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                                            2023 Season Preview
Mar. 3 - Mar. 9, 2023   Vol. 21, Issue 27   www.sportspagdfw.com   FREE
2   March 3, 2023 - March 9, 2023 | The Sports Page Weekly | Volume 21 Issue 27 | www.sportspagedfw.com | follow us on twitter @sportspagdfw.com
Follow us on twitter @sportspagedfw | www.sportspagedfw.com | The Sports Page Weekly | Volume 21 - Issue 24 | February 10, 2023 - February 16, 2023   3
    Mar. 3, 2023 - Mar. 9, 2023
         Vol. 21, Issue 27
                                                                                                                                               LOCAL NEWS OF INTEREST
       Established 2002

                               Cover Photo:
                                                                                    Single-game tickets on sale March 3
        4 AROUND THE AREA                                                                                                          game on Wednesdays and $4 beers at the               tionship with the Dallas/Fort Worth
               MLB RULES CHANGES FOR THE                                                                                           Karbach Brewing Skyporch from the time               Metroplex on the 20th anniversary of her
        5 2023 SEASON
               BY MLB.COM
                                                                                                                                   gates open until the first pitch on Fridays
                                                                                                                                   and Saturdays from June 2-Sept. 2.
                                                                                                                                                                                        epic endeavor to compete on the PGA
                                                                                                                                                                                        TOUR. She made history and established a
               GOLF, ETC                                                                                                              Season tickets, 20-game plans, suites             benchmark in the women’s movement for
        6      BY TOM WARD
                                                                                                                                   and group tickets can now be purchased at            greater equality in sports.
                                                                                                                                   mlb.com/rangers/tickets.                                Romo, now an NFL analyst for CBS,
               BY PGATOUR.COM                                                       How to buy Texas Rangers single-game
                                                                                                                                                                                        finished runner-up in a playoff last year to
                                                                                                                                                                                        Mardy Fish in an exciting finish before the
                                                                                    tickets, which go on sale March 3                                                                   Las Colinas crowd. Romo drew the largest
               FIVE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT                                            All individual single-game tickets, except                                                          galleries throughout the weekend last year
               BY PGATOUR.COM
                                                                                    Opening Day, will be available at 10 a.m.                                                           and is expected to contend for the
                                                                                        If you want to catch the debut season of                                                        Celebrity Division title again.
               BY PGATOUR.COM
                                                                                    the Bruce Bochy era in Texas, here’s your
                                                                                                                                                                                            Grounds tickets will be provided free of
                                                                                                                                                                                        charge for all three days of the tournament,
                                                                                       Texas Rangers individual single-game                                                             with Invited sponsoring admission on
               WHO IS PLAING ON THE LIV
                                                                                    tickets will go on sale Friday, March 3 at
               BY JOE RIVERA                                                        10 a.m. Tickets can be purchased in person
                                                                                                                                   Tony Romo joins celebrity field for PGA
                                                                                                                                   TOUR Champions event in Las Colinas
                                                                                                                                                                                        Friday, April 21, Energy Transfer on
                                                                                                                                                                                        Saturday, April 22, and Choctaw Casinos
               2023 TEXAS RANGERS                                                   at Globe Life Field’s southeast box office,    The field will include 78 PGA TOUR                   & Resorts on Sunday, April 23.
               BY JON THOMAS
                                                                                    over the phone at 972-726-4377 or online       Champions players and 40 celebrities who             Additionally, upgraded Clubhouse tickets
                                                                                    at texasrangers.com/tickets.                   will compete in separate competitions for            and other hospitality packages are also
     13 OUR THOUGHTS ON THE 2023
               BY JON THOMAS
                                                                                        All tickets except for the March 30
                                                                                    Opening Day game versus the Philadelphia
                                                                                                                                   $2.5 million in prize money.
                                                                                                                                      Tony Romo, the golfer, will be making
                                                                                                                                                                                        available for purchase.

                                                                                    Phillies will be available for purchase.       another appearance in North Texas soon.
        RANKINGS WEEK 2                                                             Fans interested in tickets to the Rangers’        The Invited Celebrity Classic announced
               BY STAFF                                                             home opener can sign up for the team’s         Wednesday that the former Dallas
               COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS AND                                            newsletter (texasrangers.com/newsletter).      Cowboys quarterback will be a part of the
                                                                                    Those signed up by 11 p.m. on Thursday,        tournament’s celebrity field next month.
                                                                                    March 9 will be entered into a drawing,            The tournament will be hosted at
                                                                                    where a limited number of fans will be         Invited’s Las Colinas Country Club on
                                                                                    randomly selected to buy Opening Day           April 21-23. The field will include 78 PGA           Conference USA Basketball
Follow us on                                                                        tickets on Friday, March 10.                   TOUR Champions players and 40 celebri-               Championships next week in Frisco
Twitter & Facebook                                                                      The Rangers’ promotional schedule
                                                                                    includes 30 giveaways. Promotions include
                                                                                                                                   ties who will compete in separate competi-
                                                                                                                                   tions for $2.5 million in prize money.
                                                                                                                                                                                           Conference USA returns to Frisco,
                                                                                                                                                                                        Texas with its premier basketball event at
                                                                                    Marcus Semien (April 21), Corey Seager         World Golf Hall of Famer Annika                      Ford Center at The Star. The 2022 C-USA
              twitter.com/sportspagedfw                                             (May 19), Nathaniel Lowe (June 3) and          Sörenstam and newly-retired MLB star                 Basketball Championships take place
                                                                                    Jacob deGrom (June 16) bobblehead give-        Albert Pujols were also announced as par-            March 9-12, featuring 28 men’s and
              facebook.com/sportspageweek-                                          aways.                                         ticipants.                                           women’s basketball teams playing 26
Publisher                                  Contact Us                                  Weekly promotions include $1 Texas             This year’s tournament will include a             games with C-USA titles and NCAA auto-
Sports Page Publishing Group,              Main Number (214) 683-1469               Chili Company Hog Dogs throughout the
LLC                                        P.O. Box 820813                                                                         salute to Sörenstam and her special rela-            matic bids on the line.
info@sportspagedallas.com                  Dallas, Tx. 75382

                                                                                               NCAA Basketball Poll

Dic Humphrey, Tom Ward, Bo
Carter, Richard Pollak, Robert
                                                                                    1. Houston
                                                                                                      Week 17    Coaches
                                                                                                          1. Houston                            WEEKLY CALENDAR
Cortinez. James McAnally                                                            2. Alabama            2. Alabama
                                                                                    3. Kansas             3. Kansas                             MARCH      MARCH           MARCH         MARCH         MARCH          MARCH         MARCH
                                                                                    4. UCLA               4. UCLA                                3            4             5              6             7              8             9
                                                                                    5. Purdue             5. Purdue                             FRIDAY    SATURDAY         SUNDAY       MONDAY        TUESDAY       WEDNESDAY      THURSDAY
                                                                                    6. Marquette          6. Marquette
                                                                                    7. Baylor             7. Texas                                                          Mavs                          Mavs           Mavs
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4                           March 3, 2023 - March 9, 2023 | The Sports Page Weekly | Volume 21 Issue 27 | www.sportspagedfw.com | follow us on twitter @sportspagdfw.com

