For the second time in history, a Texas team is playing in the World Series.
But Houston fans have greeted the Rangers improbable rise and historic postseason presence with a collective shrug. Where's the Texas pride? With the Houston Astros off licking their wounds until March, it's time for H-Town baseball fans to embrace the team just up Interstate 45 — a team that embodies everything we like about the Astros.
Here are five reasons why you need to become a Rangers fan for at least a week:
1. The Comeback Kids
There's been a lot made of the twin tails of redemption for Rangers' coach Ron Washington and slugger Josh Hamilton. But these aren't just the typical basball stories of athletes who skirted the rules and came out on top anyway.
Hamilton's promising career was sidelined after a car accident turned into addiction and he spent years banned from playing baseball before a triumphant sober return led to All-Star games and Home Run Derby records. Just try to watch his "I Am Second" video about his struggles and finding faith and not be moved.
Washington, unlike every other player caught with a positive drug test, turned himself in for using cocaine one night to general manager Jon Daniels and president Nolan Ryan and offered his resignation. That takes courage and humility, and rather than making a good PR move, the management stuck by their man, making a close-knit team even tighter.
2. Nolan Ryan
Houston, you love Nolan Ryan. Don't fight it, he gave you some great years. And Nolan Ryan roots for the Astros whenever they aren't playing the Rangers, which is about 156 games per season or so.
Can't you return the favor by rooting on his team now, while cursing the day the Astros let him go?
3. The Giants
It's not like the Rangers are playing the Phillies, the new home of ex-Astros ace Roy Oswalt and one-time golden boy closer Brad Lidge. These are the Giants, the team that cheered on Barry Bonds as he eclipsed Hank Aaron's home run record years after his name first emerged in the BALCO scandal. Bonds may be recently scrubbed from the team, but that's no excuse for picking California over Texas.
4. The Money
Remember a decade ago when the Rangers threw a quarter of a billion dollars at Alex Rodriguez thinking his talent would put them in the top tier of baseball teams? Instead it landed them in last place for years.
The failure could have served as a signal that money can't buy success, had three of the last 10 world series winners not had payrolls of $100 million or more. So forgive us for loving that the Rangers, who began the season with the fourth-lowest payroll in the majors (and the second-lowest ever for a World Series team since 1988), scrapped their way to the big dance on heart, talent, teamwork and prudent management decisions.
5. They Deserve It
Did you watch this team dismantle the Yankees? They have a hunger and a hustle. They want it bad. There are feel-good stories like Hamilton, long-suffering veterans like Michael Young and aces like Cliff Lee that just blow you over with their talent. Have we mentioned this team has played since 1961 and lost to the Yankees in their only three postseason series prior to this year?
Maybe the Rangers success will never feel as good as an Astros win. But when a team can thrive on patient management, low budgets solid team players and real camaraderie, that can't be anything but good news for Houston fans.