Rangers no longer a major league disaster
The smell of an illegal substance permeated the air, but nobody seemed to care.
The bleachers at Arlington Stadium were nearly empty and the perpetrators weren't exactly hiding the illegal activity.
But the powers that be didn't seem too interested in putting a stop to the activity.
The Texas Rangers weren't exactly a big draw, and a ticket sold was money in a less than full pocket.
Some would argue anyone dumb enough to buy a ticket to a Rangers game needed a little something extra to watch what was going on in the field.
The Rangers are no longer laughing stocks and made their first World Series appearance Wednesday night against the San Francisco Giants.
But for so many years, the team known as the Strangers was a study in futility.
The Rangers are probably best known outside of Texas for Nolan Ryan giving Robin Ventura a noogie when he charged the mound after getting hit by a pitch.
But those of us who grew up in the Metroplex have many other memories, and most of them aren't pleasant.
This is a team that traded away a young pitcher by the name of Ron Darling and a blossoming outfielder by the name of Sammy Sosa.
This is a team that had a player go into a catatonic state in the locker room, had a player slug the manager, and had a manager decide he didn't want to be manager without managing a game.
The Rangers were so desperate for pitching and to fill seats that they rushed a young David Clyde to the major leagues and in all likelihood put a serious crimp in what appeared to be a promising career.
I made a number of trips to Arlington Stadium and most of them were forgettable.
The exception was the last game played at Arlington Stadium, which was notable not for the Rangers, but for being the final game played by Kansas City's George Brett before his retirement.
I was also fortunate enough to attend the first game at the new ballpark in Arlington, which, of course, the Rangers lost to the Milwaukee Brewers.
The ballpark was also the site of the first major league game attended by my son.
He attempted to order from every vendor, including the beer vendor.
My wife got to see Juan Gonzalez and Ivan Rodriguez hit home runs, while my son and I spent most of the game riding the stadium escalators.
As my son got older, we would try to attend at least one Rangers game each season. He was able to get an autograph from Mark Teixeira and a foul ball from a ball boy, but seeing the Rangers win was another matter.
We finally saw the Rangers beat the Chicago White Sox during an afternoon game in July, where White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen stood in the dugout with a wet towel draped over his head.
We didn't get to attend a game this season, which is a shame.
Of course, while the Rangers were in the midst of their best season in years, they had to go through bankruptcy proceedings, leaving their future very much in doubt.
Fortunately owner Chuck Greenberg came through with the winning bid, meaning Ryan will remain as team president and Jon Daniels will still be the general manager.
I never thought I'd live to see the day when the Rangers made it to the World Series. Now, I expect them to go again.
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361- 580-6588 or email@example.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.