MLB rules changes for the 2023 season
By mlb.com                                       tion with the arrival of the pitch timer.            4. What are "special circumstances"?                  rule book as a 95-foot radius drawn from
     We know how Major League Baseball’s             The reason is that, in order to enforce              The obvious one is injury. But others             the center of the pitcher’s rubber, and each
new rules for 2023 look on paper. But how        the timer, the umpire on the field and the           might include a catcher making the last out           infielder must have their feet entirely with-
will they look in practice?                      timer operator need a clear indication of            on the bases as an offensive player and               in the boundary (meaning on the dirt).
     The arrival of the pitch timer, restric-    when the pitch has begun.                            needing time to put on his equipment at the              For the first time, the dirt area of the
tions on extreme infield shifts and bigger           “When the pitcher is bouncing on his             start of a half-inning or a PitchCom mal-             infield had to be adjusted over the offsea-
bases combine for the most significant           foot,” Sword explained, “it’s not clear              function for the pitcher or catcher.                  son in several Major League parks in order
alterations to MLB rules in decades, and         when you have begun your pitch delivery.”            5. Positioning of the timers.                         to comply with the letter of the law and
that’s going to take some getting used to             In the windup, pitchers are allowed to             There will be a timer positioned on each           ensure uniformity league-wide. The radius
for everybody. The overarching theme is          take one step back and one step forward at           side of the center-field batter’s eye so that         will be measured and monitored by LiDAR
that these changes are good for the enter-       the start of their delivery and no more. The         the umpire has a clear view regardless of             technology to ensure all parks are in com-
tainment product -- creating more action in      clock stops when the pitcher steps back or           whether a right-handed or left-handed bat-            pliance.
a shorter window of time.                        laterally.                                           ter is at the plate.                                  4. Violations can be declined by the
    “I think fans are going to get today's            From the stretch, pitchers can still tap           Similarly, there will be two timers behind         offensive team.
athletes, which are the best that have ever      their feet prior to the delivery of the pitch,       home plate, one on each side, so that the                Finally, you might be wondering what
played the game, playing the game with the       but they must come to a complete stop with           pitcher has a clear view of the timer as              happens if a pitch and play go off even
pace and rhythm that existed in the 1970s        their feet set at some point. The clock stops        well. And don’t worry about being distract-           though a violation of the shift rule has been
and 80s,” said MLB executive vice presi-         when the pitcher lifts his free leg after            ed as a viewer: Those timers will be out of           called by the umpire. The answer is that, as
dent of baseball operations Morgan Sword,        assuming and holding the set position.               view of the center-field broadcast cameras.           in football when teams can decline a penal-
“which to me is going to produce a form of           MLB studied the deliveries of every                        SHIFT RESTRICTIONS                          ty, the offensive team can advise the home-
this sport that no one has ever seen before.     pitcher in the league via video and reached          The basics: As the pitch is thrown, the               plate umpire to decline the penalty and
I'm really, really excited about it.”            out to those who will be affected by this            defensive team must have a minimum of                 accept the result of the play.
    But first, there are questions to answer     more strict enforcement. Astros pitcher              four players within the outer boundary of               So if, say, a home run is hit on that pitch,
and specifics to consider. So let’s go over      Luis Garcia, who has been known to take              the infield, with at least two infielders             the shift infraction is simply waved off.
both the basics of each new rule and, fol-       little “cha-cha” steps prior to his delivery,        completely on either side of second base,             5. Outfielders can still shift.
lowing a demonstration from MLB vice             is one such pitcher.                                 or else the penalty will be an automatic                 You can position an outfielder as a “fifth
president of on-field strategy Joe Martinez,         “There’s a whole host of funky deliver-          ball. The rule is aimed at showcasing the             infielder,” on either side of second base,
the nuance attached to them.                     ies that are within the rules,” Sword said.          athleticism of middle infielders and restor-          and you can move a corner outfielder to the
                PITCH TIMER                      “We encourage funky pitchers to be funky             ing traditional outcomes on balls in play.            other side of the outfield if you want.
The basics: To create a crisper pace of          within the rules.”                                   The nuance:                                           BIGGER BASES
play, there will be a 30-second timer            2. The hitter’s responsibility.                      1. The rule cannot be circumvented.                      The “base”ics: The bases are now 18
between batters and then a 15-second timer            What does it mean to be “alert” to the             When MLB discussed this rule with                  inches on each side instead of the tradition-
between each pitch with the bases empty          pitcher? It means having both feet in the            managers, coaches and other personnel in              al 15 inches on each side. This allows play-
and a 20-second timer between each pitch         box with your head looking up at the pitch-          the course of drafting it, two possible               ers more room to operate around the bases
with runners on base.                            er. The body does not yet have to be in the          methods of circumvention came up, and                 to reduce the risk of injury (there was a 13
     The pitcher must go into his motion         hitting position, but it must be able to             both are addressed in the written rule.               percent decline in injuries near the bases in
prior to the expiration of the timer or else     quickly assume a hitting position.                      The first is the idea of a “motion”                the Minor Leagues last year) and could
be charged with an automatic ball. The               The batter does have one timeout per             defense -- i.e., a defender sprinting across          also encourage runners to be more aggres-
pitcher is allotted two “disengagements” (a      plate appearance. It may be called prior to          the bag or into the outfield as the pitch is          sive on stolen-base attempts (the success
step-off or a pickoff attempt) without           the first pitch or between pitches. The              released so that he can be in an extreme              rate on steal attempts in the Minors with
penalty. A third disengagement will be           timer will stop and restart once the batter          shift once the ball is put in play. If that           the bigger bases increased between 1 and 2
ruled a balk, unless an out is recorded on       begins to return to the box or play is other-        sounds physically difficult, it is. And it is         percent).
the bases (i.e.,a successful pickoff attempt).   wise ready to resume.                                also illegal. Umpires are instructed to call             The nuance: The bigger bases are the
    The batter must be in the batter’s box       3. The umpire’s responsibility.                      this as a violation of the rule.                      most straightforward of the changes for
and alert to the pitcher by the 8-second              Timer enforcement makes the umpire’s                The other potential circumvention                 2023, so there’s not much to write home
mark on the timer or else be charged with        job more difficult than ever. But the home-          method that has been nipped in the bud is a           about here.
an automatic strike.                             plate umpire will be assisted with a Riedel          team having its best defender swap posi-                  But when one sees the new base up
     The pitch timer reduced the average         belt pack (the same one introduced last              tions with a lesser defender on the other             close next to an old base, the additional
game time in the Minor Leagues last year         year for public communications regarding             side of the second-base bag in order to be            amount of surface area is, indeed, signifi-
by 25 minutes, and the limit on pickoff          instant replay reviews) that will buzz when          aligned with the hitter’s pull side. There            cant to the eye. While the larger bases
attempts led to a 26 percent increase in         the timer hits zero. The in-field umps will          will be no switching sides in agiven inning,          might appear flatter, they are actually the
stolen-base attempts. While it’s too early to    have a small, watch-like device called               unless there is a substitution. Positions             same height as ever. The bases are the
say if those exact numbers will translate at     “ClockCom” (made by the same manufac-                must be designated on the lineup card.                same material and manufactured by the
the Major League level, it’s fair to expect a    turer as PitchCom) that will also buzz               2. "Either side of second base" does, in              same provider as in the past.
noticeable reduction in the length of games      when the timer hits zero.                            fact,mean "either SIDE of second base."               One other note: The bigger bases reduce
and increase in steal attempts.                      The home-plate umpire will also have                So there is not an imaginary dividing              the space between home and first by three
The nuance: Because the pitch timer is, by       the ability, via the belt pack, to communi-          line running through the middle of the bag.           inches and between first and second by 4.5
far, the most noticeable of the new rules, it    cate with the Field Timing Coordinator (the          Rather, the imaginary dividing lines run              inches. But it doesn’t affect the sacred “90
has, by far, the most nuance. So let’s break     person running the timer). Umpires have              along the left and right corners of the bag.          feet between bases.” Why? Because it’s
it down into sections …                          the discretion to start, stop or reset the           3. The dirt will be policed.                          never been 90 feet “between” bases. The
1. The pitcher’s responsibility.                 timer in special circumstances.                          Regarding the “outer boundary” of the             measurement from home plate is to the
   We know the pitcher must begin his                 Largely, the job of calling timer viola-        infield, where the dirt meets the outfield            back corner of the corner bases, and the
motion before the timer expires. But the         tions will fall to the home-plate umpire, but        grass, MLB will be paying attention to dirt           measurement from the corner bases is to
most interesting detail is that MLB will be      any of the four are empowered to make the            in a way it never has before.                         the center of second base. That’s
more strictly enforcing balks in conjunc-        call.                                                   The outfield boundary is defined in the            unchanged.

