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Rooting for Rangers or Braves?

I just don't understand people who put mayonnaise and mustard on a ham and cheese sandwich.

If you like the sweet or spicy taste of the yellow stuff, it just seems like the mayonnaise would drown out that overall goodness. Or vice-versa. It's like having a hot dog with ketchup and mustard - that can't happen - or can it?

The Myrtle Beach Pelicans certainly want you to like all the condiments.

Grand Strand fans are being force-fed a new team. But talk about a good first bite. The Texas Rangers exhibition game on Tuesday at BB&T Coastal Field gave fans a great reason to give a little allegiance to the Lonestar State. Towering homeruns in batting practice, superstars at an arm's length and a winning team with expectations that come with the title of defending American League Champions is enough in my mind to check the standings to see how Texas is doing.

But Atlanta Braves fans who enjoyed the decade-long affiliation with the Pelicans are seemingly stuck on the fact that you have no tie to the hometown team anymore -- I applaud you. In this world of inevitable change, showing allegiance to a club through thick and thin is standing ovation worthy. I'll admit -- I can't do it. I'm too enthralled by ERA, runs and stolen bases from the 20 guys on my fantasy team to ever dedicate an entire 162-game season to a single franchise.

OK, let's say you are a fan who loves minor league baseball and is on the fence of a Major League team to cheer on. I'll throw you a bone and breakdown the pros and cons of a pair of popular options with a local connection.

Texas-Sized Expectations

Don't read into the two-hit lackluster performance the Rangers put on for the fans at BB&T Coastal Park on Tuesday night--this lineup is stacked. A potential MVP could be batting sixth for the Rangers in Nelson Cruz. The Texas batting order has a little bit of speed, a lot of power and a strong defense. The acquisition of third basemen Adrian Beltre will not only give the lineup depth, but quite possibly the best defensive third basemen in the game.

The question mark is the starting pitching staff and the bullpen. The Rangers put in an 11th hour effort to solidify an ace of the staff -- but Cliff Lee ended up signing with the Phillies for reportedly less money.

New Manager, Old Expectations

Fredi Gonzalez is the new guy in Braves camp. He takes over for long-time manager Bobby Cox. I get the feeling the clubhouse has the same type of feel as if Cox has never left. Gonzalez is a Bobby Cox-type-of-guy and there's a familiar, wily, veteran named Chipper Jones still roaming the clubhouse.

Jones has a new knee but is still past his prime. His wisdom though will help the psychological portion of the game for guys like Jason Heyward (former Pelican) and Nate McLouth. The addition of Dan Uggla should give the team a little pop -- but for some reason, I'm on the bandwagon of Uggla doubters. I just keep getting surprised when the guy hits 30 home runs.

The pitching staff is a mixed bag of veterans and lively, young arms. Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson (former Pelican), Tim Hudson and Jair Jurrjens are all vastly different on the mound. The bullpen is in flux as Gonzalez's one early-season mistake (in my opinion) is not naming a closer for the start of the season.

The Edge

Looking at the divisions each team plays in, the edge has to go to the Rangers. Texas has too good of a lineup to not beat out the Angels in the AL West. Atlanta has to go through the Phillies again, which if healthy, is the best team in the National League.

The opening weekend of baseball is here. Enjoy.

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