As we dive into the peak of the holiday season, sometimes the stresses and pressures of the added responsibility can drive a person to near insanity.
This same goal can be achieved by being a fan of the Dallas Cowboys.
But we are not here to talk about that, instead I want to talk about a sport - and a team - that has given this city a lot to be thankful for recently.
I’m thankful for the Texas Rangers, a team that has come agonizingly close to a world title twice in as many years, but just fallen short. Yet, I am still thankful; they showed this city that its baseball team was dedicated to playing their butts off together, and to winning. They proved that they would leave everything they had out on the field and let the result be a reflection of the effort.
I’m thankful for Nolan Ryan, an owner who has literally, not figuratively, changed the culture of baseball in the town. I’m thankful he decided to push pitchers, not coddle them. I’m thankful he stuck by Ron Washington when many would not have. I’m thankful that he has four seats close enough to the field to yell instruction if he wanted to, yet lets his manager manage.
I’m thankful for Jon Daniels, a GM who has shown that he is not afraid to play the chess game with the big boys. He has shown that he is one of the youngest, most brilliant minds in the game, and knows how to plug the pieces together. I’m thankful he is smart enough to always keep his game to himself, no matter how crazy it might drive the rest of us.
I’m thankful for Ron Washington, a skipper who understands that the best way to lead a team is to unify them in the clubhouse first, before running them out to the diamond. I’m thankful he is an emotional leader, and can always be counted on to run the bases with his guys, sunflower seeds eternally planted in his mouth. Most of all, I’m thankful for his passion, may it always infect this wonderful, beautiful game.
I’m thankful for every single one of the players who put on the uniform. This column could turn into a novel if I wrote every single thing I wanted to about each player, for all of them have a unique trait they bring to this ballclub. Each one of them contributes in their own way, and it is very hard to see any one of them leave, for we spend our entire summers with these guys.
I’m thankful for Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The stadium is the perfect blend of the old school style and the new school technology. I’m thankful for the tailgating on opening day with thousands of friends. I’m thankful for those escalator rides up to the cheap seats 25 times a year. I’m thankful for the overpriced beer and the cheap hot dogs (If Nolan indeed cooked all of those dollar hot dogs himself, I suggest he let someone else take over.) I’m thankful for the fly-over, the anthem, and the salute to our troops. I’m thankful for, “Play Ball,” on a warm spring afternoon.
I’m thankful for sabermetrics and how crazy they drive me. I’m thankful for BAA, OPS, UZR, fWAR, bWAR, BABIP, and FIP, even if I still have to reference Fangraphs occasionally to fully understand what they mean. I’m thankful for the debates the numbers of baseball can spark, the long conversations, and the eventual agreeing to disagree. I’m thankful that simple numbers and math can inspire so much passion in the fans and, in turn, make them the most educated in sports.
Most of all, I’m thankful for the game of baseball. It’s a game that has been with me since I was three years old, and it will remain near and dear to me until the day I die. I’m thankful for the bond it creates between fathers and sons, and will forever cherish the days of going to half empty stadiums in the hopes of just catching a fly ball. I’m thankful that even though the result wasn’t what I had hoped for, MY baseball team gave me one of the greatest seasons of all time.
Today means different things for different people. No matter what or how you celebrate, may it be blessed and fulfilling, and may it bring you as much joy as baseball brings me.