Stop the Whining! Rangers Fans are Spoiled
Right now, it’s Monday morning. It’s about 5:30 and I’m sitting down to write while reviewing the Rangers opening week in my mind. Baseball is back. Not “pitchers and catchers report”. Not spring training. But baseball. 162 games a year, staying up till midnight for a West Coast game, listening on the radio at work during a day game, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint” BASEBALL!
There really is no other game like it. The 82 games of an NBA season may come close in terms of season-long stats and sample size, but only in baseball is a player considered great for being successful 1/3 of the time. In a 162 game season, seven games is only 4.3% of the season. Players get streaky. Players hit slumps. Injuries come and go. Players find themselves struggling in day games in pitchers’ parks because they’re not seeing the ball well. Solid hitters begin overthinking their mechanics and start seeing numbers drop. It’s baseball, and it’s going to happen. It’s all the little things that can happen over a long season that make the game the beautiful thing that it is. This hasn’t been the eight-game start Rangers fans had hoped for, but even with all of that, it’s easy to overreact.
But the reason many of us Rangers fans are overreacting is this. We are spoiled. Yes, Spoiled. For years, those of us who cheered on the Rangers got accustomed to a .500 or worse ball club. I can remember vividly watching the seasons unfold and thinking, “We could probably do okay if we weren’t in a division with the Angels.” Sure, there were three division titles in the 90’s (’96, ’98, ’99), but even in those seasons, the good guys would only win one out of nine games against the Yankees in three separate ALDS appearances. Can you say, “Best of a horrible division?” When the Rangers had bats, they didn’t have pitching and defense. When they had the latter, they didn’t have the former. And just like fans of the Cleveland Browns, Texas baseball fans learned to embrace mediocrity.
But not anymore. Ever since the magical rides of 2010 and 2011; ever since we saw World Series games played in Arlington; ever since JD and the front office started putting competitive teams on the field, we’ve been spoiled. No longer is .500 good enough. We are used to sellout crowds and postseason appearances. We are used to having players and coaches that find ways to win, no matter what the season throws at them. We are used to having a farm system that has some of the top prospects in baseball that can do more than compete if they get a call-up. We are spoiled-spoiled because we cheer on a team that is known for winning, and winning is good.
So I’m not going to tell everyone to calm down after a 3-4 start against two division clubs. I’m not going to get us all worked up about a bullpen that hasn’t looked much like its 2015 self and a closer (SHAWN TOLLESON) with a 22.5 ERA in 4 games. It doesn’t do any good to point out the only player hitting over .500 (NOMAR MAZARA) is a rookie call-up who has only had eight plate appearances. I’m not going to cry wolf because SHIN-SOO CHOO and ROBINSON CHIRINOS both went on the DL. And there’s no point in making a stink about the fact that ADRIAN BELTRE is in a contract year and his future with the Rangers is a little uncertain, to say the least. All of this. we know. And the doomsday prophets of Arlington baseball will all be out in full force reminding us of that.
But folks, we are spoiled. Just like a baby that wants to eat cookies all the time, we don’t like being told “no”. We like getting what we want. We don’t like seeing our team struggle. But this is an organization that knows how to win. From putting the best players on the field every day, to having the best rookies and prospects on the farm, to making mid-season moves, the Rangers are in good hands. Yes, watching our team lose is never easy. But this isn’t Cleveland and these aren’t the Browns. Losing is no longer normal here and some of us have forgotten that.