March 21, 2010

Tis the season.... baseball season

Yesterday was “officially” the first day of spring. Personally, I think of the first day of spring as being the day pitchers and catchers report, but that’s just me.

The way I see it; there’s only one season and that’s baseball season. The rest of the time is merely the days between the end of the baseball schedule and the beginning of a new one.

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating just a little.

I can’t wait for the season to begin and for the 162 game schedule to be under way. The anticipation of a new season is always exciting. I know there will be many unexpected things taking place just about every day. Hopefully, the “surprises” will be things we enjoy and want to happen.

You know it’s funny; we wait all winter for the season to begin and before it even gets under way, we start thinking about the fall and another play-off run. Sometimes we look so far ahead we forget to experience the season at hand.

I try not to do that. I love the way a season unfolds and I try to savor every game. By the end of the season so much of it will be a blur, but some key moments will also stand out I’m sure. I’m thinking of Jered Weaver’s first no-hitter (probably against the A’s) or Brandon Wood’s forty homerun season. Hey, it’s spring and this is the time to dream big.

Baseball is so very unpredictable (a good thing) and yet we fans can be very predictable (a funny thing) at times.

One of the things we know will happen is that the Angels will be aggressive on the base paths. There isn’t a team in baseball that’s better at going first to third on singles to the outfield. The Angels will run and they will run often.

Also predictable is how Angel fans will react to that aggressive style. It’s kind of a love/hate thing. We’ll love seeing them take the extra base but we’ll also moan when they get thrown out trying to be aggressive. When they’re successful, we’ll say “that’s Angel’s baseball.” When they’re not, we’ll exclaim “what was he thinking?”

We become walking, talking contradictions.

We also love to see the Angels put the ball in play and force the action, but we’ve also come to appreciate seeing them take a few pitches too. Last year the team took a giant step forward with their patience at the plate. We celebrated their higher on base percentage. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Not Bobby Abreu that’s for sure.

That being said, if they’re taking pitches, they better not strike out. If they strike out looking, we’ll scream “take the bat off your shoulder.”

We basically expect perfection from a sport that’s designed to make people fail time after time.

We can count on a great deal of the “what in the heck is he… oh my – nice play!” scenarios to play out over and over again. We’ll turn second guessing Mike Scioscia into an art form. We will bemoan the bad plays way more than we’ll celebrate the good ones.

I have no idea why that is; it’s just what fans do, I guess.

It’s all going to be a part of yet another amazing season. And when you think about it, this year is set up to be exactly that – amazing.

How can it not be? We have the all-star game! We have the two-time Manager of the Year and a new cast of characters to cheer for in Brandon Wood, Hideki Matsui, Joel Pineiro, Fernando Rodney, Brian Stokes, and a full season of Scott Kazmir. We have the return of Scotty Waddy Do-Da (forgive me, that’s Cheryl and my nickname for Scot Shields).

It’s all going to be good.

There are some big games on the schedule this year. Some much bigger than most. The one everyone is waiting for is John Lackey’s return to Anaheim. I know that will be an electric night. It will be charged with emotion. It will be hyped and it will be hyped some more. Heck, I’ll be hyping it right here.

I can’t think of a game Angel fans want to win more than that one at this point in time. Of course, there’s a chance Lackey won’t end up pitching against the Angels in Anaheim, but let’s hope he does. You know he wants that game as much as we do.

We’ll also see Chone Figgins, Darren Oliver and Vladimir Guerrero in “strange” uniforms multiple times. They too will be emotional games, but they won’t have the same kind of tension and/or energy that playing Boston does. Figgy, Oliver and Vlady will undoubtedly receive huge ovations and deservedly so.

Inter-league play will see the Angels travelling to play two historic baseball organizations in the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals.

There’s so much to look forward to, but the thing I am looking forward to the most is the pennant race itself. I think it’s absolutely awesome that the Rangers and Mariners have upgraded their teams. I’m excited that the competition is rising to the challenge.

As for the A’s… well, let’s just say they’ll find ways to annoy me one way or another, I’m sure.

Everyone in the AL West has something to prove, but the Angels have something even more special in my opinion and that’s a division title to defend. I’d much rather have a team that has something to defend rather than something to prove. If you’re out to prove something, it usually means you’ve fallen short in the past. If you’re out to defend something, it’s because you’ve accomplished a thing or two or should I say three years running and five out of six years?

Ah yes, the season is getting close and I feel my swagger coming back.

More than anything I want the Angels to make their news on the field and not off of it (hello Dodgers). I want to the focus to be between the lines and for this season to be about accomplishments, realized potential and FUN.

That’s right; fun. Baseball is fun. We should all take the time to enjoy each and every game and embrace every pitch.

Fourteen days until opening day.

BallHype: hype it up!

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