                                                    Follow us on twitter @sportspagedfw | www.sportspagedfw.com | The Sports Page Weekly | Volume 21 - Issue 27 | March 3, 2023 - March 9, 2023         5

The King and I: Arnold Palmer
                                                     by his nickname “The King” passed away                   a meeting. I was quite anxious, but Arnold        a low single digit handicap and won the
                                                     in September of 2016. Palmer epitomized                  helped ease my tension and ended up play-         National Cartoonists Society golf tourna-
                                                     class on and off the golf course and was a               ing well that day with the legend.                ment 15 times.
                                                     beloved figure in the world of sports and a                  Upon completion of the round, Mr.                  Al sent some of his artwork over the
                                                     real trailblazer for the game of golf. He                Palmer told me he was impressed with my           years which included a few pieces of his
                                                     was renowned for his interactions with fans              game. Later on he arranged for me to get a        favorite golfer Arnold Palmer. I asked Al if
                                                     and his charitable work.                                 staff bag and a set of clubs. That was a spe-     he ever sent Mr. Palmer any of his art-
                                                         There is an expression that goes “Never              cial day and one that I will never forget.        work? Al told me that he didn’t. So I men-
                                                     meet your Heroes”, because you’ll end up                     The takeaway from my first encounter          tioned to him that I would reach out to Mr.
                                                     being disappointed. That was the exact                   with Mr. Palmer was that he is a genuinely,       Palmer on his behalf and forward some of
                                                     opposite of my experience with both                      good decent man. I was impressed by his           the drawings. AL was a modest man, but I
           TOM WARD
                                                     Arnold and his wife Winnie.                              kindness and thoughtfulness. So every year        could tell he was excited at the possibility
                                                        Back in 1983, I was living in Cocoa                   when the tournament rolls around I flash          of his golfing hero receiving some of his
   This week the PGA Tour tees off at the            Beach, Florida playing in some tourna-                   back to my wonderful experience with the          art.
Bay hill Golf Club and Lodge in Orlando,             ments throughout the state and received an               Arnold Palmer and his lovely wife.                     I shipped two of Al’s Arnold Palmer
Florida for the Arnold Palmer Invitational           invitation to play with Arnold through a                    Another one of Arnold’s legion of fans,        pieces to the great man himself directly to
presented by MasterCard.                             mutual acquaintance.                                     known as Arnie’s army, was my friend the          his Latrobe, Pennsylvania address. Within a
    Since 1979, the tournament title has had             I arrived early at Bay Hill. Mrs. Palmer             late artist Al Plastino. Plastino was a terrif-   few weeks, I received a nice autographed
a number of different names, most of them            greeted me and was gracious, offering a                  ic illustrator/artist who drew the Superman       photo from Arnold signed to Al thanking
including "Bay Hill," but has played under           tour of the grounds. Afterwards, she invit-              comics starting back in 1947, as well as          him for the drawings. I sent the photo on to
the Palmer name since 2007.                          ed me into their condo where she made                    Batman and many other comic book super            Al and he was quite pleased that Arnold
   Sadly, the great Arnold Palmer known              sandwiches and iced tea (with lemonade),                 heroes throughout his long career. Al may         had replied.
                                                     while we waited for Arnold to return from                have drawn many heroes for the comics,               That was the kind of person Arnold
                                                                                                              but his real life sports hero was Arnold          Palmer was. A special man whose impact
                                                                                                              Palmer.                                           on the game is still felt today.
                                                                                                                 Plastino was an avid golfer who sported        Please visit www.teetimewithtom.com

6              March 3, 2023 - March 9, 2023 | The Sports Page Weekly | Volume 21 Issue 27 | www.sportspagedfw.com | follow us on twitter @sportspagdfw.com
GOLF                                                 PGA TOUR

This week: Arnold Palmer Invitational
                                                                                                                                                                 since 2020. Morikawa finished T9 that
                                                                                                                                                                 year, while Schauffele was T24 … World
                                                                                                                                                                 No. 9 Justin Thomas is set for his first start
                                                                                                                                                                 at Bay Hill since 2015 … Jason Day, win-
                                                                                                                                                                 ner of the 2016 Arnold Palmer Invitational,
                                                                                                                                                                 returns to Bay Hill on a heater. He’s fresh
                                                                                                                                                                 off three consecutive top-10 finishes at the
                                                                                                                                                                 Farmers Insurance Open, WM Phoenix
                                                                                                                                                                 Open and The Genesis Invitational …
                                                                                                                                                                 Rahm has a chance to join Fred Couples,
                                                                                                                                                                 Ernie Els and Hale Irwin as the only play-
                                                                                                                                                                 ers to win the TOUR’s three elevated, play-
                                                                                                                                                                 er-hosted invitationals: Tiger Woods’ The
                                                                                                                                                                 Genesis Invitational, the Arnold Palmer
                                                                                                                                                                 Invitational presented by Mastercard and
                                                                                                                                                                 Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament pre-
                                                                                                                                                                 sented by Workday. Rahm won The
                                                                                                                                                                 Genesis earlier this month and the
                                                                                                                                                                 Memorial in 2020.
                                                                                                                                                                 72-HOLE RECORD: 264, Payne Stewart
                                                                                                                                                                 18-HOLE RECORD: 62, Andy Bean
                                                                                                                                                                 (Round 2, 1981), Greg Norman (Round 2,
                                                                                                                                                                 1984), Adam Scott (Round 1, 2014)
                                                                                                                                                                 LAST TIME: In some of the toughest
                                                                                                                                                                 conditions in tournament history, Scottie
Scottie Scheffler returns to defend his 2022 title
                                                                                                                                                                 Scheffler fired a final-round, even-par 72 to
                                                                                                                                                                 finish one clear of Tyrrell Hatton, Billy
                                                      sented by Velocity Global is well-repre-             2. Scottie Scheffler         2. Max Homa              Horschel and Viktor Hovland. It was
                                                      sented in the sponsor exemptions. The No.            3. Rory McIlroy              3. K.Bradley             Scheffler’s second TOUR win in three
                                                      1 player in the Class of 2022 and current            4. Patrick Cantlay           4. S. Power              starts, having earned his maiden TOUR
                                                      No. 1 are both in the field. Pierceson               6. Xander Schauffele         5. S.Scheffler           title at the WM Phoenix Open three weeks
                                                      Coody, who has won two of his first 15               7. Will Zalatoris            6. Chris Kirk            prior. It was a day – and tournament –
                                                      Korn Ferry Tour starts since turning pro             8. Max Homa                  7. Tom Kim               purely of survival, with tough scoring con-
                                                      last summer, is in the field, one week after         9. Justin Thomas             8. Tony Finau            ditions all week and a lightning-fast golf
     The Arnold Palmer Invitational                   making the cut at The Honda Classic in his           10. Collin Morikawa          9. Si Woo Kim            course. Only 10 players finished the tour-
           March 2 - 5, 2023                          first PGA TOUR start as a pro. Ludvig                11. Viktor Hovland           10. S.Theegala           nament under par. Hatton made seven
        Bay Hill Club and Lodge                       Aberg, the current No. 1 in PGA TOUR U,              FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 550                         birdies in a final-round, 3-under 69; he fin-
           Bay Hill, Florida                          is trying to extend his lead in the standings.       FedExCup points.                                      ished an hour ahead of the final group and
          Purse - $20,000,000                         The Texas Tech star arrives at Bay Hill              COURSE: Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club                 looked well positioned to win the tourna-
       Winners share - $3,600,000                     after a win Feb. 22 at The Prestige in La            & Lodge, par 72, 7,466 yards. Bay Hill                ment. Scheffler, however, hung tough with
   Defending Champ - Scotty Scheffler                 Quinta, California. The top spot in PGA              will once again host the Arnold Palmer                a birdie at the par-5 12th followed by six
                                                      TOUR U is especially important this year,            Invitational, as it has every year since              consecutive closing pars. Scheffler’s 5-
By Adam Stanley                                       as the No. 1 player after the NCAA                   1979. It’s a mostly flat layout but features          under total was one ahead of the three-way
    The PGA TOUR returns to Arnold                    Championship will earn immediate status              water challenges on most holes. The past              runner-up. Chris Kirk and Gary Woodland
Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge for the                on the PGA TOUR and be eligible for all              two iterations have featured blustery, rock-          finished a shot further back and tied for
Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by               full-field, open events. Also in the field on        hard conditions. The 2022 final-round scor-           fifth, with Kirk earning a spot at The 150th
Mastercard, the TOUR’s fourth designated              a sponsor exemption is Cole Hammer, a                ing average was 75.48, compared to 75.49              Open at St. Andrews via the Open
event of 2023. World No. 1 Jon Rahm –                 teammate of Coody on the Texas team that             a year prior. Scottie Scheffler won at 5              Qualifying Series.
with three wins in six TOUR starts this               won the 2022 NCAA Championship.                      under last year, while Tyrrell Hatton won at
season – leads a star-studded field in                Hammer, who finished fifth in last year’s            4 under in 2020 – the highest winning total
                                                                                                                                                                               HOW TO WATCH
Orlando.                                              class of PGA TOUR U grads, had a T5 fin-             since 1983. One thing that Hatton and
FIELD NOTES: Forty-four of the top 50                 ish late last year in The RSM Classic.               Scheffler had in common for their wins?
                                                                                                                                                                 Television: Thursday-Friday, 2 p.m.-6 p.m.
in the Official World Golf Ranking are set            Other players competing at Bay Hill on               Elite iron play. Scheffler was first in
                                                                                                                                                                 (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 12:30
to tee it up at Bay Hill – the most in any            sponsor exemptions include major winners             Strokes Gained: Approach the Green last
                                                                                                                                                                 p.m.-2:30 p.m. (Golf Channel), 2:30 p.m.-6
event since last year’s Open Championship             Stewart Cink, Zach Johnson and Padraig               season at Bay Hill, while Hatton was sec-
                                                                                                                                                                 p.m. (NBC).
… The field includes the top 30 on the                Harrington, as well as 2022 Korn Ferry               ond in the same category in 2020.
FedExCup and all 13 TOUR winners so far               Tour Player of the Year Justin Suh. DP               STORYLINES: The Bay Hill field is
                                                                                                                                                                 PGA TOUR Live is available exclusively
this season … Scottie Scheffler returns to            World Tour winners Adrian Meronk and                 loaded with star power. This season’s first
                                                                                                                                                                 on ESPN+
defend his 2022 title … Other Arnold                  Thriston Lawrence also received invita-              three designated events have been won by
Palmer Invitational winners returning to              tions.                                               Jon Rahm (Sentry Tournament of
                                                                                                                                                                 Radio: Thursday-Friday, 12 p.m.–6 p.m.
Bay Hill include Tyrrell Hatton (runner-up            HIGHEST-RATED PLAYERS IN THE                         Champions, The Genesis Invitational) and
                                                                                                                                                                 ET. Saturday-Sunday, 1 p.m.-6 p.m. (PGA
a year ago), Jason Day, Francesco Molinari            FIELD                                                Scottie Scheffler (WM Phoenix Open) …
                                                                                                                                                                 TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGA-
and defending FedExCup champion Rory                  World Ranking                FedExCup                Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele
McIlroy … PGA TOUR University pre-                    1. Jon Rahm                  1. Jon Rahm             are teeing it up at Bay Hill for the first time

