Chill.

It was cool but not really cold, spitting without really raining, the time of year when that’s what we tend to get, and a song came on in the car that I hadn’t heard in probably 10 years, maybe 20.

It reminded me of all those years when mid-September meant the start of school and a new TV season and a new year of Topps football.  Of making plans on Tuesday or Wednesday for where we’d watch Sunday’s Cowboy game.  Homemade chili, and a reintroduction to the concept of layers.

I grew up with baseball Septembers setting the stage for the annual force-thrill of roster expansion while other teams played for playoff spots.  Would Kevin Reimer actually get to 20 homers?  Surely Glen Cook will figure it out next year.  Watch out for Dan Peltier.

Edwin Correa, man.

I can’t even get my head wrapped around how fired up I’d have been in the ’80s or ’90s if Martin Perez had thrown 4.1 hitless innings in long relief one mid-September night, or if Wilmer Font had gotten the call to the big leagues after what he’d done over six weeks of AA relief (18.2 innings, 12 hits, eight walks, 36 strikeouts).

I will have one eye on the Cowboy game today.  I will.  I’ll probably watch “60 Minutes” tonight, too.

But I won’t give a minute’s thought to either one until start time.

That’s different.

For decades, mid-September baseball fit that category for me and for lots of you, while for most others it meant far less than that, prompting the editors to stick the game story wherever there was space for it on page 14, buried behind the season’s first Heisman Watch, a rundown of Friday night’s Class 3A high school football scores, and the weekly Outdoors column, a page before the agate dump.

Sunday was football, from the Countdown shows while it drizzled outside until the wrap-ups and Sports Special.

Not now.  Not for all of us.

This is baseball season.  These are the games that the first 145 have set the stage for.

After the disastrous four pitches that ended the Angels-Royals game last night, Mike Scioscia mumbled to reporters that losing late like that just makes it a heavier page to turn.

Around here, it used to be that anything but the hardest-core baseball fans had put the book back on the shelf weeks ago.

Mid-September Rangers baseball is no longer about Scott Chiamparino or Donald Harris or Ben Kozlowski, or about a crazy-great group reporting to Fall Instructional League, which kicks off today in Surprise.

It’s about Blake Beavan, whom the Rangers drafted in June 2007, and Matt Harrison, whom they traded for a month later, and a huge baseball game pitting the two against each other in a little more than two hours.

It’s huge because the A’s no longer lose baseball games.  And if that makes you uncomfortable – which I’m not yet thought I’ll admit I might be getting there – embrace the uneasiness and think back to when the story line this time of year was whether Jonathan Johnson or Chris Magruder could play at this level.  (Page 22.)

Relax.  This is why we invest all this time.

Both the Rangers and Cowboys tee it up against Seattle this afternoon, and it’s the game that starts first that ranks that way, too.

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