Finding fun amid frustration

By David Mullen

Legendary baseball announcer Harry Caray was credited with saying, “You can’t beat fun at the old ballpark.”

The 2021 Texas Rangers are making it difficult to live up to the often-quoted axiom. Their season can be characterized with many nouns, but fun would not be one of them. And old would hardly describe Globe Life Field, the $2 billion high tech Arlington home of the Bad News Rangers. Texas is having the kind of season that even Chico Bail Bonds wouldn’t sponsor. 

Most MLB team power rankings have only two teams graded below the Rangers. The pundits believe that the Arizona Diamondbacks and Baltimore Orioles are worse. At press time, the Rangers have beaten the Diamondbacks and Orioles just three times collectively. That news bites and is for the birds at the same time.

The Rangers are on track to lose more than 100 games. They have not lost more than 100 games since 1973, when Richard Nixon was in the White House, Plano had less than 20,000 residents and gas was less than 40 cents a gallon. 

What little star power the team had was gutted by deadline trades. Their only legitimate starter was Kyle Gibson, who went to the Philadelphia Phillies. So did closer Ian Kennedy, who — in the Rangers’ bullpen — became lonelier than the Maytag repairman. Fan favorite Joey Gallo is now wearing Yankee pinstripes. His 25 home runs in 95 games with the Rangers will finish second on the club for the year. As a first round pick in 2012, the Rangers were the only club Gallo knew before receiving his first Bronx cheer.

But there are still reasons to have fun at the old ballpark. While the locker room has installed a revolving door — 24 position players and 32 pitchers have suited up this season — these kids play hard and some show potential. On the mound, pitchers Taylor Hearn, 26, and A.J. Alexy, 23, look like rotation fixtures.  Josh Sborz and Spencer Patton are averaging better than a strikeout per inning. And outfielder Adolis Garcia will probably finish second in the AL Rookie of the Year race.  

J Gilligan’s is known for having more tap handles than the Rangers have had players this year and for their famous Irish Nachos.
Photo courtesy of J Gilligan’s Bar and Grill


In addition to seeing whether outfielder DJ Peters takes the ball deep or is deep into a strikeout streak, here are some other reasons to head out to the ball barn before the season ends.  

Tickets have been reduced. The Rangers have discounted ticket prices for every remaining game but one by 10 to 30 percent. Tickets start at $9. Get there early and take a self-tour of the impressive facility. One day, the play on the field will catch up to the amenities. 

Go to see the other team. The Rangers final homestands are with the probable AL West champion Houston Astros, almost certain AL Central champion Chicago White Sox, likely league MVP Shohei Ohtani and the (now) Los Angeles Angels and the Cleveland Indians. On Sunday, Oct 3, Cleveland will play the final game in their 106-year history as the Indians. They become the Guardians in 2022.    

You might witness history. On Sunday, Sept. 30, 1984 — the final game of the season — Rangers’ knuckleballer Charlie Hough and (then) California Angels righthander Mike Witt squared off in a game for the ages. The Halos lineup included Fred Lynn, Reggie Jackson and Bob Boone. The Rangers had Mickey Rivers in the leadoff spot. Larry Parrish had joined the 100 RBI club for the first time. 

Both pitchers tossed complete games. The game took 1:49 to play in front of 8,375 sun kissed fans at Arlington Stadium. No parking hassles. No lines at the concession stands. A game played in less than two hours outdoors. What a perfect day. Turns out, it was.

Witt pitched the sixth perfect game in American League history. Twenty-seven Rangers up. Twenty-seven Rangers down. He struck out ten and only four balls even reached the outfield. Witt would finish his 12-year career with a record of 117-116. Just one win over .500, but that win was perfect.  

Get to Arlington early and enjoy the banal. Have you ever been to J Gilligan’s Bar and Grill before a game? The bar is located at 400 E. Abram Street or 400 E. South Street depending on what website you read. The bar is so big it needs two addresses. Only in Arlington would there be an East South Street. The bar is located on the Northwest corner of East South.

They used to have a shuttle to Rangers games, but like Gallo, it is just a fond memory. But J Gilligan’s is known for having more tap handles than the Rangers have had players this year and for their famous Irish Nachos. 

They are skin-on cottage fries with melted cheddar cheese, bacon bits, chives, onions, tomatoes and jalapeños. You will remember you ate them during the game.

Or if you feel real brave, hit some of the bars on E. Division Street like Pearl’s Cherokee Lounge (soon to be Pearl’s “Guardian” Lounge, no doubt), Sunshine Club or 4 Kahunas before the game. And if heading eastbound and down after another Rangers loss, hit the Little Indian Athletic Club (soon to be the Little “Guardian” Athletic Club, no doubt) at 3945 Avenue East on the Arlington/Grand Prairie border. You will feel like you are in a 1960’s basement rec room. Say hello to the proprietor Marilyn. Harry Caray would have been proud.

Look on the bright side, despite a season on the blight side. There is still a chance to enjoy what’s left of a forgettable Rangers season. Win or lose, “You can’t beat fun at the old ballpark.”