Flux Capacity: Waiting for Baseball
Wait for it.
The current generation of people alive on this planet is, by any standard, are some of the most fickle and impatient group of folks to ever live. We are mind numbingly over absorbed in news, statuses and, overall, ourselves. We are inundated with updates via the world wide web, social media, online photos of things we’re not always super interested in, links to thousands of articles we don’t care to open (thanks for reading!) and lists doomed to float in the ocean of mediocrity and arbitrary arguments for eternity. We want it all, now, and are the first to speak our minds when we don’t receive it as soon as possible.
We are not, as a whole, pre-disposed to patience.
Baseball is different.
Baseball requires just that. Batters need patience at the plate to pick a pitch to put in play. Pitchers require waiting on the mound to know when to throw what, to whom, even though sometimes they’d prefer to slam fastballs down hitters throats instead of patiently and fastidiously trusting their stuff. Most teenage draft picks spend years in minor league systems honing the craft, learning the business of the game, and waiting for their ability to be put to use for a major league club. Some wait their entire careers for that.
Fans of the game practice patience year in and year out in several facets. From October to March, we sit idly by, champing at the bit to watch rookies and veterans alike get to spring training. We wait for 40 man rosters to develop in the weeks and weeks of preseason training and match-ups, all the while waiting for a game that we’ve grown to love return to us in April. We wait at the beginning of the season to see how that first month pans out, and how a team’s chemistry will form, or whether it not it ever will. We wait on careers of prospects to develop, some of us less patiently than others. We wait out championships in NCAA football, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, and the College World Series, to name a few. Over the years, baseball teaches us that playing the waiting game and watching America’s game go hand in hand.
Patience is hard. Being a baseball fan is an equal challenge.
After April, no one would have given any casual fan sporting a Rangers cap any flack whatsoever for abandoning this team. April was a trying and tempestuous month for the organization, and for the moment, it seemed like, once again, we were to sit, grind our teeth through another win-less season, and wait for a window to re-open in 2016. As far as a lot of people as well as the stats and records many rely on were concerned, the Rangers didn’t have a club worth cheering for.
But baseball doesn’t care about stats. Baseball is run within sets of stats, sure. But, like an anarchist living under the dictator’s rule of ERA, OPS, and batting averages, the heart of baseball refuses to settle into those boxes, and more often than not, we see good baseball emerge from the math. Texas lit the game of baseball on fire in May. They boasted a historic run of quality starts from their rotation, saw players lead the American League in hitting, and strung together win streaks that those with pessimistic paranoia tend to cringe at, figuring it’s a fluke in what still promises to be a dismal season. Baseball, and especially this Rangers team, seem completely determined to force a change of heart in anyone who continues thinking that way. They keep finding ways to win, and are putting a winning baseball team on the field day in and day out.
Wait for it.
This Rangers team, as impressive and fun as they’ve been, aren’t anywhere NEAR full strength as a club. Our rotation is missing three incredible arms, and some would argue four if Matt Harrison can do the seemingly impossible and make his way back to this team after spinal fusion surgery. It’s a rotation that consists of two journeymen, a college middle infielder, a pretty good conversion from the national league, and a prospect. A prospect who has been pitching out of his mind. Our batting order has been blessed with a resurgence in speed via the legs of a Rule 5 draft pick, the power and patience of veterans on huge contracts, a really, really scrappy utility infielder in Adam Rosales, as well as his recently called up utility counterpart in Hanser Alberto. It includes a now veteran leader teaching a younger second baseman the ropes as often as possible, and a currently injured future hall of famer at third.
His replacement is a 21 year old named Joey Gallo.
Gallo…I just…I just can’t even…he’s just been something else.
And guess what Arlington; everybody will be back. and back pretty soon. The injury bug is part of the life cycle of the game, and though it’s hit this team, it seems more like a gnat compared to the Jumanji sized mosquitoes of 2014. DeLino Deshields, who is one of the largest reasons we’ve seen dynamite on the base paths, will be back. Josh Hamilton, who a lot of us have been more than happy to be proven wrong by, will be back. Martin Perez and Derek Holland, who have shown all of us what they’re capable of, will be back. Adrian Beltre, the face of the franchise and one of the best corner infielders to ever play the game, will be back. Yu Darvish, who we’ve missed for sure, did the right and responsible thing to fix a problem, and will be back. Albeit next season, but back nonetheless.
And when those players set to return finally do, Jeff Banister faces one of the most frustrating decisions he’s probably faced in a long time. Frustrating in the sense that he can’t suit up 14 players a game, and frustrating in that he has to make decisions to try and improve a team that is sprinting from the cellar on it’s way to the ceiling in the AL West in a matter of a month.
Until then, all the Rangers faithful can do is sit, and wait, and see how much of this anxious, nervous and terrifyingly exciting patience our hearts can hold. Sit in flux and continue to watch a team play very well at the highest level on the world’s biggest stage.
You think this team is special now?
Wait for it.