The birds have started chirping, a steady breeze is blowing, which means it’s time to start practicing and warming up, they have earned their offseason, but it’s time to wake up now, because it’s almost baseball season and I can’t wait! Fast-forward a little bit… It’s April 5, 2013, Opening Day, when the professional baseball league kicks of their regular season, but more importantly it is the opening day for the Texas Rangers. In Major League Baseball, MLB, Opening Day is a state of mind, with countless baseball fans known to recognize this unofficial holiday as a good reason to call in sick at work or be truant from school, as most teams typically play their home opener in the afternoon, and go out to the ballpark for the first of 162 regular season games. Teams' home openers serve as the only regular season games during the year in which the entire rosters for both of the teams, as well as coaches and clubhouse staff, are introduced to the crowd prior to the games, the rest of the year ballparks only introduce the starting lineups.
Anxiety and tension rises as fans await ticket sales for opening day, but there won’t be the usual online ticket purchase or standard box office line waiting outside the ballpark this year. This year there is a lottery for the opportunity to purchase just two measly little tickets to opening day, but in the baseball world those are like golden tickets to Texas Rangers fans. The anticipation of baseball begins to rise as fans and players dream of the red, white and blue of passion, confidence and hope. Jerseys fly off the shelf bearing the Texas Rangers star that is a symbol of the honor and achievement, fit for a team that has overcome great losses in order to now be considered a contending team, as well as the names and numbers of their favorite players, but you won’t see Hamilton, Young, or Napoli on anyone’s back this year. The fans are curious to witness the player that will be the next jersey-worthy rookie, and will be the biggest critics in determining whether or not which players are worthy of the contracts they signed and the trades that were made, and whether or not we should keep them or kick them to curb. It is THE All- American past-time, and you just aren’t American if you don’t love a good baseball game. It is a game that you have to willing to put your heart and soul into, and prove that you are a fan and the Texas Rangers are your team. As Nolan Ryan said, “One of the beautiful things about baseball is that every once in a while you come into a situation where you want to, and where you have to, reach down and prove something.” And well, we wouldn’t be very good fans if we weren’t holding up our end of the deal.
The day has come, it is Opening Day in the Lone Star state; tickets have been bought and fans are in awe of the red, white, and blue hues of victory finally in their hands. The yellow sun is shining (It’s Texas so expect to leave with a sunburn.), the new birds of the season are chirping, and the green has made its appearance evident to all this season. I hope everyone wore sunscreen, because it’s going to be a hot day. People are heading out to the ballpark early to get the best parking spot. Some fans even start celebrating early with food and beer while tailgating with people they have never met before. As the golden sun beams its rays of light down and slides higher in the sky, fans scurry to take their place in line at entrances surrounding the ballpark. Once in the gates there is a heightened excitement as everyone’s anxiety start to rise and the beaming smiles on their faces make for solid proof that this is going to be a monumental day. Fans hurry to the shops and stands, and adorn themselves in whatever souvenirs they can manage to fit on their bodies; hats, shirts, jerseys, cups, caps, necklaces, programs, etc. Then it’s a mad dash to the concessions for that time honored tradition of a hot dog at a baseball game. Candy cane stripes filled with popping kernels and greasy butter. Crunchy, corn chips topped with a golden sauce, a brown meaty goodness, and spicy green peppers. A similar refreshing, golden liquid pouring out of the taps, foaming at the head just waiting to be indulged in. Check your section, check your row, check your seat, the moment is almost here.
The hunt has ended as fans begin to fill the stands. It is a magnificent phenomenon to be able to admire the 49,200 Texas Rangers fanatics have come out in order to catch a first glimpse of their promising 2013 team. A numerous collection of strangers all coming together in the same moment; brothers, sisters, couples, dad and son, father and daughter, all sharing in the same event. Look at all of the kids; they get free gifts at the games all season long. (The MLB is known for making sure the ball games are for the kids.) Those lucky dogs! Some have travelled from different states all over the country to be here today, as the team will do once the season kicks off today. Looking around the stands, a sea of baseball caps and shades, lights flashing all over the ballpark from people ensuring that they preserve the memory of this day. Enlarged hands waving about with a single finger in the air symbolizing that the Texas Rangers are #1. The time is near, it is almost time to meet your 2013 Texas Rangers.
The festivities have begun as they introduce the home team. Opening day, everyone on the team gets recognition players (veterans, rookies, and all-stars), coaches, managers, sponsors, etc. A little fun fact: Baseball is the only sport in which the coaches also where the uniform, and back in the day, so did the managers. Nolan Ryan, former Texas Ranger and new owner, will grace us with his Hall of Fame presence. There is Ron Washington beaming a big smile, he knows what his team has in store for the opposing teams this season, and he isn’t worried at all.
