1998/10/02 - The Texas Rangers go to the Playoffs !
Stewart French

Our tickets haven't arrived. We expected them last week, Doug F. got his last Friday. But then, Doug is a regular Season Ticket Holder and we're just "Mini"-season ticket holders. So maybe the Texas Rangers boxoffice people are just servicing us late. But the game is Friday night and it's Thursday morning and that leaves just today to get them. hmmm...

Anne got on the phone starting about Sunday trying to get through. But they're pretty busy there selling out every potential game from the potential Tuesday game (two days ago which didn't make due to Boston beating Cleveland forcing us into an away game at New York on that day), through the World Series. Anne finally got through Thursday. They told her that her tickets had been shipped by UPS in Arkansas. UPS lost them. UPS loses everything. _Never_ ship anything UPS, at least not in Texas. UPS dropped a box of wine my brother shipped as a christmas present. Broke 2 of the 4 bottles. The bastards rewrapped the two bottles and shipped it on with no note, no notification of damage, nothing. Merry Christmas! Maybe nobody will notice the red wine stains!

So our playoff and world series tickets are lost. These are souvenir tickets. You know, in nice books, cool logos, just right for framing and making a Texas Rangers shrine. Kinda like the one I made with our old 1995 All-Star game tickets. UPS apparently lost a _lot_ of peoples tickets. The rumor was that someone there stole them and scalped them. hmmm... They told us to show up early before the game Friday night at the Will Call window and they'll reissue us our tickets. Ok so a lot of people have had their tickets lost and were told the same thing. How early _should_ we show up?

We left home at 4pm, the game was at 7:05pm. Plenty of time. Working to our disadvantage was that fact that it was Friday, we had to drive through the mix-master in downtown Dallas, and there were severe thunderstorms brewing all over the Metroplex. We arrived at the Ballpark in Arlington about 5:30. The traffic was bad, but it wasn't completely demoralizing (like it has been a few times before). That drive takes about 40 minutes when the traffic is not snarled, which is usually only between midnight and 5am, when we're driving home from the ballgames. The ticket lines at the Will Call window were nonexistent. Hurray! But our beautiful souvenir tickets are history. They gave us copies of hand-written "Seat Location Passes". Bummer. Oh well, at least they'll let us in with these.

We walked around the Ballpark checking out the festivities, buying some T-shirts, then heading up to the third deck where our seats were. Our mini-season ticket seats are in Section 320 row 1 seats 11 and 12. These are front-row overlooking the third base side, right in the middle of the row so nobody climbs over us. Great seats. For the playoffs they put us in section 317 row 2 seats 5 and 6. These are also fine seats, great view, although not quite as good as our regular seats.

The game started with an enormous release of balloons. All colors. The wind was so strong and swirling in the ballpark that the balloons didn't just rise up and leave, they rose about 30 feet then got caught up in the wind patterns and started spinning and swirling and went _all_ over the park! They were everywhere! shooting among the seats, down on the field, up in the lights, in the booths and box seats. It was an incredible sight. We didn't think they'd ever get them under control. But after about 10 minutes they had all lifted from the park and had disappeared. Amazing.

I won't go into the game dynamics except to say the Rangers hitting was stone cold. Pitching was good though. We each had small radios with headphones to listen to AM 1080 KRLD announce the game. Brad Barton, their radio meteorologist was breaking in about every 10 minutes with the severe thunderstorm and tornado updates. There were thunderstorms all over the area. Parker county was getting hit by tornados. Parker county is west of Fort Worth which is west of Arlington. The storms were moving from west to east so we were paying close attention to these reports. Brad was broadcasting from the booth in the Ballpark so he was telling us exactly what was happening to the weather over us. He said that the wind was going to die for about 15 minutes, then a massive thunderstorm was going to move over the ballpark. Sure enough. The wind died and about 15 minutes later it hit. The rain started slow and picked up quickly into a torrential downpour. It was beautiful blowing through the ballpark in giant sheets, backlit by the ballpark lights and the huge veins of lightning shooting across the sky from west to east. Amazing! Anne and I pulled out our tiny umbrella and huddled under it. We had a small, flat umbrella that didn't block the view of the people behind us. It also didn't protect us much from the blowing rain. Very quickly our backs and legs got soaked. Temps dropped into the 60s and we both started shivering. As the rain picked up we huddled closer and closer until we were in semi fetal position under the tiny umbrella. People started jumping up and racing back under the concourse overhang. It was packed with people. It was raining so hard that we didn't see how we could get up, get the backpack together (it was under my seat) and get under cover without getting completely drenched. But we had to! So we careful packed our stuff up, got up, and moved back to the covered area leading out of the bowl into the concourse. There were so many people there that we couldn't get under cover. But with a lot of other people, we held our umbrellas up high and formed a canopy of maybe 20 umbrellas that kept the rain at bay. It was very cool to be under that canopy. The rain would roll off of one umbrella unto another and cascade down through the canopy to the ground. So there was water falling all around us, but none onto us (mostly). The light filtering through the umbrellas and the rain was really something to see.

Brad said that the storm would blow over in 15-30 minutes, be followed by about an hour lull, then another storm would hit. Then another, then another. Turned out that the lulls got filled in and we waited like that for 2 hours before the heavy rain let up enough for the people to start a massive power-walk toward their cars. During this whole time the lightning didn't let up and was absolutely georgeous shooting across the skies. Yes, it was probably dangerous, but what could we do?

We got back into our car about 11:30pm and turned on the radio. Major league baseball had decided to go ahead and play the game out tonight. It had been suspended in the 5th inning and if the Rangers won (which didn't look likely and didn't happen) we had another game scheduled for 12:05pm on Saturday. So they restarted it at 12:25am and played it out. The ballpark field was designed to handle 5 inches of rain an hour and drain it off to leave the field playable. They had gotten the tarp out on the field in plenty of time to keep the soil from turning to mud, so the game continued to completion. The game started up just as we arrived home.

What an experience!