Special atmosphere at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
Once upon a time, the Texas Rangers weren’t very good. In their first 38 seasons, they went to the playoffs just three times and won one postseason game. They had a winning regular-season record only 11 times. Yet what sometimes gets lost in all the losses is that the Rangers had fans who cared deeply about their team. Beginning in 1989, they failed to draw 2 million fans just twice . After moving into Rangers Ballpark in 1994, they drew more than 2.5 million fans 11 times. A Dallas columnist often made the point that these were the best fans in the sport because no franchise had given them less reason for hope.
I thought of these bad old days this morning when I rolled into Arlington and found hundreds of tailgaters enjoying themselves on this Opening Day. Fans began staking out tailgate locations at 5:30 a.m., and by mid-morning, the thing had the feel of a giant street party.
Far from the bad old days, the Rangers are widely recognized as one of MLB’s smartest franchises. They’ve got great ownership led by Nolan Ryan and a brilliant general manager in Jon Daniels. They’ve won back-to-back American League championships and have done such a good job at the minor league level that there’s a good chance they’ll be competitive for years to come. Even with the Angels adding Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, it would be a mistake to discount the Rangers winning again.
The Rangers locked up Derek Holland through 2016 and have been discussing a longterm deal with Ian Kinsler. To fans of the franchise, the message is that the Rangers intend to keep the core group of players together. On their 41st Opening Day, the Rangers honored their past with having an assortment of players from past teams show up. But it’s the present that was on stage Friday afternoon, and it’s that present that has spurred such optimism.