Now with the introductions aside, and Opening Day pre-game celebrations at a closing, let’s get down to business. The freedom song of our star spangled banner plays, flag waving, with hands over hearts. We have paid our respects to our nation, now it’s time to pay our respects to our team, and now it’s time to “Play Ball!” The Texas Rangers file out on to the field ( Oooo weee, would you look at those baseball pants, every woman’s fantasy!). Fans voice their praise in support and hopes that the louder they yell the more motivated their team will be to win. Outfielders take their places on the green graze of harmony, and the infielders take their places on the dirt; basemen on the diamond (first, second, and third bases), the catcher positions himself behind the batter’s box, and the pitcher takes his place on the mound. Out of courtesy of the game, it’s the visiting team that is always first to bat, but I believe that the real purpose is so the fans can see their entire team on the field first!
The Rangers stand ready, with brown worn cowhide stretched, shaped and molded to fit the human hand. The pitcher is standing a pile of dirt, anxiously turning an anticipated mass of off-white leather and ruby red laces in his hand, loosening up his muscles, and staring down the opponent, as the starting batter of the opposing team takes his place at the batter’s box just over home plate, yielding a wooden stick of immense power, but it is no match for a Rangers pitcher. The catcher is crouched behind the batter, he signals to the pitcher who agrees with the call. He then winds up and the first pitch is thrown, strike one… Another, strike two.. . and another, strike three! YOU’RE OUT! It’s time for the opposing team to bring it back home.
It’s the bottom of the 2nd and the Texas Rangers turn to bat. The players have been warming up over in the bull pen, keeping their muscles loose and warm, because we don’t want any injuries. Once the batters are up, the rest of the team heads back to the dugout to wait; talking, anticipating, dipping, chewing, spitting. Batter 1 is up, and batter 2 is on deck in the line-up. The batting order is always the best hitters in the top 3 spots, but every batter gets a chance to hit if the game allows it. Batter one makes his way to home plate, keeping his watch on the batters-eye in the back of the stadium, if he loses focus then he might lose the game. He makes his hit, sending the ball souring out to left field. He takes off towards first, and a trip up in the outfield leaves him ample time to slide safely into 2nd just as the 2nd baseman lunges to tag him out, but he is too late. Batter 2 is up, but his hits tend to be a little off so the opposing team makes a shift in the outfield in order to better cover where the ball might be anticipated to go. 2 strikes, and 3 balls, and batter 2 is walked to first base, while batter on remains on second base.
As the game goes on, the player’s stats are able to be viewed on screens through the ballpark. There are multiple attempts by the fans to initiate and maintain a flow of people standing and throwing their hands in the air and then simultaneously sitting back down in their seats as they wait for the wave of arms and heads to make its way back around so they can do it all over again. There is music playing throughout the game, each batter seems to have their own motivation pump-me-up song when it’s their turn to step up to the plate. They even play music that lets the fans get involved and hae a little fun, such as Cotton-Eyed Joe, and Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Everyone loves to yell “CHARGE!”
The bottom of the 6th has just concluded and we have three more innings to go, we are now in the 7th inning stretch. Looking out the scoreboard, the Rangers are in the lead with 5 runs to 2, but it’s time to take a break. The 7th inning stretch is the time for fans to stretch their legs, run to the restroom for relief, and to the concessions for refills, and for players to take a break, stretch their legs, and strategize with their coaches about their anticipated approach in the last 3 innings. Then comes the ever entertaining dot race! Various mascots line up and race in an attempt to win for those fans who yield their matching dot. It’s a lot of fun cheering on your mascot, watching them trip and take each other out (all in good fun of course). A baseball game is a baseball game without a few tantrums or meltdowns by a coach, and an authoritative umpire, calling all the shots, telling the coaches to sit down and shut it or they are going to be in a world of trouble. No coach wants to cause drama or embarrassment for the team, so most of them keep their cool, but you never know in the game of baseball.
The game eventually picks back up and as time passes the games gets even more exciting as it draws closer to an end. Fastballs, curveballs, fly balls, ground balls, knuckleballs, a slugger here and home run there, even a few stolen bases. The opposing team has made a comeback, and both teams are now tied 5-5. It’s win or lose in the game of baseball, Rangers. There are ducks on a pond, bases loaded, and it’s time for the Texas Rangers to bring on the heat. The team could use some doubles or some triples.
The Texas Rangers have won in a explosive battle on Opening Day. Coach Ron Washington is going crazy and dancing around. Even though it’s the first game of the season, and the still have 161 games and a handful of double headers to go, the Rangers are well on their way to a fight for the World Series and pennant. and to celebrate… bright bursting lights in celebratory hues.
**This submission is for a class assignment.**