It finally happened. Long time readers of this space will know that I’ve spent the past 20 years begrudgingly shoehorning my Rangers fandom into musical analogies, minor chords and other anecdotes. Well, it’s back for November 2023 and in a big way. Perhaps the biggest way imaginable.
The Texas Rangers won the World Series! It still doesn’t seem real to type those words. But it is most definitely real! What’s the musical connection? Well, here we go.
After years of grinding in futile indifference to the majority of the world, the Rangers are on top. Only the most loyal and diehard fans have stuck with them throughout this experience. Now they’re on top of the mountain. The climb reminds me of when we as music fans latch on to a band in its infancy. You catch a band in a dive on the come up and eventually others find out about them and they become the hottest ticket around. You’re proud but also confused on how to feel. What was once only yours now belongs to the world.
Just as baseball prospects start out in little league and move through travel ball, high school ball, college or minor leagues before hitting the show, bands do the same. What starts in a bedroom learning a few chords and scribbling lyrics leads to finding like minded individuals and rolling the ball in the direction of a full blown band. Pretty soon you need a place to play and garages, school talent shows and flatbed trailers give way to actual stages and opportunities.
Just like sports though, it’s not all about the talent. It takes drive, perseverance, smarts and relationships. Music and sports are both littered with talented folks who didn’t reach their potential for whatever reason. It’s not enough to just be good. You have to put in the work. And the sad reality is that sometimes you can give it everything you have and not reach the peak of the industry in pro sports or music. That’s a tough pill to swallow. But, for those that stick it out and catch all the right breaks it’s life altering.
There are 35 year old dudes on the Rangers that first picked up a ball at age 2. It took them 33 years to reach the pinnacle. There are 35 year old dudes with guitars that just landed at the Prevost bus level after first picking up their instrument at age 5. Their journeys are similar. And there are people that didn’t make it with them. There are some kids on a fall ball team right now that will grow up and win the World Series. There are some teenagers piecing together chords and words right this minute that you will one day hear coming out of your speakers.
Somewhere there is a 5-tool can’t miss prospect who will flame out for whatever reason. Somewhere there is a tall, handsome songwriter with charisma who will never connect with audiences. Somewhere else there is a kid that still has one more growth spurt to go and an insatiable appetite to get better at hitting the curveball. He’ll end up making a roster. Somewhere else there’s a kid who wasn’t that popular in school. He spent all of his spare time writing songs and practicing his guitar. He didn’t have many friends in high school, but now his music is reaching wide audiences and those people from high school ask to be on his guest list at Billy Bob’s.
The overwhelming joy I felt last night alongside so many other long-suffering Rangers fans is nothing compared to the work of the folks inside the organization that have worked day in and day out for this goal for years and years. The grind never sleeps. Garage bands and minor leagues. Oprys and World Champions.