Ah, fall. It’s the time of year when the searing heat of summer fades, the nights grow cooler and leaves begin to turn — be it ever so slowly in Texas.
It’s also the time of year when football dominates the sports landscape, in these parts anyway.
That’s probably a good thing for me, because I am a long-suffering Texas Rangers fan — and football is starting to look a lot more appealing right now.
And as Rangers fans know, this time of year has been a bit disappointing the last couple of years.
Let’s start with that World Series fiasco in 2011, when the Rangers were within one out of winning the championship not once, but twice, and ended up losing to the Cardinals.
That was just a warm-up for things to come.
Last year, the Rangers led their division almost the entire season, until they lost it on the last day to the A’s. All they had to do was go to Oakland and win one game out of three.
If they could do that, Texas would be division champs. But no, they went on to blow three straight.
But they still had a Wild Card spot, right? That didn’t go so well, either.
Even though Texas hosted the playoff game, Baltimore won and put the Rangers out of their misery for the season.
This year, the Rangers have led their fans on a roller coaster of highs and lows. They led the division until June, then fell behind Oakland by 6 games. But the Rangers put on a big surge, winning 19 out of 25 games and went in front of the A’s by three games in late August.
Now I was excited. This was going to be a great pennant race, and the Rangers could do no worse than grab the top Wild Card playoff spot — or so I thought.
That’s when Texas went into a tailspin, losing 12 of the first 15 games in September and seven in a row at one point.
The Rangers went from three games in front of Oakland to 8½ games back in just three weeks.
So here we are, just a few games from the end of the season. As I write this on Thursday morning, the Rangers are still in the hunt for a playoff spot, but just barely. They’ve been teasing me this week, winning three straight against the lowly Astros, making me think they’ve really turned things around.
But I know better. The Rangers’ bitter rivals, the Los Angeles Angels, are coming to town for the final four games of the season — and they’d like nothing better than to knock the Rangers out of the playoffs.
My guess is that they will.
If they do, it will be a little less upsetting than losing the World Series after being so close, and not quite as bad as losing the division crown on the last day.
But it’ll still be tough to take.
What makes baseball such a maddening sport to follow is that it can be so inconsistent.
Twice this month, the Rangers’ top pitcher allowed just one run in a game. And in both those games, the Rangers were inept on offense, losing each by a 1-0 score. Of course, they scored several runs the next day in each case — long after they were needed.
It’s enough to make you scream — which many Rangers fans do, I’m sure. Fortunately for my wife and co-workers, I’ve kept my anguish to myself.
If the Rangers do come up short once again, I’ll just have to deal with it the same way I have for the past three seasons.
That means grabbing some snacks, settling in on the couch and finding a good football game on TV.
After all, that’s what fall is all about, isn’t it?