Over the years, I have watched a lot of bad Rangers baseball at three different Arlington parks. I’ve seen it all. I’ve experienced some awful stuff. But nothing like what Whitney and I endured against the Astros Monday and Tuesday. The soul-crushing sweep was overwhelming. Houston was up 9-0 Tuesday before the Rangers could get through their order one time. Including last night’s 12-3 drubbing in which the pitching matchup for the ages was relegated to overrated status by Yordan Alvarez in the first inning, Houston hit 16 homers and scored 39 runs in the three games.
The worst part of being there in the stadium is that by the final couple of innings, there are 20,000 Astros fans in the building and 43 Rangers fans. It’s terrible. At the very least, Whitney and I can say we were there in person when the super fun, out-of-nowhere, exciting 2023 season came to an end. It’s over. You can see it. You can feel it. Body language on and off the field. The pressure. The frustration. The deer in the headlights look. This team is cooked. And so is the season.
Texas has lost 15 of their last 19 games to fall from first to third in the AL West and currently out of the playoff picture altogether. Adolis Garcia injured his knee last night leaping unsuccessfully for another Houston homer. Mad Max only lasted three innings last night, giving up seven runs. Nathan Eovaldi is very much a question mark and there are no guarantees Josh Jung will return any time soon. And that bullpen is unsalvagable. I think it’s over.
Otherwise, it was a great getaway for the Whitster and me. After Monday’s game, we ate dinner with our dear friends Chris and Liz Moore at Pappasito’s. On Tuesday we spent some time with Carley and Collin at their new house and ate lunch together at Underdog’s on the new Flower Mound river walk. And before Tuesday’s game, we hooked up with good ol’ Jim Gardner for some excellent brisket tacos at Texas Live! These are some of our best friends and most influential people in our lives. And it was a joy to hang out together again.
The baseball part of the trip didn’t go so well. It was historic in its gore.
The Rangers do play eleven of their final 20 games against the teams directly ahead of them in the wildcard standings. So, yes, they are playing meaningful baseball in September which, back in April, we would have taken in a heartbeat. Three games back in the division and half a game back in the wild card race? In September? Absolutely! Now, because of the team’s unforeseen success, the expectations have changed. This is disappointing. A gut punch. On paper, it’s still very much within their grasp. But I think they’ve run out of steam. I think it’s over.
Carrie-Anne and I have endured four appointments over two days at M.D. Anderson’s main hospital in Houston and the campus in Sugarland. C-A has been poked and prodded, we’ve had all the conversations and signed all the waivers, and we’re ready for her reconstruction surgery at 7a tomorrow. We are cancer-free and overflowing with gratitude. And we’re waking up at 4a in the morning to be at M.D. Anderson before 530a as the temporary expanders are coming out, and the permanent implants are going in. Finally!
The best part of our day today was spending a couple of hours with my sister Sharon and her husband Brent at Pappasito’s across from NRG Stadium. Brent was recently diagnosed with lymphoma – C-A’s last day of chemotherapy was Brent’s first day for his treatments – and they happen to be in H-Town tonight for some of their own appointments tomorrow. So we compared doctors and cussed and discussed the pros and cons of ports, caught up on our kids, and laughed and laughed and laughed.
Y’all lift up my precious wife to the Lord tonight. And say a prayer for Brent.
The Stars just don’t lose two games in a row. Joe Pavelski scored his sixth goal of the series as Dallas routed the Kraken in Seattle last night 6-3 to even up their second round playoff at two games each. The Stars went two-for-three on the power play and dominated the energy and jump on every inch of the ice. Now it’s a best two-out-of-three series with Game Five tomorrow at American Airlines Center. At 8:40pm. Again. The effects of all these late night face offs are beginning to accumulate. It’s not quite a Stars hangover today like what happens when a late start goes into double or triple overtime. But when Carrie-Anne kisses me goodnight and heads to bed before they even drop the first puck, that’s trouble. Thankfully, Game Six has been set for a 6:00pm face off on Saturday. It was just announced. That’s very good news for a Sunday morning preacher.
