* I know a lot of people, I think, but I only know one Texas Rangers fan. I’m sure there are three or four others out there, but I only know one.
And he’s a wreck.
The Rangers are on the brink of playing in their first World Series, leading the New York Yankees 3-2 in their best-of-seven American League Championship Series. Texas returns home to play NY in Game 6 on Friday night. If there’s a Game 7, ace left-hander Cliff Lee, nearly unhittable in the postseason, will be ready.
“This is actually more miserable than when they’re losing,’’ Duane Frazier told me. “When they’re losing, it’s like ‘Well, of course they’re losing. They always lose.’ Now that they’re actually doing something, I’m just waiting for them to crush my hopes even more.’’
There are factors at work here. Duane has been a Rangers fan for 33 years, so misery is his best friend. Texas has never played in a World Series, joining the Seattle Mariners and the Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos as the only current franchises never to reach the Fall Classic.
Duane has found comfort in Texas’ futility.
“Usually by July I’m on to other things,’’ he said. “Heck, by May I’m on to other things.’’
Duane thought he could wash his hands of the series after the Yankees came back from a 5-0 deficit to win Game 1. Those were the Rangers, he thought, that he’d grown to love. The series loss would be harmless.
But then Texas ripped off three wins in a row before losing Game 5 in the Bronx on Wednesday. This is a different Rangers team. Most of us can see that. Duane is reluctant to buy in, although he’s glued to this series.
“I’m totally into it and not enjoying a minute of it,’’ he said. “I’ll be watching Game 6 tomorrow night, at home, preferably by myself.’’
Duane is a Celtics fan and a Raiders fan, back when the Raiders were winning championships. He’s felt the thrill of watching his team go all the way.
“But this is different from anything else,’’ he said. “This is bizarre. It’s not that they’ve never won, it’s that they always lose. Saying they’ve never won almost sounds optimistic.’’
He loves this team – Cliff Lee, Josh Hamilton, etc. He’s totally into this, when he’s not burying his head in a pillow.
“It’s so different from Rangers baseball,’’ Duane said. “They’re actually taking chances instead of just making dumb plays. I love the way they run the bases.’’
I’m hoping for the best for my friend. But I’m not sure what the best is. Can Duane handle a World Series? Here’s hoping he gets the chance.
* Now for my favorite sitcoms from the 1990s. My faves from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s are listed on earlier blogs. The 90s were a great decade for laughter, but you’ll be surprised that perhaps the sitcom of all sitcoms, Seinfeld, is listed only at No. 5 for me. I have to admit, I wasn’t much into Seinfeld when it was on the air; I’ve watched a lot of episodes in syndication, though.
10) Evening Shade (1990-94) A good Burt Reynolds vehicle.
9) Murphy Brown (1988-98) Do you know I’m having trouble remembering who else was on this show besides Candice Bergen? Oh, Faith Ford. And some guys.
8) Home Improvement (1991-99) Cute concept that got old to me after a while. I wasn’t crazy about the kids.
7) Ellen (1994-98) Ahead of its time. Funny show. Love Ellen.
6) The Drew Carey Show (1995-2004) Silly, occasionally stupid. But usually pretty darn funny.
5) Seinfeld (1989-98) I like it more now that I know more about Larry David. His Curb Your Enthusiasm will be high on my 2000s list.
4) Roseanne (1988-97) Great social commentary made funny. She might be out there, but Roseanne had her day.
3) Friends (1994-04) Where did these people work? What did they do when they weren’t in their apartments or the coffee shop? Who cares? They all made me laugh, especially Joey (Matt LeBlanc).
2) Frazier (1993-2004) What a great combination Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce were. John Mahoney wasn’t bad as their father, either.
1) The King of Queens (1998-2007) This actually could be ranked among among the best sitcoms of the 00s, and it will be. But I want it here, too. Kevin James makes me laugh like few others have.
A sports writer’s memories
You can’t succeed in anything you do, in my opinion, without some failure and some difficult times. I always though of myself as a hard worker and someone who wanted to get better as a writer and reporter. Being trained while covering high school sports is a challenge, because the job is always so hectic. I remember in the early days, when we had an afternoon newspaper (The Beacon) as well as The Eagle, covering events and having to write stories for both papers. So after writing a game story for The Eagle at night, I’d get up early the next morning and try to find a new angle for a next-day story. That was especially difficult to do when I covered the Wichita Aeros in the late 1970s.
In 1980, I was promoted from the high school beat to the Wichita State beat. I was elated, of course. The WSU beat has always been a big one at the paper because of this community’s love affair with Shocker athletics. However, I didn’t even last two years. The sports editor at the time thought I was too young and too inexperienced for the beat, and looking back I probably agree. But it was devastating because I was assigned to the desk to edit copy, write headlines and help produce the paper on a nightly basis.
Some people fit perfectly on the desk. I wasn’t one of them. It was a tough year before I returned to covering high schools, then moved to the news side for a little more than two years. Upon my return to sports in 1987, I was a more experienced and well-rounded reporter and writer. I covered high school sports until 1991, when I was given another chance to cover Wichita State. I covered the Shockers for four years; the baseball team made it to the College World Series three times.
Beat reporting is the essence of a newspaper and I’ve always admired the people who do it well. It’s not easy and you’re always worried about missing something. But when you beat other news outlets for a story, or your reporting is spot on when others are mistaken, it’s a great feeling.