When you see the word "heartbroken," any fan of any team in any sport understands. That's why even though folks like to say "It's just a game," it's never simply "just" that.
My history with the Texas Rangers goes back to 1990 when, as an eight-year old, I went with my church group to a game at Arlington Stadium. It was my first exposure to being in a setting where a professional sport was played. Friday night, all the kids and adults with red, white, and blue on, and just having the time of our lives.
So while the Cowboys are the most known and most publicized local team, and while the Mavericks are the reigning champs, the Rangers were the first taste of local professional allegiance in my lifetime.
Pictures tend to flash before our eyes of the games we love everyday. Whether we played in the game, or whether we get it from watching others, those pictures always find some sort of trajectory.
Shoot, spend one hour on Twitter (uninterrupted or otherwise) and sports finds a way to take up an ample time of the discourse.
For something that is "Just a game," it has quite the effect of capturing our attention and keeping it for various and consistent amounts of time.
Friday night was the funeral for the Texas Rangers. Yeah, it was Game Seven, and yeah, folk can make the argument that there was still one game to make it right, but the team's season died the night before.
It ended in a way that was unreal, unscripted, and unimaginatively (I know that's not a word, but whatever) painful. It ended in a way that I wouldn't wish upon my worst sports enemy; not on Duke, Texas, the Lakers, the Yankees, anybody.
There's losing and there's dying, and on Thursday night, when the Cards won 10-9 in the 11th inning, after my team had one strike left to put them away (TWICE), the season of the Texas Rangers died. All Friday did was serve as the official service for the demise. It's why this fan, someone whose first exposure to the team was as an eight-year-old third-grader, is heartbroken.
Shedding tears about my team losing is out of the question. Those days are long gone. Shoot, the last time that happened was in the '93 National Championship when the Fab Five lost to UNC. Despite being too old to cry though, there's no age limit when it comes to how you grieve.
Five days, 120 hours later, the grieving process is still prevalent, and if there's one thing that's evident in the way sports fans discuss the game, positives and negatives can, and will, last a lifetime.
The pictures of being in stands during unbearable summer days and nights in undergrad, post-college, and my days of being unemployed, as well as other times, surfaced as my team was down to its last three outs.
Visions of eating hot dogs and chili dogs in the stands, cheering loudly, doing the wave, and singing God Bless America (even though I only know, maybe, 17% of the song) in unison with a stadium at 2/3 capacity, sometimes more or less, came to life, as we only needed two more outs. Remember, there have been plenty of times when the Rangers weren't the hottest ticket in town, but it never stopped the fans at the games from exhibiting copious amounts of enthusiasm.
For Chris Navarre, easily the most loyal and dedicated Rangers fan I know, a fan who attended 67 home games this season, all those games, tailgates, wins, losses, rain-outs, and more were about to receive the ultimate validation with a World Series trophy.
For Mike Taddessee, a fan who watched over 150 Rangers games on TV this season alone, as well as countless more over the years, the thrill of his team being a champion, a world champion, was right there.
Hearing Joe Buck, regardless of what people think of him, say "And the Texas Rangers are your 2011 World Series Champs" was right there...at the final strike. The trophy presentation, Uncle Ron dancing, and the players celebrating while we, at home back in the Metroplex, partied hundreds of miles and hours away, were literally right....there...
....and just like that, the pictures, the visions, the words...were gone.
For reasons that will drive this fan to my own sports-related version of insanity, I'll never understand how we can get so close, SO CLOSE, yet come up short. It's literally the most conflicted and agonizing time I've ever experienced as a sports fan and an admirer of the culture of the game.
The visions, pictures, and impending announcement of a championship are dashed for another off-season, vanished for another 162 games, vanquished as the pursuit of a division championship, a pennant, and another trip to the World Series have to be put into action...
...but right now, in this moment, as a fan, it's hard to even think that far in the future, because the present is so painful. For fans of the game, the vast world of sports, and the culture who stay in our respective lane, they know exactly how that feels.