With the end of football season looming near, I can't help but get excited about the next sport that I care about. I am aware that basketball and hockey are in midseason, but hockey is hard to find on TV, and basketball hasn't had an intriguing storyline in years.
I will give some props to the Olympics, but they only last two weeks, and I could probably only name three or four of the athletes, so it is not really something to be passionate about.
On the other hand, pitchers and catchers report in less than two weeks, so it is time to start getting excited about baseball.
One of the things that many people dislike about baseball is one of my favorite things. There are games almost everyday. That means that I can go to bed every night with visions of baseballs dancing in my head and wake up every morning to the highlight reels.
It is also a very exciting year to be a Rangers' fan. I think every fan in the world gets excited about their team as the season draws near, but only a few teams truly give their fans something to look forward to.
For the first time in a long time, the Rangers are one of those teams. There was a lot of hope last year, but also tons of questions, so we didn't really know what to expect. This year, however, we have shown we can win, and we only improved in the offseason.
The first thing I am really excited about is that the Rangers have a new ownership team that includes my favorite player ever, who was a huge reason for the improvement and success of the team last year. Nolan Ryan is a quality baseball mind that knows how to work with young players, and his influence should only increase with the new ownership.
I have also heard that Chuck Greenberg is extremely interested in making things better for the fans. This should make for a better game experience, and maybe even, cross your fingers, a roof! I know this isn't likely, but one can hope.
I just hope that he realizes what it is that fans like most: winning. Maybe we will get lucky and he will open the pocketbook a little to make some aggressive, quality moves that really push us over the top this year.
I am also very excited about the new players we have acquired this year.
Rich Harden has been a quality pitcher in the AL West in the past, so hopefully that will happen in Arlington. I, for one, was happy to see Millwood go and am optimistic that Harden can be a decent upgrade.
Vladimir Guerrero has destroyed the Rangers in the past, so at the very least at least he won't be doing that this year. On the upside, he is coming off a down year recovering from injury, so maybe he will get back into form this year and fill a huge hole that was lacking last year at DH.
How can you not be excited about the majority of our infield? The effectiveness of our first basemen remains to be seen, but second, short, and third are as good as anyone else in the league.
You have two All-Stars, and an All-Star in the making. Elvis had an amazing rookie year and should only get better at the plate with a year of experience.
What can you say about Michael Young that we don't already know? He is the consummate professional, and the face and leader of this franchise. I am so glad he will be around for years to come, and I am glad we have finally built a team around him that makes him want to stay.
I am very excited to have Julio Borbon at the top of the order. Kinsler was adequate for the first half of the season, but Borbon fills that spot so much better and allows Kinsler to slip into a better spot for him.
I am also excited to see our young pitchers build on the success they had last year. Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, and Tommy Hunter all had quality outings last year, and if they build on that, it should be exciting.
The bullpen also appears to be on track for a great season. It also seems like there is less speculation than in years past. Sure there are open slots, and competition to be had, but for the most part it is pretty well established.
I am especially excited to see Neftali Feliz back out there. That guy is just dominating. Whether he ends up in the rotation or the bullpen it will be fun, but I think he is better suited for the bullpen.
Darren O'Day had to be the unsung hero of last year with how good he was. Only CJ Wilson had more appearances, but more importantly, only Feliz had a lower ERA. He pitched almost every other day, and still remained fairly dominant.
I have also heard rumors that the Rangers may move their AAA affiliate to Round Rock which is very exciting to me since that park is only about 15 minutes from where I live. I would love to be able to see more of our young talent play before they make it to Arlington.
Who knows what will happen this year, but it should be a lot of fun, and I am totally looking forward to it.