Rangers fans versus the world

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The Texas Rangers are in the World Series — finally.

Tonight’s game one versus the San Francisco Giants ends a 50-year long wait for the franchise that has never been on baseball’s grandest stage, no longer making them the team that has gone the longest without a World Series appearance. The Washington Nationals and the Seattle Mariners remain the only teams that have never made it to the World Series, and the Rangers have been around at least seven years longer than both of them.

The journey to the World Series for the Rangers started in Washington, D.C., where the team formerly known as the Senators struggled mightily for 11 years.

Since moving to Arlington in 1971, the team has only been to the playoffs four times, not once advancing past the first round before this year.

The wait for Rangers fans has been long and excruciating. For fans around UT, the wait has been even worse because of the fact that most of the students here aren’t even old enough to remember the playoff teams of the ’90s.

With the team’s lone playoff appearances coming in the ’90s, Rangers fans have forgotten what it is like to have baseball matter this late in the year. For many students who are fans, it is difficult to even remember the successful days of Juan Gonzalez and Pudge Rodriguez.

“The Rangers have definitely made my October better,” said UT freshman Chris Lee, not to be confused with Rangers’ pitcher Cliff Lee. “They give me something to watch. The Rangers have been my salvation.”

The fact that this fan base only really knows losing makes this season a godsend for Dallas-area sports fans, especially with the Cowboys’ subpar play.

While the Cowboys are usually the main draw this time of year, the success of the Rangers have fans refocusing their attention.

“This run is way better than any of the Cowboys’ Super Bowls, it even goes over the 2005 Rose Bowl,” said UT freshman Chris Perez.

Although Ranger fever at this point of the year isn’t necessarily reserved for lifetime fans of the team, this type of successful run is perfect for a fair-weather fan that may have just begun cheering for the Rangers.

Biology senior Shaunak Das is not afraid to admit that he jumped on the Rangers’ bandwagon this season. Das watched the Rangers regularly in the late ’90s and has finally come back to the team this year.

“[It’s] because they finally showed some promise and weren’t completely out of the race before summer rolled around,” Das said.

Other bandwagon fans have jumped on for different reasons, such as the great Cinderella story they present by having the fourth-lowest payroll in baseball and still making the World Series.

“When I learned that the Rangers went bankrupt and are now going to the World Series I started paying attention because it’s a good story and a big deal,” said design freshman Katie Eldredge.

But for the hardcore fans, some are not keen on the idea of the newest Rangers followers.

“[It’s] bullshit if you have watched the team for only the last three months and can’t name [pitchers] C.J. Wilson from Colby Lewis,” Lee said.

Further proof of the Rangers renaissance around UT is the increased sales of shirts and memorabilia at surrounding retail stores such as Academy Sports and Outdoors.

“Sales are up 100 percent because we didn’t carry anything before the playoffs, just hats and stuff. Now all of the things we ordered are selling very quickly,” said an Academy manager from the Sunset Valley location who did not want to be named.

It’s not just gear that’s flying off the shelves. Tickets for these games are as hot as Justin Bieber right now. The nosebleed section tickets are going for $400 at the cheapest rate, which are seats that only cost $6 in the regular season.

“Playoff sales have gradually picked up, there were a few out for the Rays, a few out for the Yankees, and now everyone wants to go to the World Series along with their brother, sister and the postman,” said Jimmy Romack, owner of local ticket sales business Ticket Cloud.

This is a perfect example of the fickleness of Rangers fans and the bandwagon mentality that is sweeping Austin, although the extra support for the team shouldn’t be dismissed.

Long-time fans, no matter how much they grudgingly agree, even take it from an interesting economical viewpoint.

“It is really good for business after the bankruptcy, and it gives us a good chance to keep Cliff Lee,” Perez said.

Either way, for the Rangers fans new and old around Austin, being in the World Series is an amazing surprise.