ARLINGTON TX - OCTOBER 30: Fans wait to enter the ballpark prior to the Texas Rangers playing against the San Francisco Giants in Game Three of the 2010 MLB World Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 30 2010 in Arlington Texas. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
I can't quite tell if the Rangers or the people of Arlington, Texas, or whatever have a supreme failure of imagination or an almost minimalist sense of aesthetics or obligations I can't pin down. With a brief exception, the Rangers have played in ballparks with bizarrely tongue-clipped names. For a state that likes to talk about how grand it is, it's all very understated and almost eastern. Almost eastern, because they've still managed to sound pretentious and vain glorious most of the time, rather than self-effacing.
- 1972-1993: The Rangers played in Arlington Stadium. Yep, that was the name of it. Arlington. Stadium. I suppose this was an upgrade over Turnpike Stadium, the previous name. That era was rife with basic, utilitarian stadium names, across all sports. The Baker Bowls were gone, replaced by endless variations of Memorial and Veteran and County Stadiums. In a way, it was nice. Now, everyone wants to wrap themselves in the flag as often as possible to show how patriotic and supportive of the troops they are... but naming your stadium for them, nah, isn't happening. There's money to be made, Jack.
- 1994-2005: The Rangers move in to The Ballpark in Arlington. Baseball nostalgia is in full swing. People think that having advertisements everywhere is actually cool looking. The Rangers still go with a straightforward stadium name, but somehow they manage to express the smallest concept in the most words possible. Naming it "The Ballpark in Arlington" is like a sophomore stretching a two-page essay into five pages with extra spacing, redundancy, a huge font, and needless block quotes. Make no mistake, this is an annoying name. It looks decent on a plaque, but it's a mouthful to say and annoying to write in complex sentences. I've seen Lone Star Ball adopt a "TBIA" shorthand. It works for brevity but looks odd and is also awkward to say. The forced "the" is pretentious yet pointless. "Ballpark" isn't much better. More empty nostalgia, a distinction without meaning. The look of the past without anything resembling the structures that naturally produced the look. Why didn't they also build unused trolly and rail lines to the park? That would have looked cool. All those wires and exposed metal and heck, build a depot. Oh yea, it's 1990s Texas and public transportation is socialism. Anyway, older parks had odd features because they were built around existing structures. I've been to Arlington many times, it's an ocean of parking lots interrupted by chain stores, gas stations and gigantic sports complexes dropped down from space. There's room.
The key question is, are the Rangers running out of word combinations for Rangers/Ballpark/Arlington? Obviously, there's only one play left, and that's to begin with Arlington. Can "The Arlington's Rangers Ballpark" be far behind?