by Robert Bell
ARKANSAS TRAVELERS HOME OPENER
7:10 p.m. Dickey-Stephens Park. $4-$12.
If you squint your ears just right, you can almost hear it: the crack of a bat, the roar of the crowd, the amplified voice of the announcer booming out across the stands. Baseball season is upon us once again.
Of course, a lot of Arkansas Travelers fans will likely still have a bad taste in their mouths after the events of the most recent off-season, what with the unceremonious and very unpopular ditching of General Manager Pete Laven and Assistant GM David Kay.
Travs President Russ Meeks ousted Laven and Kay back in November, with support from the organization's executive committee. In an interview with Arkansas Business, Meeks offered no criticisms or complaints about Laven or Kay, but spoke only of the need for change. To say that the move angered many longtime Travelers fans, supporters and board members would be an understatement.
Irked fans started a Facebook page (which had more than 1,800 members as of Monday) dedicated to venting their frustration over the firings and providing updates about changes within the organization.
Laven found work overseeing ball clubs in Chicago, while Kay accepted a position with the Tulsa Drillers. But will lingering animosity and anger affect turnout for games this season? We'll probably have to wait and see.
The Travs start the season with back-to-back three-game series against the Frisco RoughRiders and the Midland Rockhounds. Three of the Los Angeles Angels' top prospects will be playing with the Travelers this week: Third baseman Kaleb Coward, relief pitcher Nick Maronde and first baseman C.J. Cron.