THE NEWBERG REPORT — MARCH 13, 2006

The pilot sort of ruined the thrill of our descent by announcing that we’d be greeted by a mid-afternoon temperature of 49 degrees, which I suppose shouldn’t have come as a surprise given the snow-capped scenery fringing the Phoenix area.

My baseball season was set to get underway, but it sure didn’t feel that way. Sort of a depressing start.

But not for long. I stood at the baggage carousel, along with 200 others awaiting the bags we’d entrusted to the airline. The conveyor ramp began to descend.

And there was my bag, the second onto the carousel, as if to make up for all those times over the years that I stood in baggage claim with two or three other straggling passengers wondering if our bags even made the same trip we did.

At that point I didn’t notice those 49 degrees. Baseball time.

Next stop: the rental car garage, where my internal gloating over getting Bag No. 2 was swiftly punished. I won’t say the rent car company wasn’t Trying Hard, but they managed to designate a car for me that was extremely difficult to drive out of the garage, considering the parking space it was assigned to was, um, empty.

The time it took to get that cleared up cost me any chance of seeing the end of Sunday’s Ranger game in Peoria.

I did, however, get the chance later in the day to interact with two members of the Rangers family. In fact, I’d call them the oldest member of the Rangers family (in my consciousness, at least) and the newest member of the Rangers family.

Jim Sundberg was my first favorite baseball player.

I know who three-week-old Jack Gordon Teixeira’s favorite baseball player is.

I did watch the jaw-dropping season premiere of "The Sopranos" last night. I wish I’d seen the spotless spring premieres of C.J. Wilson and Armando Galarraga during the day, in a "B" game against Kansas City. Or the jaw-dropping two-homer, one-double, five-RBI game Jason Botts had in the same game. Can’t TiVo those.

But it’s a new day, and I’ve got my rent car, a full tank of gas, a notepad and a pen. And a sweatshirt. Life is good.

Off to watch Kevin Millwood pitch.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

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