Kevin Millwood, the Rangers' ... um ... ace? Sure, we'll go with "ace."

Now That Basketball Season's Almost Over, Guess It's Time For Baseball. Joy.

One season commencing and another, um, crashing? Tonight on Fox Sports Net Southwest you can watch Your Texas Rangers begin another march toward mediocrity in their season opener against the Seattle Mariners at 5:40, followed by your rapidly wilting Dallas Mavericks in a must-win game against the Los Angeles Clippers at 9:30. (The Stars, by the way, clinched a playoff berth last night, but they don’t play on FSNSW tonight, so screw ‘em.)

As for the Rangers, they’re counting on a lineup featuring Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Hank Blalock, Milton Bradley, Marlon Byrd, David Murphy, Gerald Laird and Ben Broussard. Eh, decent I guess. But the real concern -- as it’s been since 1972 -- is the pitching. Ace Kevin Millwood takes the mound tonight, fresh off going 10-14 with a career-high 5.16 ERA in 2007. In last year’s opener, which was overflowing with new manager Ron Washington’s optimism, Millwood went out in the bottom of the first in Anaheim and promptly walked the first batter on four pitches. Six months and 87 losses later, the Rangers had their eighth consecutive third-or-worse finish in the AL West. But at least they have cool announcers.

Meanwhile, a little down the left coast, the Mavs will play their first game as members of a three-way tie for ninth place in the Western Conference. Go ahead and call it a tie for seventh if your glass is half full, but if you watched last night’s loss to the Golden State Warriors there’s no doubting which direction Dallas is hurtling. The Mavs led 12-0 and 15-2 and yet somehow managed to trail by the end of the first quarter. They are now 0-10 against winning teams with Jason Kidd.

But there is good news: The Clippers absolutely suck. And Dirk Nowitzki may be back on the court later this week. Bon appetit. --Richie Whitt

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