                                                        Follow us on twitter @sportspagedfw | www.sportspagedfw.com | The Sports Page Weekly | Volume 21 - Issue 27 | March 3, 2023 - March 9, 2023          7
Five Things to Know about Bay Hill

Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge features 7,381 yards of beautiful ponds, Bermudagrass and some of the most challenging golf in the world

By Jeff Eisenband                                               the Orlando area for Walt Disney World.                          hosted the Arnold Palmer Invitational pre-          No. 6 takes the challenge of No. 3 and
    The Florida Swing now shifts to the                         Dick Wilson designed two nine-hole cours-                        sented by Mastercard ever since.                extends it into a par-5 with a more severe
center of the state, a theater for some of the                  es – Champion and Challenger – that                              2. AERIAL APPROACH                              dogleg left. On the tee, players can choose
PGA TOUR’s greatest moments of the last                         opened in 1961. The course was seeded                                Coming off PGA National, which fea-         their best line to clear the massive lake and
half-century, many of which have featured                       with Tifway Bermudagrass, becoming the                           tured just two par-5s and 15 holes with         give themselves a shot at the green in two.
a certain Big Cat. Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill                     first golf course in the world to use the                        water in play, Bay Hill offers more of a        Water short and left will almost definitely
Club & Lodge features 7,381 yards of                            now-iconic surface.                                              challenge related to length, although target    come into play for any player hitting into
beautiful ponds, Bermudagrass and some                             After Wilson’s passing in 1965, Bob                           golf is not lost on the premises. Since         the green in two.
of the most challenging golf in the world.                      Simmons designed another nine holes, the                         2016, Bay Hill has required more approach         On paper, the hole plays 555 yards, but a
   So put up your umbrella, pour some iced                      Charger, which upped Bay Hill to 27 holes.                       shots of 200+ yards than any other course       completely direct shot at the pin requires
tea and lemonade (and then iced tea again                          Around this time, Palmer became infatu-                       on the PGA TOUR. That’s due in large part       350 yards of carry. No player has converted
if you’re a real pro) and get ready for the                     ated with the property. In 1965, Palmer vis-                     to Bay Hill’s long par-3s and reachable         such a drive in PGA TOUR history.
best players in the world to sweat out long                     ited Bay Hill to play in and win a charity                       par-5s. Many of those shots require long           Other holes, such as Nos. 9 and No. 10
irons over water, as the Arnold Palmer                          golf tournament. As the story goes, Palmer                       irons over water and force players to start     include bunkers jutting into the fairway,
Invitational presented by Mastercard tees it                    went home directly after and told his wife                       thinking about their approach-shot clubs        asking players for a challenging decision to
up from Bay Hill for the 45th time.                             Winnie he wanted to buy the course. In                           while still on the tee box.                     attack or stay short. Hole No. 16 is a 511-
1. PALMER’S PET PROJECT                                         1970, he took a five-year lease on the club                          No. 3 should immediately get a player’s     yard par 5 that also uses bunkers to shrink
    In the 1970s, a magical attraction                          with an option to buy.                                           pulse pumping on the tee box. The L-            the fairway before players must carry water
emerged in the Orlando area under the                              After taking full ownership in 1975,                          shaped hole pivots right at the 250 to 300-     for their second shot to this very reachable
direction of one of America’s most cele-                        Palmer added his own touches to the                              yard mark where players would prefer to         par-5. A moat of water short of the green
brated 20th-century figures. That would, of                     course and in 1979, the Florida Citrus                           play their drives. With water along the         penalizes any short mishit with a similar
course, be Bay Hill Club & Lodge under                          Open moved from nearby Rio Pinar                                 entire left side of this dogleg left, players   layout to No. 15 at TPC Scottsdale three
ownership by Arnold Palmer.                                     Country Club to Bay Hill. The Champion                           must either challenge the edge of the water     weeks back.
    The history of Bay Hill actually goes                       and Challenger courses originally com-                           with driver or take less club and worry             No. 18 provides a final test that requires
back slightly before Palmer’s purchasing –                      bined to make up the 18 holes for the 1979                       about water left of the green on the            an aerial approach to pass.
and before Walt Disney began surveying                          Bay Hill Citrus Classic and the venue has                        approach shot.

