It’s Baseball Time in DFW
The Stars season ended a couple of days ago, the Mavs bowed out a couple of weeks ago, and the Cowboys won’t be doing anything that matters for three-and-a-half-months. You know what that means? It’s baseball season!
In case you haven’t been paying attention, I have news about the local baseball team – they’re good. As of this morning the Rangers have their best record of the season. They’re five games over .500 at 20-15, which may not sound like much unless you consider the fact that a year ago today they were five games under and six games out of first place…and still figured out a way to win the AL West.
So for those of you who haven’t locked into baseball yet this year, or even for those who have, let me shed some light on what this team is all about after the first month-and-a-half. The first and foremost this is Jeff Banister’s team. Obviously, he did a great job last year (he won the AL manager of the year award for goodness sake), and now Banny has surrounded himself with coaches who are just like him.
Take Doug Brocail for example. These two men first met when both were in the minor leagues and a brawl broke out. All the guys on the field paired off to fight according to size. Banny and Doug were the biggest guys on their respective teams so they duked it out, or at least pushed on each other (it is baseball not hockey after all). Brocail has done a great job with the pitchers, who’ve begun the season with a record setting streak of quality starts (and these days he and Banny almost never fight). The pitching staff is only going to get better with Yu Darvish due back sometime this month.
Then there is Anthony Iapoce. This dude is a trip. He’s a real life Nuke LaLoosh who spent 11 years in the minor leagues never getting higher than AAA. He brings LaLoosh like wisdom and enthusiasm to the major leaguers. On a recent road trip he plugged his Ipod into the bus sound system and grabbed the microphone and made like a club DJ. He was calling people out, singing along with songs and chiding the bus driver (that had us all chuckling during our late night arrival). Then he decided the payoff on a season long bet should be altered. There was an ongoing challenge for the hitters to get ten runs and ten hits…and win. On Friday in Detroit he told the team ten runs, ten hits and a win now meant the players could cut the coaches hair. Twenty-four hours, ten runs, ten hits and a victory later, Iapoce had a haircut that looked a lot like Ron Washington’s, and assistant hitting coach Justin Mashore was sporting a Mohawk. Both were allowed to clean their “doos” up, but the team has been hitting ever since.
One of the other “new guys,” outfielder Ian Desmond, compared this team to a hockey team. He said, “There are line changes. Sometimes the starting pitching carries us, other times it is the offense and still others it is the bullpen. It’s a long season.” To wit, the narrative at the start of the year was that the bullpen would be the strength of this team. For the first month it was starting pitching which strung together nearly 30 straight quality starts. Now we’ve had a “line change” and the offense is surging, and there will be another line change soon when the bullpen lives up to expectations.
So welcome aboard Stars and Mavs fans. The bandwagon is rolling and this promises to be another fun summer of baseball.