October 20, 2009

High Hopes

It’s okay to have hope. In fact, it’s more than okay in my book; however, hope is not for the weak of heart. It takes a certain amount of courage to stand in the face of adversity and say, I’m not giving up. Giving up is easy way out. Quite frankly, it’s what a lot of Cub fans do every year.

I guess for some, losing is an expectation. These people not only accept losing, they embrace it. Instead of saying "here we go again" - some of us prefer to say... "Here we go!"

Tonight the Angels were beat down pretty good. It was humiliating and humbling. Some people couldn’t take it. At least one season ticket holder left early and said…”see you next spring.” I find that kind of attitude utterly pathetic and I have very little tolerance for that kind of mind set. It’s as if some ticket holders (I refuse to call these people fans) actually take joy in the team’s failures. They stand and clap when things go wrong; mocking players with a sarcastic “way to go” and then sit with their hands folded across their chest when things go right.

Baseball is supposed to be fun, but these people suck the joy right out of the game.

What’s wrong with having hope? What’s wrong with keeping a positive attitude?

I know some people will say they’d rather not get their hopes up because then they won’t be disappointed. I don’t get that at all. Losing hurts no matter what. What have you got to lose by keeping the faith alive? More importantly, think about all you have to gain! Triumphs are all the more sweet when achieved despite bumps in the road.

If you’re one of those people who would rather take the easy way out, please stay clear of those of us who want to believe. Call us naive. Call us homeristic. Just don’t call us to your pity party.

Some of us have better things to focus on. There are still games to be played.

There is no question, the odds are stacked against the Angels. They have a huge task ahead of them, but if you have followed this team at all this year, you know that they are more than capable of doing the improbable, if not the impossible. We refuse to underestimate them and we will not give up on them any time soon.

Even if they do fall short of their goal – we will not turn our backs on them. We will stand behind our team through thick and thin because that’s what we do. And isn't that what they do in places where passion runs deep?

Corny stuff? Perhaps. Never-the-less this is how we roll. Cheryl and I invest a lot of ourselves in the Angels. It starts in Spring Training where we’ve had the opportunity interact with the players and get a glimpse of their personalities. It helps us feel connected. The team is real to us.

When Nick Adenhart died tragically, it broke our hearts. Not just because it was a sad story, but because we were lucky enough to meet Nick at his first Spring Training and then at every other Spring Training he went to. We were blessed to have our picture taken with him, to talk with him, and learn about his expectations and goals.

We smile when Reggie Willits gets on base and then rubs his helmet with his hand because we know that’s his way of saying hello to his young son in Oklahoma who is watching him on TV.

We feel sad when a player like Sean Rodriguez is traded away because we remember a special moment where he shared his faith with us and us with him.

We feel joy whenever we see Torii Hunter because he has allowed us to experience his warmth and kindness when he makes the time to interact with fans. We have lots of Torii Hunter stories that have become precious memories to us.

This past spring he posed for pictures and then asked… “Do I have any boogies in my nose?” as he wrinkled his nose and tilted his head back. He also joked with a silver haired lady waiting for his autograph and told her he thought she was “hot.” He egged Reggie Willits on and told him he’d give him $500 if he could hit a homerun in batting practice and when Reggie surprised everyone watching and actually hit one out – Torii exclaimed that he was “bamboozled” and told the kids that this should be a lesson to them and that it just doesn’t pay to gamble.

These are just some of the experiences we carry with us to every game. We come prepared knowing that something special can happen at any given moment. Don’t ask us to give up on that hope. We simply won’t do it.

Cheryl and I want to stand with those who have a “Yes We Will” mentality. These are the people we want to hang out with. These are the individuals we want to celebrate with. Our bond is fortified during adverse times and made all the more special when times are good. This is also the group we want to be with when it’s time to console one another.

It’s okay to hope. It’s okay to believe. Come on now, deep down inside you want to be a part of something great. You can’t get there if you don’t believe.

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