September 13, 2011

Thinking out loud

When Cheryl and I left Angels Stadium Sunday we knew we should feel pretty good about taking two out of three from the Yankees; however, we felt a little empty instead. A sweep would have been so much sweeter and remaining a game and a half back of the Rangers was just much more manageable in our minds.

A couple days have passed and the Angels now find themselves three games back after a disappointing loss to the stinkin’ A’s while the Rangers were idle. Listening to AM 830 a bit this morning, I wasn’t surprised to hear Roger Lodge had received an email from an Angel fan in Rancho Cucamonga who was throwing in the towel. There are always a few who look for immediate gratification and get discouraged when things don’t line up just perfectly.

If Cheryl and I had thrown in the towel every time things didn’t go just right for the Angels, we would have cashed out a long time ago. Don’t get me wrong – riding out this rollercoaster is tough at times – but we ride it out in hopes of a huge reward in the end.

We want more than anything for those last three games in Anaheim against Texas to mean something. I really don’t want to have to write another “Dear John” letter this year. Just saying.

The road to the end of the season is going to be difficult. Not just from a baseball schedule perspective, but from a fan’s perspective. Being in a pennant race is fun, but I’d much rather have my team leading as opposed to chasing. There’s definitely an emotional toll in living through this race for the play-offs.

How do we deal with it?

We are doing all kinds of crazy things while following this race. I tune into Ranger games on XM Radio. I’m constantly checking scores on the blackberry. We’ve even go so far as to water a plant in our yard called a “Texas Ranger” in hopes it will bring us luck. Don't laugh, it actually works quite a bit (not that we’re superstitious because we really aren’t).

We even do cheers for the teams that are facing the Rangers. Speaking of which… Let’s go CLEVE-LAND! Beat the RANG-ERS!

What shirt do we wear? Which hat should I put on? If we find a penny or a nickel or any money at all – we think of it as good luck for that day’s game. We even have a strange and funny thing called the Rally Bladder (check the link for details).

Does it really have an impact? Well… there have been some funny and strange coincidences, but no – of course not (at least I don't think so) - it’s all part of being in the race and part of the tradition of being a baseball fan.

We grasp for ways to impact the outcome of games; knowing full well, we can’t possible accomplish such things. It’s just part of the fun and I’m sure you have some traditions/routines of your own.

When all is said and done, it’s really all on the team.

And if I stop to think about the team long enough – I’m actually amazed that they are where they are. They did little to upgrade an offensive from 2010 and their bullpen has been suspect at times. Still, we fans want what we want and nothing short of a division title will suffice. I mean, the team has come this far – why give up now?

I also must admit that having guys like Peter Bourjos, Mark Trumbo, and even Mike Trout and more recently Jerome Williams have added a lot of excitement to this year’s edition of the team. They’re fun to watch and easy to cheer for.

We really don’t want to end this season in September and the thought of such a thing is just downright depressing.

I’ve talked a great deal about the margin of error being slim and sometimes when I stop and think about the times the Angels appeared to have “given away” games, I get a little crazy and a whole lot of cranky.

Losing too many games to Seattle and Oakland is just downright inexcusable. Adding to my anxiety is the return of Jeff Mathis to a starting role in three of the last four games. Every time he shows the smallest glimmer of hope, Mike Scioscia seizes the opportunity to play him more. It really has become almost comical and a huge source of fan angst all season long.

Never-the-less, we press on.

I know the offense has flaws, but this team has such great pitching that it would be a crime to waste it. I want to see Weaver and Haren going back to back in a play-off series against anyone. I’ll take my chances with those two and Ervin Santana anytime and anywhere. It’s just that this team needs to find a way to get there.

I'll be honest, I’m leery of the trip the Angels have to take back east and I’m fearful that it could all go horribly bad in Baltimore and Toronto. I hate feeling this way, but this team has a way of sapping one’s confidence at any given moment.

One can only watch Vernon Wells or Jeff Mathis fail in key hitting situations only so many times. It just takes its toll.

For every Mark Trumbo walk-off homerun, there seems to a few bonehead errors by Erick Aybar or a base running blunder by Torii Hunter or some other miscue that leaves Angels fans pulling their hair out.

Look, I know fans have unrealistic expectations in that we expect our team to execute every play flawlessly. I get that. I know players aren’t perfect and are bound to make mistakes, but when you’re in a pennant race – it doesn’t ease the pain and frustration of watching your team lose winnable games. Do you feel me?

So here we are with sixteen games left in the regular season. I’m nervous and excited at the same time. I’m skeptical and optimistic at the same time. I’m a walking, talking contradiction.

Every now and then I flash forward and think about next season, but I usually dismiss that train of thought because I want this year to count.

I know some baseball fan bases go years and years without any joy (Hello Cub fans). I know that the Angels had an awesome run in the last decade. That being said, I just hate losing and having a baseball team that’s not relevant in October just plain sucks.

Cheryl and I are emotionally invested (as always). We are willing to risk disappointment because we want to experience the joy of 2002 all over again. We’re greedy that way. It was just too much fun and something we want to experience again and again. Anything less will just be a let down.

Sure, life will go regardless, but winter is a lot more tolerable when you can call your team “champions.” 2010 was awful for so many reasons – that go beyond baseball. Let's just say that w could really use a great 2011. I don’t know if we deserve it, but we want it just the same.

I’m not going to make any excuses for what we want and I’m certainly not going to apologize for it either. We want a championship and at the very least, we want to watch our team in October, period.

I don’t know how we’ll get there, but I do believe we can get there. Yes, I really do. How about you?


  1. This is my favorite kind of roller coaster ride because this line doesn't cause motion sickness. I'm buckled in and holding on tight. Can't wait to see how this ride ends. Hopefully on an exciting high instead of a death defying low.

  2. Terry DickersonSeptember 14, 2011

    Good win today--nice to see another bomb from Mark "Let's Get Ready To" Trumbo. But man, we have GOT to start hitting with RISP; I feel like Curt Schilling when they brought Mitch Williams in to close the game.