This is the most exciting week in baseball. It's the week where anything is possible. No one is out of it this week. Everyone's a possibility. The starting rosters aren't completely firmed up and it's anyone's...um, ballgame.
When it comes to the Houston Astros some people may already be counting them out. You won't find me in that group. No, I'm holding out hope for this young team.
Don't book me a room at the asylum yet, I'm not one of those people who thinks that the Astros can win a World Series as an NL team this year and an AL team next year, but I still don't think that this Houston team will necessarily be the basement dwellers that we watched last season.
So what's so different that I'm excited to watch Astros baseball this year?
The Front Office: If you don't think new ownership and a new President and a new General Manager will change the look of baseball in Houston, I think you've lost your ever-loving mind. Already we're seeing a different approach to filling gaps on the field. No one went and spent a fortune to bring in a washed up Shortstop for an insane amount of money. No one bought a bunch of lefty middle relievers for the bullpen.
The moves this front office made in the off season were calculated, smart and low risk with potential high reward. Livan Hernandez? Jed Lowrie? Smart moves.
The Player's Outlook: I haven't been to happy hour with a bunch of the guys, but if their twitter feeds and Spring Training efforts and outcomes are to be believed, this is a group of guys with a seriously changed perception of themselves and what is possible. Last season I often felt post game interviews were a series of canned cliches that they felt they "had to" say to not look like giant morons.
So far this Spring, the tone of comments and the realistic view of where the club is and where it is going convey more than all of those canned interviews all last season. These boys are looking to win and they are showing the conviction to make it happen.
Again, I haven't fallen off the rocker. The Houston Astros aren't going to go win the NL Central (although how fun would it be to topple the Cardinals one last time?) But this is a team with talent, for sure.
I have 7 days. 7 days left that anything is possible. And next Friday, on that day when the dream of a better season turns into the realistic start? I'll be there, watching, cheering and hoping. I hope the rest of the city of Houston will be doing the same and remembering that these are NOT your 2011 Astros.