OAKLAND, Calif. -- Likely at some point, possibly even today, longtime Rangers play-by-play broadcaster Eric Nadel will get an opportunity to call the clinching game for the Rangers. He's been in the booth for three previous AL West clinching games, though only one was actually a title clinched by a Texas victory. Here are some of Nadel's memories of calling those previous games from the booth:
Q: What do you remember about the other three clinching games and how you called them?
EN: In 1996, the first time was a bizarre clinching because we were playing extra innings against the Angels at home and Seattle lost to Oakland and when it went up on the out of town scoreboard, that’s when we knew. We didn’t' have the internet to follow pitch-by-pitch. Brad Sham was doing play-by-play that inning and he said, 'Partner, why don't you say it.' So I got to say the Rangers had won the AL West. It was the first time those words had ever been spoken.
It was such a frustrating year because a 9-game lead dwindled to one with 10 games left. It was a nervous time and a lot of nights I woke up and couldn't fall back asleep. Everybody was celebrating except the players, who had to finish the game.
I don't remember much about the calls from the other two years, only that in 1998 the Rangers also won by somebody else losing and we were in Seattle at the Kingdome. We were just waiting for the final to come up on the Anaheim loss. In 1999, it was the next to last Sunday, so we clinched with seven games left and that was a very satifsying way to clinch because it was a 10-3 win and you felt like the team earned it the way they should have.
It was so much of a bigger deal in 1996 and this year will be close to that because of this drought. For a lot of Rangers fans, this will be the first time. They'll have the same sort of intensity about it that we had back in 1996. It's been so long for us since 1999. It's been a pretty frustrating period to be a Ranger fan.
Q: Do you have something planned to say when the team clinches?
EN: No. Whatever happens, happens. The only thing I was pretty sure I would say ahead of time was when Nolan got his 5,000th strikeout. I knew I would say, ‘And strikeout No. 5,000 is history for Nolan Ryan.’ I wasn't sure what I'd say around that, but that would be the nucleus.
Q: How do you think you'll feel when it's finally clinched?
EN: I think it will feel that way for me like 1996. Especialy the way the Ranges have had a couple of hiccups in the season. It was a lot of fun in 1999, beating the second-place team and doing it covincingly. You had the satisfaction that you were the cream of the division. That was the best team in Rangers history in terms of games won. But if this team goes farther in the playoffs, it won’t matter.
The other thing that is very similar to 1996 is that the Rangers players really wanted to win for themselves, but also for Johnny Oates. I sense the same thing with Wash. With all that Wash has been through in his time here and as much as he has stuck behind the players and they have stuck behind him, I think it’s going to be extra special.