Sunday, September 6, 2009

An Evening with the Texas Rangers


A summer is not complete without one trip to Arlington for a Texas Rangers Game. We’ve all done it - departed Paris in the afternoon and returned in the wee hours of the morning. The idea always sounded better at the beginning of the journey than the end.

The Ballpark is still a lovely facility. It opened in 1994 and that year the Rangers had their best attendance - an average of 43,916. This year the team is averaging 28,012 fans, earning them a ranking of number 17 out of 30 teams. As you can imagine, the New York Yankees has the highest average attendance at 53,069. . But 28,012 is admirable - 2,114 more people than live in Paris, meaning we can all easily fit inside the stadium and not even require the use of the bleachers. It’s also nice to know that if we really wanted to, Paris could do a very decent community wide “wave”.

Individual ticket prices vary wildly from $6 to $205 and even more for “premiere” games. The latter cashes in when big name teams come to town, such as the New York Yankees. In looking for better deals, I recently discovered the Fan Value Corner at the Texas Rangers official website - www.texas.rangers.mlb.com. An array of specials are available for families, children, heavy eaters, Lexus owners, and those who have always wanted to have the “suite” experience. The best deal seemed to be the Coca Cola Family Night - four tickets, four jumbo hot dogs, four coca colas and one parking pass for as low as $60. I liked the description of having your own suite for the night which includes flavored popcorn and chicken tenders. And in case you didn’t get it, the web site assures you that the “experience is priceless”. It should be for $75 a ticket. ( The last value deal listed was for those of you who own a Lexus - free valet parking at any home game. Now that’s a deal.)

Our son’s birthday happened to fall on a premier night in August when the Boston Red Sox arrived to determine who would take over the lead for the “wild card” playoff position. It seemed the perfect night to attend. We arrived 90 minutes early but were not alone. Many fans come well before the start of the game - to watch batting practice, get autographs, start on the beer drinking, or simply to take in all of the activity and enjoy the breeze. The game got underway at 7:05 with the first pitch tossed out by “Simone” in her flip flops. (Don’t ask me who she was.)

In case you were wondering, there are A LOT of Boston Red Sox fans in the Dallas area. And many were wearing the shirt of their favorite players, especially that of David Ortiz. I started counting the number of Rangers shirts on fans and found Josh Hamilton to have the most with 24 supporters. Michael Young still commanded a following at 15 shirts. But the up and coming player was Ian Kinsler with 10. It took some concentration to keep up with the count as new people arrived and I realized belatedly that I had actually counted Kinsler himself as he came up to bat.

It wasn’t our first Ranger game but it was the first Ranger game that really counted. Texas had the opportunity in this series to go ahead of the Red Sox in the race for a post season playoff position. Add that in with many Red Sox admirers and the result was strong fan participation throughout the game. “Let’s go Red Sox” was echoed by “Let’s go Rangers”. Only after the first Red Sox home run did I realize we had “traitors” near us as they cheered on their team. The only time both sides stood together was for the national anthem and the wave. Our section even required the appearance of extra security guards to calm a few aficionados.

As dutiful fans, we bought hotdogs and beer. Our son and a friend feasted on nachos. A neighbor offered us some popcorn and we ate that, too. We even paid for cold, bottled water at the end. And as advertised, the experience was priceless. We saw home runs for both sides, a stand-up triple, a balk by a pitcher allowing a run for us, good pitching, a record number of stolen bases for the Rangers (8), and ..... a win. Most amazingly, few people left early. The game wasn’t over until the last out. Maybe this is how all New York Yankees games feel. It certainly made the long ride home more enjoyable.

P.S. Arrive in Arlington even earlier and take in a tour of the new Dallas Cowboys stadium, a short walk from the Ballpark.

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