ARLINGTON -- As the visiting Giants celebrated in the middle of the field at Rangers Ballpark, a crestfallen crowd began the chant: "LET'S GO, RANGERS! LET'S GO, RANGERS!" It was purposeful, an attempt to get their players to come back out of the dugout, to be celebrated, to not dare let the American League champions disappear into the clubhouse and the winter without saying goodbye.
After all, the Texas Rangers Baseball Club had just done something for the first time in its history: Play in the World Series. The World Series. There is a winner. There is a loser. Meanwhile, there were 28 other teams that were viewing on FOX or hunting or whatever Rangers fans used to do at this time of year. Texas fans wanted a title, but they will take what they got.
"Hey, we're at the World Series right now and it's in Texas. 'Nuff said," said Mike Brundage of Knoxville, Tenn. "I drove four states to be here. I'm a huge Rangers fan. I'm at the World Series, we made it, and we can say something 28 other teams can't say. I never thought I would be able to say that."
Many Texas fans congregated behind their team's dugout while San Francisco's fans were raising a ruckus across the way. Manager Ron Washington came out and waved to Rangers fans, and moments like those meant a few last opportunities to cheer, just to say thanks. One of them was Brett Stephens of Irving, Texas, a season-ticket holder in section 343. He was trying to keep his chin up.
"It's been a great ride, and it is heartbreaking, actually," Stephens said. "After getting through the Yankees how easily we did, this was tough."
Usher Jeanne Parra was standing next to him, and she had a countenance that was not really sorrow or despair. It was more a case of helplessness, having the baseball season just stolen from your fingertips like that, taking it away from you and saying you have to start all over again from scratch next spring.
This club had commanded everybody's attention, even right here in the heart of football country. They celebrated together on that historic Saturday night when the Fall Classic finally came here, they saw Mitch Moreland's three-run jack, they saw Kelly Clarkson's unbelievable national anthem -- maybe one of the best ever at a World Series -- and they saw President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush come out for a first pitch. They cheered for Rangers baseball in November!
So yes, it was Giants in five in 2010. But there was so much to be thankful for as a Rangers fan. At least all of the home games on the schedule were used up. It was worse for the other Texas team to the south five years ago, when it was swept in four and left hanging with those Game 5 home tickets.
"It was awesome. It was a great season," said Parra. "I just felt like they did so well in the playoffs up until now. We fell short, but it's OK. They're going to come back."
Remember when Nelson Cruz hit that walk-off boomstick to beat the Yankees during the hot summer months of the regular season? Parra and Stephens both alluded to that when asked what their highlight was over the 2010 campaign, a moment you knew something special might happen come fall.
"We're just excited that we've come this far," Parra said. "I'm just proud of this team."
Abel Escovedo of Snyder, Texas, brought his family to Games 3-5.
"It's sad, but I'm glad that we were here," he said. "We never expected this and we enjoyed it. We ran into helluva good pitching. We just got beat."
Chris Bauer of Dallas was wearing an Ian Kinsler shirt, taking a last look at the Giants celebrating with their fans before heading off for the offseason. Sometimes you just want to watch the other guys celebrate so you can remember your goal.
"[I] can't complain about reaching the World Series," Bauer said. "I don't have anything against [the Giants]. You've got to win it somewhere, and they played a good series. You can't fight [Tim] Lincecum and [Matt] Cain. And then [Madison] Bumgarner? Good pitching always beats good hitting. When you have a three-hit game, most likely you're going to lose."
Looking forward, Bauer is "praying for Cliff Lee to re-sign" and wondering what will become of Vlad Guerrero following a disappointing postseason for the veteran designated hitter. Looking back, he remembers how they got into this event, and you could tell how much he just wanted to soak up every last minute.
"I thought to myself, 'This might be the only time you'll ever see a World Series game,'" Bauer said, holding a ticket stub from the upper deck in right field. "As soon as they clinched against the Yankees, I said, 'I have to go. It doesn't matter the cost, because I may never see it again.'"
It's time to go home, so Bauer and all the other Rangers fans eventually headed for the exits. The next home game is April 1 against the Red Sox. That will be Opening Day. A new season will dawn, and the Rangers will start it up again. There will be a lot to think about between now and then, and if you ask any Texas fan who went to the 106th World Series, they probably will tell you that even in defeat, it was an absolute joyride.