April 5, 2010

Rockin' in the 2010 season

Finally! Opening day is upon us. This is always one of the best days of the year. The energy and anticipation have all the makings of a rock concert and who better to take the stage than Jered Weaver? After all, Weaver is a rock star and I mean that in the most complimentary way.

The mound will be his stage tonight and mark my words; he will rock the stadium. Yes sir, the 2010 tour is about to begin.

I believe this will be a very special season for Weaver. This is the year he will emerge as one of the elite pitchers in baseball. I feel it in my gut and hope for it in my heart.

You see, there are so many things that I absolutely love about Weaver.

He’s a competitor. He knows how to get after it and gracefully embraces the biggest moments when given the opportunity. Weaver doesn’t pine for the spotlight, but he’s very comfortable in it.

There’s also a very human and sensitive side to Weaver that’s endearing. We’ve seen him demonstrate that in the past with the way he honored the memory of his grandparents before taking the mound and again then last year when he changed his routine to honor and remember his friend and teammate Nick Adenhart. He did this by simply writing initials into the dirt behind the mound before getting down to business.

I believe Weaver channels his emotions well and has the ability to focus accordingly. Although last season there was a game when I think his emotions may have got the better of him.

It was the June 20, 2009 game where he started against his brother Jeff Weaver of the Dodgers. Cheryl and I arrived early at the ball park that day and we watched as Jered warmed up. I remember him looking over at his brother who was also warming up on the other side of the field and Jered seemed to long for a look or some sort of acknowledgement from Jeff. It didn’t come. In fact Jeff never even looked Jered’s way; not even once. Jered appeared (at least in my opinion) to be hurt a disappointed or even puzzled. He had that look that little brothers have when they want their big brother to give them some attention, only to be ignored.

Jered went on to have one of the worst games of his 2009 season as the Angels lost 6-4. I’m sure it was a learning experience for him and something I doubt will happen again. That day showed a side of him that’s honest and real. I love that about the guy.

This is a man with tremendous talent and an equally big heart. He plays with a quiet tenacity and has a fearless nature about him. There are times when he appears larger than life and yet there are also moments when he’s just like another kid from the neighborhood. It’s the combination of confidence and humbleness that draws me to him as a fan.

He can command the room with his big smile, booming voice and tall frame and yet he can also be that guy you run into at the local breakfast joint and joke around with. He’s approachable and yet – he has that star quality at the same time.

I want Jered Weaver to succeed in the worst way. I find myself cheering for him a little harder than I might for others at times. He never makes the game about himself and I’ve enjoyed watching him mature and develop as a professional athlete.

Some people will tell you that baseball is just a game and in many ways they’re right to an extent. However; baseball at its core can be so much more than that. It’s about 25 guys pulling together to try and accomplish something together; something that is bigger than any one of them. It’s about the competition and how character is revealed in the process. It’s about moments big and small that become lasting memories. And even though it may sound corny, it’s a part of who we are as a nation because this is our game, our pastime.

I am looking forward to this season for so many reasons. On some levels I believe this could end up being my favorite Angel team of all time. There are so many individuals on this team that I genuinely like and rooting for them is going to be fun. And despite what the prognosticators might say, they will be good; very good.

It will also be my first season as a full-time blogger and I’m certain that my journey will be one I will never forget. I have no idea how the blog will evolve over the course of a 162 games and the play-offs, but I believe it will be one heck of a ride.

I can tell you it won’t be about box scores or sabermetrics or second guessing Mike Scioscia or the front office; although I won’t shy away from those topics when necessary. It will be about observations and insight from me, my wife, and my friends. It will be about those unique moments that make every game so very special.

But tonight is all about Jered Weaver. Yes, it’s a team game, but I believe Weaver will set the tone for the entire 2010 season. I believe he truly considers this opportunity to be a great honor and that he will approach it appropriately. He won’t try to be bigger than the moment or the team; he will simply take the mound and get after it and let the results speak for themselves.

Time for the talking heads to quiet down. No more words. No more talking. It’s time for baseball and in the infamous words of Al Bundy; all I have to add is simply… “Let’s rock.”

BallHype: hype it up!

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