Welcome to Texas Rangers Demystification Day, in which we have a little fun with the franchise that’s getting the full sainthood treatment from writers and broadcasters. We hope you stick around!
Oh, the fans. We all know that Cardinals fans are the best in baseball, because we’ve been told over and over and over and over and over again. So what to make of Rangers fans? They’re basically the nouveau riche of baseball: they weren’t around five years ago, they don’t really know what they’re doing, and they have an inexplicable sense of entitlement.
Rangers fans have always been infamous for not giving a fuck about their team. “Rangers fans,” as a thing, didn’t even really exist until Nolan Ryan bought the team, because: yay, hometown hero. So it’s not accurate to call them fair-weather fans, because the team had a good run in the late ’90s, and they still didn’t care. Because the Cowboys. And I’m still not convinced they really care today. They show up because it’s the thing to do, and Josh Hamilton made the cover of D Magazine or whatever, but there’s no place in their hearts for baseball as long as the Cowboys are a thing that exists.
Here is really what you need to know about Rangers fans: they boo the ever-loving shit out of Alex Rodriguez, and they have no idea why they’re doing it.
ARod is booed in a lot of stadiums (including his own) for plenty of valid reasons.
But he’s booed and heckled with extra lust every time he visits Arlington, and every time he steps to the plate at Rangers Ballpark. Oh, how they hate him there. But why, exactly?
Rodriguez spent three seasons with the Rangers after signing his massive, record-setting free-agent contract. During that time, he played in 485 out of a possible 486 games. He slugged over .600 each season (while playing shortstop, for God’s sake), clubbed 156 home runs, and won an MVP award, while clearly giving maximum effort on a shitty team.
Then, in the spring of 2004, the Rangers’ brain trust (such as it was) realized that maybe they shouldn’t be spending like 40% of their payroll on one player and traded ARod (and a good chunk of his remaining salary) to the Yankees. Unlike local hero Michael Young, Rodriguez didn’t demand a trade, despite the putridity of his teammates. He worked with the front office to find a suitable destination, and he didn’t burn any bridges on his way out of town. He played hard and well for three years for a lot of money, then got traded — not by his preference.
And let’s not pretend this has anything to do with steroids, because the Rangers have had the most notorious steroid culture in baseball, and their followers have long cheered the likes of Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro, and Pudge Rodriguez.
No, these fans are booing because their ownership was stupid enough to give ARod and Scott Boras an insane amount of money to play baseball, even though no other teams were offering anywhere close to that, then realized they’d fucked up and tried to undo their mistake. Not like Tom Hicks has a history of financial mismanagement or anything.
Rangers fans boo ARod because they were frustrated by losing and incapable of either expressing themselves intelligently or truly understanding why they were losing.