Goodbye Ian Kinsler

Kinsler
By this time in my career as a writer of Texas Rangers baseball almost everyone knows that Ian Kinsler is my favorite player. I’ve been told by several people that I needed to detach and that players come and go. I knew that. I know players leave, but I still have fan roots. There is a reason I became so closely attached to the Texas Rangers. As a child, Pudge drew me in, and as a young adult, after I had drifted away, Ian Kinsler brought me back.
In 2006, I was an 18 year old fresh from high school with nothing to do during the summer but work a part-time job and wait for college. I went to a few baseball games that summer. I reconnected with something I had always loved before high school. Ian Kinsler captured my attention the most. Maybe it was his hair that flipped out from his cap, or maybe it was those antsy feet when he got ready to steal a base. I don’t know what it was. I just knew I liked watching him play baseball.

With each year, I got closer and closer to baseball. I focused on Ian Kinsler’s career. I watched his numbers and quickly knew that he was one of the good ones. I was proud of his 30/30 season in 2009. I enjoyed the attitude he brought to the field. While most people harped on his slumped shoulders, I just thought it meant he cared about his performance. I still do. He cares when he makes a mistake. Pudge Rodriguez made me love baseball because I could feel the passion in his smile, and he just looked like he enjoyed being on the field. Ian Kinsler had the same enjoyment.

I will never forget the on-field celebration after the Rangers won the American League Championship in 2010. There is a picture of Ian Kinsler with his feet turned in, his shirt over his mouth, and his arms raised high in an “I finally made it!” gesture. He was a late round draft pick who was probably never going to see the Majors. Then he held a trophy that many would never see. He got drunk off champagne and made this city proud. That is what my fan roots loved to see. This guy cared so much.

Now I write about baseball. I analyze players. I tell you who I think is good and who isn’t. Sometimes I tell you who is just mediocre. I’ve defended Kinsler throughout his career because I don’t understand the overbearing criticism. Ian Kinsler is a good baseball player. There are no ands, ifs, or buts about that one. However, I’ve learned that I actually must detach myself and look at talent alone. Ian Kinsler was one I wasn’t able to fully let go. It’s because of him that I fell back in love with this sport, and that I am able to sit here today and write about it.

I might never feel this way about a player again. Baseball is a business. I love what I do, but I loved the way Ian Kinsler made me feel about baseball as well. It’s hard to see him go. Despite my feelings on the trade, which are very mixed at the moment (high risk, but high reward), seeing the guy that captured everything I love about the sport leave the team is surreal. Baseball is a business. Players must leave, and with a surplus of middle infielders, one had to go now. I understand it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get to be a little upset about it.

Kinsler was under appreciated by many media members, and even some fans, but he has been one of the best position players over his eight years as a Ranger. He recorded the highest bWAR on the team during three of those seasons, and had an MVP-type season in 2011. He was upset when he did poorly, and he was overjoyed when the team won in grandiose fashion, because this was his team, and he was fiercely loyal. There are things from both on and off the field to love about him. I did love it all. Thank you for a great eight years, Ian Kinsler. Thank you for 2010 and 2011. 

Thanks for the memories.

Emily Cates is a Staff Writer for Shutdown Inning. You can reach her at Emily.Cates@ShutDownInning.com or  on Twitter at @EmLikesBaseball.
Emily Cates

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