The Rangers' ballpark is quiet, at least for now.
Workers have slowly started to trickle in, the local radio station is doing their broadcast from the home plate entrance, the ALCS banners have been hung for fans to see as they start to file in, and the anticipation has begun.
This Friday night is far different from any other Friday night in Rangers' history, because it's on this Friday night that the Texas Rangers, and their fans, will be able to celebrate a franchise first.
An American League Championship.
For the first time, well, ever, this town has talked more baseball than football. For the first time in a long time, maybe ever, the Dallas Cowboys have taken a back seat to the Texas Rangers, and they'll stay there through the World Series.
The fans that had jumped off the bandwagon, or those that hate baseball, have actually jumped back on the bandwagon, pretending they were there from the start.
But that's OK. This area has always been known for bandwagon fans, so why should it be any different this year?
From the start of this series against the hated New York Yankees, this Rangers ballclub has been counted out, and most didn't expect them to put up much of a fight. They expected the Yankees to do what they've always done.
What has happened from the very first pitch is something no one saw coming. Say what you want about "believing" in this team, but in the back of your mind you never expected the Rangers to be the ones doing the dominating.
If not for the top of the eighth inning in Game 1, the Yankees would have been staring at a four-game sweep. Instead, the series has shifted back to Arlington, with the Rangers up 3-2 after the Bronx Bombers picked up a 7-2 win in Game 5.
Colby Lewis will take the ball in what will be the deciding game for this team. The last time he toed the mound for the Rangers—Game 2—he gave up two runs through 5.2 innings in a 7-2 Ranger win.
On the flip side, for the New York Yankees, Phil Hughes will take the ball for the first time since he got run out of Arlington in a 7-2 Ranger win. Hughes gave up seven runs on 10 hits, lasting just four innings.
So tonight, the Texas Rangers' mantra, "It's Time," will be put to the test.
Is it time for the Rangers to do something they've never done before in franchise history? Is it time for the most storied team in baseball history to exit the playoffs with a series loss for the ninth time in 10 years? Is it time for the Ballpark in Arlington to explode in celebration when the final out is recorded?
Those questions will be answered in just a few short hours.
If you ask me, I'm giving the Rangers the win tonight and watching as the Ranger fans celebrate. I'm ready to watch the fans—not only at the ballpark, but at sports bars and restaurants around the metroplex—to honk their horns, flash their lights, yell, scream, jump up and down, and generally celebrate their team's ALCS win.
The Yankees, without question, have a storied past, but as they say so famously, "that's why they play the game."
You can tell whoever will listen how many World Series Championships the Yankees have. You can crack on the Rangers for being the cellar dweller of the American League for so long. You can stomp your feet and laugh at Ranger fans while telling them that Cliff Lee will sign with the Yankees after this season is over.
But while you're doing that, just remember this: While you're talking about "27," Ranger fans will politely smile back at you and say "while that might be true, it's our team that's celebrating tonight while your team heads home to WATCH the World Series."
So tonight, as Game 6 wraps up and Ranger players spray champagne—or ginger ale in the case of outfielder Josh Hamilton and pitcher C.J. Wilson—all over the clubhouse and all over the fans who have stayed in the ballpark to celebrate with the players, it will be a moment locked into Ranger history forever.
The City of Arlington will celebrate and the American League Championship Series will come to an end. The Rangers will be handed the ALCS trophy and they'll get set to play the winner of the Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants, which is slated to get underway on Wednesday night.
Enjoy this night Ranger fans. It's been a long time coming, but it doesn't make it any less sweet.
Texas Rangers, the 2010 ALCS Champions. Sounds good, doesn't it?
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