A Love that Never, Ever Quits

rangers

A Valentine’s Day tribute to our favorite team, with sincerity and sarcasm, player by player, A to Z, down the full 40-man roster (with first-up love for the man in the dugout):

  • Jeff Banister: I love that you embody Never Ever Quit, in the office, in the clubhouse, in the dugout, every day. I love that you lived it, through cancer and a long minor league and coaching road. And I love that you found Texas at just the time we needed you.
  • Hanser Alberto: I love that you’re our Rangers version of the super utility man. And I loved watching you hit that triple. Something about a 5’11”, 215-pound guy tearing around the bases just makes me smile. I love that we can always look down that bench and know you’re ready to come off, to start a game or finish one.
  • Elvis Andrus: I love that you’ll be the first person to rub Belt’s head, but the last person to leave anyone hanging in the high-five line. I love the leg kick, and the last half of 2015. And I love that you’ll never let one inning define you.
  • Tony Barnette: I love that you’re holding down a roster spot until someone like Dillon Tate is ready. Sorry, but with your career stat line, you’re not giving me much to go on here. In that way, there’s something quintessentially Ranger about you, and I love that. And you have cheeks that look something like the old Big Boy statues outside the restaurants. So that’s something.
  • Adrian Beltre: I love that you’ve only been in our clubhouse five years, but it feels like you’ve run it forever. And I love that, God willing, they’ll someday be a statue of you doffing your helmet, and we can all rub your head. And Belts, stop…just stop…you had us at hello. You had us at hello.
  • Robinson Chirinos: I love that you popped 10 homers and a .762 OPS as an injured player, then came back in the post season and reminded us that, for all the want of Jonathon Lucroy we might feel, we have a pretty solid backstop tandem these days.
  • Shin-Soo Choo: I love that you were one of those husbands who knew the smartest thing he could do was shut up and listen to his wife. Mrs. Choo, we love you, too. Thanks for helping Shin-Soo get his groove back.
  • Alex Claudio: I love that you’re a 24-year-old lefty who’s 6’-3”. And how out of control your necklace is in every stop-action release-point photo. How has no umpire called that? Gotta love it.
  • Yu Darvish: I love that you’re at 95 and climbing, and full throttle is just a few innings away. I love that your release point is a baseball fan’s GIF dream – and that your curveball, at 65, makes professional athletes look like the Bad News Bears.
  • Delino Deshields: I love how you came out of nowhere to be a surprise at the plate, in the field, and on the bases. But most of all, I love the fact that every time you hit a ball in the outfield, you leave the box thinking “triple”. You have your father’s wheels and Rusty Greer’s fifth gear. Keep that up, and we’ll love you forever.
  • Jake Diekman: I love that you’re the throw-in we grew to love. I love that you throw absolute gas out of the pen from the south side. And I love that you went to Cloud County Community College, which means you went to a college that gives ABSOLUTELY no clue in its name as to where it is, except that there are probably a lot of people high on MANY things there.
  • Sam Dyson: I love that your name makes me think of a vacuum, and yet you rarely suck. Also, I love that we got you as an afterthought and you turned into a forefront member of a pretty solid pen. And I love that you shaved the beard. Seriously.
  • Andrew Faulkner: I love that you throw better than William Faulkner. And I love that our bullpen is so young and so loaded with strong lefty arms that I can start out your Valentine with a throw-away line about a long-winded Southern author. That alone is loveable beyond words for long-suffering Rangers fans.
  • Prince Fielder: I love that you’re our Huggy Bear with the booming bat. I love that you know the end to any slump sits just short of the center fielder and to the left of second base. I love the padded tape on your bat, with or without batting gloves. I love that you own who you are and make all of us who are less than Michelangelo’s David still feel we have a kindred spirit out there. And I love that everyone who thinks you’re not athletic is just begging to get beat.
  • Sam Freeman: I love that you’re 5’-11, 165, and part of a major league pitching staff. It’s not just being lefty that does that. There has to be a lot of heart, too. And if we never meet again this side of Round Rock, know you were more than a lefty to us. You were part of the 2015 team that wouldn’t quit; I’ll be telling my kids about every one of you guys in 30 years (and I’ll teach them to say, “To hell with the bat flip” and be proud of it.)
  • Joey Gallo: I love that you have enough power to dream on. I love that the sound of the ball off your bat sounds like baseball to me. And I love that you’re one Anthony Iapoce-led breakthrough away from being an All-Star.
  • Chris Gimenez: I love you for homering in every Ranger game I attended this season. Don’t thank me; that’s just what good luck charms do. I love that you weren’t the catcher we wanted in September, but it turned out you were exactly the catcher we needed.
  • Chi Chi Gonzalez: I love that you’ve got the potential to be the new version of Colby Lewis: slow and steady, but winning the games. I love that, through ups and downs, your mound demeanor never changed. Just harden that face a bit out there, buddy. You’ve got the stuff and location to be somebody up here. We love that, and we believe it.
  • Cole Hamels: I love that you came, you saw, you brought us close to the promise land, and (thanks to the contract gods) you’re still here. I love the curveball. I love the strikeout to walk ratio. I love the splits and the stats. But most of all, I love that we have a guy for that go-to moment who’s gone there and been his best when his best was all that would do, then lifted the Commissioner’s Trophy. I love that you and Yu give us an unstoppable one-two.
  • Josh Hamilton: I love that you’re back, and that you can still show flashes of your MVP form. Also, no matter what you do from here out, I’ll love you forever for that (should-have-been-World-Series-winning) home run in the 10th inning of Game 6.
