Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Game 19: Texas Forever

Rangers 6, Rays 5

As discussed here, there is little that all four of us easily agree on.  We debate everything from sports to politics to music to food and more.  However, one thing we do all agree on is that Friday Night Lights is one of the best television shows of all time.  If you are unfamiliar with the show (shame on you), it chronicles the struggles and triumphs of high school football coach Eric Taylor and his wife Tammy in the football-crazed West Texas town of Dillon.  Beyond being just a masterpiece of modern television, the show paints a particular picture of life in the Lone Star State.  Despite all of the area's problems (the show pulls no punches in that regard), the vast majority of the characters love Texas with a passion that goes beyond normal regional pride.  There is something about this part of the country that causes its inhabitants to wholeheartedly believe that they live in the best place on earth. As we rolled across the New Mexico-Texas boarder, we expected this sentiment to be on display in full force.

A taste of Texas in FNL

I must confess that I slept through a lot of West Texas.  We've had a long few days and I needed some rest.  From what my fellow travelers told me, it came and went much in the way we expected.  The landscape was full of old water towers, oil wells, and cattle ranches.  I got my first taste of the atmosphere when we stopped for lunch in Angelo's Barbecue.  The exterior of the wood structure was plain and could just as easily been found in a Wild West film as downtown Fort Worth.  The interior practically oozed Texas.  Various Lone Star memorabilia coated the walls and hunting trophies were lined up all over the place.  For those of you who have seen the show, I practically expected Buddy Garrity to be chowing down on the beef brisket at the next table.  The fare was excellent by the way for anyone planning a trip through the area.

Lone Star Flags in Center
The Texas love continued when we arrived at Rangers Ballpark.  The outside of the stadium is covered in red, white, and blue banners and carvings depicting the state's historical events.  Inside the stadium we quickly noticed how prominently the Texas flag was flown.  Not only was the flag displayed at the same height as the American flag, there were at least ten of them flapping out in center field.  To top it all off, we enjoyed a rousing rendition of "Deep in the Heart of Texas" in the middle of the 5th inning.  This was the first time all trip where the entire crowd was united in a song other than "Take Me Out to the Ballgame".  The culture in Texas is unlike anywhere else we have visited and attending a baseball game in Arlington is a great way to experience it.

Games watched: 19
Games to go: 11
Thuuz score: 65
Stadium: B+, A interesting closed design that combines some old school looks with new architecture and technology. Scoreboard in right field is huge, as is everything in Texas. Upper deck seats are very far from home plate.
Fan Atmosphere: B, We hoped for a better turnout for a nationally televised game between two playoff contenders, but the fans that were there did a decent job supporting the stadium's constant assertion that Ranger fans were the loudest in the major leagues.
Concessions: B-, The food selection was basic ballpark food at average prices and the beer selection suffered greatly in comparison to the West coast stadiums.
Quote of the Day: "Sports communicate a code, a language of the emotions, and a tourist who skips the stadiums will not recoup his losses at Lincoln Center and Grant's Tomb." This quote is from literary critic and fellow sports traveler Wilfrid Sheed as quoted in The New York Times.
Stat of the Day: David Price threw nine pitches to the first seven Ranger hitters, and gave up two runs. Texas's strategy of first-pitch fastball hitting was quite obvious.
Tim Kurkjian Award: In the second inning, the Rangers had four hits on four pitches, two home runs and two singles. Their lineup is very very dangerous.
Total Miles Traveled: 8,775
Miles to Next Game: 257 (Giants @ Astros, August 28, 7:05 PM)
Click "Read more" for photos from the day.

Angelo's finest
Outside the stadium
Shadows over Ranger Stadium
The Monday Night Baseball Crew
Tim Kirkjian, friend of the blog

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