Texas Rangers

Texas Rangers Opening Day: Pre-Game Observations

First pitch in T-minus two hours ...

*When I stepped on the field at 9 a.m. it was 39 degrees. Factoring in the northern howl of about 30 mph and it felt, ya know, about 0.

*You know it's a different, bigger day when you get on the press elevator and are greeted by secret service and their bomb-sniffing dogs. Wearing a black coat with my hands in pockets, I'm betting I looked terribly guilty. Of something.

*Ballparks always look sparkling on Opening Day. Especially this one. Fresh paint everywhere, even on top of the dugouts. And the "Win a Free Suit" sign on the scorebard 501 feet from home plate has been replaced by a Pro-Cuts ad. The place looks new, but the speakers are blaring Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man." WTF?

*In the clubhouse Josh Hamilton confessed to being nervous. "Yeah, more than big games or Home Run Derbys or anything," he said. "It's always nervous trying to find your comfort level for the first time."

*Not a good beginning for manager Ron Washington. Seems he posted his lineup wrong on the card taped to the clubhouse wall. That one had Hank Blalock batting fourth and Nelson Cruz fifth. "No, it's wrong," Washington said in his office. "I'll fix it." Should be flip-flopped.

*Washington on his team's gruesome Aprils the last two years: "We fell apart in all phases of fundamentals. I just don't see that happening again. Not with this team. Not with these guys." Pretty much the same guys. Maybe a different team?

*Washington on his former meeting with George W. Bush: "I like the man. He's very personable when he's not busy being the President."

*During his pre-game media chat Washington's phone rang. It was general manager Jon Daniels. The manager didn't answer it. See, media = important.

*It's football weather. Funny, when Jonestown Coliseum opens for NFL business across the street in September, it'll be baseball weather.

*Tom Hicks is on the field watching Rangers' batting practice. And no, smartass, he's not passing around a collection plate.

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Richie Whitt
Contact: Richie Whitt