  • Derek Holland: I love that you have no throttle, as annoying as it can get, on and off the field. I love that, when you suck, you’ll say you suck, and when you don’t, you can be a first-run lefty. I love that you’ve got the stuff and the brains to learn from Cole Hamels.
  • Luke Jackson: I love the four-seamer, buddy, but the goatee has got to go. I love that you’re owning it, but there are some things better loved and lost… No, seriously, you look like an athletic Haley Joel Osmond who got his face dirty and let his hair go.
  • Keone Kela: I love that you make me think of a Luau. And that you bring the fire with you. Also, I gotta say, I love the strikeout to walk ratio. Keep that up. You’re here for a while, young man. We love ya.
  • Patrick Kivlehan: I love the power credentials from the minors, and the fact that you’re a nice piece to fit between Beltre when he needs a rest and Gallo when he’s in a slump. Also, I love that you’re from Nyack, NY. That just sounds so right.
  • Phil Klein: I love that you defy the stereotype that a guy who is 6’-7” and 260 has to throw 99. It’s ok; 91 looks good on you. Also, I love that your name reminds me of a guy from the ’50s that peddles vacuum cleaners through the neighborhood. “Hey honey, can you call Phil Klein and see if he has any replacement bands for the Electrolux? And hurry up. The Honeymooners is about to come on.”
  • Jose Leclerc: I love that you’re so anonymous that you don’t even have a profile picture on the Rangers website. Also, you’re one of the few people from Esperanza, Dominican Republic to have the GUTS to have a French surname. So you got that going for you, which is nice. Mostly, I love that you’re quite literally a blank canvas. I write for the Rangers blog, and even I don’t know what to really expect of you. You could be the second coming of Jeff Zimmerman circa 1999 for all we know. I love that you’re something to dream on. And I love that I somehow got seven sentences on a guy I know nothing about… but it’s not the count of the punctuation in the paragraph; it’s the size of the sentiment in the sentences.
  • Colby Lewis: I feel like I ought to have a damned daisy to count the ways I love you, because you win when you should, and you win when you shouldn’t, and you stayed. Mostly, because you stayed; that’s love.
  • Nick Martinez: I love that you came out of nowhere (or, really, Round Rock, but who’s counting) and gave us 125 innings. Also, I love that your ears pick up UHF signals and, on a clear night, radio from New Mexico.
  • Nomar Mazara: I love the potential, and the arm, and the speed. But most of all, I love that you’ve got that swing.
  • Yohander Mendez: I love that I have a t-shirt older than you. And I love that it (almost) still fits. Really, this has gotten to be a lot more about a shirt than you. I didn’t mean to do that, Yohander. I mean, your name sounds like someone from the south talking about something just over that way (sound it out, people). I love that.
  • Mitch Moreland: I love the lower hands and power to all fields that’s developing. I love that, despite all the times we could have given up on you, or you on us, you’re still here and coming into your own. And I love that you’re the Great Gordo’s cousin (shout out, P1s!).
  • Rougned Odor: I love that you turned a demotion into one of the greatest motivational moves an organization has ever made. I love that you use a bat that looks ten sizes too big, and that you have power to match. But most of all, I love shouting “Rougie” at the Ballpark at the top of my lungs, and that you somehow always seem to deliver. I love that you’re a homegrown product who might (mark it here, folks) make us forget Kins, or at least forgive him for moving on.
  • Martin Perez: I love that you’re Derek Holland without the track record of self-immolation and annoying imitations. Also, you’re a 24-year-old lefty starter we haven’t broken yet. See above: Love you, Banny. Keep it up.
  • Jurickson Profar: I love that, for all the shoulder woes, you are brimming with so much talent we still believe in you as part of the foundation for the future of this franchise. And, perhaps most, I love that you’re my wife’s favorite player because she saw your first major league home run and fell in love with your name.
  • Anthony Ranaudo: I love that your left arm looks like it came out of a Russian prison tat shop, and that you have the height and weight to back up that badass factor. Now let’s work on the fastball to go with the image, ok. Thanks. Love ya, big guy.
  • Ryan Rua: I love that every time I think someone’s going to take your roster spot, you show up and just produce. You’re like the outfield version of Hanser; I just love looking down that bench and knowing you’re there.
  • Justin Ruggiano: See above. Also, love the pop in that bat. Keep it up. You’re representing us 30-something’s quite well.
  • Connor Sadzeck: LOVE your name and your 100 mph heater.
  • Tanner Scheppers: I love the fact that your release point comes with a pretty epic overbite, and ends with a 95-mph fastball.
  • Shawn Tolleson: I love you for being our closer in 2015, no matter how anyone else thinks you should be used. And I love that you’ll go wherever the Rangers ask in the pen for 2016 (wink-wink, nudge-nudge). Also, I love that you’re a local boy made good. Go ALLEN EAGLES!
  • Tom Wilhelmsen: I love that you’re the last name on the 40-man roster, as I was really getting tired of looking up ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio and OPS, and trying to come up with stuff to love about guys I don’t know (although it’s impossible not to love a Ranger – except A-Rod. It was possible there).

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Chris Connor
As a lifelong DFW resident, Chris Connor is a diehard Rangers fan, and worships at the altar of Arlington.
He pitched - typically backing up third after doing so - and eventually settled into catching in leagues throughout Richardson and Plano in his youth, graduating from and lettering in baseball at Richardson Berkner High School in 1998. He holds a Bachelors of Science in Management and an MBA, both from UT-Dallas.
As a writer, he acknowledges that he’s never had a brilliance for brevity, but tries to meander to a meaningful point as he channels Faulkner and buys bits by the megabyte. He believes the only things more beautiful than Ted Williams’ swing are Yosemite Valley at sunrise and his wife.
He lives with the latter, along with their beloved dog and quite tolerable cat, in Allen, Texas.

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