I Love the Texas Rangers

Men are known for being leery when it comes to expressing their emotions. Not me; I love these Texas Rangers.

Fans always talk about how they love their favorite sports teams, but I’d be willing to bet that if you ask most of them why they will respond with comments like ‘because they rule,’ ‘the ______ kick butt,’ or my personal favorite—‘because they’re awesome dude!’

I have no problem saying that I love the Texas Rangers. Let me tell you why, and maybe by time I’m done you might find that you’re pretty fond of them too.

For one, they are not owned by some nameless, faceless corporation. Too often you see some random extremely rich person buy a team and immediately insert themselves as the face of a franchise they have no connection to other than ownership. That is not the case for the Rangers.

When I heard that Nolan Ryan was heading up a group to buy the team last season, I could not have been more excited. Nolan Ryan is not only an icon for the game of baseball, but more importantly for baseball in the state of Texas.

The native of the Lone Star State played for both the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers during his 27-year Hall of Fame career. By time he was done he cemented himself as the all-time career strikeout leader (5,714) and threw more no-hitters than any other player to date (7).

So not only was he born in Texas and played half of his career here, but the man was pretty darn good too.

A team is much more than its owner of course. The collection of players that Ryan has on the roster is one that you can be proud to be associated with.

No team is complete without a manager, and Ron Washington has proven his mettle. I can appreciate also that the man knows he is fallible, as he showed with his admission of cocaine use. The last two seasons are proof that the Rangers must be pretty glad they hung onto him.

Neftali Feliz exploded onto the scene with an incredible rookie campaign. His sophomore year was not as dominating, but you wouldn’t know it with the way he dispatched the Detroit Tigers with three strikeouts to preserve the team’s 3-2 victory in Game One of the ALCS Saturday night.

Josh Hamilton will always be a guy that gets talked about a lot. His personal struggles are legendary as is his ability to overcome them, come back, and become one of the most feared players in baseball. He is proof that demons can be overcome and succeed can be had with the right work ethic and tenacity.

What I love about this guy though is his heart. The way he has held himself throughout the season in regards to the death of Shannon Stone is very commendable. I wouldn’t be surprised if TMZ had someone stalking Hamilton for weeks following the infamous tragedy. I don’t anyone would have been shocked if he had slipped back into some of his old habits as a coping mechanism.

Instead, Hamilton appears to have come out the other side a better man. So much so, that when he was in Tampa Bay for the ALDS, he apologized to people with the Rays organization for not living up to the No 1 pick that they used on him back in 1999.

It is something that was completely unnecessary, but I think it just goes to show the respect that Hamilton has for the second chance that he has been graced with, and for the game of baseball itself.

As for the majority of the roster, I could come up with stories for you one why I think they are great guys; like last season when they celebrated with something other than champagne so that Josh Hamilton didn't have to be left out. Instead, I think a quote from one of their newer members, catcher Mike Napoli, illustrates what makes the Rangers as a team a quality group of guys:

"I've always played against them, you could see that they always had fun, but I didn't really know what to expect coming over to a division rival. So when I got here, it was a little weird. But from day one, it was good. They accepted me pretty well and talking to everybody and getting to know them, I've got a lot of good friends on this team now."

You mean this group of guys didn’t hold a grudge against their hated division rival (Napoli came from the Los Angeles Angels)? And they have fun? Playing a game?

Sounds to me like a group that has their priorities in line.
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