Sing along to the theme of Cheers: "Making your way in Tulsa today takes everything you've got. Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot.
"Wouldn't you like to get away? Sometimes you want to go where the Drillers play a game."
Enough singing, let's play ball. It gave you warm fuzzies belting those familiar tunes right? You know what else tingles the innards? Beer. The Tulsa Drillers famed Thirsty Thursdays sell 20 kegs of beer on average. This equates to roughly 140 cases of beer per game, roughly 40,000 ounces. Hooray beer!
Of course the Drillers are a proud baseball franchise as well. The skill on display in T-Town the past few years has been off the charts. Check out the Colorado Rockies World Series lineup from a year ago.
What about 2008? I'm glad you asked. Gone are Jeff Francis, Matt Holliday and Troy Tulowitzki. The new cast of characters can't possibly live up to the Drillers lofty standards. Or can they?
The Rockies continue sending high-quality prospects to the Drillers organization. The five-year affiliation has been wonderful for the local on-the-field product. This will be the sixth year the Drillers have partnered with the Rockies.
The roster is rich with talent. Outfielder Dexter Fowler, shortstop Chris Nelson, starting pitcher Brandon Hynick and relief pitchers Casey Weathers and Pedro Strop were named to Baseball America's list of Top 10 Prospects for the Colorado Rockies' minor league system.
Do you enjoy small ball?
Does a National League game filled with dicey managerial decisions excite you more than an American League snooze fest? This is your team.
Manager Stu Cole's roster is littered with speed. "Dexter Fowler is a speed demon," said Drillers general manager Mike Melega. Fowler's base thievery and defensive prowess have him poised to ascend to the big leagues one day.
The Rockies drafted pitcher Casey Weathers, 8th overall last summer out of Vanderbilt. "I think he'll be our closer to start the year," said Melega. "He's somebody we need to keep an eye on." His collegiate pedigree gives him an arm up on the competition for a promotion if things go according to plan.
Another bullpen gem is Pedro Strop. "He's got nasty stuff, closer-type material," said Melega. Expect to see Strop emerge from the bullpen with his mid-90s fastball.
Brandon Hynick is the reigning California League pitcher of the year. He'll toss darts in Tulsa. "He's the type of guy who'll be the anchor of our staff," said Melega. Hynick almost bypassed Tulsa for the AAA affiliate. He may not stick around too long. Catch him while you can.
Former Driller Troy Tulowitzki signed a six-year contract with the Rockies in the off-season. He'll be plugged into the lineup for years to come at shortstop.
This means our new SS, Chris Nelson, may have to find a new position in order to crack the majors. He was drafted out of high school in 2004. He blossomed last season.
Another stellar pitching prospect is Alan Johnson. He is kinda new this year but not really. The Rockies flew him in for two spot starts a season ago. He didn't give up a single run in either start for the Drillers. He begins the season for the home team this year.
The injection of talent means the Drillers are poised to make another playoff appearance. Can they win a post-season series this year?
"If we can keep the talent that we are projected to start the season with, I don't think it will be a problem," said Melega of ending the losing streak in the playoffs. "With the Rockies, we've always been loaded with talent early. We end up losing some overachievers during the course of the season. We're weaker when the playoffs start."
Home is where the Stadium is?
The relationship forged between the Drillers and Tulsa is unquantifiable. It's the one sport in Tulsa we can follow a player's progression from the minors to the majors. We've bonded on many levels. It's our summer elixir.
How much longer will the relationship last in earnest? We're talking a Tulsa ballpark, no Hi-Jenks.
"The talks are progressing. It's not a quick process when dealing with the city. It's going to be one where we keep making steps forward. Things are progressing just as we planned. We've got until the end of May," explained the GM.
"There hasn't been a lot in the (daily) newspaper lately but the meetings are going on. As soon as we have more news to report we'll get it out there," promised Melega.
We know the Drillers are playing at 15th and Yale this season. The games offer copious amounts of entertainment.
The home opener is Thurs., April 10 (they begin the season on the road). Tickets are on sale. Free tickets can be claimed at one of the many Drillers sponsors locations. Visit www.tulsadrillers.com for more details.
Drillers Stadium hosts Bedlam baseball on May 16. They will also host the 5A and 6A High School State Baseball Championships on May 10.
The fireworks are always a fan favorite. "We're going to have ten fireworks shows, the most we've ever had. The first one will be on April 26," reminded Melega.
Finally, my favorite new twist for the upcoming campaign. "We're going to do some T-shirt Thursdays. On many of our nights we're going to do these Royal Blue T-shirts with Drillers on the front and a former player (and number) on the back."
Me thinks the kids will love the T-shirt jerseys. "We're going to feature Matt Holliday, Tulowitzki, Brad Hawpe, Jeff Francis and all those guys who helped get the Rockies to the World Series last year," said the GM.
And let's finish Tulsa's official Drillers preview the way we started it. Clear your throat-ahem: "You wanna go where people know, people are all the same, you wanna go where everybody knows your team's name."
Dillers Sidebar Box
The un-Official All-Time Drillers Roster:
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Carlos Pena
LF Matt Holliday
DH Travis Hafner
RF Sammy Sosa
C Ivan Rodriguez
3B Hank Blaylock
CF Ruben Sierra
P Kevin Brown (sorry Chuck)
2B Eric Young Jr. *
* - Hard time finding a 2B so I gave it to one of the new kids.
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