Latest News

From the desert to the beach

jeff zell
jeff zell

If you are a frequent Surge reader, you're now reading my third column for this publication. I'm excited to be a contributor to the weekly newspaper and I'm very open to criticism about my writing and opinions. I'm also open to ideas about column topics - this one coming from Surge editor, Kent Kimes.

He asked me, "Why not write about the Rangers coming to town? What's to say the AL MVP, Josh Hamilton or former Pelican Elvis Andrus will even show up?"

I don't take sandy beaches, fun-in-the-sun and the opposite sex in a swimsuit for granted -- and neither should you. I may be different from a Grand Strand lifer, well, because I've only been here five months. But when you're a young alpha-male and you're in shape, beach time is go-time.

I can guarantee ladies looking to catch a glimpse of the ripped and tattooed AL MVP Hamilton have the week of March 29 circled on the calendar. That's when the Texas Rangers come to town to play an exhibition game against Coastal Carolina University at BB&T Coastal Field, home of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, a longtime affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, now affiliated with the reigning AL West Champs after the Pelicans' owner purchased the big league club.

"We sold the game out in two-and-a-half-days," Pelicans general manager Scott Brown said. "To think, (Major League Baseball) awards have been given out and the MVP, Josh Hamilton could be playing in our park."

The only thing stopping Hamilton, All-Star second baseman Ian Kinsler or even former Pelican Andrus from making it to Myrtle Beach is injury. But wait, what if the high-priced major leaguers want to miss out on the exhibition to return home and spend time with their families.

Well, sure -- but you don't really want to mess with the new boss, do you?

"The nice thing we have is the dual managing partnership with Chuck Greenberg," Brown said about Pelicans and Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg. "He wants to put his best foot forward."

Fans with ties to the Braves weren't happy about the affiliation change at the time. A WBTW viewer from Marion called me frustrated and said she was cancelling her ticket package because of the move. The argument was that she wouldn't have access to the parent club's regular broadcasts like the area does with the Braves.

That may be true, but in this day and age if you are a true baseball fan, you can gain access to any Major League Baseball game through an online broadcast purchase or MLB cable or satellite package.

With the affiliation change, a Major League team will come to Myrtle Beach. It's a game owner Greenberg begged for as owner of the Pelicans but never got. Greenberg wasn't tied into the major league club like some of Atlanta's other minor league affiliates. So in essence, we traded the parent club of the Pelicans for an opportunity to bring in one of the biggest sporting events to the Grand Strand in the last decade.

But back on these players, yes -- sometimes Major Leaguers can be deprived in comparison to their peers. I mean, Brad Pitt has it better than Mario Lopez. Rangers players don't get the same spring training experience of many East Coast teams because of where spring ball is located. Nothing do to with money or fame -- but deprived of sun and sand of Florida. Not many new Rangers fans probably know this, but Texas spring training is in Surprise, Ariz., about 20-miles northwest of Phoenix - or in other words....the desert. When spring training finally breaks, the players will be more than ready to cash in on America's version of the Sahara for some real fun in the sun.

And if that doesn't entice the players enough, how about having a five-star player recommendation? Former Pelicans Elvis Andrus and Matt Harrison (shipped to Texas in the infamous Mark Teixeira trade) will likely be breaking camp as part of the Rangers 25-man roster. Andrus was a part of the 2007 Pelicans team and Harrison a part of the 2006 squad.

Fortunately for the city of Myrtle Beach, and a bunch of lucky restaurants, the big league ball players are slated for two days in the Eastern Carolinas. That means big spending, big tips and big-time baseball.

I personally am looking forward to the game which will feature a nationally ranked CCU baseball team, but I'm even more excited about what will happen before the first pitch. Watching how loose the players will be during batting practice and how far the balls will fly out of BB&T Coastal Field will be the real show.

Heck, against college pitching -- it might happen in the game as well.