Even with this year’s emotionally jarring MLB season featuring widespread fan misbehavior, COVID-19 postponements, and a game suspension caused by a shooting in Washington, D.C. it’s generally accepted (as stated by Jimmy Dugan in the film “A League of Their Own” ) that there’s no crying in baseball.
Well, apparently, Tom Hanks has never been a fan of the hapless, heartbreaking Texas Rangers. The Rangers are currently having one of their worst seasons ever, and that’s saying something.
In fact, the only time I’ve ever “almost” wept over a sporting event (other than that time I accidentally put on my athletic cup backwards in junior high football) was in game six of the 2011 World Series when the Rangers lost to St. Louis after coming within one strike of winning the whole box of puppies - twice.
I was so distraught that I could barely bring myself to watch them go down in ultimate defeat in game seven, wishing I had chosen, instead, to witness something less tragic - like a double feature of “Old Yeller” and “Titanic.”
And here they are again, stumbling through the 2021 season like President Joe Biden trying to navigate a spiral staircase on roller skates. But that didn’t stop me from joining my family on a recent trip to Arlington, Texas, to watch the perennially putrid Rangers suffer in brand-new Globe Life Field, which, from the outside, looks like a giant mobile home under construction.
Fortunately, we were gifted with some tickets in a luxury suite with its own private restroom, which makes nine innings of slaughter a bit more tolerable. The suite included a buffet of hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, sodas, popcorn, candy, peanuts, ice cream and all the other reasons we needed a private restroom.
Once the initial novelty wore off (after about two pitches) and I had devoured every edible item in the suite, my youngest teenage daughter grew bored and began accusing me of causing climate change by throwing peanut shells on the floor of the seating area. She then challenged me in a mixed-martial-arts tickle fight. Did I mention we had a private restroom?
My middle daughter insisted on spending the bulk of the game exploring the stadium’s concession areas on a quest for sushi. Yes, that’s right, sushi - at a baseball game. And, to my disbelief, she found some for only about the price of an official Texas Rangers jersey signed by Nolan Ryan and stained with the blood of Robin Ventura.
Naturally, I tried some of this elusive ballpark cuisine. Did I mention we had a private restroom?
Watching the Rangers flail around on the field brought back memories of my own ignominious experience with America’s pastime in little league. Although my long suffering dad tried his best to help me hold the bat correctly, keep my eye on the ball, and stop gnawing on my glove in the outfield, I never could accept that being an effective baseball player required occasional running and practice doing something other than visiting the concession stand.
Still, I did enjoy our family trips to the old Arlington Stadium to watch the Rangers lose in the 1970s. I remember the faint aroma of cigarette smoke mingled with cotton candy, popcorn, and all the ballpark delights to distract a kid from whatever the score was at the time. At one game, Mom and Dad even bought me a little stuffed Texas Rangers doll that I named “Billy Martin” after the volatile and often hilarious Rangers manager at the time.
These days, I only get out my Billy Martin doll when the Rangers make a rare, ill-fated playoff run (or during scary thunderstorms.)
Yes, the Texas Rangers are having an embarrassing season - again. Yes, they have resorted to slinging second-rate sushi at their stadium. And I still haven’t forgiven them for kinda sorta making me cry when they lost the World Series. But they do have their moments, and I can’t help rooting (secretly) for the team I loved as a kid, especially when I can go to a game and have my own private restroom.
Graves is an award-winning humor columnist from East Texas. Contact Graves at firstname.lastname@example.org