Kauf Drops: Opening Day and Former Bulldogs

Tanner Scheppers hits the 15-day DL just four starts into the season (Image: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

It’s Opening Day!

Do you remember that smell? The smell of freshly cut grass that normally signifies a weekend chore you have to do around your own home, especially when spring rolls around. Only this time, it signifies the great game of baseball returning to your favorite town.

In North Texas, it means the return of the Texas Rangers to Arlington and, well, Globe Life Park though most of us will never call it that.

The lineup has been posted, the infield is getting watered down to soften up the dirt, the employees arrived early this morning to get their posts ready whether that be merchandise sales or concessions, the ticket takers are readying their scanners to welcome fans into the ballpark, and the players are in the locker room going through their own routines and wondering how, and where, this seven month journey will end.

We all have our expectations for the 2014 Texas Rangers and we all have an idea where this ride will end. Some are pessimistic, expecting nothing more than a 75 to 80 win season, others are more optimistic and believe the Rangers can hold themselves together until guys like Derek Holland, Geovany Soto, and Jurickson Profar return from what will be a three-month absence and be able to make a serious run at the American League’s Western Division.

We don’t know who will be right and who will be wrong. What we do know is we’re all looking forward to the game we’ve missed so much. A game that returns today.

Texas Rangers baseball is back. It’s Opening day.

 

A Bulldog takes the hill…

I have a bias. No really, I do.

For those that know me well enough know I’m not a native Texan. I wasn’t born here and I wasn’t raised here, but you might say I got here as fast as I could (or however that saying goes). However, you can give me credit for at least one thing that makes me as close to a native Texan as it comes – I married a Texas girl.

While I haven’t picked up her fandom of the Dallas Cowboys, and probably never will, I do have a small bias towards the Texas Rangers for more than a few reasons.

Today is one of those days where a very different bias comes into play. One a lot of people know quite well. It’s a bias I bring from central California and one that still hangs on to me, or I hang on to it depending on how you look at it, so I bring it into a very different Opening Day.

On the hill today for the Texas Rangers is a guy who played ball in my hometown and for a university I still root hard for. Well, at least during football season.

Tanner Scheppers, the former Fresno State Bulldog, will get his very first start in the big leagues and will do so on what some believe is the biggest day of the baseball calendar – Opening Day. He’s come through the minor leagues and was a formidable reliever out of the Rangers’ bullpen this past season.

This time the team wants to see what he can do as a starter and, though some may be concerned about his longevity and are curious how long his arm will hold up, I get to root for him for no other reason than the colors he used to wear in college.

I don’t know if he still roots for his alma mater or still uses the phrase “Bulldog born, Bulldog bred, going to be a Bulldog until the day I’m dead,” but once you’re a Bulldog, the Fresno State fans will root for you for the rest of their lives regardless of what team you sign with or what sport you’re playing. That is, unless, a particular former Bulldog is playing against their favorite team then all bets are off.

I wish Tanner well and I wish him all the success in the world. While I have my own concerns about how long he can handle being a starter or how well he can keep himself mentally tough, especially going from expecting just an inning or two from himself to now having to go anywhere from five to seven innings every fifth day, I would love to see him prove the naysayers wrong.

That journey begins today in Arlington, Texas against former Ranger Cliff Lee and the Philadelphia Phillies. Be great, Bulldog.

About Todd Kaufmann

Growing up in San Diego, CA, Todd made the move to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas in the spring of 2008. Since then, he has covered events such as the Byron Nelson Classic, the Colonial Tournament, the AT&T Cotton Bowl, numerous home games for the Texas Rangers as well as high school football around the metroplex. You can also find some of his written work in the weekly Prosper Times and monthly Prosper Magazine. He and his wife Kerri make their home in Little Elm, Texas with their daughter, Hannah, and yellow lab, Ranger. Contact: Website | Facebook | Twitter | More Posts

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