50 years of existence (including a 12 year run as the Washington Senators) this year, and they will have won one – that’s one, singular – playoff game.  By contrast, the Angels organization expanded at the same time and has been to the playoffs nine times and won more than 20 playoff games and a World Series title.

The Angels have many notable strengths: the organizational depth to withstand NY Met type injuries; Mike Scioscia, one of the best baseball brains in the country – who repeatedly wins close games and coaches solid fundamental baseball when it counts; and clutch players who have bought into the team concept on and off the field.

And yet, the most inspiring trait about the Angels is the infectious expectation for winning.  I listen to Angel Talk after each game and am bewildered at the seething disappointment from fans when the Angels lose.  It’s like the idea of losing doesn’t even enter the realm of possibility until the umpire calls the final out of the game.  Any baseball fan has got to love that attitude.

Coming from a baseball culture where winning seems like a bedtime fairy tale, and the World Series is reserved for the Yankees, it’s confounding to expect a championship every year in any professional sport.  I can’t be angry at Angels fans – much like Yankee or Red Sox fans – their expectations have cultivated world class organizations; and in the end, we’re all sports fans who want to be wowed each year by new feats of athletic deism and sporting drama.  I love the game of baseball and I like to see my home team striving so hard to compete with organizations like the Angels.

I owe this – a young and talented Rangers roster laden with fielding prowess, pitching potential, run-scoring capability, all overseen by venerable baseball minds – to the standard of excellence that the Angels have cultivated over the past decade.  Last season the Rangers couldn’t keep the Angels down, maybe this is the year the Rangers come out and play high-level ball for 162 games.  For as much respect as I have gained for the Angels organization… I will still root, root, root for my home team and if they don’t win it’s a shame.

I’ll be honest… I’m tired of spending all my energy rooting for that other sports team in Arlington.

Dale from Dallas
Love to hear what you think!


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