Long ago I used to run into Eric Nadel -- The Voice of Your Texas Rangers -- all the time in the music section of the Borders in Preston Royal, which should tell you how long ago that was. First time I saw him, I'll never forget, he was schlepping out a bagload of Uncle Tupelo CDs -- upgrading his vinyl stash, he explained. And ever since then we swap, on occasion, musical recommendations. Which is kinda why he called this morning.
Eric was on his way to the Ballpark in Arlington for this afternoon's showdown with Seattle and King Felix when he rang up to mention he's helping bring Chicago-based singer-songwriter Daphne Willis to the Kessler Theater on May 12, when she opens for (no relation) Kelly Willis. Eric wants to spread the word. Turns out, Eric became a fan thanks to former Rangers hitting coach Clint Hurdle; and after he caught her at the Opening Bell, he asked Jeff Liles to put her on the bill May 12 -- four days before his birthday, matter of fact. Eric, a Kessler regular, describes her as "like Colbie Caillat with soul and the ability to branch out."
So consider yourself recommended.
And while I had Eric on the phone, I had to ask: What's it been like calling Rangers games this season? Because from the outside looking in, it feels like the 2010 season never ended. And he says: That's exactly right. Eric's got a lot to say about how much he loves his job after the jump. Slide!
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"It's just as if the World Series never ended," he says. "Beginning, really, with the Opening Day ticket lottery -- in which 120,000 people entered to try and buy tickets to Opening Day. And the electricity of Opening Day was no different than in the post-season. Even Mike Napoli, who'd played in a lot of playoff games with the Angels, said how amazed he was that it felt just like post season -- and he wasn't even here last year. And it hasn't ended with the Rangers having won every game and playing three games against Boston, which is always intense, and then Monday drawing 37,000 against Seattle with people wanting to get those replica championship rings. As Tom Petty sang, 'It's good to be king,' and right now the Rangers are kings. And they're performing like royalty. They're playing hard, entertaining baseball, and the whole vibe is joyful. I perceive it when I walk around the park, and even from the booth the buzz is palpable -- in April!
"It's always exciting to start a new season with a lot of expectations and optimism, but it's a whole different feeling having already won. It's no longer, 'Well, maybe this year.' Now we know it can happen. It's already happened. The Rangers are defending champs, and lo and behold five days in they have a three-game lead, which means nothing on April 6, but this team's expected to win. And so far they haven't disappointed anybody. They'll have their bad stretches, but anyone who was skeptical about last year being a fluke ...
"The games are always fun. I enjoy calling the games. I love watching Major League Baseball. That's what I do. But now it's fun -- just the anticipation of going to the ballpark ane expecting to see the Rangers play well rather than hoping to see then play well. And this year, with virtually every day some record having been established or a new milestone created with Kinsler and Cruz homering and even last night, with Alexi Ogando serving up two hits over six innings in his first start -- every night, it's truly extraordinary.
"As a broadcaster, people ask me, 'How do you do it in the bad times?' I always say, the game might be bad, but I might see one of the most amazing things I've ever seen in a baseball field. And this year something amazing's been happening every day -- and the team's been winning. Let me put it this way: After getting home last night just before midnight and having to wake up at 8 this morning for today's game, it wasn't hard to get out of bed and get excited about getting out here for a day game."