Our youngest daughter Carley was in Midland last weekend to help out with all the unknowns related to Carrie-Anne’s new phase of chemotherapy. Of course, she proved to be very helpful with meals and dishes and providing all around compassionate care for her mother. But Carley did the family her greatest service by buying our Aerosmith tickets Friday while we were in the middle of chemo. Aerosmith just announced their “Peace Out” tour, their farewell concert tour, and the tickets all went on sale Friday. So we gave Carley the credit card and our TicketMaster account info and told her to get seven tickets for the November 7 show in Dallas no matter what. And she did. It was a stressful and sweaty experience. It was more difficult, she claims, than getting tickets to that Taylor Swift show they attended in Arizona. But working with her sister Valerie via facetime from Tulsa, they slogged through the digital red tape together and got our seven seats in a row in Section 103!
I’ve seen Aerosmith six times, dating back to my first Texxas Jam during the summer of ’85. Carrie-Anne and I have seen the band three times together, including the 2008 show at the Starplex Theater in Dallas – we took a fifteen-year-old Whitney with us to that concert. But Valerie and Carley have never seen Aerosmith. We’ve been trying for the past ten years but, with Steven Tyler’s health and COVID, there haven’t been any opportunities. So, with this last and best chance, we’re making it a family affair – all five of us and the two sons-in-law. Tyler promises this will be their best ever show. Ever. And he is vowing that this is absolutely Aerosmith’s last ever concert tour. Ever.
We couldn’t miss it. And we can’t wait.
Merry Christmas from Midland!
When the kids get married and move away, you do what you can to celebrate the holidays together. If that means combining and cramming all your Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions into one weekend, you do it. If that means softening your hard lines on the order and timing of those traditions, you do it. If it means listening to the Chipmunks Christmas album at full volume two mornings in a row – back to back – instead of relaxing with a month in between, you do it. If it means setting up and decorating the tree and pretending it’s Christmas Eve the day after Thanksgiving, you do it. If it means waking up today and feeling like it’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, so be it.
Valerie and David made the trip in from Tulsa and Carley and Collin came in from Nashville for a wonderfully truncated holiday season here in Midland. Thursday: turkey and dressing and pumpkin pie, a disappointing Cowboys win, ping-pong and pool and 99, and It’s a Wonderful Life. Friday: pancakes for breakfast, decorating the tree and the house, going out to eat, popcorn and egg nog and Dr Pepper while watching Scrooge, Christmas PJs, the Stanglin family dance and the clicking of the heels (sorry, Collin; I know Carley didn’t tell you about that), and the official reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Saturday: Carrie-Anne’s cinnamon rolls, followed by stockings and presents (put it on!) and the house empty by the time Michigan turned out the lights on Ohio State.
Carrie-Anne called it Thanksmas. I’m calling it good.
I’m not sure how we did it but, with just eleven days notice, we managed to get Carley and Collin married in a beautiful ceremony Wednesday night in Rockwall. The wedding chapel was perfect, the restaurant was incredibly accommodating, the food was terrific, and the cheesecakes were over-the-top marvelous. The families from both sides all made it in time to witness and participate in Collin and Carley tying the knot. And now we’ve got two daughters married and living outside the Republic.
The ceremony was surprisingly emotional – they’re both crybabies. And funny – Carley dropped Collin’s ring and it bounced and rolled all over the hardwood floor as I was making my opening remarks. The families made promises to the bride and groom before Carley and Collin made their solemn vows to each other. And the newly married couple walked out of the chapel to Aerosmith’s “Under My Skin.”
Carley and Collin, you two do love each other. That’s very clear. You both put the other first. You protect each other and care for each other. You both have a strong sense of purpose together and you’re focused.
Carley, you make Collin’s life more organized. And cleaner. And everyone who knows him thanks you. You encourage him and support him in the exact times and places he needs it most. You build him up and give him strength. You make him better.
Collin, you call Carley out when she’s being dramatic. And that’s a full-time job. You take care of her and serve her selflessly. You are carefully sensitive to her and to her circumstances. You’ve learned how to compromise with Carley and you’ve figured out how to resolve issues with her – by buying her ice cream at night. Almost every night. You make her better.
You’re both very passionate, active, and driven. Together, you’re going to be an unstoppable force.
May the love of God guide your marriage relationship and all your relationships. May the blessings of heaven crown your marriage with increasing joy and peace. And may your hearts and your lives be forever united by the grace and love of our Lord.