In less than 24 hours, fans will hear those famous words by Rangers public address announcer Chuck Morgan over the loudspeakers at Globe Life Park, “It’s Baseball Time in Arlington.”
The 2017 season begins for the Rangers in a primetime matchup between not only two playoff teams from a year ago, but with two likely contenders for this year’s A.L. Cy Young award. Yu Darvish is poised to have a huge season for the Rangers, not only because he appears to be at full strength after coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2015 but also because it’s a contract year. Darvish will be a free agent at the end of the season. The Indians have their own candidate taking the mound in Coppell native Corey Kluber, who won the award in 2014.
Another one of those special moments for Opening Day this year will involve Rangers third baseman Tony Beasley. After overcoming rectal cancer a year ago, Beasley will sing the National Anthem. He’s no stranger to the situation, having sung the National Anthem on many different occasions, including during the 2010 season as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates coaching staff.
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“I’m honored,” said Beasley. “It’s Opening Day. Usually there’s a household name singing or a big star. I’m going to just enjoy the moment. It’s going to be fun.”
“It’s going to be fun for us,” added first baseman Mike Napoli. “Beasley is a great human being. He comes to the park every day and has a smile on his face. It makes you feel good about being there. We are excited for him to go out there and be able to witness him singing the national anthem.”
The journey to another division title won’t be easy for the Rangers. Many preseason predictions have Texas finishing behind either the Astros or Mariners, or both. The Rangers do have history on their side, having won the division for two straight years. The quest to “three-peat” is expected to be more challenging this time around since the Astros and Mariners appear to have improved their roster, at least on paper. It’s a long season, so anything can happen.
“I don’t know if anyone’s been right the last two years, have they?” said manager Jeff Banister. “We all make our own predictions and the great thing is at the end of the year we get to look back and see who was right and who was wrong.”
“In 2015, everybody counted us out, won a division. Last year, I don’t really know what was said, won a division. This year, it doesn’t matter,” said outfielder Delino DeShields. “No matter what the Astros did this offseason, what the Mariners did, it don’t matter. We go out there and play like a team, we’ve got a legitimate chance to go out and win a division and get to the playoffs again and compete for the World Series.”
The journey towards the Fall Classic begins on a Monday evening in April. Time to play ball.