Of Currency, Love, Heartache, and Optimism
There will be a time for other writers on this site to talk about trash on a field, weird rules we haven’t seen, a reliever whose tenure with the Rangers in 2015 was book-ended by home runs, a starter who saw two streaks ended, another starter who apparently still has a lot of growing up to do, two catchers that we won’t mind having back again, a shortstop who reverted back to pre-All Star Break form, a trio of men who have “1B” listed as either a primary or secondary position who all had a dismal series, a third baseman who picked up the team with his broken-fingered hand and put it on his ruined back who is not ready to go home, a second baseman who was an annoying gnat, but he was our annoying gnat and we loved him for that, a center fielder who could have been fined in school zones, a right fielder who owes his wife a nice long vacation, if there was one more game for that left fielder to showcase his bat (he would have been there), a pair of outfielders that didn’t like that they couldn’t play on the big stage, and, yes, bat flips and retribution (although, maybe not that one, because I, for one, am already done with it).
I want to tell you a story first.
I was in choir in my last three years of high school. I was a Tenor I and one of only four men (60+ women) during my sophomore and junior years. We would go on trips every year to different competition sites – Orlando, New Orleans, San Antonio. Every year, we’d do the same safety and security checks before heading out – make sure all luggage had locks, name tags, appropriate weather clothing, appropriate clothing, period, and no booze.
Each kid was told to bring a measure of cash for attractions (this was well before any of us would have had debit cards, or heck, even checking accounts). One of the “security” tips we were given was to NOT keep all our cash in one place, like our wallets. God forbid, if wallets or purses ever got stolen, we wouldn’t have lost all of our cash. I liked that idea, the whole not losing cash thing. So I put some in my wallet, some in my choir binder, full of music, some here, some there. Nothing ever happened to any of those things, and that cash I had stored away in case of emergency just became extra spending cash on the trips. In retrospect, teenage me could have saved that money for something else later in life (a better car than the eBay purchased one I had, perhaps), but I definitely wasn’t thinking about that. I ate a little better and had a little better time during those trips.
Flash forward to about three years after graduation. My parents wanted me to clean up some of my old school things so they could start turning my old bedroom into…whatever they wanted. I went through my binders and notebooks and decided what was expendable and what I wanted to save. In one of my binders, one of the page protectors holding sheet music felt a little thicker than the others. I looked inside.
I held the five twenty-dollar bills in my hand like they were gold. To a fairly broke college kid, they were. To a fairly broke college kid with a girlfriend he was trying to hold on to, it represented possibility. I remember the feelings of finding that $100, but I don’t remember what I did with it. I’m sure I spent it lavishly on a dinner or chocolates or jewelry or something for that girl. It was gone quicker than I could have expected, though.
The Texas Rangers, in acquiring Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman, used up some prospects that sure would have looked nice in Rangers Red, White or Blue. If they had kept Matt Harrison, Jorge Alfaro, Nick Williams, Jake Thompson, Alec Asher and Jerad Eickhoff, it probably would have looked nice down the road.
But 2015 wouldn’t have been nearly as fun.
The Rangers wouldn’t have discovered this new energy upon acquiring Hamels. We wouldn’t have discovered the gun-slinging reliever that is Jake Diekman. We wouldn’t have been treated to Sam Dyson, who between home runs surrendered was exceptional. We wouldn’t have seen the return of Mike Napoli, and while he might not be back next year, sure gave us a couple more electric moments.
The Rangers wouldn’t have won the West.
That girl I dated and spent that extra $100 on broke up with me. At the time, I was devastated. All the possibility in the world was there, and whatever gesture it was that I used the money on was appreciated and probably bought me another couple of weeks or months…but it was all for naught. I’ve moved on, she’s moved on, I’m in a better place, she’s in a better place, and our futures are probably looking awesome.
For me, the Rangers reaching the playoffs was bonus money. We spent it, we had fun, we had an extra five games of baseball that were exhilarating, special, memorable, and amazing…at the same time, it resulted in heartache, sickness, devastation and a season that came to an abrupt halt, way sooner than we wanted.
For all the negative energy that came out of Game 5 of the American League Division Series against the Toronto Blue Jays, wouldn’t we rather have had that entire series of caring about baseball, than a whole season of feeling like we all probably felt after that first month of baseball this season?
Damnit, it hurt, and I probably uttered more curse words and came closer to throwing things at my TV than I have this entire season. But I’m glad we finished the season depending on a former Philadelphia lefty instead of a former Pittsburgh lefty.
It hurt. Like all breakups and ends tend to hurt.
But it was a hell of a ride.