8                  March 3, 2023 - March 9, 2023 | The Sports Page Weekly | Volume 21 Issue 27 | www.sportspagedfw.com | follow us on twitter @sportspagdfw.com
nature final green. The tee shot is mostly
                                                                                                                                                                     straight with water only coming into play
                                                                                                                                                                     on the right for the longest of hitters. But
                                                                                                                                                                     the short hitters are not off the hook. A tee
                                                                                                                                                                     shot left brings out of bounds into play
                                                                                                                                                                     while a tee shot right demands the
                                                                                                                                                                     approach shot be hit out of the rough and
                                                                                                                                                                     fully over water.
                                                                                                                                                                        A long, curved green hugs the water,
                                                                                                                                                                     and with the Sunday pin position typically
                                                                                                                                                                     all the way to the right, the final round asks
                                                                                                                                                                     contenders to hit their final iron shots over
                                                                                                                                                                     water with rocks defending against any
                                                                                                                                                                     short bailout. Bunkers on the left and in the
                                                                                                                                                                     back of the green provide a cushion and a
                                                                                                                                                                     punishment for any players taking the safe
                                                                                                                                                                        That traditional Sunday hole location
                                                                                                                                                                     has been the setting for many dramatic
                                                                                                                                                                     72nd-hole birdie putts, including several by
                                                                                                                                                                     Woods, as well as past Bay Hill winners
                                                                                                                                                                     Francesco Molinari and Rory McIlroy.
                                                                                                                                                                        For much of the API’s history, Arnold
                                                                                                                                                                     Palmer himself would be waiting on the
                                                                                                                                                                     18th green on Sunday, ready to be the first
                                                                                                                                                                     to greet the victor. In three of his eight vic-
                                                                                                                                                                     tories, Woods felt the drama on 18, making
                                                                                                                                                                     putts to win by one stroke and claim his
                                                                                                                                                                     Palmer handshakes.
                                                                                                                                                                        The unpredictability of Bay Hill’s 18th
                                                                                                                                                                     hole has led to 12 one-stroke winners since
                                                                                                                                                                     2000. However, the API has not seen a
                                                                                                                                                                     playoff since 1999.
The 18th hole at Bay Hill. (David Cannon/Getty Images)

3. TOUGH TEST                                            After all, the course is still recovering from
    From 1994-2006, Bay Hill went                        roughly two decades of Tiger dominating
through a 13-year period seeing its highest              it.
winning score at 12 under. While by no                       His first victory at Bay Hill was more
means a cupcake, Bay Hill was clearly                    than three decades ago, as he claimed the
more forgiving than some of its Florida                  1991 U.S. Junior Amateur at Bay Hill for
counterparts.                                            the first of his three consecutive victories
    Over the last decade-and-a-half, head-               in that championship (followed by three
lined by a 2009 redesign led by Palmer,                  consecutive U.S. Amateur wins).
Bay Hill has sharpened its teeth. Since                      After missing the cut as an amateur in
2007, only three Arnold Palmer Invitational              1994, Woods played the API 16 times from
winners have finished with a score of 14                 1997-2013. He made every cut. He record-
under or lower. In 2020, with Tyrrell                    ed top-25 finishes in 14 of those years and
Hatton winning at 4 under and only four                  top-10 finishes nine times. He won eight of
players finishing under par, Bay Hill                    those events (2000-2003, 2008-2009, 2012-
ranked as the toughest stop on the PGA                   2013). Woods came back one more time in
TOUR with an average score of 2.1 over                   2018, finishing T5 (his first top-five since
par. That number remained north of par in                August 2013).
2021, with an average score of slightly                      The Arnold Palmer Invitational is the
more than 1 over. Scottie Scheffler shot 5               only active PGA TOUR event that saw
under last year to win and only 10 players               Woods win eight times at the same venue.
finished under par.                                      Woods also won the WGC-Bridgestone
    One of the trademarks of the 2009                    Invitational eight times at Firestone
redesign is the par-3 second hole, which                 Country Club and he won the Farmers
consistently plays as one of the hardest                 Insurance Open seven times at Torrey
holes on the course. When redesigning all                Pines, along with the 2008 U.S. Open on
18 greens, Palmer had the second green                   the Torrey Pines’ South Course.
turned 30 degrees clockwise and the back                     As noted by Justin Ray, from 2000-
tee box lengthened. This creates a downhill              2013, Woods was 109 under at Bay Hill.
shot from as far back as 245 yards, with a               The next closest player in that stretch was
mostly horizontal green just slanted enough              Vijay Singh at 36 under. He has earned
to hold long irons or woods.                             $7,657,559 at the API in his career.
4. TIGER TAMED IT                                        5. FAMOUS FINISH
    While Tiger Woods may not be playing                     After grinding through 17 holes at Bay
the Arnold Palmer Invitational this week,                Hill, the 18th hole asks for one more shot
his presence is always felt at Bay Hill.                 to be carried over water to the course’s sig-

                                                          Follow us on twitter @sportspagedfw | www.sportspagedfw.com | The Sports Page Weekly | Volume 21 - Issue 27 | March 3, 2023 - March 9, 2023             9
The First Look: Puerto Rico Open
                                                                                                                                                                     held the 54-hole lead two years ago.
                                                                                                                                                                     72-HOLE RECORD: 267, Chesson
                                                                                                                                                                     Hadley (2014).
                                                                                                                                                                     18-HOLE RECORD: 62, Jhonattan Vegas
                                                                                                                                                                     (Round 4, 2020)
                                                                                                                                                                     LAST TIME: Ryan Brehm ran away with
                                                                                                                                                                     the 2022 Puerto Rico Open, winning by six
                                                                                                                                                                     shots and securing his PGA TOUR card in
                                                                                                                                                                     the process. Brehm, who needed a win or
                                                                                                                                                                     solo second to retain TOUR status, birdied
                                                                                                                                                                     five of the first 11 holes in the final round
                                                                                                                                                                     and topped Max McGreevy by six strokes.
                                                                                                                                                                     Brehm had a three-shot lead through 54
                                                                                                                                                                     holes and closed in 5-under 67 to finish 20
                                                                                                                                                                     under. It was a make-or-break final start on
                                                                                                                                                                     a minor medical extension for Brehm. It
                                                                                                                                                                     was Brehm’s 68th start on TOUR and his
                                                                                                                                                                     first win. With his wife Chelsey on the bag,
                                                                                                                                                                     they became the first husband-and-wife
                                                                                                                                                                     duo since 2013 to win on TOUR. Tommy
                                                                                                                                                                     Gainey and Brandon Wu finished tied for
                                                                                                                                                                     third at 13 under, while Chad Ramey and
                                                                                                                                                                     Callum Tarren were a shot further back and
                                                                                                                                                                     tied for fifth.
                                                                                                                                                                                   How to Watch
                                                                                                                                                                     Television: Thursday-Friday,10 a.m.-1p.m.
Ryan Brehem will not return this year to defend his title                                                                                                            (Golf Channel); Saturday, 2:30 p.m.-5 p.m.
                                                                                                                                                                     (GC); Sunday, 2:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. (GC)
                                                            12 in PGA TOUR University presented by
                                                            Velocity Global's Class of 2022. He went
                                                            on to win twice on PGA TOUR Canada
             Puerto Rico Open                               last year … Nearly all the 2022 Korn Ferry
             March 2 - 5, 2023                              Tour graduates are in the field … Max
       Grand Reserve Country Club                           McGreevy, who finished second in Puerto
          Rio Grande, Puerto Rico                           Rico a year ago, is back and hoping for a
             Purse - $3,800,000                             little more magic … Recent TOUR winners
         Winners share - $684,000                           heading to Puerto Rico include Erik van
      Defending Champ - Ryan Brehm                          Rooyen, Richy Werenski, Andrew Landry
                                                            and Jim Herman.
By Adam Stanley                                             FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 300
    An international field of proven winners                FedExCup points.
and seasoned veterans descends upon                         COURSE: Grand Reserve Golf Club
Grand Reserve GC for the 15th playing of                    (Championship Course), par 72, 7,506
the Puerto Rico Open.                                       yards (yardage subject to change). The oft-
FIELD NOTES: Georgia Southern's Ben                         windy Grand Reserve GC will once again
Carr, the runner-up in last year's U.S.                     play host to the Puerto Rico Open. It’s a
Amateur, is making his PGA TOUR debut                       lengthy beast, with two par-5s on the back
on a sponsor exemption before competing                     nine alone measuring more than 600 yards.
in this year's Masters. He will play at                     The club hosted the Latin America
Augusta National in April by virtue of                      Amateur Championship in January, won by
being runner-up to Sam Bennett in last                      Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira of Argentina
year's U.S. Amateur. Carr, a fifth-year sen-                by four shots.
ior at Georgia Southern, recently earned                    STORYLINES: The Puerto Rico Open
PGA TOUR Canada status for 2023 via Q-                      has never seen a back-to-back winner, and
School..Other sponsor exemptions include                    that will continue, as reigning champ Ryan
21-year-old Akshay Bhatia, longtime                         Brehm will compete at the Arnold Palmer
Puerto Rican pro Rafael Campos, former                      Invitational presented by Mastercard..With
SMU standout Noah Goodwin and the                           spots open for those lower on the TOUR’s
University of Louisville’s Jiri Zuska, run-                 Priority Ranking at Grand Reserve this is
ner-up at the Elite Amateur Series last year.               an important week for plenty to earn Fed
Bhatia, who won on the Korn Ferry Tour                      ExCup points as the season chugs along …
last year, is 17th on this season's points list.            Nine of the last 14 winners in Puerto Rico
He has made the cut in all three of his                     have made the tournament their first TOUR
PGA TOUR starts this season, including                      title …The feel-good local story once again
last week's The Honda Classic. Goodwin,                     is that of Rafael Campos, who always
the 2017 U.S. Junior champion, was No.                      seems to be in the mix in his homeland and

