Today Is The Day

OD
Today is the day.

Baseball.

Opening Day.

Today is for some, the best day of the year. Today is better than their birthday, Christmas, anything. Baseball, the national pastime. The next flood of memories in the game of baseball that we will all love, cheer, agonize or endure begin today. Today, everyone is tied for first place. Every team has a chance…..today.

For the 2013 Texas Rangers, today is the start of a new era. No longer is there a Josh Hamilton hitting cleanup or Michael Young firmly entrenched in the lineup as the “leader” or Mike Napoli behind the plate. Today begins the era of Leonys Martin, David Murphy as a starter and Mitch Moreland playing in a non-platoon situation. Also gone are the likes of Mike Adams, Koji Uehara and Scott Feldman, among others. Now the Rangers have Jason Frasor and Derek Lowe in the bullpen. 

Out with the old, in with the new as the old saying goes.

The outlook on the Rangers upcoming season is mixed with the fans. However, if you look at most of the experts’ predictions, you’ll see a common thread of either first or second place finishes. The Rangers still have talent, and a bunch of it. The rotation has Yu Darvish, the bullpen has Joe Nathan and the lineup has Beltre, Kinsler, Andrus and Murphy. This is not a last place team, or a group that is going to mail it in, due to the losses of previous players.The team has leaders despite Young being traded and they have power in the lineup with the additions of Berkman and Pierzynski. Sometimes, you have addition by subtraction, and this year’s Rangers team could very well be the team to prove that theory correct.

Now, the Rangers off season did not go “According to Hoyle.” Greinke landed in LA, Justin Upton was traded to Atlanta instead of Texas and James Shields was dealt to Kansas City in another move the Rangers had hoped to be in on, according to reports. However, Jon Daniels and staff, put together a solid team with the aforementioned Berkman and Pierzynski, but also decided to get younger with Leonys Martin, Martin Perez (before the injury), and Nick Tepesch. Letting an aging Hamilton walk was not an easy decision, but in the long run, will benefit Texas, by not being strapped to $25 million a year for five years. The team is good. How good? Yu Darvish is a Cy Young contender and Adrian Beltre could challenge for an AL MVP award this year. There are question marks. Will Derek Holland find consistency? Who is going to get the ball to Nathan to close out games? Will Leonys Martin figure it out? Can David Murphy repeat last year’s performance?

Are they a World Series contender? Maybe. Are they an AL West contender? Absolutely. Barring major injuries or a series of small nagging ones, this team is a playoff contender. That’s all you can ask for. Get to the playoffs and see what happens. If you need a reminder of the mantra that “anything can happen,” let me show you the recent run of Florida Gulf Coast University. I know this isn’t basketball, and baseball is different, so I offer the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals as a reference point. You don’t have to win your division to get in, you just have to get in.

Baseball is a grind. It’s 162 games and that grind begins …..today.

Patrick Despain is the CEO and Co-Founder of ShutDown Inning. He can be reached at Patrick.Despain@ShutDownInning.com or on Twitter @ShutDownInning
Patrick Despain
Patrick is a member of the IBWAA and creator of Shutdown Inning. He was raised him Arlington, Texas and grew up watching games on HSE and listening to Eric Nadel and Mark Holtz on the radio. He is a long time Rangers fan and never achieved his dream of being a bat boy. He know lives in Georgia with dreams of a Texas return.

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