What a season. Seriously. Here we are, days away from the start of the playoffs and the AL Central will be decided by a one game tie-breaker on Tuesday. The Twins and the Tigers will duke it out for the top spot and a chance to take on the Yankees.
It doesn’t really surprise me that it would take a tie-breaker to determine a division. We’ve seen all kinds of crazy stuff this season. Who would’ve thought, after their record setting start, that the Dodgers would struggle more with Manny than without him? And who didn’t write the Rockies off before the All-Star break? I actually thought the Cubs would’ve been contenders in the NL Central but I sure was wrong. I wouldn’t have guessed the Mets would end the season with a record that resembled the Nationals’ more than the Phillies’.
In the AL, the Yankees had a shaky start while the Red Sox looked like they would easily put insurmountable distance between themselves and the Bronx Bombers. I’ll give the Yankees credit. When they get their act together, they really get their act together and perform like a well-oiled machine. A super-expensive machine. The Rangers sure kept the battle for the west interesting. Everyone kept expecting them to implode but that didn’t happen. The Angels had to fight hard for every inch of ground they gained. (If you’re reading this, Big Mike…yes, the Angels did finish 10 games ahead, exactly as you predicted, but it wasn’t easy.)
I’ll admit the last few days have been less stressful. I watched the remaining games of the Texas series, as well as the final three games in Oakland, secure in the knowledge that my boys had made it to the postseason. It was fun to watch the newbies take the field and do their best to impress the powers-that-be in the Angels organization. Strike-outs? Yawn…whatever. Errors? I just rolled my eyes. None of it mattered. How refreshing is that?
Carefree? Yep…that’s me. I haven’t felt like this since just before spring training. On one hand, it feels like it’s been years since Opening Day. On the other hand, it seems like it was just yesterday. When I went to the Big A last Monday night to watch the Angels clinch the west, the usual video montage that’s played before games to the Train song “Calling All Angels”, had been replaced with a new montage that chronicled the 2009 season. It was a bittersweet ride down memory lane and I found myself a bit emotional when it ended. There wasn’t anything in it that I hadn’t already seen. But I think that’s what got to me. I realized I’ve been there for all of it, good and bad, happy and sad. Just like seasons past, I haven’t missed a single moment of it. I’ve cried with my Angels and I’ve rejoiced with them too. And no matter what happens in the postseason, I’ll do the same next year. Because I’m a fan and that’s what fans do. I know for many players, it’s just a job. But I’d like to think that it’s more than a paycheck. More than a quest for a mention in the record books. There may be a few hundred players but there’s millions of fans. And without us there wouldn’t be Major League Baseball.
Baseball…good to the last drop!
My kind of town, Chicago is NOT my kind of town. Or to paraphrase a Dixie Chick, I’m embarrassed to be from Chicago. At least today I am. I don’t like the White Sox and I don’t like what they did to my Angels. They never bothered me much until Ozzie Guillen became their manager. He’s obnoxious. Then there was that whole AJ Pierzynski incident in the ALDS a few years back. Pierzynski. He’s even more obnoxious than his manager. He’s such a little weasel.
The Angels looked good on Sunday against the Dodgers. I knew the Rangers would finally have a little competition as they hosted the Yankees for 3, so if the Angels came back to the Big A and played well against the White Sox, they could close that 3 game gap in the west. With Ervin Santana on the mound and Big Daddy Vlady back in the line-up Monday night, I was feeling pretty confident. I didn’t panic when the White Sox scored 3 in the 1st. When the Angels came up in the 1st, they put their own 3 runs on the board. Or I should say, their ONLY 3 runs on the board. After that, the Angels pitchers hosted batting practice for the Sox and not only did the Angels lose, they were:
With a disturbing final score of 3-17, it was a game I’m already trying to erase from my memory. Angels pitchers gave up 24 hits while the Angels offense had a measly 4, with Vlady going 0 for 4. I can’t think of anything that went right for the Angels. At least they didn’t make any errors? White Sox fans had their little chuckle. Tonight (Tuesday) would be different. Well, slightly. It wasn’t as embarrassing a loss, but it was a loss. And what a shame, considering Joe Saunders had a pretty decent outing. But it was the offense that struggled. The Angels only 2 runs came on solo shots by my Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu…his 1st (hopefully of many) of the season. Right now, the Rangers are leading the Yankees in the 9th so instead of closing that gap, it could be widened to 4 games. Jered Weaver will start tomorrow and I hope the Angels can re-group. A sweep by Chicago would just make me sick!
