This Thursday is a national day of giving thanks. While it is wonderful to give thanks for the obvious things -- like when your football team is literally a significant portion of the holiday itself -- it is greater still to look past life's more unpleasant dealings -- like the actual product said football team ends up putting on the field -- to give those thanks.
To an ungrateful fan, it might be said the Texas Rangers have not given us much to be thankful of since the last time we had turkey, and gravy, and stuffing, and mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce shaped like a can so you know where to cut it, and sweet potatoes (not yams) with marshmallows deliciously melted on top. The temptation to fall in to that attitude makes it all the more important to find those things we should be thankful for.
Give thanks to Ian Kinsler for surrounding his pop-ups, jogs to first, and weird errors at second base with some of the best play -- in the field and at the plate -- from the position in his generation. Be thankful that a down year in his career can still be a year most baseball teams would have liked to have at the spot.
Give thanks to Nelson Cruz, who perhaps has disappointed from the expectations he set in 2009, but has far exceeded the expectations set out for him prior to that. On that note, give thanks to Mitch Moreland [and Ian Kinsler again (and Tony Romo)].
Give thanks to Derek Holland for actually being a useful Major League pitcher. He can be frustrating, but never should one be disappointed by solid mid-rotation production from a 25th round draft-and-follow.
Give thanks to the forces that control batting average on balls in play for turning David Murphy in to a complete stud. Or thank David Murphy if you don't believe in those things, or you just feel like being really nice to David Murphy this holiday season.
Give thanks to the Texas Rangers pitchers for 1,286 strikeouts, a number never before seen from the franchise. Thank them, as well, for their 4.02 ERA, a number many fans will scoff at because they have not had to deal with the horrific combination of poor franchise development and a hitter's paradise for a park.
Give thanks to Yu Darvish for eventually finding the American strike zone.
Give thanks to C.J. Wilson, for waiting until a division rival gave him bunches of money to have a 3.83 ERA. Then give thanks to his team for making sure the Rangers were not even the most disappointing let down in their own division.
Give thanks to Ron Washington for that one time Kinsler reached first base, and Elvis Andrus was allowed to swing the bat. But more seriously, be thankful that his tenure has included memorable quotes, giffable dugout dances, and genuine love and respect from the ball club he is told to lead.
Give thanks to baseball for being there every day through the warm summer months. Thank it for giving you 162 unique products, with no two images exactly the same. Thank it for its incredible October drama, it stunning moments where games can be turned completely around in a matter of seconds. Thank it for allowing you to be a fan purely for the heart and emotion, purely for the data and research, or something happily in-between.
Give thanks to your fellow baseball fan for the perspective he or she brings.
Give thanks to Bud Selig for not destroying the game outright.
Give thanks Cowboys fans for showing up lately to help the team's bank roll.
Give thanks Adrian Beltre for having a year that would often garner serious and credible MVP debate, and thank him for finally, once, and for all ending the idiotic "contract year player" label. That one is easy, though.
Give thanks to Josh Hamilton for his career in Texas, though in may be drawing to an end. Thank him for four home runs on a beautiful night in Baltimore. Thank him for his home run derby, his MVP season, his 2010 ALCS, his tarp slides and (some of) his first base slides, and those moments where he seemed like a boy having fun making baseball look easy. Thank him for what should have been not only the biggest swing of the bat in the history of an entire franchise, but one of the most memorable home runs in the history of an entire game; it's not his fault Darren Oliver couldn't complete the job. While you're at it, remember to thank him for his 2012 season. Just because it ended on a sour note does not stop him from having been, once again, a deserved baseball star, and one of the best hitters in the game, all in your home team's uniform.
Give thanks Michael Young for his career as one of the greatest Texas Rangers to ever live. Thank him for his 1,823 games played, 8,047 trips to the plate, 1,085 runs scored, 2,230 hits, 3,286 total bases, 415 doubles, and 55 triples.. For 2012, thank him for actually trying. The results were not there, but at least he gave it a clear and obvious effort, and that should count for something.
Give thanks to Adam J. Morris, Christopher Fittz, Brad ? for giving us their fantastic wit, analysis, and reactions to the team at Lone Star Ball. Thank Joey Matschulat, Prashanth Francis, and Josh Garoon for doing the same thing at Baseball Time in Arlington, yet decidedly different -- and awesome -- enough to be worth also reading every day. Despite all that love to new media, continue to thank Evan Grant, Richard Durrett, Jeff Wilson, and their peers for continuing to give us access to the club we would not otherwise have.
Give thanks to 2013 for being there.
Give thanks to Jon Daniels, the front office he has assembled, the ownership that backs them, and the scouting department that advises them on building one of the strongest franchises in contemporary American sports. It is very easy to believe 2012 was but a blip on the radar in the immediate future, and in this sport those feelings are rare. That is the hallmark of a tremendous organization doing tremendous things with its resources. And also good luck, remember to thank luck.
Give thanks that the Rangers play baseball in Texas.