10                    March 3, 2023 - March 9, 2023 | The Sports Page Weekly | Volume 21 Issue 27 | www.sportspagedfw.com | follow us on twitter @sportspagdfw.com
Who is playing LIV Golf in 2023?
                                                                                                                    LIV Golf players 2023                       Anirban Lahiri                 India
                                                                                                            LIV Golf has succeeded at poaching                  Danny Lee                      New Zealand
                                                                                                         some of the PGA Tour's most notable play-              Marc Leishman                  Australia
                                                                                                         ers, including Phil Mickelson, Cameron                 Graeme McDowell                Ireland
                                                                                                         Smith, Dustin Johnson, Bryson                          Phil Mickelson                 USA
                                                                                                         DeChambeau and others. A number of                     Jed Morgan                     Australia
                                                                                                         golfers who participated in 2022 tourna-               Sebastian Munoz                Colombia
                                                                                                         ments won’t be part of this year's lineup.             Kevin Na                       USA
                                                                                                             Here's the full lineup for their 2023              Joaquin Niemann                Chile
                                                                                                         season:                                                Louis Oosthuizen               South Africa
                                                                                                                                                                Carlos Ortiz                   Mexico
                                                                                                         Player                          Country                Mito Pereire                   Chile
                                                                                                         Abraham Ancer                   Spain                  Pat Perez                      USA
                                                                                                         Richard Bland                   England                Thomas Pieters                 Belgium
                                                                                                         Dean Burmester                  South Africa           James Piot                     USA
                                                                                                         Paul Casey                      England                Ian Poulter                    England
                                                                                                         Eugenio Chacarra                Spain                  David Puig                     Spain
                                                                                                         Bryson DeChambeau               USA                    Patrick Reed                   USA
                                                                                                         Sergio Garcia                   Spain                  Charl Schwartzel               South Africa
The LIV Golf Series will have more events in 2023                                                        Taalor Gooch                    USA                    Cameron Smith                  Australia
                                                                                                         Branden Grace                   South Africa           Brendan Steele                 USA
Updated list of PGA Tour defectors                  words:Cash, moolah, green, dough, shekel.            Sam Horsfield                   England                Henrik Stenson                 Sweden
includes Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson                 LIV Golf is backed and funded by the             Charles Howell III              USA                    Cameron Tringale               USA
& more                                              Saudi Arabian government's Public                    Dustin Johnson                  USA                    Peter Uihlein                  USA
                                                    Investment Fund, hence the controversy               Matt Jones                      Australia              Harold Varner III              USA
By Joe Rivera                                       surrounding players jumping ship; The                Martin Kaymer                   Germany                Scott Vincent                  Zimbabwe
   In 2022, the LIV Golf Series emerged as          nation has often been criticized for its han-        Sihwan Kim                      USA                    Bubba Watson                   USA
a rival to the U.S.-based PGA Tour, with            dling of human rights over the years,                Brooks Koepka                   USA                    Lee Westwood                   England
several big names jumping the pond to join          including its assassination of journalist            Chase Koekpa                    USA                    Bernd Wiesberger               South Africa
the startup golf league. LIV Golf wrangled          Jamal Khashoggi. Some paint the money as             Jason Kokrak                    USA                    Matthew Wolff                  USA
some high-profile players, and their ranks          "blood money," and others accuse the
only have grown in popularity and recogni-          Saudi government of "sportswashing" its
tion from there.                                    image via its backing of LIV Golf.
   Now, with more events on the 2023                    Regardless of where the money is com-
schedule, plenty more PGA Tour golfers              ing from, LIV offers something that the
have jumped to LIV Golf, with the tour              PGA Tour does not, by giving contracts to
trimming some of the lesser known (and              its players, in stark contrast of the PGA
less successful) players entering the second        Tour's merit-based reputation.
season. Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson,                  Phil Mickelson, the first and most
Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and                notable player to join the LIV Golf Tour,
other heavy hitters joined the blossoming           was reportedly offered $200 million to
roster of golfers in 2022.                          make the jump. Mickelson has earned $94
   The decisions for these players to jump          million on the course during his PGA Tour
over to the new tour have left the PGA              career, per Spotrac.
Tour in a difficult spot, leading to lots of            Former world No. 1 golfer Dustin
difficult decisions. In June PGA Tour pres-         Johnson was another LIV Golf defector,
ident Jay Monahan announced indefinite              and had earned $74,276,710 on the course
suspensions for all current and future play-        in his career. LIV Golf signed Johnson to a
ers who choose to join LIV Golf. That               four-year contract worth a reported $125
means Mickelson, Johnson and others                 million.
won't have the opportunity to play in PGA                LIV also had its sights set on golf's
Tour events.                                        greatest player, Tiger Woods. Woods was
    PGA Tour golfers, including Rory                reportedly offered between $700 and $800
McIlroy and Tiger Woods, have realized              million to join with the upstart league, an
that LIV may be here to stay, leading to            offer which he declined.
players meetings to discuss the elephant in              In addition to the hefty sums of money
the clubhouse. The PGA Tour later                   going to former PGA players, players also
announced many changes to finances and              face a less intensive schedule and earn a
tournament structures to make the Tour              bigger paycheck for winning some tourna-
more appealing for the players and its fans.        ments. For example, the inaugural LIV
   Will the changes be enough? Time will            Golf event in London paid out $4 million
tell. Here's why so many of the game's best         to the winner, Charl Schwartzel — a num-
are jumping to the new circuit, and who             ber that surpasses any PGA tournament
you can see at a LIV Golf event in 2023:            winner save for the Players Championship
Why are PGA Tour golfers going to LIV               ($4.5 million in 2023). Some players have
Golf?                                               also praised the atmosphere around the
   In a word: Money. In several more                tournaments.

