September 18, 2011

Reunion in San Diego

I will never forget the day (July 25, 2010) I had to tell Cheryl that the Angels had traded Joe Saunders to the Arizona Diamondbacks. It was a difficult task to say the least and something I wrote about the following day.

One of the hard parts about being a fan is knowing that you have no control over what your favorite team does on and off the field. Losing Joe was tough enough; not having a chance to say “good bye” made it all the tougher. At the time of the trade Cheryl and I had talked about the fact that Joe would be in Arizona and we would see him either at spring training or at a D-Backs game in Los Angeles or San Diego.

We finally got around to making that happen yesterday with a trip to Petco Park in San Diego to see the D-Backs take on the San Diego Padres. We usually make at least one trip to Petco every year, but this one would be special. I wanted to make sure we had a chance to say “hello” to Joe and put some thought and effort into making that happen.

I purchased two tickets in what the Padres call the “Third Base Coaches’ Box”- next to the camera well that sits next to the visiting team dugout. I bought seats in the front-row next to the field. Again, I wanted to make sure we could see Joe.

We arrived at the stadium two hours early when the gates open for a Saturday night game. We made our way to our seats and waited. As the Padres finished up their batting practice, D-Backs began to make their way to the field to stretch. Joe wasn’t among the group. I knew he’d eventually make his way out and was probably taking it easy; knowing he would be pitching on Sunday.

Yes, we decided to attend a game that Joe wasn’t pitching because our goal was to say hi and if Joe was scheduled to pitch, he’d be too focused on that.

Then it happened. Fans were gathered in the corner of the D-Backs dugout getting autographs and Joe was among those signing for fans. We made our way over, but were too far back to talk to him. We waved and that moment we had hoped for occurred; Joe looked up and recognized us and a smile immediately came over his face and he waved. Cheryl yelled “We miss you Joe” and turned her back to him to show him we were wearing his name on the back of our 2008 All-Star game shirts. Joe shook his fist postively and mouthed “all right” to us.

It was shortly after that moment that he left the dug-out and headed out on to the field. We quickly made our way back to our seats and Joe came over to say hello. He immediately reached out to shake my hand and as Cheryl approached, he put both his arms out wide to give her a big ol’ bear hug.

It was a special moment for sure. I snapped a photo of the two and we chatted for a short minute before he headed out to the field before he could “get in trouble.” We asked Joe about his daughter Mattea and he quickly informed us they had another (Avellina). He also said, “I want to try for a son pretty soon as well.” And with that he was off to shag balls in the outfield.

On his jog back in from batting practice he gave us one last wave and we wished him “good luck on Sunday” and he was off into the dugout.

As the lineups were being announced we could see Joe on the front of the steps of the D-Backs dugout clapping and firing up the players. He appeared in his element and entrenched in his new role as a veteran leader on his team; a team clearly headed to the post-season.

We miss Joe Saunders and seeing him again was special. Clearly, Joe himself is a special individual as he was nominated this year for the Roberto Clemente Award; which recognizes a player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field. When the Angels lost Joe Saunders, they not only lost a solid left handed starter, they also a great citizen of the community as well.

In any case - the Diamondbacks lost the game, but I’m betting they win today when Joe takes the mound. We wish him well and will be cheering for the D-Backs as they march towards the post season.

We’ll definitely make the effort to see our favorite pitcher again.

Meanwhile the Angels were busy losing to the Baltimore Orioles to fall 4.5 games behind the Texas Rangers, who beat the Seattle Mariners. I've got a few choice things to say about the slide, but I'll get to that later.


  1. I am so glad you two got to see Joe Saunders at a DBacks game, truley a bright spot in an otherwise terrible baseball weekend. He sounds like he is every inch the sweetheart in real life that he has always appeared to be in interviews. I love having Haren on the team, but with the meatball-ification of Joel Pineiro's sinker ball, I miss Joe more than ever.

    -- Kristen

  2. Tell me why you are so bitter at the Angels. They had a bad weekend but they have already won 83 games this year. They were only supposed to win about 75. They have some very young promising players and Arte does have money to spend.

  3. "They were only supposed to win about 75" According to who?

    Look - The Angels were "supposed to" upgrade the offense. Arte promised that he would make a "big splash".

    If you think I'm going to be happy because they out performed some sort of projection, you don't know me very well.

    I have more to say on the subject - but you'll just have to wait for a later post.

  4. According to all of the preseason publications!!! No one picked this team to be either first or second. They picked them either third or last. Lets get over this season as being dreadful. Were you around in the 90's. I remember when 75 wins was a good season. Being out of the playoffs for a couple of seasons is not going to kill this franchise. We need to go out next year and KILL TEXAS and their LAMEDUCK FANS!!!!

  5. Some sort of fan you are James. I am sure the players feel very bad about what has happened, but come on no one thought the Angels had a chance against Texas. Like my Grandmother always said "What comes around goes around", meaning Texas run will be over soon!!!

  6. James,

    I think you should have Frank McCourt as your owner. What a great owner he is!! LOL!!!!!

  7. Anonymous 1 - Are those the same publications that picked the Giants to win last year or the Angels in 2002? Forgive me, but I set my own expectations. If you want to live in the past when 75 wins was a good season - good for you. It's a new day - expectations have changed.

  8. Anonymous 2 - Let me tell you the "sort of fan" I am. My wife and I go to more than 70 Angels games a year; this year we even went to KC for opening day. We own more Angels clothing than you can imagine. We go to spring training. We invest our time, our money and our emotions into this team. We always cheer and never boo our players. That being said - when we are frustrated or disappointed, we voice that. It's what passionate fans do. It doesn't mean we love our Angels any less; in fact, I'd venture to say it shows just how much we do care.

  9. Then write to Arte Moreno and tell him he needs to get this team fixed!!!