ARLINGTON — There will be no parking lot rally to celebrate the Texas Rangers' trip to the 2011 World Series.
One year ago, thousands of fans turned out to cheer the team that had just lost Major League Baseball's championship to the San Francisco Giants in five games.
But the team decided before this year's Series even began that there would be no party if the Rangers lost this time.
That's not stopping fans from rallying behind the players, though. Dozens stayed up late to welcome the team back from St. Louis at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport early Saturday morning.
And fans still fired up about the Rangers queued up outside Academy Sports in Mesquite Saturday evening to await the arrival of their favorite player.
"We came Friday night, bottom of the seventh," said Mireya Fraire. "We found out Nelson Cruz was coming today, and we just camped out ever since."
They wanted to say thanks to the Rangers rightfielder and to get their favorite jersey autographed.
"Because it's Cruz, we were cruising on to the championship... but we didn't get that far," said Sandra Fraire. "That's okay... we'll do it next year."
Troopers guarded the much-coveted car Cruz arrived in... after all, he is the MVP of the American League Championship Series.
But like all the other Rangers fans, Cruz wanted a World Series championship. So he walked in a little down, unable to shake off the Game 7 loss to the Cardinals.
"It's tough," he said. "I haven't been able to sleep the last two days."
But seeing loyal followers eager for his autograph was just the pick-me-up the superstar needed.
"I was shocked to see all the people," he said. "It made me feel happy." Fans were just thankful that Cruz kept his commitment to show up at Academy Sports after such a heartbreaking loss.
"It's awesome," Sandra Fraire said. "It's like a humble man... a good person to look up to."
Moving boxes were scattered around the clubhouse at Rangers Ballpark on Saturday as players cleaned out lockers in anticipation of a long winter with a lot of reflection ahead.