On Sunday afternoon, with a 9-2 drubbing of division rival the Los Angeles Angels, the Texas Rangers clinched the American League West title. Given the Rangers' performance since their second consecutive World Series appearance in 2011, this should have been cause for unbridled celebration. But as slugger Adrian Beltre was shrieking girlishly under a shower of cold Champagne, controversy was brewing over the playoff-themed T-shirts he and his teammates had donned to mark the victory.
The shirts themselves are pretty slick: slate gray with "The West Is Ours" emblazoned across a Rangers-red silhouette of the downtown skyline. The problem is that the legend is emblazoned across the downtown Dallas skyline, which is important because the team plays in Arlington and is beloved throughout North Texas; fans from the hinterlands tend to bristle when confronted with reminders of Dallas' architectural/cultural/intellectual/genetic superiority. The outrage has burned so hot that the controversy has garnered blanket coverage from local media. Fox 4, NBC 5, WFAA, CBS 11 are all over the story, as is The Dallas Morning News.
The Rangers have been reminding everyone who will listen that they had nothing to with the design of the shirts. They were designed by MLB and are identical, save for the color scheme and skyline, to the ones being hawked for other playoff-bound teams. The club didn't see them until they unpacked them on Sunday and were so alarmed by the presence of the Dallas skyline that, after selling out their stock on Sunday, opted not to resupply, according to the Morning News. Midday Monday, the shirts were still available on MLB.com, but the league stopped shipments later in the day.
It's probably safe to assume that the MLB didn't intend to insult fans from inferior corners of Rangers country. More likely, they just didn't fully appreciate the region's peculiar sensitivities. Besides, it no doubt seemed too daunting to MLB's graphic designers to capture Arlington in a single, iconic silhouette.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Turns out, while cleanly and concisely representing Arlington on a T-shirt is a challenge, it's not nearly so daunting as one might expect. The Observer's crack graphic-design team spent several minutes putting together the following design, which pretty much captures the city's soul. Rangers and MLB, feel free to sell this shirt instead. You're welcome in advance.