Monday, October 10, 2005

Take me out of the ball game

I will take this opportunity, in the wake of the Angels defeat of the Yankees in the division series, to say the following to the team from Anaheim and their fans:

You’re welcome.

Earlier today, when asked by a friend at work whether the Halos would win, I replied (without hesitation), “No.” And here’s the thing: I meant it.

Before I explain why I would be deserving of gratitude, allow me to explain why I would have such low expectations. I was raised an Angel fan.

My father’s side of the family was all Angel fans in my youth (the 70s and early 80s). For a few years in my adolescence we even had a share of season tickets. I remember the Big A (as the stadium used to be called) before it was enclosed, hiding the view of the 57 freeway in right center, to make room for the Rams. (No, I never rooted for them.) I saw many games per season, wearing the Angels cap to every one, cheering for the home team. They didn’t win all that much, but still, they were my team.

Then along came 1986. For the non-baseball fans out there, the Angels made it to the playoffs for just the third time in their history. They were up three games to one in the best-of-seven series against the Red Sox. I saw them win game 3 from the field level seats. Then I got tickets to game 5—sure, way up in the top level, down the right field line, but I was there. And in the top of the 9th, the Angels had two outs, and reliever Donnie Moore had two strikes on the Boston batter. The stadium was on its feet—well, the fans in the stadium… um, you know what I mean. The air was electric with anticipation; for the first time ever the Angels were one strike away from going to the World Series.

But rather than get that last out, Moore surrendered two runs, leaving the Angels behind by one going to the bottom of the 9th. The stadium was stunned, then bordered on despondent. However, the Halos rallied to tie it up and send it to extra innings. That allowed us, the fans, to get our hopes back up, and then be let down all the worse when eventually they blew it in, as I recall, the 12th. We filed out like we’d all been punched in the stomach.

That was the moment I stopped being an Angel fan. Oh sure, I rooted for them as the series went back to Boston—where they still needed to win only one of two games to make it, and watched as they let that slip away. (However, all in all, that was a much more important year for Red Sox fans, as it allowed them to continue their beliefs of being cursed, with the infamous Bill Buckner play. That belief was, of course, blown last year when the Sox won it all, but now is no doubt back in effect with them swept by the White Sox in the first round of the playoffs this year.) It was more than I could take.

Yes, I caught a few more games in the years that followed (up until Disney bought the team), but most of those they lost. Over time, the Angels became merely one of many teams in Major League Baseball, no longer mine.

How is it, then, that I deserve credit for their victory this evening by virtue of having no faith in them?

I did not believe they had a chance in 2002, in either of the playoff series against the Yankees or the Twins, or in the Series against the Giants. And you saw how that worked out for them, not only making it to the Series but winning it. Only 16 years after the point where it would mean anything to me.

I'm not saying I can explain this, but apparently, the less I think of their chances the better they do. So now, as they move on to face Chicago in the LCS, to compete to represent the American League in the World Series, I say this: White Sox in five games.

You can thank me some time next week, Angel fans. Be grateful I’m no longer one of you; the team never went anywhere when I was actually rooting for them.

1 comment:

  1. OK - I'm not a baseball fan, but I love a good scandal (who doesn't). Having watched footage of last night's game (10/12) against the Sox, I am curious how much money they had to pay in Chicago to BUY OFF THE UMPIRE????!!!

    OK - Rant over. We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.


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