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Rangers in the Fall Classic? Are You World Serious?

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Up until today, the Texas Rangers Baseball Club had two major impacts on my life: They are my favorite team in the American League and they introduced me to nachos

Up until I was eight, we lived in San Diego — thanks to the U.S. Navy — and attended many San Diego Padres games. If we didn’t go to the Boll Weevil before the game for a Steerburger, which was my preference,  I was bound to eat a hot dog. Probably peanuts, too. A box of Cracker Jack if dad had one too many Olympia Golds. Two Olympia Golds and I’d get a pennant or a helmet.

By 1977, we’d moved to Texas.  It took me a while to take a liking to the Rangers. What I didn’t know was in that same year the snack tide shifted at Arlington Stadium, an uninspired place for the even less-inspired Texas Rangers. That’s where stadium nachos were introduced and Rico’s cheese began a crusade to corner the softened, processed cheese market.

It took until 1982 for me to make it up from Austin to Arlington for a game. My uncle Ben, who as far as I know had zero proclivity for serving rice, ordered us some nachos. Everything changed. I already loved chips as a 13-year-old so this substitution of gooey cheese mixed with pickled jalapenos was right down my alley. I think it was probably that day I started loving the Rangers.

It wasn’t until uncle Ben died four years later that I became an addict for the star-crossed franchise. After his funeral, we stayed with my aunt Polly for a couple weeks to help her cope with the loss as they never had children other than black-hearted Scottish Terrier named Barty.

As my aunt and parents went over her options and helped her prepare her house for sale, I was left in the TV room, decorated in curios from Ben and Polly’s travels around the U.S., watching Texas Rangers baseball on the Gaylord family’s Channel 11. I watched rookies Ruben Sierra and ex-Oklahoma State starPete Incaviglia along with former Sooner standout Bobby Witt and knuckleballer Charlie Hough. The team brimmed with young promise that despite later additions like Nolan Ryan, Pudge Rodriguez and Juan Gonzalez would be a team known far more for its failures than its successes.

It seems like yesterday when fellow ex-Oklahoman Sports Desk staffers and Ranger fans Jim Stafford and Chris Maxon (Confession time, Chris: It was I whom you were bidding against for what turned out to be a tiny retro Rangers pennant. Didn’t have the heart to tell you, sorry!) would join me at a south-facing window in the Oklahoman building to listen to a scratchy radio broadcast of Rangers baseball, hoping to hear the dearly departed Mark Holtz holler, “Hello, win column!”

That hope became reality a couple weeks ago. Holtz, who died tragically of leukemia in 1996, wasn’t there to say it but his longtime partner Eric Nadel was able to say ”Hello” to the American League Championship Series on his behalf when the current Rangers started slaying Big League Baseball’s biggest dragons, starting with the Tampa Rays, who sported the best record in the Big Leagues this year.

And they did it with aplomb. As a long-suffering Rangers fan, I’m unsure how to cope with this team that remains calm in the face of adversity and ferocious when their opponents show vulnerability.

The Rangers turned the ALCS into an episode of Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom,” the Rangers playing cheetah, to the Yankees gazelle while I was left a sputtering Marlon Perkins.

“See how the Rangers seize the Yankees by the throat and tear free the meat that is their sustenance.”

Bizarre.

So as the Rangers take the field for Game 1, I think I’ll do it with a plate of nachos and maybe a hot dog or two. After all, it’s what brought us together in the first place.

Skillet Nachos

 These nachos can be done in the oven, but I really like to do them on the grill with a packet of pecan wood for a nice smoky finish. I also use fresh peppers rather than pickled.

  • 20-30 Tortilla chips, enough to fill the bottom of a skillet.
  • 2 fresh jalapenos, sliced
  • 1/2 a white onion, sliced in rings, then halved
  • 1 clove garlic mashed into paste with 1/2 tsp of salt 8 ounces
  • mild cheddar cheese
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, preferably white
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions

  1. Arrange the tortilla chips along the bottom of an oven-safe skillet, cast-iron works perfectly.
  2. Top with the sharp cheddar.
  3. Heat another skillet to medium high and add oil. When oil is heated, add onions and stir-fry 1 minute.
  4. Add jalapeno and garlic and toss until well coated and garlic become fragrant.
  5. Top sharp cheese with jalapeno, onion and garlic mixture, arranging them all across the dish.
  6. Top with remaining cheese and cover with towels. Start the broiler and when ready, put the skillet underneath.
  7. Broil until cheese has melted and a begins to bubble.
  8. If using a propane grill, heat it to 500 degrees.
  9. Wrap pecan chips in foil and perforate the top.
  10. Add the foil packet and wait for smoke to wisp out.
  11.  Turn off the burners away from the foil packet, and place the skillet on the unlit side.
  12. Close the lid and smoke until the cheese has melted and begins to bubble.

Guacamole, and Mexican sour cream make great accompaniments.

Source: Dave Cathey

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