Winning a championship isn't easy. If it was, every team would win and it wouldn't mean a thing. The ups and downs of a season have to culminate at the right time to contend for a title, much less win it all.
The hits have to come at just the right time, the pitchers have to hit their spots, and the defensive plays have to be made and mistakes must be kept to a minimum.
The San Antonio Missions begin their quest for a repeat of their title run last season. The only difference between this repeat run and any other in baseball's modern era is that this is the second year in a row that the Missions are aiming to repeat. The Missions have won the Texas League title two years-in-a-row and are attempting to be the first Texas League team to win three consecutive titles since the 1920s.
The Mariners organization has experienced a lot of success as of late and the Missions should reap the benefits of the organization's prospects this season. Players both new and old to San Antonio feel that the mixture of experience within the clubhouse can only work to the Missions benefit.
"This whole organization has had a lot of success," said third baseman Greg Dobbs. "We want to build on that and (live) up to those expectation.
Dobbs returns to the Missions after sitting out all but the first two games last season with an Achilles' tendon injury. Dobbs has been listed as one of the organization's Top Ten Breakthrough players to watch by InsideThePark.com's Jason A. Churchill.
Last season, one of the Missions main strengths was their pitching. This season, team offense is going to be one of the main focuses for the team.
"We're going to score a lot of runs," said returning outfielder Greg Jacobs. "Last year was phenomenal, but this team has the skills and talent to help us win."
While the concept of minor league baseball is to prepare prospects to advance through the system as quickly as possible, for the Missions to have acheived the success they have had the last few seasons, there has to have been a stable invariable. For this Missions squad, that constant is Manager Dave Brundage.
Brundage is quick to deflect the spotlight from himself, though, and claims that he is simply the beneficiary of the players he is asked to teach.
"I've been pretty darn lucky (to reap) the benefits of our organization," fourth year Missions manager Brundage said.
"Brundy", as he is respectfully called by his players, realizes that this season will be tougher than the previous seasons due to the ascension of prospects to Triple-A Tacoma. Brundage feels strongly that this team can contend for the title and the players he has been charged with can become a team quickly.
"You don't really know until you size yourself against the league," Brundage said. "We have a great mixture (of players); anytime you get quality people, chemistry is going to be great."
Dobbs feels that Brundage is one of the main reasons that prospects enjoy playing in San Antonio.
"He's an unbelievable coach. He knows his players, he knows the game. He was made to be around the game," Dobbs said. "He makes moves that other guys don't think of."
San Antonio begins their 2003-04 season with a ten-game road trip in Midland and El Paso before returning to the confines of Nelson M. Wolff Municipal Stadium on April 18 for their home opener against Midland.
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