I am writing to you today from the future.
The Angels have just won their fifth consecutive World Series; Mike Trout was named MVP, Kaleb Cowart and Hank Conger hit three homeruns each (which makes you wonder how Trout won the MVP, right?) and Ervin Santana threw his second post-season no-hitter of his career. Not a bad year, huh?
A man can dream can’t he?
What was your dream back in 2002? As I look back at that time, it never really occurred to me (at least prior to the Angels actually getting to the World Series) that the Angels could and would be World Champions. My confidence grew with every come-from-behind win. And once they won game 6 in come-from-behind fashion, I was as positive as one can be about their chances.
Sure, I always hoped I’d see the day, but I don’t remember a time when I said to myself, this is the year they’re going to do it. When you follow a team not knowing for winning as long as I have, you get used to certain things and your expectations become somewhat tempered. I think most fan bases go through the same thing.
Think about it – who had the Giants and the Rangers in the 2010 World Series prior to the start of the season? I have to wonder how often this happens; where a team or teams no one really thought would win it all actually gets that chance?
Ask a Giants or Rangers fan if they really believed in their heart of hearts that their team would be playing baseball in November (wow, did I say November?)? I doubt you’d find any. Okay, maybe a scant few (who probably say that every year), but seriously… think about it.
How many Angel fans thought their team would win it all in 2002 prior to that season? How about the Red Sox fans in 2004 or the White Sox fans in 2005?
Unless you’re a Yankee fan most fans don’t have those kinds of expectations; at least not year in and year out. Sure sometimes things happen in the off season that might make you believe your team has a shot (take the darlings prior to the 2008 season - Detroit Tigers for instance), but for the most part – unless your team has actually done it, you don’t necessarily expect it. I’m talking deep down inside where it’s really a core thought of your own.
Getting there changes everything and winning it all elevates it to another level.
Most Angel fans expect the Angels to compete for a World Series title every year now. Same goes for Red Sox fans, Phillies fans, etc., but the longer your team goes without returning or ever getting to the biggest stage in baseball, the less you expect that idea to become a reality.
Fact is it’s really hard to get to a World Series. There are so many variables that it’s really a testament to any team that gets that far. Some believe the play-offs are a “crap shoot” and some think it’s their team’s “divine right.” Whatever you believe, the fact remains that getting there is never something any team can take for granted.
It’s one of the beautiful things about baseball.
I love it when teams like Tampa Bay in 2008 or the Rockies in 2007 find their way to the World Series when no one really saw it coming. Regardless of the whether they win it all or not, it’s the idea that none of the so-called experts saw it coming.
And why do we call them experts when they fail so often? I guess it's really not important and the bigger question is why do we get bent out of shape when the experts don’t pick us? We should be celebrating when we get ignored or passed over, shouldn’t we?
Even when the two teams were finalized for this 2010 World Series, most “experts” picked the Rangers. They’re not looking so smart right now. Then again, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. It's just the way things go.
We love to predict things even though baseball and life in general is so unpredictable. It doesn’t even matter that we are wrong most of the time; we march on.
The other side of all this is how expectations will change. Once you win or even when your team gets close to winning, you start to think about the future and how many more times your team might win it all.
Some Giants’ fans are already talking about a dynasty. Why? Because they have such great young pitching. All of a sudden, the mind set changes. Prior to this season most Giants fans hoped they would see a championship in their life time; now, many of them are starting to think about this becoming an annual event.
Caution: Things change when you have something to defend instead of something to prove. When you have something to prove, you don’t necessarily have a target on your back when you have something to defend, you most certainly do.
It's like this... Yankee fans are expecting pay back next year. Red Sox fans believe they will return and their failure to make the play-offs is only dependent on their team being healthy again. Angel fans believe the Rangers 15 minutes of fame (okay, it’s been longer than that) is about to expire. Dodger fans are… well, let’s let sleeping dogs lay.
My advice to Giants fans is to soak it all in. You might not get back here again. Don’t start thinking about next year and just focus on the moment. It will be here and gone before you know it. The past eight years since 2002 seem much longer than all those previous years of hoping and waiting combined. Seriously; embrace the moment.
DISCLAIMER: I realize that I’m writing off the Texas Rangers. I also realize that baseball can humble a team, a player or an entire fan base any day of the week. If the Rangers come back and win this World Series, I’ll have some crow to eat. So be it. I just want to make sure I make the point about how fleeting the moment of watching your team win it all can be and I can’t do that when the series is over.
And just so we're clear... If by chance it gets to the point where the Rangers might win this thing, I'd give them the same advice.
November 1, 2010
I am writing to you today from the future.