I root for the Seattle Mariners and have done so all of my life. As such, I guess I’m supposed to dislike the Texas Rangers. They’re division rivals, competing directly with the M’s for wins. If the Rangers make the post-season, it more likely than not means the Mariners didn’t. The better they do in the post-season, the more money they make, the more money they make, the more they can spend on really good players who will then dominate the Mariners for years and years to come. There are a lot of really good reasons why I shouldn’t want the team to succeed. And yet, in this particular season, against these particular Detroit Tigers, I can’t seem to muster up any hate for the Texas Rangers. I actually wouldn’t mind if they won this evening, or tomorrow night, and advanced to the World Series. It’s weird. Also terrible. Weird and terrible.
When it comes to the Tigers, I honestly just don’t give a shit. It probably makes me a bad person. After all, it’s widely reported that the city of Detroit is kind of having a rough go of it these days, it’s been like 27 years since their last World Series title, and their fans seem nice enough. Then again, I’m a fan of the Seattle Mariners, Seattle Seahawks, and a basketball team that no longer exists, so civic depression and title droughts don’t register a whole lot of sympathy from where I’m sitting.
We’ve already covered the somewhat complicated reasons why I’m kind of over Justin Verlander. I’m sorry, Justin. It’s not you, it’s the people who write and talk and pontificate about you. I’m generally cool with Jim Leyland—he’s definitely my favorite crotchety old chain-smoking manager—but even he has annoyed me a bit lately. Austin Jackson? I’m still smarting over all the ridiculous hype he generated last season with his comically inflated BABIP. Jose Valverde? He was something like the 40th best reliever in baseball this season, but he’s 52 of 52 in silly save opportunities on the year, causing some people to start thinking of him as Mariano Rivera 2.0, and that kind of hurts my soul. Miguel Cabrera? One of the best hitters in the league without question, but when you play shitty defense at the easiest position to fill on the diamond, and still manage to generate more MVP buzz than Dustin Pedroia or Ian Kinsler (Underrated Ranger Alert!) simply by virtue of your Intimidating Presence and RBI Total, the contrarian in me cannot be contained. Alex Avila and Doug Fister are cool though, so I won’t change the name of this blog to The Trance of Hating the Detroit Tigers just yet.
So what is it about the Texas Ranger, then? Why can’t I bring myself to not like them? Adrian Beltre is kind of a big reason. It’s been a long-standing tradition for Mariner’s fan of the sabermetric persuasion to gush over Beltre while the rest of the world laughs, and just because he’s no longer on my home team doesn’t mean I can stop myself. Quietly, Beltre is putting together one of the most under-reported Hall of Fame cases in the game. No one seems to notice because he plays a historically hard position to nail down, he defends it at an extremely elite level, and he recently played five seasons in a home park where right-handed power hitters go to die. All this, and I haven’t even mentioned all the hilarious things he does on the baseball field. He goes down on one knee to hit home runs, he appeals to first base on a check-swing as the batter, and he hates it when people rub his head. All of this is painfully wonderful and charming.
Looking at the Ranger’s from office from an objective non-Mariners-fan standpoint, it’s hard not to respect what they’re doing down there. They make big moves to generate serious revenue, they draft and develop a ton of interesting young talent (doesn’t sound creepy at all), they sign really good players as free-agents, and are generally just a very well run organization. Fuck. The Rangers were involved in whatever insane machinations that lead to Mike Napoli leaving the rival Angels and landing on their team. Napoli promptly turned into Mike Piazza circa 1997, and may have been the most obvious deciding factor as to why Texas made the playoffs over LAA. I can’t help it if I find this to be one of the most awesome and hilarious plot developments of the baseball season.
And so it goes that tonight, the Rangers and Tigers will play a baseball game, and against my better judgement, I will root for Texas to win. If the Tigers prevail, and a game 7 is played on Sunday, I will still root for Texas to win. In the the event that they advance to the World Series, I seriously hope it’s against the Milwaukee Brewers, because without giving it a lot of serious consideration, it’s entirely possible that I could have a similar reaction against the St. Louis Cardinals as the one I’m currently having against the Detroit Tigers. Such a scenario would seriously test my fortitude as a Seattle Mariners Baseball Fan. I just can’t help it, I don’t really hate the Texas Rangers. I actually think they’re kind of cool.
God damn them.