There are many, many more Astros fans than Rangers fans in Midland, Texas. And it feels like most of them are members of our church. Some of the louder and more obnoxious among them belong to the Travis McGraw clan. All of them.
So when Travis and his two boys wanted to bet a lunch at Cancun Grill on the results of the American League Championship Series, they found three eager takers in Stephen Lowery, Alan McGraw (Travis’ nephew), and me.
Yesterday was payday and it was delicious on every level. We wore our Rangers World Series gear and crowed for two solid hours over enchiladas and tacos and those awesome jalapenos grilled in soy sauce. The losers proved to be good sports about the whole thing — Travis even wore an old Rangers pullover he had saved from a Missions Resource Network fundraiser from nearly a decade ago. At one point, though, Travis did complain, “It’s like you guys have never won a World Series before.”
Today, I figured it was time to replace my Texas Rangers license plate frame. I don’t know exactly how old this one is, but it’s so sun-faded and worn out, it’s completely un-readable.
I’ve wanted to replace it for several years now, but, you know, I never think about it at the right time and it’s never been a huge priority. Now, the Rangers license plate holders are bright and glittery and they proclaim that Texas won the World Series. So, yeah. Done.
I think it increases the Blue Book value on my truck.
I don’t know what to write. I know I am so much more emotional this morning than I was last night. And last night was pretty special. The Texas Rangers are on top of the baseball world, the last team standing. The dust has settled on this weird, improbable, crazy, maddening, exhilarating 2023 season, and for the first time in history, the Rangers are champions.
I’ll share this. When the Rangers were one strike away, I had to say it out loud. I had to recognize the moment. This dozen-year demon had to be exorcised. With my wife of nearly 34 years to my left and my first-born daughter to my right, I said, “We are one strike away!” Carrie-Anne recoiled in horror. She is the Jinx Sheriff in our house. She will not allow anything to be said that might cause the universe to reverse a favorable outcome just to make a point. Whitney reacted by grabbing my hand. And when Josh Sborz paralyzed Ketel Marte with that called third strike, we all three came completely unglued. Yes, there were tears of joy and big bear hugs. Yes, we did pop a bottle of champagne and celebrate like big leaguers. And, yes, by the time I got to my phone I had received 53 texts from friends and family at once reveling in the unlikely championship and expressing deep shock and disbelief.
I’ll have more to write on this historic Rangers win later today. For now, enjoy these:
This is the final out and the immediate celebration from the television broadcast on Fox.
This is a great piece from ESPN that details the Rangers road from losing 200 games the past two seasons to this World Series title.
And, if you don’t do anything else this morning, read the game story from longtime Dallas Morning News Rangers beat writer Evan Grant. It’s excellent, of course. It’s worth reading just for the quotes he relays from former Rangers players and managers.
The wait is over. The Texas Rangers have finally won the World Series. It’s “Hello Win Column!” for the last time this season in the last game of the season. They went and took it. I forgive Nellie Cruz.
I’m not worried about jinxing this thing. The clerk at the convenience store where I get my iced tea every morning looked at me today and said, “I’m not even going to speak it out loud.” But I’m not worried about it. The Texas Rangers are up 3-1 in the World Series and are one win away from ending the longest championship drought in Major League Baseball.
The Rangers offense is historically good. All-time good. They plated ten runs last night before the D-Backs recorded ten outs. All ten runs came with two outs, five each in the 2nd and 3rd innings. Every Rangers player got on base. Josh Jung and Marcus Semien got their bats going and Garcia’s replacement in right field, Travis Jankowski, went two-for-his-first-two with two runs batted in and scored twice. These are the Rangers. They are the first team to score double-digit runs in at least one game in three postseason series.
I don’t mean for this to sound as bad as it might but maybe last night’s early burst was because the Rangers couldn’t stand around and wait for Garcia to hit a three-run homer. Everybody on the roster needed to step up last night. And they did.
If there is any criticism at all of Bruce Bochy, it’s that he gets a little too itchy with his pitchers and unnecessarily chases matchups, turning his bullpen into a revolving door. I’ve wondered about his use of Jon Gray. I don’t know why Dunning didn’t go twice as long last night. Did we really need Jose LeClerc to end it in the 9th? I don’t care. I trust Bochy. He has the magic touch with this bullpen and this team. Whatever he wants to do, I’m all in.
Leading three games to one in the World Series is a great place to be. Eighty-five-percent of teams leading 3-1 have gone on to win the title. That’s not 100% — if anybody knows, it’s Rangers fans — so, yes, anything can still happen. But if Big Game Nate goes six or seven innings in tonight’s Game Five, Texas will win and my heart will explode.
I’ve already talked to Greg Dowell, Dale Cooper, Andy Tonne, and Jim Gardner on the phone this morning. I wanted to keep the good mojo going before my day gets away from me.
I’m slated to teach class tonight at church. We start at 630p and typically end at 730p. I think I’m having sympathy pains for Adolis Garcia. I think I’ve strained my oblique. Not sure I can go the distance. Would everybody be okay if class ended at 7p?