Howdy y'all! This is your fav'rit Studious Metsimus blogger/culinary expert Joey Beartran, reporting for duty. In today's episode, I will recap my just-completed trip to Texas to see the Mets play the Rangers, where our boys in blue and orange took two out of three from the defending American League champions.
As a respected blogger, I expected the Rangers to roll out the red carpet for me upon my arrival in Arlington. I got nothing. No red carpet. Not even a wet towel to combat the oppressive triple digit temperatures. I wasn't even allowed in the press room because they didn't believe me when I said I accidentally lost my media credentials somewhere between our trip to In-N-Out Burger and Sonic. (I must have confused it for a napkin.) The closest I got to the press room was the Media Only sign outside the ballpark.
So I had to sit in the ballpark with the fans. No big deal. I could handle not being in an air-conditioned press box. Plus, it would give me the opportunity to walk around the stadium and try out the ballpark fare at their concession stands.
My first stop was at the bacon dog stand. You read that right. It's a stand that sells hot dogs wrapped in bacon. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with what I expected to be a Texas delicacy. I mean, I like bacon and I like hot dogs. Then again, I like chicken nachos and I like cannolis, but I wouldn't eat them together. That's what the bacon dogs were like. Two fine meats in and of themselves, but one big disappointment when combined on a bun.
By the time I had donated the rest of my bacon dog to the pigeon that had that "I'm going to poop on you if you don't share your meal with me" look in its eyes, the Mets had already taken a 3-0 lead on the Rangers. Considering the Mets had only scored one run in the opener of the series, putting up a three-spot in the first inning gave me hope that this game would be different.
I was all set to watch Jon Niese take the mound in the bottom of the first inning to protect the lead his teammates had provided for him when something unexpected happened. Something grabbed my attention and wouldn't let it go, no matter how intent I was on watching the game.
It was the nacho stand.
This was Tex-Mex heaven! In addition to quesadillas and fajita salads, you could also build your own burrito. The vendors handed out a piece of paper, which the patron would fill out detailing exactly what ingredients were to be added to their burrito, salad, nachos, etc.
Of course, I had to try their chicken taco salad in a crispy tortilla bowl. This was not the bacon dog. This was bliss in a bowl. My sister, Iggy, who also made the trip to Texas, shared the salad (and souvenir soda) with me. After eating it, we wished we had ordered one for each of us. It was that good!
After consuming the salad, we made our way back to our seats, at which time we noticed that the Mets now had a 6-0 lead. Jonathon Niese, who was unaccustomed to the excessive temperatures, was cruising, while his mound opponent, Alexi Ogando, (7-2, 2.66 ERA and a leading candidate for American League Rookie of the Year) wilted in the Texas heat.
The Mets failed to score in the fourth and fifth frames, so I thought it would be a good time to check out other aspects of the ballpark. We checked out the Mets' bullpen (see first photo below), the seats behind home plate (see middle photo below) and then...well...you know...
After our break with the garlic fries, we walked over to the center field area, where we noticed a giant statue of a man tipping his cap. Upon further inspection, we noticed that it was a statue dedicated to the only Texas Ranger player to have his number retired by the team, Nolan Ryan. (Former manager Johnny Oates is the only other former Ranger to have his number retired, despite the fact that Bobby Valentine is the all-time winningest manager in Ranger history. Yes, the same Bobby Valentine that managed the Mets to the World Series in 2000.)
Of course, as a Mets fan who was born at Shea Stadium, (okay, so technically I was purchased by my colleague in the Mets Team Store behind home plate at Shea in 2004, but for argument's sake, let's just say I was "born" there, ya dig?) I noticed the similarities between the Rangers and the Mets with regards to retired numbers. Both teams have retired only one player's number (Seaver's No. 41 for New York and Ryan's No. 34 for Texas), both teams have retired the number of the manager who led them to their first division title (Hodges' No. 14 for the Mets and Oates' No. 26 for the Rangers) and both have failed to bestow the same honor to Bobby Valentine.
While I was pondering those similarities, I noticed that Iggy had climbed onto Nolan Ryan's glove, so before any Rangers fans could cry sacrilege, I followed her in an effort to get her to come down. Of course, a roving photographer caught us on his glove and snapped the photo below.
Needless to say, we needed a place to hide before a lynch mob treated us like Frankenstein's monster for sitting on their beloved Nolan Ryan's statue. We tried to get into the Mets' bullpen, but were turned aside. We tried going back to the Tex-Mex stand, but there were too many people standing in line who might recognize us.
It got to the point where we thought everyone was after us. Every Rangers fan on their cell phone appeared to be calling the police in our minds. If I'm not mistaken, I think I overheard one of the fans talking about calling Chuck Norris so he could arrest us, before a fellow fan reminded him that Norris wasn't a real lawman. He only played one on TV.
Running out of places to hide, we tried one last time to get into the press box. We circled the area on the second level behind home plate when we were spotted. Fortunately, it wasn't El Rangerdoro (a Lucha Libre wrestler who didn't take kindly to Mets fans on his turf) doing the spotting. A hand reached out from up above and we heard a familiar voice who offered to bring us into the Mets' radio booth, where we'd be safe from television-obsessed fans and masked wrestlers. Who was this kind soul who shielded us in our time of need?
It was none other than longtime Mets' radio play-by-play man, Howie Rose.
Right after the save by Howie Rose, everything turned for the better. The Mets scored eight more times (finishing the game with a season-high 14 runs) and we were able to escape with a victory and our lives.
We did not attend the final game of the series the following afternoon, an 8-5 victory by the Mets. Our Studious Metsimus colleague will say it was because we had to take a flight home, but if you saw the reactions of El Rangerdoro and the other members of the Church of Nolan Ryan after we sat on their savior's statue, you'd want to get out of Dodge as soon as possible, too.
Our stay in the Dallas area was memorable for many reasons. It was memorable for the variety of food we sampled. (Bacon dogs - bleccchhh, garlic fries - acceptable, chicken taco salad - nom nom nom!) It was memorable for all the crooked numbers the Mets put up on the scoreboard in taking the series from the Rangers. And it was memorable because we went to Texas and became outlaws for a day, even though that wasn't part of the original plan.
I am glad we're back home, though. After all, I don't think Iggy and I were going to fool native Texans much longer with the disguises we put on in order to blend in with the crowd. Well, maybe we could have fooled that Chuck Norris fan...