                                                     Follow us on twitter @sportspagedfw | www.sportspagedfw.com | The Sports Page Weekly | Volume 21 - Issue 27 | March 3, 2023 - March 9, 2023              11
MLB                                                           TEXAS RANGERS

2023 Texas Rangers Season Preview
                                                                                                                                                                      ence of former first-rounder and top
                                                                                                                                                                      prospect Josh Jung at the hot corner. Jung
                                                                                                                                                                      appeared to be on the cusp of breaking
                                                                                                                                                                      camp last spring before a hip injury cost
                                                                                                                                                                      him the season’s first half. He then ripped
                                                                                                                                                                      Triple-A pitching to shreds upon his return
                                                                                                                                                                      before posting an 83 OPS+ in a 102 PA
                                                                                                                                                                      cameo last September. ZiPS has him pro-
                                                                                                                                                                      jected at nearly a three-WAR pace should
                                                                                                                                                                      he receive substantial playing time this sea-
                                                                                                                                                                      son, and without many other additions to
                                                                                                                                                                      the offense, Texas is counting on him for a
                                                                                                                                                                      healthy amount of run production in sup-
                                                                                                                                                                      plement to Seager, Semien, García, and
                                                                                                                                                                         The Rangers’ catching tandem of Jonah
                                                                                                                                                                      Heim and Mitch Garver are also set to
                                                                                                                                                                      return, making up what they lack in defen-
                                                                                                                                                                      sive dexterity with a boatload of punch in
                                                                                                                                                                      the bat. The journeyman combination of
                                                                                                                                                                      Robbie Grossman and Brad Miller near the
                                                                                                                                                                      bottom of the lineup won’t be inspiring any
                                                                                                                                                                      confidence, and while minor league sign-
                                                                                                                                                                      ings Clint Frazier and Yoshi Tsutsugo may
                                                                                                                                                                      very well make the team, the time for
                                                                                                                                                                      dreaming on them as potential impact bats
                                                                                                                                                                      has definitively passed.
                                                                                                                                                                         A more compelling scenario for the
                                                                                                                                                                      Rangers would be one in which one of sev-
                                                                                                                                                                      eral high-minors hitting prospects lives up
The Rangers will look to see their spending spree pay off in 2023                                                                                                     to their ranking and provides a spark to a
                                                                                                                                                                      lineup that still seems to be missing a
Will winning the offseason finally trans-                           Astros, or even Angels, but now having            to continue to be slightly above-average,       chunk of production. Second baseman and
late to winning in the regular season?                              seen six consecutive losing seasons, I’m          something the Rangers haven’t gotten out        2020 first-round pick Justin Foscue has a
                                                                    sure the fans won’t be complaining.               of the back half of their rotation since they   minor league OPS closer to .900 than .800
By Jon Thomas                                                          The biggest difference? Some guy               were still reaping the benefits of the Mark     and will likely start the season with Triple-
    Taking a page from the playbook of                              named Jake. Even though his personal              Teixeira trade. Good times!                     A Round Rock, and while outfielder Evan
their AL West brethren in Los Angeles, the                          tastes might be exquisitely boring to a              Anyhow, deGrom, Heaney, and Eovaldi          Carter is just 20 years old and has just
Texas Rangers went with a strict stars-and-                         frankly disconcerting degree, when healthy,       will join Jon Gray and Pérez, who returns       barely tasted Double-A action, it’s not
scrubs approach last season, and as their                           he’s still the best pitcher on the planet. It’s   on a one-year deal after accepting the qual-    inconceivable that the consensus Top 100
final record indicated, it was much more of                         been more than three years since he broke         ifying offer, to constitute the team’s          prospect could make his way to the big
the latter than the former. Corey Seager,                           100 innings in a single summer, but he still      Opening Day rotation, a solid mercenary         leagues in a role that’s currently occupied
Marcus Semien, Nathaniel Lowe, and                                  would have been the 2022 Rangers’ sec-            group that’s a far cry from what they’ve        by Grossman or former prospect Leody
Adolis Garcia did their parts, combining                            ond-best pitcher by WAR to Pérez in any           worked with in recent years. No Ranger          Taveras, who looks more like a prototypi-
for a cool 16.7 rWAR. Unfortunately, that                           of those years.                                   has thrown more innings since the start of      cal fourth outfielder than any kind of
was close to equal to the contributions of                             News of the five-year, $185 million deal       2021 than Dane Dunning, and while he’s          impact starter through 660 MLB plate
the other 20+ members of the roster, and                            he signed with the team was met with puz-         technically on the outside looking in on a      appearances.
that’s including an even 5.0 rWAR from a                            zlement in some corners, given the gap            five-man rotation, a rotation that includes         The Rangers still have a pretty low
resurgent Martín Pérez. Not a pretty scene                          between the number of quality innings             deGrom, Eovaldi, and Heaney is simply           floor, but flush with “the owner is sick of
in Arlington!                                                       deGrom that is capable of providing and           not a true five-man rotation. Hearn looks       being bad” money, this roster has a higher
Texas Rangers                                                       the substantially greater influx of quality       set for a full-time bullpen move in 2023,       ceiling than any they’ve begun the year
2022 record: 68-94 (4th, AL West)                                   innings the Rangers will need to be com-          but if the hip injury that ended Dunning’s      with since they won the AL West in 2016
2023 FanGraphs projection: 83-79                                    petitive in 2023. That puzzlement would           2022 season prevents him from being an          — the last non-Astros team to do so in a
(4th, AL West)                                                      make sense if it were the only significant        effective sixth starter, Howard and Otto        standard season. It’s already a time of tran-
    Now having landed perhaps three of the                          addition made to their rotation, but fear         will likely be next in like.                    sition for the organization, which is enter-
ten biggest fish in free agency over the past                       not, Andrew Heaney and Nathan Eovaldi                The team also has Jake Odorizzi in tow       ing a season without former GM Jon
two offseasons, the Rangers will look to                            are here! Signed to highly reasonable deals       following a swap with Atlanta, as well as       Daniels at the helm for the first time since
see their spending spree pay off in 2023:                           of $25 million and $34 million guaranteed,        the oft-injured but sometime effective          erstwhile owner George W. Bush’s second
After flopping to 68 wins last season, their                        Heaney and Eovaldi are nothing special,           Danny Duffy on a minor-league deal. It’s        inauguration. New GM Chris Young has a
83-win projection is the single biggest                             but “nothing special” is still a pretty hefty     unclear what role they’ll be set to play if     high mountain to climb to beat the Astros,
year-over-year improvement foreseen by                              upgrade over “300 innings at a 5+ ERA             they land with the team, but they may be        but after several years of languishing in the
this season’s edition of the FanGraphs fore-                        from Glenn Otto, Taylor Hearn, Cole               factors as well.                                pits with little in the way of upward mobil-
casted standings. FanGraphs still doesn’t                           Ragans, and Spencer Howard,” which is                 On the offensive side of things, the        ity, it’s finally time for the Rangers to at
think it’s enough to transcend the Mariners,                        what they got in 2022. Both are projected         biggest change from 2022 will be the pres-      least try to make the trek.

