I have a moral dilemma.
As most of you know (if you follow this blog), I am a Cubs fan. Dyed in the wool, bleed Cubbie blue Cubs fan.
I worshipped the ground that Ryne Sandberg walked on. I marveled in the fact that Leon Durham could still play baseball in those glasses. I went into my backyard and Sports Cried when the Cubs came within 5 outs of the World Series, just to see my hopes and dreams fall flat.
I was born in Chicago, but I have lived in Texas (in the DFW area) since I was 6 years old, so I am pretty much as Texan as I can get without being native. I have always considered myself to be a Rangers follower. Not a fan, mind you. Fans live and die by their team. I have never lived and died with the Rangers. Every time the Cubs lose a game, a little part of me dies. Every time the Cubs win, a sliver of hope springs forth. This has never been the case for the squad that is about to take the field tonight in San Francisco. Sure, I would go to many games, and root, root, root for the home team because I wanted to see them do well, but if they lost, no biggie.
But, little by little, this postseason has started to turn me. I was very happy to see them take a 2-0 lead on the Rays. I was extremely worried about the psyche of the Metroplex when the Rays tied up the series. I was excited at the prospect of the ALCS being so close to my house. Then they had that disastrous inning against the Yankees, and I started to wonder if it was just me. Maybe I am the cause...every team I root for seems to fail. Only once in my life has "My Team" won a championship, and it was the '99 Stars. Other than that, I have 1 playoff win for the Cowboys, 1 series win for the Cubs, and a disaster of a Finals appearance for the Mavs.
But, your Rangers overcame that inning and pretty much demolished the Yankees from that point on. And, I will admit, that when Vlad hit that double, and Nellie followed up that at-bat with a monsterous boomstick into the left field bleachers, I have to admit that I just might have become a Rangers fan.
Now, don't get me wrong...I can't just shut off 31 years of being a Cubs fan. If it is ever Cubs/Rangers in the WS, my heart is in Chicago, and Rangers fans be damned....but I am allowed to root for them.
And this has been a lot of fun. It is great to see people in such high spirits. Baseball just found itself about 100,000 new fans here in Dallas/Fort Worth. People who didn't even know who the Rangers were at the beginning of the season are now yelling at each other to "Fear the Deer" and giving each other the claw while driving. It is great.
Overall, though, I have one piece of advice. Several years ago, there was a team from the North Side of Chicago that was primed to go to the playoffs every year. They were young. They were hungry. They were talented. They had pitching that could go all day long. They had a fearsome lineup....and that team now possesses a 9 game playoff losing streak after winning two straight division championships. Oh yeah, and they haven't been to a world series since 1945, and haven't won one since 1908. That is a long, long time to suffer.
My point is this: Your Rangers probably won't be here again. I would put money on it. For those of you who think that the Rangers now have some God-given right to be in the postseason every year, please don't delude yourself. It is hard to make the playoffs every year. Soak this in. DVR every game, and never delete them. Go see the Rangers when they fly back from San Francisco. Watch every news report you can get your eyes on. Buy the hats, the t-shirts, the plaques, do it all. Live this experience up. Because, in less than 2 weeks, good or bad, it will all be over. And you may reflect back on these two weeks 35 years from now, and say, "Yep. I remember the last time the Rangers were in the playoffs. 2010 was awesome." It can happen all that quickly. So, please, from the bottom of my baseball-heavy heart, enjoy this. You may not get another chance in your lifetime.