What Do You Think of the Rangers Now?

Ever since I was a kid, I've gotten blank stares when I told people I was a Texas Rangers fan. My hometown team was the definition of mediocrity and missed opportunities. But then came last season's inspiring run to the World Series, fueled by new owners, a superstar slugger who was a former crack addict, and a manager who admitted to using cocaine. Say hello to America's newest idols.
Illustration by Mark Ulriksen

I am a Texas Rangers fan …

I looked like a Rangers diehard, right down to the vintage baseball cap (the superior 1972–1985 model, with the red bill and the block T). But I had a dirty secret. Once a Rangers-mad kid, I’d bailed on the team long before its “claw and antlers” renaissance. I still rooted for the Cowboys, who had won three Super Bowls in my four years of high school. In the same period, the Mavericks had been operatically bad, which, perversely, bound me to them for life. (You could score loads of autographs after the games: “Right here, Mr. Mashburn!”) But the Rangers? How to explain what had made them, for a kid coming of age in the early nineties, so uncool?

First, the old Rangers were not a good baseball team. The only memorable book written about them is called Seasons in Hell. Around the country, mentioning you were a Rangers fan typically solicited … nothing. But it was an unsatisfying kind of loserdom. Look at some of the names that percolated up through the franchise over the years: Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Iván “Pudge” Rodríguez, Juan González, Sammy Sosa, Kevin Brown, Kenny Rogers, Rubén Sierra, Julio Franco, and Nolan Ryan—not to mention Jeff Burroughs, Al Oliver, Fergie Jenkins, Gaylord Perry, and Bobby Bonds. The Rangers had great talent, and they wasted it. They were doomed to be what pro-wrestling promoters call a mid-carder, a nice-enough team that would contend

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