Today is kind of officially Opening Day 2011. Not really, though.
From what I hear, there was a time when Opening Day meant exactly what it sounds like. My team played. Your team played. Every team played.
Today was Opening Day for 12 teams, which is less than half of the ML teams. I assume that staggering the beginning of the season has something to do with ESPN and broadcast programming.
It’s the same sort of thinking that goes into the playoff structure, which I greatly dislike. There’s no reason why 18 teams should be sitting around until April 1st when there’s baseball being played on March 31st.
Tomorrow is Opening Day, because that’s when the games count. Today was just extended Spring Training.
For the last month or so, I’ve thought a lot about what I’m going to be looking for as the season unfolds. I’ve come up with 9 storylines that are worth keeping your eyes on.
They’re called the Nine Lines™ and I will share them with you below…
CJ Lewis – The top 2 starters are the cornerstones of the season. They have to stay healthy and they have to be effective, because there’s no one like them to fall back on this time around. Can they do what they did in 2010?
The Rest of the West – No question the Rangers won a weak division last year. It won’t be so easy this year. Will the Rangers have enough to hold back their division rivals?
Michael Young – Lots of commotion in the off-season. Nasty words and trade demands. Will Young move past it and put up his numbers like he usually does?
Adrian Beltre – This man can pick your pocket with a baseball glove still on his hand, but his bat and clubhouse presence are untested thus far. Will he be able to protect Hamilton in the line-up and blend well with the Rangers’ highly regarded team chemistry?
Brandon Webb – With a minor setback, it’s still unknown when exactly Webb will be ready. What will be his role when he returns, assuming he returns at all?
Ian Kinsler – Sums up a lot of what this team brings to the table. Power, speed, slick defense, but also regular stints on the DL. He’s also moving back to the top of the order. Will Kinsler (and everyone else) stay healthy and balance their game with more than just power numbers?
The ‘Pen – Late in Spring Training word came out that guys like O’Day & Lowe had not put it together. Treanor is gone because of bullpen woes. Will the team need to carry 8 arms (and a short bench) through April or will someone step up early in the season?
Feliz’s Arsenal – Feliz is the only thing close to a sure thing in the later innings and could easily top his ROY season. How will he utilize his cutter and off-speed pitches as the season wears on?
Greinke & The Brewers – Seriously, they’re not going to be that good and they’re certainly not going to win their division. Everyone should know that I said so first.
Opening Day is upon us. A lot of people are worried, but those are the same people that wouldn’t normally give baseball a 2nd thought until late August.
The unprecedented buzz around this team gives me hope for this football town.
The Rangers are good, but no one can say if they’re good enough. You have to play, because there are no guarantees. The game won’t allow guarantees.
(Finally, here is something I found this morning that made me just about fall out of my chair with laughter. Enjoy the link and enjoy Opening Day. It’s the only Opening Day you get all year.)