Ball Clubs vs. Teams

It’s been a while since I wrote about baseball, but instead of a play by play of a game I figured I’d talk a little about something that my girlfriend and I have noticed while watching the Texas Rangers play this season: The Texas Rangers are a team, while our opponents seem to be Ball Clubs. Two totally different things.

Now, I’ll be up front about the amount of baseball that I watch that has nothing to do with the Rangers- very little- but I do watch other teams play. The other day I watched a particularly depressing game between the Colorado Rockies and the Phillies. It’s kinda strange watching a National League game because I am used to American League teams, but it was interesting nonetheless.

Both teams have good players and not as good players, and they are comparable as far as records go. (Phillies are 53-46 and Rockies are 51-48 at the time of this writing) But it’s not so much about having good players or records, it is about a group of guys who genuinely seem to get on well with each other, and neither team looked like they were extremely happy to be on the field with the rest of their team. They were Ball Clubs.

The Texas Rangers have it down. Watch a Ranger game and take notice of when one gets a base hit or a double. You’ll then witness “The Claw,” a motion that hides its mysterious genesis from the media and fans alike. It looks like they are dunking a basketball and doing an “air high 5” at the dugout, but with their hand in a claw-like position.

Every time you see one of them do The Claw they smile at each other, proud that their team mates are going the distance. There are also varying degrees of The Claw, as explained by Tommy Hunter. Basically, the better the hit or RBI’s to go along with it, then the more enthusiastic the Claw motion.

Alongside The Claw is the also mysterious “Antlers.” You’ll see base runners who hustle their way around the bases or steal bases look to the dugout and give themselves antlers and smile. 

Hamilton signs for kids at a Ranger game against Houston

These kinds of antics, along with other signs and rituals, point to a group of guys who aren’t just out there for the paycheck. They’re out there together because they love the sport and the thrill of the crowd. You won’t see them shying away from young kids on the sidelines because they’re too good to sign autographs, rather you’ll see them by the first base line smiling and taking photos with kids and adults alike when they get a chance.

Now don’t take that the wrong way; I know that other teams out there are fun and exciting. I’m not suggesting that every other team in the MLB is a bunch of greedy, no good assholes who wouldn’t give a kid the time of day. I’m just saying that when you watch your favorite team, pay close attention to how well they get on with each other as team mates.

Do they high-five after winning and leave it at that?

Do they look bored?

Do they genuinely look like they’re having a good time with each other?

I think that’s one of the reason that, while the Rangers have never had a World Series, I still watch them and love them. They are not a Ball Club, they are a Team. They were that way when I was a kid. I remember going to countless games when Nolan Ryan pitched for them. Every game I’d get to shake his hand and get an autograph, something that costed $50 or so to stand in line at a convention and get from him. But he did it with a smile.

If your team is like that, I’d love to hear some stories from your ballpark. Don’t forget to share this article across the web so I can get feedback from all four corners of the great U.S. of A!

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