February 23, 2010

This too shall pass

It hit me today. Big Daddy Vlady is a Texas Ranger. The thought was kind of rattling around in the back of my brain, but I hadn’t really focused on it until today.

Michael Schlact, a pitcher in the Rangers organization tweeted “Coolest part of my day so far....seeing Vlad Guerrero show up to camp. What a beast!!!”

Seeing that hurt just a bit. I might have even grimaced just a tad. It just didn’t sound right.

Now, I’ve never been a huge Vlady fan; at least not of the die hard variety, but I remember how thrilled I was when the Angels signed him prior to the 2004 season. It was one of reasons Cheryl and I took the season ticket plunge. I used to tell myself all the time that I was pretty dang lucky to see a future Hall of Famer playing on my favorite team all the time.

I understand the reasons the Angels let him go. I even agree with them, but it doesn’t take away the fact that his being in Texas just seems weird. It’s like the planets are out of whack or something.

There’s also that little voice inside my head that keeps saying, “what if…” What if Vlad has a couple of monster years left in him? Heck, what if he just has one and it’s this year? How am I going to feel? To tell you the truth, I’d rather not think about it, but that voice keeps chirping.

All I know is that I’d cope with this a little better if he wasn’t in Texas. I want him to be successful, but I sure wish he was with a team outside the AL West.

This is the hardest part about being a fan in today’s sports world. Players change teams all the time. Loyalties are broken and new alliances are drawn up every day. Take Johnny Damon (you knew this was coming). As soon as he signed with the Tigers, I predicted he would say that Detroit was always his first choice. Johnny is good like that. He’s as predictable as poop in a baby’s diaper. Guess what? That’s exactly what he said.

I should be used to it by now, but I guess I’m not. (Not the Johnny Damon thing, the thing about players changing teams all the time).

The business part of baseball has changed over the years, but the funny thing is most fans haven’t changed a bit.

Think about it. Have you been following the mess up the 5 Freeway? I feel bad for Dodger fans; I really do. No fan base deserves an owner like Frank McCourt (well, except for maybe the A’s) and yet the overwhelming majority of Dodger fans won’t abandon that sinking ship.

A fan’s allegiance (not just Dodger fans) to his or her team is almost supernatural. Most people aren’t even as committed to their personal relationships as much as they are tied to their baseball team. If something goes wrong in a relationship; they bail; however, they will let their baseball team play with their emotions, rob them of their hard earned money, lie to them and do all kinds of things to make them miserable and they will simply keep coming back for more. They just won’t leave because that’s not an option.

Kind of funny, don’t you think?

The divorce rate is probably much higher than the rate at which fans switch teams. Better to leave a spouse than to be labeled a bandwagon fan, I guess.

I know my fair share of disgruntled Dodger fans, and I sometimes kiddingly invite them over to the Angels side. They give me that death stare. You know the one.

It’s like this everywhere.

Cub fans wear their fandom for the “loveable losers” like a badge of honor, but suggest they find a new team to cheer for and some will probably tell you they’d rather die.

All these thoughts came to my mind today because Schlact was excited about seeing Vald in his camp. It brought back memories and conjured up a small twinge of regret and maybe a little bit of jealousy. It’ll pass (already has), but it got me to thinking.

It’s easy to get excited about the new kid in town. That part of the game never changes; especially when they come with a reputation. Texas has the “beast” and we have “Godzilla.”

I should be more excited than I am about Hideki Matsui. Maybe I will be the first time I see him in person. I’m guessing all this probably resonates with Angel fans who wanted to see the team make a big splash in the off season.

Everyone wants to have that new car smell experience. I’m thinking we can have that with Brandon Wood, but a lot of fans think differently.

To them, Vlad Guerrero in Texas is like their neighbor getting a classic muscle car. They’re not sure they want one, but since their neighbor got one, they want something too. They look in their driveway and see a used car on its last legs (Matsui). Never mind the fact that their neighbor’s car may be a mile or two from dropping its engine (Vlad). It’s all about keeping up with the Joneses.

It would probably be easier to just switch neighborhoods, but that’s not going to happen.

This is going to be an interesting year. I’m not looking forward to seeing Chone Figgins in Seattle or Darren Oliver in Texas. I’m sure I’ll eventually get used to it. Seeing how the Angels play their division rivals 19 times in the course of a season, I’ll have plenty of time to let it soak in.

It’s just weird. This is the biggest transition year in the Angels recent history. Change can be good, but people are usually resistant to change.

Imagine Tim Salmon changing teams during his career. Or John Lackey… oh wait.

Forty one days until opening day.

BallHype: hype it up!

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