August 29, 2011

The hard way

There’s an old saying that if you want something done right, do it yourself. This is probably true in most cases with some possible exceptions being any plumbing work that needs to be done at your home or things like surgery.

In any case – the Angels had the perfect opportunity to take care of the team they were chasing themselves. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. In seven games with the division leading Texas Rangers, the Angels only managed to win two games; and yet, they find themselves a mere three games behind.

As you probably know by now (because just about every person with any interest what-so-ever in baseball keeps pointing to it), the Angels schedule sets up pretty nicely down the stretch as compared to the Texas Rangers. Without going into a whole lot of detail; let’s just say the schedule definitely favors the Angels and most fans are clinging to the idea that the Angels have an easier road.

And then there’s that three game series at the end of the year when Texas comes to Anaheim to conclude the regular season. The west may very well be determined in the final three days of the regular season.

This is not the time for the faint of heart.

The Angels could have made things a lot easier on their fans if they had just taken care of the Rangers in the last two weeks; but no, this team likes to do things the hard way. They’re virtually impossible to understand and figure out. Jonah Keri went so far as to ask the question “How the hell do the Angels keep winning?”

If you’re an Angels fan, you know full well that the Angels are the anti-sabermetrics team and they find ways to win in spite of statistical anomalies and they have long baffled stats heads everywhere. It’s no wonder they’re somewhat hated in certain circles.

Keri’s piece isn’t news to us; in fact, it’s something many of us celebrate. I love the fact that this team usually does better than the sabermetric community predicts; in fact, it’s a beautiful thing.

That being said, I’m not enamored with the idea that the Angels can make up those three games by playing a weaker schedule. Quite frankly, I'd rather not focus on it. Why?

If baseball and even more specifically being an Angels fan has taught me anything; it’s that all too often, you cannot predict outcomes by how things look on paper. The optimist in me is clinging to the idea of the Angels having a “weaker” schedule, but the competitor in me, really wishes the Angels would have just taken whipped the collective rear ends of the Rangers.

For me, it’s much more appealing to go through something to obtain a goal rather than going around it. That being said, when all is said and done it really won’t matter much to me how the Angels win the west; so long as they actually do win it. I’m just saying doing it the hard way is going to cost me some sleep and provide me with a ton of anxious moments. I’m not a fan of anxiety; then again, who is?

So… what do we do?

Angel fans need to forget whatever the team has done to this point. Forget the fact that Vernon Wells and Jeff Mathis have struggled mightily this season. Resist the temptation to scream for Mike Scioscia to start Mike Trout every game (granted, I don't know if I can do this myself).

Forget about the struggles the pitching staff has had from time to time. Forget about the mental lapses of one Erick Aybar and don't even roll your eyes when Fernando Rodney comes into a game.

Don't worry about the fact that the Angels are 19th in runs scored and 22nd in on-base percentage.

Put it all out of your mind because at the end of the day, it just doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. All that matters is what happens from here on out.

Take Keri’s piece to heart and know that this team finds ways to win in spite of everything and I do mean EVERYTHING. In spite of numbers, in spite of opinion, in spite of logic or anything else. I keep talking about “letting the story unfold” and that’s exactly what we should do. So pass the TUMS and simply enjoy the ride; even if it gives you an ulcer along the way.

I know, I know... we have this need to try and figure things out before they happen and to try and predict how things will turn out. I get it. It's human nature.

At the same time, I can tell you that it’s an exercise that will absolutely make you crazy when applied to the Angels. Just don't even go there. Be in the moment and just let yourself experience this season one pitch at a time.

The way things are going, it will all come down to the last game of the season where we find the Rangers and Angels tied and Jeff Mathis will hit a walk off homerun to give the Angels the American League West pennant.

That scenario would send the sabermetrics nation off the deep end. Think about it; calculators would explode and computers would melt into a pool of red goo. Think of the number of speechless analysts sitting there with blank looks on their faces.

If that doesn't make you smile, nothing will. Go Angels!!

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