There are certain years that we anticipate. I was forced to read the George Orwell classic novel, “1984,” sometime in the ‘70s when I was in junior high. In high school, I was an actor in the stage adaptation of the book. I feared everything would change in that fateful year and that Big Brother would dictate my every move. Turns out ‘84 was a lot like ‘83 before it and ‘85, which followed.
The year 2000 was another one that caught our attention. Remember all the people who filled their homes with bottled water and provisions fearing that the new millennium would bring with it chaos and anarchy. By then I was old enough, wise enough to realize that “life is good,” and even if there was chaos, I would figure it out.
And now we get to 2020! I don’t know about you, but I have been really anticipating this year for, well for, 29 months. You recall it was just 29 months ago that the Rangers broke ground on their new stadium. As I sat at the groundbreaking ceremony in October of 2017, I had two thoughts: first, that I was actually sitting on a chair that occupied the space where I parked every night when the Ballpark at Arlington opened. Secondly, I thought, there is no way they can get this done in 29 months.
Turns out I was wrong on both counts – I was sitting on Bill Jones’ parking spot, and the Rangers are going to open the season in their shiny new air conditioned stadium with a retractable roof next month. 2020 is going to be special, as we say goodbye to rain delays and oppressive heat. And we say hello to a pitching staff that will be among the best in baseball.
By adding the Coppell High alum and two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber to their rotation, the Rangers made an emphatic statement. That is: They are not just counting on the new stadium to put butts in the seats; they intend to compete. Kluber has been nicknamed Klubot because of his consistency. He won the Cy Young in 2014 and 2017; in 2016 he was named starting pitcher of the year by the Sporting News, and in ‘18 he won 20 games.
Kluber will anchor a staff that includes Mike Minor and Lance Lynn, both of whom finished in the top 10 in Cy Young voting last year. Add to that free agent right handers Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles, and what you have is the makings of the best rotation in the best division in baseball.
The AL West will be tough again; in fact tougher than it has been the last few years. The Astros will still be the team to beat. The Angels swung and missed on several pitches, including Kluber, Dallas Kuechel and Gerritt Cole. But they did land Anthony Rendon, whom the Rangers coveted. The A’s will be good as always with a tiny budget and a terrible stadium. And in Seattle they will be counting the days until the start of football season.
But the reality is that in Major League Baseball, pitching rules the day. The Astros have lost two great ones in each of the past two off seasons. The Angels were unable to add any, and the Rangers got three! The bullpen will be good again, anchored by Jose LeClerc and bolstered by any number of veterans like Edinson Volquez.
The lineup will lean a little less left after the trade of Nomar Mazara. He is so young that he may make us all regret that trade, but the truth is he never took that next step here. Joey Gallo did last year; so did Willie Calhoun. Player of the Year Danny Santana, Rookie of the Year Nick Solak and Good Guy of the Year Shin Soo Choo will ensure that the pitchers won’t have to throw a shut out every night.
The last time I was this excited about a Rangers new season was 2010. Anyone remember what happened in 2010? That was the year the Rangers went to their first World Series. They went back the next year. Now it is time to win one. This could be the year! Or it could be next year!
Of course, every year COULD be the year. But some years have a way of getting our attention, like 1984, 2000 and 2020.