At 4:07 Texas time this afternoon C. J. Wilson will hurl the first pitch to Sean Rodriguez at the beautiful Ballpark in Arlington to open up the postseason. I know you’re as excited as I am. I know you’ve been counting down the days, and now the hours, to the start of this five game series. I know you’ve decorated your cubicle at work with red, white, and blue postseason bunting. I know you’re wearing your Rangers gear today. And I know you’re cruising the internet and reading the papers and listening to the radio and watching the TV, getting more and more excited about what everybody thinks are really great chances for Texas to actually win their first ever World Series. To help you pass just a little more time between now and first pitch, allow me to direct you to a couple of articles.
On ESPN’s Page 2, David Schoenfield has given us “100 Reasons to be Excited About the Playoffs.” The list has a decidely NL flavor. It’s also East coast heavy on Yankees and Phils. There are only eight Rangers mentions that I noticed. But it’s good and clever and funny and smart. It’ll get you caught up if you haven’t been paying attention. You can get to it by clicking here.
ESPN’s Jayson Stark is actually predicting a Texas-Phillies World Series, with the Rangers coming out on top. You can find his prediction and his reasoning behind the pick, including lots of breakdown from MLB managers, GMs, scouts, and players by clicking here.
Over at Sports Illustrated, Albert Chen gives a pretty good preview of Rangers-Rays and picks Texas in five. Click here for his assessment of the pitching matchups, some interesting stats about Tampa’s overrated baserunning abilities, and some glowing reviews of Beltre, Holland, and the Texas bullpen.
Here’s the link to the official Texas Rangers website. There’s tons of good stuff here, including some video highlights of last year’s World Series run.
In case you’re interested, the coolest Texas Rangers wallpaper I’ve ever found is right here. I’ve got this on my laptop, my desktop at home, and my phone. I’d put it on the wall in my office if I could figure out how. I love this image. Install it right now. Dude, I’m serious. At least look at it.
Of course, your Opening Day for the playoffs won’t be ready to go until you’ve read Jamey Newberg’s report.
Finally — and this is for only the truest of die-hard, hard core, bad to the bone baseball fans — I present to you a heavy, yet inspiring, analysis of the great game of baseball from famed author and theologian David B. Hart. It will take you 30-minutes to read this article. Some of it is difficult. But if you really love baseball — I mean REALLY love baseball — you’ll be glad you did. It’s called “The Perfect Game: The Metaphysical Meaning of Baseball.” It’s from a 2010 edition of the theological journal First Things. Let me entice you with a couple of selected paragraphs.
In describing the eternal truths of the game, Hart points to the exactness of the 90-feet between bases, the 60-1/2 feet from the pitching rubber to the plate, and the one-third of a second a batter has to decide if he’s going to swing. “Everything is so perfectly calibrated that almost every play is a matter of the most unforgiving precision; a ball correctly played in the infield is almost always an out, while the slightest misplay usually results in a man on base. There are Pythagorean enigmas here, occult and imponderable: mystic proportions written into the very fabric of nature of which we were once as ignorant as of the existance of other galaxies.”
“And surely some account has to be given of the drama of baseball: the way it reaches down into the souls’ abyss with its fluid alternations of prolonged suspense and shocking urgency, its mounting rallies, its thwarted ventures, its intolerable tensions, its suddenly exhilarating or devastating peripeties. Even the natural narrative arc of the game is in three acts — the early, middle, and late innings — each with its own distinct potentials and imperatives. And because, until the final out is recorded, no loss is an absolute fait accompli, the torment of hope never relents. Victory may or may not come in a blaze of glorious elation, but every defeat, when it comes, is sublime.”
Certainly, Hart also spends a great deal of time on the religious and spiritual dimensions of the great game of baseball. Among my favorite sections of this article is the passage on the “undeniable element of Edenic nostalgia” that’s found in baseball’s many stadiums. While reflecting on the innocence and paradise of the ballpark, Hart also observes:
“…evil does occasionally come, whenever the Yankees are in town, and this occasionally lends the game a cosmic significance that would not be improper to call ‘apocalyptic.’ This, in fact, is why that dastardly franchise is a spiritually necessary part of the game. Even Yankees fans have their necessary role to play, and — although we may think of them as ‘vessals of wrath’ — we have to remember that they, too, are enfolded in the mercy of providence.”
You get the idea. If you think you can handle it, you can find the full article right here.