Speaking of Chicago, today is my Cubbie-loving grandfather’s 95th birthday! When I called to wish him a happy birthday, the first thing he said was, “How are your Angels doing?” He then proceeded to tell me everything that’s wrong with the Cubs. At 95, he’s sharp as a tack but even sharper when it comes to baseball. I remember as a child in Chicago, my Poppy leaving the dinner table and heading to the TV room to watch the Cubs game. I didn’t discover my love (obsession) for baseball until after moving to Southern California, but I did take him to an Angels/Cubs game when he came to visit in ’03. In October of ’07, his Cubs made the play-offs and I got an idea. I first called my sister who works for United Airlines, and asked if she could help me with flights if I somehow managed to get tickets for game 3 of the Cubs vs. D-Backs division series at Wrigley. I’m not giving my secret away, but I did indeed score 2 tickets. I flew to O’Hare on Friday night and Grandpa picked me up curbside. (Oh, by the way…he just passed his driving test again!) The next afternoon, when we walked through the tunnel, I found myself getting all misty-eyed.
I’d never been to Wrigley Field before, and here I was with my Poppy. (Oh, and it didn’t hurt that we had better seats than Jesse Jackson!) The Cubs lost the game, the D-Backs swept the series and I was on a flight back to OC the next morning, but it was a once in a life-time for me. Please, for the love of God, can the Cubs get to the World Series again while Grandpa’s still around???
And speaking of birthdays…my Grandpa has teased me since I was little kid that I’m one day older than he is because his birthday is the 26th and mine was the 25th. I can only hope to be tearing it up at 95 like my Grandpa is. How old am I? A lady never tells her age. But I’ll give you a hint. (Maybe you’ll catch it…maybe not.)
Baseball…love it for life.
Last night’s game against the Tigers was my first visit back to the Big A this season. It was bittersweet. I didn’t have my Dad with me…but I had my Mom! This was the first time I’ve ever been to a baseball game with Mom and I thank my sister for getting us the tickets and making it happen. As we walked around the stadium before the game started, I had a chance to show Mom where Dad and I used to sit, where we’d have our picnics and just reminisce about the great times he and I shared. I had some anxiety all day, wondering if it would be too hard to be back at the stadium without him, but once I got in the parking lot, I was just fine. Baseball is such a sweet escape for me and I love being at the ballpark. I immediately felt my Dad was there too and I knew he was happy that we’d come to the game.
Ah, yes…the game. Once again, we had a solid start from Jered Weaver. When he left after 7, he had given up only 3 runs (2 of those runs were solo HR’s to Granderson) and the game was tied 3-3. But as Angel fans know, it’s not the starting pitchers who are an issue. The relievers have given up hit after hit, run after run, grand slam after grand slam…’nuff said. But Jose Arredondo took the mound and had a quick 8th inning and I know we all breathed a sigh of relief.
I often claim that I have sat in just about every section in the stadium. From the Diamond Club (great if it’s not a 98 degree day game), to the upper-upper-upper views (we like to call them the “halo” seats ’cause you’re closer to heaven), I thought I’d been all over that park. But last night I sat in a section I had not been in before.
They weren’t bad seats. We had a clear view of the plate and also had no trouble seeing Mike Scioscia get tossed by the umpire after he argued balls and strikes. But, when Gary Matthews, Jr., filling in for an injured Vlad Guerrero in right field, bobbled a ball right in front of us, I heard something I rarely have ever heard from Angels fans…jeering.
Whhhaaaatttt? Not here. Not Angels fans. NOT in front of my Mom! I’m not sure if I was more embarrassed or angry. It was probably an even combination of both. I’m not naive. I know it goes on. But honestly, it’s not something you hear often in Anaheim. We have a reputation for being the kinder, gentler fans in So Cal.
Then Matthews delivered the game winning RBI in the 8th and the same idiots who had heckled him were now high-fiving each other. Cut to the 9th inning. Brian Fuentes comes in to close and runs into a bit of K-Rod-esque trouble. And the grumbling returns. Matthews tries to run down a foul ball near the right field stands and when he misses, the name calling starts again. Are you kidding me? How many beers must one consume to have total memory failure after only half an inning? If only it could all be blamed on alcohol. A little earlier, three pre-teen boys had moved down a few rows and took the seats directly behind us. Now they decided to join in and began hurling insults at Matthews. I wasn’t embarrassed anymore. I was pissed. So, I turned around and said, “Tell me…what did you have to say when he hit the go-ahead RBI??” That shut them up real quick. That’s right…I told them. I turned back around in my seat, feeling just a little bit better until I heard my mother loudly reprimand me. “Leave those kids alone!” Thanks, Mom. You do remember I’m in my (early) 40’s now, don’t you? Even the rally monkey was embarrassed for me.
