My Angels followed up a four game sweep of the Mariners by taking 2 of 3 from the White Sox. All was good in Halo-ville. Then they got on a plane and entered the twilight zone, losing a make-up game to the Yankees and the first of 3 at Fenway. During both east coast games I was basically tortured by Mark Gubicza and Rory “Whose Side Are You On Anyway?” Markas as they kept referring to the games as “post-season previews”. Ugh. Not what I wanted to hear as once again, decent starting pitching was wasted by absent bats.
But as I started to seriously ponder my Angels’ post-season chances, I had to stop myself and consider the alternative to this dilemma. Granted, the Angels haven’t locked up the west but they are sitting 6 games ahead of the Rangers, giving them a more than fair shake all the way to the end. But so many of my fellow baseball fans have already had their hopes and dreams dashed as the dreaded “E” has shown up in their teams’ standings.
I’m sure fans of these teams will watch the remaining games…afterall, they’re fans. And there’s always a chance that their team will act as a spoiler and snatch the post-season away from one of their most hated rivals. There is a certain kind of pleasure in watching that happen. They’ll also watch simply because, once the season is over it’s a long wait until April of 2010. They may watch the play-offs and the World Series. Or maybe not. Sometimes there’s little interest in watching teams who may have smacked your guys around during the regular season celebrate in a heap of arms and legs in the middle of the field. That can be tough.
Diehard baseball fans will hang in there for all that October has to offer because their love of the game transcends their love for their own team. There’s no shame in that. They may also secretly harbor a bit of affection or respect for another team and will be quietly rooting them on in private. Sssshhh. I’ll never tell. I can understand that with a team or two.
Baseball fans may stick with it in October just to watch their most despised team go down in a ball of flames. Again, I can totally relate to this as well.
(That one was a toss up.)
And so today, I just wanted to express my sincere condolences to Rays, Jays, Orioles, A’s, Royals, Mets, Nationals, Reds, Pirates, Padres and Diamondbacks fans everywhere. I’ve been in your shoes. I know exactly how you are feeling. You gave it your all and fought the good fight. You observed every good-luck superstition you could. You yelled at your players, managers and front office personnel through your TV screen or in person at your ballpark.
You should be proud. Hold your heads up high. As a fan, you brought your “A” game. You held up your end of the bargain. You wore the gear, you flew the flag, you showed up at the ballpark, you skipped dinner with the in-laws to watch the game (good), you missed the birth of your third child because of extra innings (not-so-good). You gave it your all. YOU did not strike out looking with the bases loaded. YOU did not bobble an inning-ending double-play. YOU did not blow a save. YOU did not drop a routine fly ball.
No remorse. No guilt. No regrets. Sleep well this winter, my fellow baseball fans, knowing there’s always…well, there’s always…NO…I’m not going to say it. I’m not going to patronize any of you by throwing out that morsel of helpful advice, usually dished up by someone who doesn’t understand what it means to be a loyal fan. I’m NOT going to say “there’s always next year.” But what I will say is…there’s always the Angels!!! Well, if you’re examining other possibilites, let me give you my pitch (no pun intended but it’s appropriate, isn’t it?):
Great group of guys with catchy little nicknames like Figgy, Mighty Macier, Bam Bam, etc.
Not a prima donna among this bunch. It’s all about the team, NOT individual stats.
Cute little mascot that I swear, will grow on you.
The best manager in all of baseball. (Of course I’m biased. Duh!)
They OWN the Yankees. Need I say more?
I know the pain is still fresh, but I just want to give you something to think about in the off-season. Consider me an “Angels Ambassador”. If you’re thinking about making this life-changing move, leave me a comment or shoot me an email. I’d be happy to answer any questions or offer a little more persuasion, if that’s what it takes. Oh, and free thundersticks to the first 100 new fans who come aboard. (Must be able to pass a slightly invasive background check. Please have references available.)
Baseball…it keeps going and going and going…!
A weekend sweep of the Diamondbacks put the Angels in their rightful place…1st in the west!
I can’t say they deserved the ranking any earlier in the season. They looked woefully lost in April following the death of pitcher Nick Adenhart. They also had 3 of their ace starters on the DL and a bullpen that had a disturbing habit of giving games away in the final innings. There were cold bats, base running errors and a closer who had an extremely tough time finding the strike zone. But somehow, things came together and in recent weeks and we’ve seen the team really gel.
The Angels emerged from this final series with the Diamondbacks with the best record in the MLB for interleague play, 14-4. Anyone who wants to minimize that achievement needs to keep in mind that the Angels faced the Dodgers, the red-hot Rockies and the Giants, all of whom sent their very best to the mound.
I’m not at all surprised that the Angels are in sole possession of first place. I knew they’d get there eventually. Texas, Oakland and Seattle have all made instrumental changes to their teams that will keep this a tighter race than we’ve had in recent years. But I believe the Angels have that key formula that will take them all the way into the post-season.
They’ve got incredible defense, led by my ALL-STAR Torii Hunter, stealing HR’s and extra-base hits in center field. The infielders rarely fail to impress and have entertained us regularly with some amazing double-plays. The Angels’ offense is back on track with everyone in the line-up contributing from lead-off man, Chone Figgins, to their pitching staff who threw in a few hits of their own when given the chance during interleague play. The bullpen has settled down and closer Brian Fuentes has been outstanding during his latest outings. While this is all quite reassuring from a fan’s perspective, I believe the Angels once again have that one vital ingredient that has been lacking for the last few years.
Without real competition in the division, they haven’t needed it. Well, they’ve got competition now and the only way they’ll prevail is by having that one important element, that little bit of magic that carried them to a championship in 2002. What is it?
Baseball…it just tastes better.