Opening Day is Almost Here
Pitchers and catchers report.
To baseball fans, those are the four greatest words in the English language.
For fans in Michigan and other northern parts of the country, it also represents a changing of the seasons. It means that even though it doesn’t get above freezing most days, that spring and warm weather is right around the corner.
By Wednesday, February 13, every Major League team was in camp.
Even if Dow Diamond is still covered in snow, it’s time for baseball.
For right now, it’s spring training. It’s camp stories and spring break trips to warmer climates. But the regular season starts in 45 days when the Loons open their 2013 season at home against the Fort Wayne TinCaps.
One intriguing aspect of Minor League Baseball is that most fans don’t find out who is on their favorite teams roster until the season is almost ready to start. It does make it difficult to project how a team will perform.
However, the Loons do already know what their coaching staff is going to look like. The pitching coach is former big league pitcher Bill Simas and the hitting coach is Mike Eylward. Eylward will be taking over for the man who will be the Loons manager this season: Mr. Razor Shines.
The Loons manager was once named by Maxim magazine as having “the most bad @ss name of all time.” Even though he just found out about the honor on his recent visit to Midland, he probably fits the mold of the greatest action heroes of all-time.
Shines is in his third year with the Loons and his first as manager. Despite spending a lot of time in Michigan over the last two years, the North Carolina native, who spends his offseasons in Texas, has not really gotten used to the cold. During his visit last week, he talked about players from warmer climates adjusting to colder springs than they are used to.
“No matter what I say, it’s not going to help,” Shines said. “I’m going to tell them that it’s going to be cold, but when your body feels this, that’s when you’ll adjust. Mentally, you can expect it to be cold, but once you get off that plane, it’s a bit of a shock.”
That’s the Planet Hoth. It’s not quite that cold in Michigan in April, but the average temperature on April 4 in Midland is 48 degrees (according to wunderground.com). That’s colder than most of the country and takes some getting used to if you’re from a Southern state.
Even if you see Shines in a parka on Opening Day, he’s still going to be one heck of a manager. He’s been doing this for a long time and this is the fourth generation that he has managed in, including the Phillies single-A team, the Clearwater Threshers, in 2008. That was the same season that the Phillies won the World Series. Shines got a World Series ring for his efforts. It’s massive. Like really, really big. And shiny too. Pun not intended.
“It’s going to be a fun season,” Shines said. “We have an exciting team and I can wait to get started.”
Got news for you, Razor. Neither can anybody else.
I’ll leave you with a clip that Major League Baseball used for an intro on Opening Day a few years ago, narrated by the one and only Ernie Harwell.
Opening Day is right around the corner.