“It’s Baseball Time in Arlington.”
The Rangers open the 2016 season this afternoon in front of the home crowd at Globe Life Park against the Mariners. And there’s nothing quite like Opening Day at the ballpark.
“No other sport has the pageantry of Opening Day baseball,” said manager Jeff Banister. “Just the tradition that comes along with it and the excitement. It’s never dull and you never get used to it.”
“That’s a close as you’re going to get to a playoff atmosphere,” adds 1B/DH Prince Fielder. “After that it’s a little bit of a grind, but it’s as close as you’re going to get to that feeling.”
Opening Day always has the team’s ace taking the mound to try to start the season on a winning note, and today is no different as two of the game’s best match up in Arlington. The Rangers go with Cole Hamels while the Mariners counter with Felix Hernandez. It will be the first time these two square off, and both have experience as Opening Day starters.
“Once you do get out on that field, you’ve got three decks and you’ve got a lot of people,” said Hamels. “The games matter and you get a little more of an adrenaline rush. You want to know how and if you can control it to the best of your abilities. I think that’s something I have learned in the past seasons.”
“I would much rather have a guy like Cole Hamels out there, one of the best pitchers in the game,” said Banister. “He’s done it before and knows what it feels like. I know the moment won’t overwhelm him.”
The Rangers start the season as the odds-on favorite to repeat as A.L. West division champions by many baseball insiders. However, it will be tough road to repeat as they will be challenged by the Houston Astros and possibly the Mariners.
The division championship banner will go up before the start of the game, a chance to celebrate last year’s achievement but also a reminder for the Rangers that there’s still unfinished business as the new season gets underway. Opening Day is the first step in the journey for the ultimate prize, the World Series.
That first step starts this afternoon.