Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Deathtour~!: Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas

What a difference two days make. I’m still recovering from Denver but I feel 10,000% better than I did on Saturday. Today I’m in Arlington, a city with over 300,000 people yet has no public transportation to speak of. And though my hotel is just a mile or so from the ballpark, it took me 30 minutes to get there this morning to buy my ticket, walking mostly on the shoulder of the road as there were no sidewalks.

I walked back over for the game in the evening about 30 minutes before the first pitch to an almost empty ballpark. I realized that just down the road the Cowboys are playing the Eagles on Monday Night Football but I’m still shocked that this place is empty so close to gametime.

Everything is big in Texas, including Rangers Ballpark. The concourse is enormously spacious. The grandstand supports are towering. The suites in centerfield are skyscrapers. Yet it’s somehow scenic.

The first pitch is thrown and I don’t believe there is more than 10,000 people here.

I’m all the way up in the upper level but I’ll likely be moving around quite a bit. With so few people here I don’t think anyone will care where I sit. FYI, my seat cost only $6. Pretty sweet deal.

Two batters in and Texas’ starting pitcher has sustained an injury of some sort. I couldn’t tell from way up here what happened but his catcher sensed something was up based on the last pitch he threw. We’ve got our first pitching change of the night.

It’s so quiet here you can hear each individual fan yelling at the players. Some guy 400 feet from me in the centerfield bleachers just called Matt Joyce a ‘chicken’ for not trying to stretch a double into a triple. Not word on whether the fan in question was this guy.

Jeffrey Larish hit an excuse me double off a check swing down the left field line to drive in the first run of the game. There’s something you don’t see every game.

For no apparent reason a small round of applause makes its way around the stadium. I can only assume this has something to do with the football game. A few minutes later a small chorus of boos goes up.

Hey, it’s the dot race. I thought that event was exclusive to Oakland. And the final lap is LIVE~? They’re not kidding! This is the greatest thing my eyes have ever been witness to.

Strange series of events. Max Ramirez, Ranger DH, was clearly hit with a pitch on a check swing. At least it was clear to everyone except home plate umpire Eric Cooper. Ramirez was about to head down to first when Cooper was like, “Where you going, buddy?” Ramirez rolled up his sleeve to show him the mark. Cooper looked at it for about a minute and still wasn’t convinced so Rangers manager, Ron Washington came out to give him some help in finding the giant mark the pitch left. Finally Cooper gets help from the first base umpire who tells him, “oh yeah, he was hit,” and Cooper awards Ramirez first base. This of course brings out Jim Leland because that’s what you do when a call is reversed. It doesn’t matter that even you don’t believe you’re right.

Leland’s putting on a pretty good show. I think he may have convinced himself that Ramirez wasn’t hit. But he eventually returned to the dugout.

Okay, things just picked up again. About 15 seconds after returning to the dugout, Cooper ejected Leland. I guess he really did think he wasn’t hit.

And now I’ve seen everything. Jim Leland, at 95 years of age or so, ran out of the dugout like an Olympic sprinter to get his money’s worth with Cooper. I’m stunned he didn’t break a hip in the process. The only way this could possibly get better is if he returns to the dugout two innings later sporting a Groucho mustache.

So after all that happened, Taylor Teagarden, the Rangers rookie catcher who’s slugging .900 or so hits a Grand Slam to give the Rangers the lead. This has been one of the most entertaining games I’ve been to all season.

I’ve been changing seats every half inning or so. I haven’t seen a bad seat yet. Detroit ties it back up in the 7th. Nobody wants to win this game.

Detroit regains the lead only to blow it in the bottem of the 8th. Texas has a 3 run cushion going to the ninth. Hopefully it’s enough to send these 10,000 or so fans home happy.

Earlier Gary Sheffield hit his 497th home run. I’m standing near where it was hit when the usher standing next to me tells me Sheffield asked for the ball back as they were escorting the guy who caught it to the visiting locker room. I figure he must have passed someone on the all time list but it turns out he didn’t so who knows why he wants it.

And the Rangers do close it out winning a wild one, 11-8.


Mr.Wall said...


riya said...

I enjoyed reading your blog. Nice photos! The way you have sorted out your experience surely needs to be appreciated.