DETROIT -- It's difficult to imagine Pudge Rodriguez not retiring a Texas Ranger. He didn't win a playoff series with the Rangers, instead going to the World Series with Florida and Detroit (winning a title with the Marlins). But any quick poll on the greatest Rangers of all time must include Rodriguez. He's a Texas Ranger, first and foremost.
He's done a lot in his 21-year career. But it was those years in Texas that he became one of the best catchers in the game. In that first 12-year stint (he came back for the second half of the 2009 season), he hit .305 with 215 homers and 829 RBIs. He was an automatic for the All-Star Game, going 10 consecutive years in a Rangers uniform. Rodriguez won 10 straight Gold Gloves, too, to go along with six Silver Slugger Awards while in Texas.
All of that added to his legend in Texas. But the other thing Rodriguez had was personality and passion for the game. He loved playing, and it was obvious every time he went out on the field. The fans indentified with that and watched a young, up-and-coming ballplayer turn into an elite one that helped the Rangers win their first AL West title in 1996 and then two more in 1998 and 1999.
Some will argue he has a cloud of steroid suspicion around him, but it hasn't altered the feeling of fans in Texas about him.
So it's fitting that Rodriguez will leave the game in a Rangers uniform. He's expected to do that Monday in Arlington.