Pudge was a phenom from the moment he broke in with the Rangers. He was a baby at the time but so was I so I didn't realize that. His snap throw to second to gun down runners took my breath away. You just simply didn't run on Pudge because he would throw you out by a mile. The Rangers have always been good at getting solid young Latin prospects and during this time in Ranger history we had players like Juan Gonzalez, Sammy Sosa, Ruben Sierra and Pudge. We also had Julio Franco who came to us via Cleveland. (Yes, I remember all of this without looking anything up). Sammy of course was traded to the White Sox in 1989 for Harold Baines. One of the worst trades in Ranger history. Baines never wanted to be in Texas and pouted the entire season. This isn't about Hal Baines though.
Pudge played for some good Ranger teams. Nothing as great as what we have today, mostly because they didn't have pitching depth, but those clubs could hit a ton. The club experienced their first post-season appearances winning the AL West and meeting up with the Evil Empire in the mid and late 1990's. My Yankee hate was born and I maintain to this day you can't be a Ranges fan and a Yankee fan. Not if you lived through that.
I have to admit this now. All you Michael Young fans take note. I left the Rangers for about four years not long after Pudge wasn't re-signed. I was so angry, Tom Hicks was the owner, we were stuck with A-rod and I just couldn't face a Pudge-less Ranger team. This means I don't really remember Michael Young when he broke in and by the time I started watching again Mark Texieria was nothing but a whiney brat. (Assuming he was ever anything else.) I had to relearn players by the time I got over my mad. (I can be just a tiny bit stubborn when I get upset). My Michael Young love is never going to be a tenth of my Pudge love. Sorry MY groupies.
To me, Pudge was and always will be a Texas Ranger. He may have been on loan for a decade but in my heart he was always ours. I have to feel with the announcement that he is retiring next Monday in Arlington at Rangers Ballpark in front of the fans that love him best and most, as a Ranger, that Pudge feels that way too. I don't know how he will go into Cooperstown but I know this, no matter what team is on his hat, Pudge Rodriguez was the face of this franchise for an entire generation of fans and is one of the most beloved Rangers in history. If you don't believe me, go search Twitter.
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