I've been around since close to the beginning of LSB (I was originally "Charlie Brown" pre-SBNation), but I've rarely commented and never been moved to write a fanpost before today; so please bear with me.
There's been a lot of debate on the site in recent days (e.g. after Adam 'ran out of things to say') about how we should feel about these Rangers and these final days of the season. Some, like Adam, suggest a perspective that appreciates how far the Rangers have come as an organization that we can even complain about a season where we've become the only team in baseball with four straight 90 win seasons. Others say we've raised the bar and shouldn't lower it (JBImaknee: JD and co. know this season is a failure, even if they stumble into the wild card game.Everyone else should recognize it as that as well.)
I'm not going to say what anyone should or shouldn't feel about today; I just want to give the perspective of one lifelong Rangers fan: it's a hell of a lot of fun, and I'm grateful.
Many of you have been fans as long as you can remember, but there are fewer of us who've been fans for as long as the Rangers can remember. I got my first radio in 1972 when I was seven and listened to every game that season and almost every year after. I remember Tom Grieve as a player ("Dad he's hitting .272!") and Eric Nadel doing minor league hockey. I listened to the Cleveland nickel beer night fiasco in awe (streakers and fireworks), was a member of the inaugural Jim Sundberg Dr. Pepper Jr. Rangers, and learned interesting new vocabulary (Roger Moret: "catatonic"). Okay, so I'm old. I prefer middle-aged. But as almost every Rangers fan knows, being a fan of this team has always meant rooting in the face of heartache, and about finding joy in the everyday game, the way that only baseball can offer. In those Arlington stadium days you went to the park knowing you had a one-in-three chance of winning the game but a nearly 100% chance of seeing something you hadn't seen before--we saw Jackie Moore milk a cow on the field between games of a doubleheader. We discovered nachos. (Yes, the Rangers invented ballpark nachos). And there was always hope. Many years hope lasted until the All-star break, and sometimes even into August. But never realistically beyond that (even in 74). For so many years, most of my life, I just dreamed about the Rangers being in a pennant race in September.
Now, after the past fifteen years, we've been fortunate enough to have been in a few pennant races. The '98 battle with the Angels was fun, and lots of people have mentioned the Delucci Double here recently. Last year was the first time we had ever come down to the last day of the season to decide the division, but we had already clinched a playoff berth before the Oakland series even began. Plus, let's face it, the team was disintegrating. Coming from ahead to lose is not very fun--which is what many people have reacted to this year.
But we have never had a week like this. This last week of the 2013 season. We have often chased a playoff spot from behind, and a few times even chased one into the last week of a season, but we have never come from behind to catch anyone, ever. We have never had to win to make the playoffs and actually done it, and never ever played the final day of the season with the postseason riding on it. This week began with a gut-punch walk-off grand slam loss to the Royals that felt like the end, only to be followed by Profar's shot, CJ's slippery balls, and yesterday. Yesterday alone was as weird as anything I ever saw in the '70s, as surreal as Farm and Ranch Night or Bernie Brewer stealing our signs in his lederhosen. Eleven am start time, wardrobe malfunction, and all the errors--had Nadel on the air debating the nuances of "buffoonery" vs. "chicanery." Then there are images that may become as transcendent as the Delucci Double: Elvis 'steal' of home, Nathan with rain streaming from his cap. Baseball's essential pleasure is its perpetual ability to surprise. And we have been surprised this year--again and again.
In all my life as a Rangers fan, I've learned that when it comes down the final out, facing elimination, you just want to see the next pitch, to see another batter, another game. The root of my rooting has always been: I just want to see some more baseball. To be able to do that on the last day of the season, in front of all the home fans, new and old. I may not be Lou Gehrig, but today, I feel pretty lucky.