12                   March 3, 2023 - March 9, 2023 | The Sports Page Weekly | Volume 21 Issue 27 | www.sportspagedfw.com | follow us on twitter @sportspagdfw.com
Here’s what we think of the 2023 A.L
                                                                                                       again, the AL MVP will be a showdown                   the season. But it’s not crazy to see Ohtani
                                                                                                       between Judge and Ohtani.                              having an even better season in 2023 —
                                                                                                       Cleveland Guardians — JB rings the                     he’s still improving as a pitcher, and he’s as
                                                                                                       Bell: Josh Bell just feels like the perfect fit        dangerous as ever as a DH — and helping
                                                                                                       for a Cleveland offense that’s perpetually             the Angels actually stay in playoff con-
                                                                                                       searching for, well, offense outside of Jose           tention past the All-Star break, which
                                                                                                       Ramirez. With Bell finding his Nationals               would be a refreshing change of pace.
                                                                                                       swing, he leads the Guardians to yet anoth-            Houston Astros — Hunter arrives, for real:
                                                                                                       er AL Central title.                                   Folks, Hunter Brown is the real deal. Sure,
                                                                                                       Kansas City Royals — Junior’s                          the Astros would have loved to have Justin
                                                                                                       Sophomore surge: It was, at times, a rough             Verlander back, but knowing their rotation
                                                                                                       debut season for Bobby Witt Jr. It’s easy to           was already deep, and that this hard-throw-
                                                                                                       forget that he started the season playing a            ing right-hander was waiting in the wings,
                                                                                                       relatively new position — learning third               made that departure easier. He made two
                                                                                                       base at the big league level is not easy —             spot starts and five relief appearances dur-
                                                                                                       but now he’s back where he belongs, at                 ing the regular season, posting a 0.89 ERA.
                                                                                                       shortstop. Last year, he had a .759 OPS in             Then, he pitched 3 2/3 innings of relief in
                                                                                                       97 games at short and a .673 OPS in 52                 the postseason, allowing just two hits. So, a
                                                                                                       games at third. Despite everything, he still           prediction: If Brown doesn’t win the AL
                                                                                                       finished his Age 22 season with 20 homers              Rookie of the Year award, he’ll finish top
                                                                                                       and 30 stolen bases. Big things are ahead,             three.
                                                                                                       including an All-Star nod this summer.                 Oakland Athletics — Runnin’ Ruiz: Let’s
                                                                                                       Detroit Tigers — Miggy pulls a Pujols:                 see what Esteury Ruiz can do, see whether
One optimistic prediction for every               ing year-to-year turnarounds that we’ve              There was magic in St. Louis last summer,              he can reward the A’s for their faith in
American League team in 2023                      seen in a while. And, folks, he’s just get-          as retiring future Hall of Famer Albert                making him the centerpiece of the trade
                                                  ting warmed up. He probably won’t win                Pujols found a season’s worth of magic and             that sent away catcher Sean Murphy. Last
By Jon Thomas                                     the AL MVP — Shohei Ohtani and Aaron                 looked like his old slugger self for six               year, in 114 minor-league games (65 in
   This is the time of year when hope             Judge kind of make that feel impossible              magical months. Miguel Cabrera, we want                Triple-A and 49 at Double-A), Ruiz put up
abounds, and best-case scenarios are debat-       right now — but he’ll be in that next-tier           a repeat of that to celebrate the end of your          jaw-dropping numbers: a .333/.447/.526
ed among fans.                                    conversation.                                        Cooperstown-bound career. There won’t be               slash line, .974 OPS, 16 homers, 65 RBIs,
   Everything is golden, and nothing has          Tampa Bay Rays — Wanderful Franco:                   a milestone chase — he reached 500                     85 stolen bases and 33 doubles. Those
been ruined by the cruel blanket of reality.      Yeah, Wander Franco’s sophomore season               homers in 2021 and 3,000 hits in 2022 —                would be amazing 150-game totals, but he
   So let’s take a few minutes and make           was not quite to the level folks expected —          but we’d settle for a few magical walk-offs            did it in 114 games. Wow. With a no-pres-
some optimistic predictions about the 2023        especially those collectors who went crazy           and maybe even an unexpected playoff                   sure situation in Oakland, where he can
baseball season. We’ll try to keep them           for his rookie cards last spring — but let’s         push. Make it happen, Miggy.                           play without the worry of being benched
rooted in reality, at least a little, but we’ll   remind you that he just turns 22 on March            Minnesota Twins — Buxton stays healthy:                because of playoff implications, he could
look at one aspect of every team with rose-       1, and he already has 153 career MLB                 For as long as he’s in a Twins uniform, this           thrive. So, a prediction: Ruiz receives votes
colored glasses.                                  games under his belt, with a 6.1 bWAR and            will be the wish and so it’s our optimistic            for AL Rookie of the Year. That might not
       Optimistic AL East predictions             122 OPS+ under his belt. Did I mention               prediction: Byron Buxton will stay healthy.            sound like much, but considering how
Toronto Blue Jays — Big bounce-back: In           he’s just turning 22 in a month? He’ll make          Baseball fans across the country, not just             stacked the 2023 rookie class is in the AL,
his Age 23 season, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.          his first All-Star teams this summer.                Twins fans, want to see what he’s capable              and considering voters only have three
hit 32 home runs, with a 137 OPS+ and 3.9         Boston Red Sox — Best-case scenarios: It             of with six injury-free months of baseball.            spots on the ballot, just getting votes will
bWAR. In a vacuum, it’s hard to imagine           was, putting it nicely, an odd offseason for         He’s played basically one full season’s                be a huge accomplishment this year.
that type of production as anything but a         the Red Sox. But let’s look through rose-            worth of games over the past two years,                Seattle Mariners — 40-40 vision for J-
rousing success. But baseball isn’t played        colored glasses and assume that Enrique              and these are his totals: 153 games, 47                Ro: The sky is the limit for Julio Rodriguez
in a vacuum, and coming off an Age 22             Hernandez can handle primary duties at               homers, 150 OPS+, 8.5 bWAR. Let that be                who had 28 homers and 25 stolen bases in
season when he hit 48 homers, with a 167          shortstop — Trevor Story’s out for months,           his 2023, please.                                      his Age 21 season, in only 132 games. A
OPS+ and 6.8 bWAR, yeah, 2022 was a bit           at least — despite entering his Age 31 sea-          Chicago White Sox — A fresh start: The                 40-homer, 40-stolen base season doesn’t
disappointing. I don’t expect that he’ll be       son and having started just 64 games there           2022 season was a debacle and the offsea-              seem impossible. Dream big, fans, because
“down” again in 2023. Maybe he won’t              in the bigs in his career. And let’s assume          son wasn’t much better, what with losing               you know J-Rod already is.
reach his 2021 levels, but I would expect         that Masataka Yoshida is worth what the              Jose Abreu, Johnny Cueto and Josh                      Texas Rangers — This year, it works: Last
him somewhere in between, and he’ll help          Red Sox paid him, and not what most oth-             Harrison and not making any significant                year, after the signings of Corey Seager
lead the Jays back into the postseason,           ers in the industry thought he’d get when            additions to the roster, outside of Andrew             and Marcus Semien, the hope for Rangers
maybe even as the AL East champs                  he came over from Japan. Let’s assume                Benintendi (forget about Mike Clevinger).              fans is that the team would contend for a
(though wild-card seems more realistic).          that 30-somethings Chris Sale, James                 But just getting past 2022 and being able to           playoff berth in 2022. That always seemed
Also, Jose Berrios will be better in 2023,        Paxton can both make 25-30 starts in                 put it in the rearview mirror, with new                a bit naive, though, considering the issues
his Age 29 season, than he was in 2022            bounce-back seasons, and Corey Kluber                skipper Pedro Grifol providing a new voice             the Rangers had in their rotation and at
(5.23 ERA/4.55 FIP).                              can do it again in his Age 37 season. And            and leadership, that’s a big step forward.             other positions. But now? They added
Baltimore Orioles — Adley 4 MVP:                  let’s assume that Aldaberto Mondesi and              It’s easy to see Luis Robert finally becom-            Jacob deGrom, Nathan Eovaldi and
Damn, that Adley Rutschman kid is spe-            Adam Duvall will stay healthy and hit                ing the star his talent says he can be, and            Andrew Heaney to the rotation, along with
cial, isn't he? Most other years, Rutschman       above .250. If all that happens, a push for a        seeing these White Sox push Cleveland for              Martin Perez and Jon Gray. That’s a big
would have run away with the AL Rookie            wild-card spot is possible.                          the AL Central title.                                  difference, if those three veterans stay
of the Year award after what he did in            New York Yankees — Judge runs it back:               Los Angeles Angels — Shohei soars: We                  healthy (a relatively big “if” of course).
2022; despite not making his MLB debut            Maybe he doesn’t hit 62 homers again, but            are trying to keep these predictions reason-           The Rangers stick around in the playoff
until late May, he posted a 5.2 bWAR and          what Aaron Judge did in 2022 was not a               able, so you won’t see any predictions of              conversation through at least August,
led the Orioles to one of the more astound-       fluke, folks. He’s that good. And once               Shohei Ohtani signing an extension during              which would be a big jump from 2022.

                                                   Follow us on twitter @sportspagedfw | www.sportspagedfw.com | The Sports Page Weekly | Volume 21 - Issue 27 | March 3, 2023 - March 9, 2023           13
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