There was a time in the not too distant past when the Texas Rangers were not this dominant juggernaut that has won the past two American League pennants. For most of my life, the Rangers were bad. Really bad. While Opening Day would always bring hope, it seemed a given that the countdown to Dallas Cowboys Training Camp would begin sooner rather than later. Those days seem long ago.
When I arrived at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington at 8:30 a.m., the tailgaters were out in full force to celebrate the arrival of another baseball season and this time, the hope involves not only a third consecutive trip to the World Series, but a championship. I spoke with several early arriving fans who had driven up from Austin and are cautiously optimistic given the rival Angels acquiring former Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson and Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols.
As the countdown to the first pitch continued, the traffic in north Arlington brought back memories of the Sunday afternoon last October when the Cowboys and Rangers played back-to-back. The valet lots filled to capacity early on. I had friends texting me saying they were in a parking lot out on I-30 with no end in sight. Those same friends did make it to the ballpark by the bottom of the third inning. Others I ran into in the parking lot had the grill set up with ribs and chicken and two flatscreens showing MLB Network. They did not have tickets and had no plans to even attempt to purchase any. The idea was to simply hang out and soak up the pageantry of the big day.
Meanwhile, I watched the action from the Standing Room Only section among fans who had dropped between $100 and $150 just to get inside the ballpark. Of the fans I spoke to, they were all off of work for the Good Friday holiday, meaning they saved a 'sick day' for later in the season to catch an afternoon baseball special.
In the midst of the excitement surrounding the first of 162 contests this season, the Rangers were 3-2 winners over the Chicago White Sox for the sell-out crowd of 49,085. And just like that, another Rangers season is underway.
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