Fuentes finally got the third out, the halo was twinkling and everyone was happy. Or were they? After dropping Mom off, I was heading home and listening to Angels Talk on the radio. I couldn’t believe just 14 games into the season, “fans” were calling in saying Kendry Morales has got to go! And then it hit me. The heckling of Matthews, the jeering of Fuentes and now fans calling for a new first baseman (Newsflash: Teixiera was not going to be anything but a Yankee…so get over it!) minutes after the conclusion of game 14 of a 162 game season made it all so clear. We are spoiled. And we have been for a while. Just last season, the Angels only spent 8 days out of first place in the West. Now, the mighty Yankee Slayers are struggling and some of their fans don’t seem to be handling it well. I think I need Super Nanny to set these spoiled brats straight.
She can start with my husband, a textbook fair-weather fan. In nearly ten year of marriage, I’m pretty sure our biggest fights happened during baseball season. It’s easy to be a fan when your team is cruising to the play-offs. It takes a real fan to support a struggling team. My 95 year old grandfather is a shining example of this. Does he sometimes yell at the TV when the Cubs miss a double play? Sure. Does he get so mad he’d change the channel? Never. He’s true (Cubbie) blue. And everyone knows you can’t possibly be a true Angels fan without faith.
Baseball…we try harder.
While we’re all still saddened and shocked by the untimely and tragic death of Nick Adenhart, I think all Angel fans are looking forward to the tribute to him that will take place tonight before the Angels face the Red Sox.
It’s been an unusually cold and gloomy day here in Orange County and I think a dose of good ol’ baseball will help to lift the clouds in our hearts. I can only imagine how tough it will be for all Angels players to take the field, but especially Jered Weaver, who will pitch tonight. He and Nick were close, having spent time together in Salt Lake before coming up to Anaheim. I will be cheering him on and hope he has a good game, given the circumstances. A win tonight would be great. And it doesn’t hurt that it would be against Boston.
My husband was a sweetie and gave me the day off today. So, I did what any good wife would do. Clean the house? Nope. Do the laundry? Nuh uh. Clean the bird cages? Not a chance. I watched the Cubs/Brewers game.
Baseball…the pain reliever hospitals use most.
I left work last night and pulled up to the house. My husband hopped in the car and we cruised down the 57 freeway. No, I didn’t have any tickets to the Angels’ opener but my husband thought we should drive over near the stadium with the top down on my new (to me, anyway) convertible to see the flyover. It was a great idea and I got goose bumps as the F-15’s (or F-18’s or B-52’s…whatever they were…hey, I’m a baseball fan but I’m still a girl) flew over the Big A.
We then stopped at Portillo’s, picked up a couple of Italian beef sandwiches (yes, born and partially raised in Chicago which explains why I do keep an eye on the Cubbies) and were home by the end of the first inning.
Just the sight of those gorgeous white and red uniforms against that bright, beautiful green grass all framed in my 47″ TV (the new love of my life) made me smile from ear to ear. Joe Saunders had a great game. I really like him. Remember when he pitched right after the Virginia Tech shootings and he wrote “VT” in the dirt of the pitcher’s mound? Good guy.
I was a bit disappointed that Vlady wasn’t out in right field. After hearing how well he’s moving after knee surgery, I was really curious to see him in action. (My first post explains why I didn’t watch a single pre-season game.) He seemed to be in good form as he sprinted to first base so we’ll see. But I was glad Juan Rivera got a start in left field. Just a few years ago, I felt like he was right on the verge of a break-out season…but his only “break” turned out to be a broken leg in winter ball somewhere in the Caribbean. His comeback has been a little slow but once again, I feel like he’s on the brink of great things. Oh, and last season I grabbed a couple of front-row field seats to a day game and watched as a little baby bird in right field kept running through his legs and around his feet. Juan was trying to play his position like a pro while avoiding stepping on the little guy at the same time. It was so cute and as a Bird Mom (of 10), Juan scored big points with me that day. But I still refer to him as my “Big Gay Guy”. I think it’s his and Maicer Izturis’s artfully placed blond highlights. Again, I’m a girl…we notice these things.
How ’bout Howie’s homerun? Loved it and his RBI single. He and Aybar pulled off a perfect double-play in the 2nd too. So what if he had ONE error…who’s counting? Oh yeah…they do count those, don’t they? The crowd gave Saunders a nice ovation for his three-hitter. Arredondo and my Scotty Shields did their thing and then handed it off to our new closer, Brian Fuentes. Now I don’t want Jeff Miller of the Orange County Register calling me a racist again (read his disgusting column here), but it was a little refreshing to not see anyone get on base in the 9th, wasn’t it? I’m no Frankie basher, never was, but let’s just say his move to the Mets means I won’t have to refill my Xanax prescription as often.
I must confess, there’s a little spring in my step today that doesn’t come just from the Angels winning their opener. Let’s face it…any day the Yankees lose is a good day. They say money can’t buy happiness. And the Yankees prove it doesn’t buy championships either.
Baseball…it’s what’s for dinner.