The Texas Rangers invite you to show up tonight as the team returns from spring training. Especially if you can pitch. I praise the Rangers' pitching staff one day, and next thing you know, starters Kevin Millwood (No. 1 in the rotation) and Vicente Padilla (No. 2) are coughing up an astounding 16 earned runs over two games, then re-tread journeyman Jamey Wright is named fifth starter. Uh-oh.
With its ragged hurlers in tow, the Rangers will make organizational history tonight around 9 with an official party welcoming the team's plane at Arlington Municipal Airport (weather permitting, of course).
Live music, prize drawings, yummy barbeque, introduction of a new "Six Shooters" interactive squad and quick speeches from manager Ron Washington and general manager Jon Daniels. Tickets are $35, but you also get a freebie to Saturday's exhibition finale against the Brewers at Rangers Ballpark. I know, not the most scintillating of evenings. But what else you gonna do -- watch a replay of U.S. 0, Guatemala 0?
Despite the alarming pitching plummet , the Rangers, who are playing at this very moment their last game in Surprise, Arizona, before hopping the big bird home, have had a promising spring. They are 15-10, second-best in the American League. Catcher Gerald Laird is poised for a breakout season, and Sammy Sosa's got a lil' sumpin' in his tank after all. If you don't get out to see them tonight, no worries. The 162-game grind starts Monday. --Richie Whitt