The Texas Rangers take off from Surprise today, heading to Oklahoma for a couple of exhibition games before starting off the season on the road (AGAIN). Home opener is Tuesday, April 8 — or, on my calendar, New Year’s Day.

  • There are a LOT of great stories coming out of Rangers Spring Training — Hank Blalock’s resurgence, C.J. Wilson’s assertion that he is the team’s closer, Eric Hurley’s continuing development — but the most ink and pixels have been spent chronicling Josh Hamilton’s rebirth. I can’t wait to see the guy play in Arlington, and pray he’s the real deal.
  • I’ve been to Surprise for Spring Training once, and (for a baseball junkie) it’s addicting. If you think hope springs eternal during Spring Training as a spectator from afar, you really believe it in Arizona or Florida. The Reality Distortion Field at a Spring Training site bundles you up like a warm fleece blanket, pours you a soothing beverage and coos in your ear that “this is your team’s year.” And you believe it unequivocally. I hate myself for not making time to go to Surprise this year, and (as I do every year) I vow to make time to go next year for a weekend.
  • If you’re a coffee drinker / addict, the next two sentences will make perfect sense to you: The first three months of the year feel like I do for an hour and a half in the morning. Once ball clubs break Spring Training and head out to begin the season, the fog in my head clears and things just seem a little bit easier to handle.
  • The best thing about Nolan Ryan’s ascension to Texas Rangers club president: his vow to bring back the red uniforms.
  • It says a lot about your shifting priorities when you really don’t care about where you sit in the Ballpark, as long as you can finagle a parking spot close to the Temple without selling off an organ or a child.