The day has finally come. In reality this has been the shortest offseason in franchise history for the Texas Rangers since they played in Game 7 of the World Series, but this has seemed like the longest offseason ever. It has been an exciting offseason with the signings of Yu Darvish and Joe Nathan, Derek Holland's extension and many upgrades to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, but there is nothing like baseball and there is nothing like opening day.
Today every team has a chance. It is a fresh season and if things start rolling the right way anyone can make something happen. There is no team in baseball with a better chance than the Rangers of making that happen. They still have an explosive offense and by the end of the season, they could truly have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball.
There are a million questions to be answered this season. Can Yu Darvish be successful in the major leagues? Can Derek Holland continue to improve and lead the staff? Can Joe Nathan return to All-Star form? Can Koji Uehara remember how to get batters out? Can Mike Napoli repeat his magical season from a year ago? Is Mitch Moreland's wrist okay? Can David Murphy hit left-handed pitching? Can Josh Hamilton stay healthy in centerfield?
There are a million questions that remain heading into the greatest day of the year, but there will be one question that follows the Rangers all season long. Can the Rangers return to the World Series?
2012 will be about one thing and one thing only, returning to the World Series and winning it. It is a tough task and those are extremely high expectations, but there is no way around it. On paper, this team is better than the last two teams and those teams have made the trip, so there is no reason this one can't. In my opinion a successful season in this era of MLB is for a team to make it to the postseason and then put together as successful run as possible once in October. There is great parity in the game of baseball today and it is extremely rare to make it to "The Fall Classic" on a regular basis, but there is no way around it. That is the goal for this team. That is what they are playing for and that is what they should be playing for.
There are a million questions about individual players, but in the end it will be about this team. This truly is a team and one of the best clubhouses in baseball. If they are return, it will take a team effort and nothing less.
The Rangers open the season today against the Chicago White Sox. Years ago fans in North Texas would have been focused on booing Robin Ventura who is the new Sox manager. That is still going to take place today, but it is not the first thing on fans minds. It is a different era in North Texas and fans are focused on baseball. It is finally "baseball time in Texas" again and that is what will matter for the next 162 games plus hopefully at least 11 more. Today is the greatest holiday of the year. It's opening day, it's baseball and it's here.
John Bowman is a lifelong baseball and Texas Rangers fan that loves to ponder the deeper aspects of the game. Some of his first baseball memories involve Arlington Stadium nachos, Charlie Hough's knuckeball, dirt on Pete Incaviglia's uniform and the voices of Mark Holtz and Eric Nadel as he fell asleep.
- Yu Darvish
- Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
- Derek Holland
- Joe Nathan