Walker, Texas Rangers

Friday evening, a day in the life. I had gotten an email from our local chain steak restaurant, which had just barely stayed open during COVID and had been operating off of a drastically shortened menu for years now. The email said they had brought back their prime rib, so we made reservations for 7PM. We got there, I ordered the prime rib.

“We just ran out,” the waitress said. Of course they did. (They went on to serve the Mrs. chicken that was still pink inside, and didn’t comp us anything. Drat, double drat, and triple drat.) So while we were waiting for food that was not prime rib, I made the announcement.

“I have something to play for you when we get back in the car,” I said. “I have to warn you, it’s really stupid and inconsequential. But it’s a nice thing.”

I will not ask you to listen to the episode of the podcast in question–it is the jokey Joe Posnanski-Michael Schur meta-podcast about sports, kind of–but I will discuss a little bit of the context. The current recurring bit on this podcast is the idea that more baseball teams should have “unofficial nicknames.” For example, the only constant in terms of the uniform design for the franchise currently known as the Los Angeles Angels has been the use of a halo around the letter A (lowercase or uppercase), and so they are occasionally referred to by baseball announcers and ESPN anchors as the “Haloes.” (If you did not know this, you are excused from reading the rest of this post.) Posnanski and Schur have taken it upon themselves to think up similar alternative “unofficial nicknames” for every MLB team. This has been a lengthy process, which has resulted in new monikers for the Washington Nationals (“the Feds”), the Cincinnati Reds (“the Chili”) and the Chicago Cubs (they eventually settled on “the Ivy,” sure, why not). But Posnanski and Schur were stumped by several teams, and asked for listener input.

I am not immune to sudden bursts of inspiration.

And I thought that would be the end of it. The tweet got 32 impressions; nobody saw it, nobody cared, which is as it should be. And sure, San Francisco is famous for its fog, and had actually gone so far as to incorporate the light gray color into an alternate uniform. And the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers are forever linked in baseball history; of course the names should echo each other. The “Fog” and the “Smog.” Another silly idea sent into the nameless void.

Only this time…

I listened to the podcast on my way home (I have an hour-long commute from my home in suburban Princeton to my office in Northeast Philadelphia), probably about a week after it aired, and was jolted with surprise to hear my name being mentioned in connection with–I cannot stress this enough–this stupid tweet about this silly enterprise on this ridiculous podcast.

What I expected next was a fair bit of ridicule–why not? It’s a stupid idea. But… no. They liked it. They bought it. The nation’s most well-known sportswriter and the producer for The Good Place liked my idea and adopted it. So I played it for my wife and kids, with the caveat that, of course, all of this was relentlessly pointless. (The Mrs. was impressed, Child A was amazed that someone on the car radio had said my name, and Child B ignored the whole thing. Par for the course.)

Photo of three San Francisco Giants players, somewhat obscured by fog, wearing light gray uniforms with the Giants logo partly fogged out
You gotta admit, there’s something to it.

Andy Warhol talked about having fifteen minutes of fame. This was maybe a fifteenth of a second. Maybe it wasn’t that much. I know it couldn’t be that much, because I have not had a single Giants or Dodgers fan approach me and tell me how stupid my stupid idea was. (For which I am profoundly grateful.)

So, anyway. I wrote all this to set up the central idea of this piece, which is that my beloved Texas Rangers deserve an unofficial nickname, and it should be the “Walkers.”

If you have ever thought about the Texas Rangers in your life, it is likely because of these events:

  • Nolan Ryan beating the absolute whey out of Robin Ventura
  • Elvis Andrus sneaking up behind Adrian Beltre to touch his head, and Beltre overreacting
  • The Dodgers winning the 2020 World Series in Arlington, over an AL team that, somehow, was not the Rangers
  • The famous seventh inning between the Rangers and Blue Jays in the ALDS that ended with Jose Bautista flat-out murdering a baseball and then flipping his bat
  • Game Six of the 2011 World Series, which is making me angry just thinking about it
  • The 2010 World Series, where the every-other-year Giants smothered the Rangers in their first WS appearance
  • Josh Hamilton winning the Home Run Derby in Yankee Stadium, after a lifetime of taking enough drugs to make Keith Richards say, “Maybe you should taper off, sonny.”
  • The team declaring bankruptcy, and Nolan Ryan buying them at a fire sale
  • Alex Rodriguez taking a quarter of a billion dollars to play in Arlington and then decamping for the Bronx at the first opportunity
  • Nolan Ryan throwing two no-hitters without taking anything stronger than Advil
  • Jose Canseco having that baseball bounce off his dome and over the wall in Toronto
  • The ridiculous jerseys they wore throughout the 1970’s, with RangerS or TexaS on the front
  • The Rangers throwing high-school hurler David Clyde to the wolves

That’s it. That’s the franchise history. Oh, there were any number of foolish trades in there, dumb decisions, players that did not pan out. But this is what people remember, and only a couple of those memories are good.

The Rangers already, of course, have an alternate nickname; they have been called “the Strangers” since I can remember, and they usually deserve it. But, you know, come on. What kind of alternate nickname is that?

I have been thinking about this, waiting for inspiration to strike. I like “the Punchers,” to honor Ryan’s epic beat-down of Ventura, but that’s sort of short for “Cowpunchers,” and that’s too close to “Cowboys.” (The Dallas Cowboys, which of course play in Arlington now, are sometimes called the “Pokes.” I am just throwing that out there.) I like the “Bush Leaguers,” after my old boss George W. Bush, but of course he hasn’t been involved with the team for years, and his greatest moment in baseball occurred while he was wearing a Yankees jacket, so there.

For years, while the Rangers played in the fortress-like Ballpark in Arlington, the local sports radio guys would say that Rangers home games were played in “The Temple.” I like calling the Rangers “the Templars,” but nobody would get it and they don’t play there anymore, and the Temple is now home to the Dallas XFL franchise, which just makes me physically ill.

So that leaves one option. The alternate nickname for the Rangers should be “the Walkers.”

poster for TV show "Walker: Texas Ranger" featuring Chuck Norris walking through saloon doors

Mike Schur said on the podcast that the Rangers “don’t have an identity.” Well, you know who has an identity? Chuck Norris, that’s who. All I am saying is that maybe he has a little identity to spare, to help create an unofficial nickname for a beleaguered American League franchise that has not won a World Series title since they were moved from Washington in 1972.

So, again, I am throwing this out there into the void, after having spent an hour writing this inane blog post about an unofficial nickname that almost nobody will ever use. “You wanna go see the Phillies tonight? The Walkers are in town.” “Oh, sure. Sounds fun.” Yeah.

If you read this all the way through, thank you.