A Compelling Case For The Rangers

Like many baseball fans without a natural rooting interest in the coming World Series, I find myself torn over who to cheer for: the claw and moose of the Rangers or The Machine and pandas of the Giants.

So, I did what any self-respecting baseball fan in the 21st Century would do: I trolled the best team blogs I could find to steal the opinions of those in the know.

I discovered some wonderful writing in support of both Texas and San Francisco, so wonderful in fact, that I asked Joshua Garoon from the indispensable Rangers blog Baseball Time In Arlington to write a guest post on Getting Blanked to try to convince us to cheer on Texas.

Here’s what Mr. Garoon responded with:

An open letter to members of the non-aligned nations of baseball fandom:

Dear folks,

My sources in the mainstream media inform me that the upcoming World Series is going to be a real snoozer for most of you. TV ratings seem to be a particular concern, since (if my media sources are to be believed), many of you are planning to watch the opening round of the CUNY Athletic Conference soccer tournament rather than the first game of the Fall Classic on Wednesday evening.

Now, I’m a fan of the beautiful game, and I understand that North American sports priorities are inevitably reducible to the typical Manhattanite’s view of the world. But I’m asking you to give me a chance to convince you to tune into Rangers vs. Giants, rather than Baruch vs. Medgar Evers. And if you give me that chance, I’m going to do more than persuade you to watch Game 1 of the Series; I’m going to get you to watch every one, and to root for the Rangers while you’re at it. How, you ask? Simple. I’m going to play on every television viewer’s sweet tooth – that guilty pleasure that you just can’t stop consuming, even though you know you really should.

That’s right: reality television.

So here’s my pitch. Take a company of strapping young men, boasting gobs of disposable income. Call them… the Dangers. Put them on live TV nearly every day for 6 months, playing head-to-head games against 29 similar groups of guys. Add a boss who gets caught doing coke just before the cameras start rolling. Throw in a superstar Danger with a serious coke problem of his own, who’s turned his life around and become the best at what he does on the planet. Add a Danger who was once exiled to Japan, a Danger whose last group chucked him because he was too old and decrepit, and a bunch of other Danger question marks. The Dangers bond. They win a lot of games. Then the entire Danger organization declares bankruptcy. The Dangers fight through it. They win a lot more games.

Next, another shocker: the Dangers somehow manage to acquire another superstar who’s the best at what he does on the planet – and in the process, they prevent the villains of the show (call them the Bombers) from grabbing him for themselves. The bankruptcy drags out; the organization winds up being auctioned off in court. The Dangers keep on keeping on. One by one, the other groups are voted off the island. By the last month of the season, only eight are left, and they have to face off against each other in competition for the grand prize. Luck of the draw: the Dangers have to face the most successful of the remaining seven. They win. Their reward is facing the best of the remaining three: none other than the Bombers. The Dangers win, again. And now – now, after the unbelievable, too-strange-to-be-scripted roller-coaster ride of the last six months – now they’re in position to win the whole damn thing.

How could you not tune in to find out what happens next?

Now, I could sell you a different line. I could tell you a story about a baseball franchise that was so badly mismanaged, it moved from the nation’s capital to the heart of football country. (No, not the Baruch vs. Medgar Evers sort of football.) I could talk about a fan base that embraced the carpetbaggers, even when they played in a stadium originally named after the toll road that ran past it. I could talk about 39 years of futility, in which the fans watched every team – including expansion teams – except theirs and one other win at least one postseason series. (Perhaps appropriately, the lone exception plays in the nation’s capital.) I could try to play upon your heartstrings: a sentimental tune about underdogs whose time has come.

Or, better yet, I could invoke history. Missing this Fall Classic could mean missing the chance to tell your grandkids – ad infinitum, ad nauseam – about how you were mesmerized by Josh Hamilton and Cliff Lee in their primes: gods striding among mere mortals. About how you saw Vladimir Guerrero finally play in the World Series after 14 Hall-of-Fame years. About how you watched Elvis Andrus inherit the mantle of Jeter and Cal and the Wizard of Oz, and Neftali Feliz (or was it Perez?) take the torch from Rivera. About how great a team that team was, full of grit and hustle. How they really seemed to play their guts out for each other, and their manager, whose idiosyncratic English still brings a smile to your face.

And, really, it’s going to be a fascinating Series. We’re talking about a Rangers team that, in its last series, tied the ALCS for stolen bases in an inning, while featuring an MVP outfielder who tied the LCS record for both home runs and intentional walks, and a pitcher who was the first in MLB postseason history to strike out 10 men or more in three different games. The strategery will kick in as early as Game 1. Will the Giants come out swinging against Lee, or will they try to hang back and force his pitch count up, at the risk of facing innumerous 0-2 counts? Will they find themselves on the other end of the Bonds Gambit, forced to consider walking Hamilton in key situations just to avoid the havoc he can wreak?

But, of course, those questions defy the notion that you’d prefer to watch “The Jeffersons” and the rest of the Wednesday-night lineup on TV Land than the Rangers and Giants on Fox. I wouldn’t dream of disputing the mainstream. I’ll simply dangle the sweeter carrot: the World Series will feature the best week or so of reality television that you’ll see this year. It’ll be the talk of the water-cooler set at your office for days on end.

And when you do tune in, root for the Dangers.