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Friday newsletter time: What the opening win told Nathan Eovaldi about Rangers

(The Associated Press)


ARLINGTON — Nathan Eovaldi said that it was hard to describe the pregame festivities the Rangers experienced on Opening Day.

The veteran had been through a similar opener before, in 2019 after the Red Sox had won the World Series, but he still got caught up in the moment Thursday night.

“It was incredible,” Eovaldi said.

The crowd of 42,130 at Globe Life Field, the largest for a regular-season game, was fired up. Manager Bruce Bochy and right-hander Josh Sborz presented the Commissioner’s Trophy to the fans, and a 20 foot-by-30 foot world champions banner was unfurled.

Eovaldi was so filled with energy that he said he couldn’t slow himself down at times during his six innings of work.

The Rangers have one more ceremony to celebrate their World Series win, receiving their rings before Saturday’s game. That’s going to be an emotional time, too.

But what Eovaldi saw in the Rangers’ 4-3 walk-off win — which included an Adolis Garcia home run, two career-firsts for Wyatt Langford, a controversial play in the ninth (more on that below) and a Travis Jankowski game-tying pinch-hit homer moments later — was a team that isn’t complacent to be the champs.

He warned against complacency on the first day of spring training Feb. 14. The 2019 Red Sox didn’t have enough early-season fire, and by the time they started playing well, it was too late.

Maybe everyone is making too much out of one game, which is typical for an Opening Day. But the Rangers’ ability to find a way to win their opener, amid heightened emotions and with a World Series in their back pockets, told Eovaldi the players understand that nothing is guaranteed in 2024.

“Ultimately, at the end of the day, we were able to come out on top, and that’s what matters,” he said.

As for the ceremony, it felt quick. It’s not like the Rangers could take an hour to celebrate. They had a game to play, and ESPN had a schedule to keep.

For everyone worried about the look of the banner, with its bottom corners needing to somehow be tied down so that the crease can be ironed out, just think about the alternative — the Rangers not winning the World Series.

Replay expanded

The NCAA Tournament has a replay problem. Every dang close call, or so it seems, gets looked at by the three officials.

Meanwhile, the four umpires Thursday night at Globe Life Field were not permitted to look at a non-call that altered the game.

Plate umpire Chad Fairchild said that Miles Mastrobuoni simply swung and missed a ninth-inning Jose Leclerc slider while catcher Jonah Heim knew it was a foul ball. Replay confirmed that he was right. It was loud at Globe Life Field, so Fairchild might not have heard the tick that Heim heard and saw.

As Heim was trying to explain himself to Fairchild and not chasing after the (officially) wild pitch, Michael Busch raced home from second base with the go-ahead run.

Heim needed to chase down the ball. The run wouldn’t have scored.

Baseball, though, needs to expand its catalogue of reviewable plays. Only foul balls beyond the bases can be reviewed.

Two new rules or rule changes this season are going to be an issue, at least early one.

The obstruction rule, which now states that players can’t have any part of their body blocking the base, came up a few times during spring training and will come up in a big spot soon. Perhaps Ezequiel Duran should have tested the umps in the fifth inning when trying to get to third base instead of getting himself in a rundown.

David Robertson isn’t a fan of the shortened pitch clock with runners on base. It shrunk from 20 seconds to 18 seconds, and Robertson said it’s a significant difference.

“I think MLB should look at that,” Robertson said.

The technology obviously exists to get all calls correct. Humans should still call balls and strikes, but pitchers should be able to challenge twice a game.

And foul tips seem like an obvious addition to reviewable plays.

Opening Day ICYMI …

I know that the ICYMI section is usually an item in the Monday and Thursday newsletters, but so much content was produced on Opening Day by Rangers Today that a special ICYMI is necessary today. Eight stories were posted on the website, though two of them are now moot. The other six live on, as do several videos at our YouTube channel. Here’s our latest, in case you missed it.

An opening win

Wyatt Langford the big story

Max Scherzer positive update

Repeat after me

Opening Day roster moves

A banner moment

Card of the Week

There is no Rangers baseball today, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t baseball. Triple A Round Rock opens its season at Dell Diamond with Owen White on the mound, and TCU plays host to Houston at Lupton Stadium in the second game of a Big 12 series.

Houston is a newcomer this season to the Big 12, along with Cincinnati, Central Florida and BYU. One of my best friends back home was surprised to know that BYU had a baseball team.

It’s true, which got us to thinking: Who is the most famous baseball player every produced by BYU?

The answer is not Vance Law. It’s Hall of Famer Jack Morris.

But a basketball player is in the conversation, and the Danny Ainge 1981 Topps Traded is the Card of the Week.

Ainge, a third baseman, never played baseball at BYU but spent the offseasons on the hoops team. He signed with the Blue Jays out of high school and eventually played parts of three seasons in the majors, from 1979 to 1981, before the Celtics drafted him in 1981.

He wasn’t much of a hitter, but he had a contract with Toronto that didn’t allow him to play pro basketball. He asked for his release he was selected, some lawyers got involved, and Ainge turned into a pretty solid NBA player.

In case you’re wondering, and I know you are, BYU and TCU do not play in the regular season.

Doggy video!

No school and no baseball today, yet there was a great possibility my daughter would do this at 6:45 a.m.. Enjoy.

Jeff Wilson, jeff@rangerstoday.com


Jeff Wilson

Sports reporter for two decades. Sports fan for life. Covers the Texas Rangers. Graduate of TCU. Colorado native. Author of Purple Passion: TCU Football Legends (https://t.co/2fmXLyympx). Follow me on Twitter at @JeffWilsonTXR

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1 Comment

  1. deGrom Texas Ranger March 30, 2024

    Umps should be fined for blowing calls like this. The least they can do is admit it. Kennedi Landry says he stood by his call after the game. That’s twice as bad.


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