By Daniel Wallace
Welcome, students. I hope you are having another wonderful day. As your professor, I ask that you please get out your pen and paper to take notes on what we learned from Major League Baseball’s opening weekend. As a student at Baseball University, I am sure you won’t have a problem with this.
We will begin with the most important thing we learned from the first weekend of 2011 baseball — the Texas Rangers are still the champions of the American League. In 2010, the Rangers had the best year in franchise history, making it all the way to the World Series. In the process of that magical run, they were crowned American League Champions.
I don’t think anyone told them what month it is because this weekend they played like it was still October.
The Rangers opened the season with brooms as they swept the Boston Red Sox right out of Arlington. Yes, the Boston Red Sox—the team many analysts have picked to go to the World Series this year and dethrone the Rangers as American League Champions. Although that pick is justified because of the Red Sox’s numerous key offensive additions in the off-season, the Rangers made a statement this weekend. They won every game in a different way; opening day was a come-from-behind win highlighted by the heroics of Baylor alumnus David Murphy. In Saturday’s blowout win, the offense put on a clinic and on Sunday, the pitching dominated to keep the Red Sox bats’ quiet.
It was like the off-season never happened. The Rangers did not miss a beat and picked up right where they left off last fall on their way to the Y’all Classic. I am fully aware baseball is only three games into the grueling 162-game season, but already the Rangers already have shown they are here to stay. Texas was heard loud and clear this weekend, as they emphatically declared to Boston, “you may be the favorites, but we’re still the champs.”
While the Rangers were the most significant story of opening weekend in Texas, yes, other teams did play this weekend. In fact, all 30 teams opened their season over the weekend, and we learned a few more interesting tidbits about other teams.
We learned the Baltimore Orioles have found their man in Buck Showalter. In June of 2010, when Showalter was hired as manager of the team, he inherited a league-worst 32-73 team. In the final two months, he guided them to a 34-23 record. Now, his team has started the 2011 season off with a 4-0 start. They have not trailed this season and have outscored their opponents, 17-4. Showalter’s leadership and baseball knowledge has given the Orioles hope that this season will not be their 14th consecutive losing season.
Pardon me while I go Denny Green on you and say, “They are who we thought they were,” for the final thing we learned from the first weekend of baseball. I am, of course, speaking of the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies swept the Houston Astros to start the season and are off to the great start many envisioned. They gave no reason to believe they won’t be anything short of spectacular this season. Their off-season pick-up of starting pitcher Cliff Lee struck out 11 batters on Saturday. The Phillies got off to a great start, and unlike the AL favorites, these NL favorites played like it to begin the season.
Thank you, class. I hope you took good notes. Expect a quiz tomorrow and stay tuned to see if what all we have learned so far remains consistent throughout the season.
Daniel Wallace is a sophomore journalism major from Colorado Spring, Colo., and a reporter for the Lariat.