December 8, 2011

The swagger returns to Anaheim

This is a defining moment for the Angels. Albert Pujols is a once-in-a-generation type of athlete and the impact he can make on a team, a community and baseball as a whole cannot be over-stated in my opinion.

Pujols’ signing with the Angels is stunning news. Take the time to really let it sink in for a bit.

Step away from this post; close your eyes for a few minutes and think about it.

Is your heart beating a little faster?

Yeah, I know just how you feel.

When I heard the news this morning, I was climbing into my car; where I turned on the radio and I heard a voice say “breaking news…” Had I been driving my vehicle I may have very well driven right off the road; instead, I literally ran back into my home to tell Cheryl, who was so overcome with joy tears began to run down her cheeks.

When the rumors first surfaced about the Angels interest in Pujols, I tried to dismiss it. I went to Cheryl and told her about the rumors early on, but both of us agreed we shouldn’t get our hopes up. We had been down this road before; with the likes of Paul Konerko, Mark Teixeira, Carl Crawford, etc., etc.

She’d ask me every now and then if there was any news and every time I read something, I’d mention it – but every discussion ended with “let not get our hopes up.”

Even though we tried not to - we still found ourselves dreaming of the idea of Pujols coming to Anaheim. How could we not? This is what you do when you’re a baseball fan and this was Albert “The Machine” Pujols we were talking about.

I mean he’s been called everything from the “Babe Ruth of our generation” to “the best player in the game today.” When his career is complete – he will most likely rank among the greatest players to ever set foot on a field.

As we all know - the rumors wouldn’t go away and we were slowly getting sucked in.

Yesterday, we took a small step of faith in our own little way. We put on our Angels bracelets. Our idea was that maybe it would bring us luck (even though we aren’t superstitious). More than anything it was a small act of solidarity. I know it sounds like a silly gesture – but it was a small bonding moment for a husband and wife who spend so much time following the Angels.

We aren’t your every-day, run-of-the-mill fans. We devote a lot of time and energy to our favorite team and if you’ve spent any time on this blog, you’d know how true that is. Today is a great day on so many levels for us.

For the past several years we felt frustrated with the Angels inability to acquire an impact bat. We watched a team with championship quality pitching fall short time after time because as good as the pitching has been, it simply wasn’t enough.

All of that changed today.

The Angels have yet to win a game with Albert; let alone play a game, but the expectations just went through the roof.

And let’s just start calling him “Albert.” From this point on – he’s simply Albert; not Pujols, not Albert Pujols, but simply Albert. It just seems fitting.

When I broke the news to Cheryl about Albert coming to Anaheim, I said to her “he’s the best player in the game today and a good man.” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it here once again – we really want to like the players who wear the uniform for the team we cheer for. Albert makes that easy.

We know that we don’t have any control over who plays for the Angels, but when someone this great on and off the field comes to our team – it really has an impact on us.

At some point in time, I’ll get into all of that as it relates specifically to Albert, but today – today, we are simply overwhelmed with joy and trying to put our emotions into words isn’t easy.

When Vladimir Guerrero signed with the Angels prior to the 2004 season, it prompted Cheryl and me to buy season tickets. When Torii Hunter signed prior to the 2008 season, we couldn’t have been happier.

Today, I’m stunned and almost numb. The thought of being able to watch a ball player as a great as Albert on a daily basis is just incredible. I hope I don’t ever take it for granted. I want to enjoy every single moment and savor each memory along the way.

I feel blessed and very lucky today. I get to watch Albert again and again and again. Every time I watch the Angels, I will get to watch Albert. Somebody pinch me.

As I drove to work today I flipped from one national sports radio station to another via SiriusXM and it was surreal to hear the Angels being talked about on a national level. Clearly, it was a new day and as I said at the start of this post – a defining moment.

The national media was going nuts.

Some experts and prognosticators already have the Angels in the World Series. Some were already discussing play-off rotations (after all the Angels also signed C.J. Wilson) and likely matchups with everyone from the Yankees and Red Sox to the Tigers and Rangers were on the table.

It was crazy and sort of thrilling all at the same time. My Angels… the team I grew up watching and cheering for was the talk of the entire baseball world. I loved it and couldn’t get enough.

Don’t get me wrong – the Angels have a lot of work to do and a lot of games to play before we can even talk about how good they are. I’m not predicting anything – because quite frankly most predictions are foolish. Last year – most folks assumed we would see the Phillies and Red Sox in the World Series and we all know how that turned out.

Nothing is guaranteed and I want to keep that in mind. That doesn’t mean I won’t get my hopes up because you can count on that happening for sure. Again, this is what baseball fans do.

As great as this day is – it’s still not as great as that feeling we had in 2002 when the Angels won it all. Titles aren’t won in December and I know that as well as anyone – but the dream of a title just became a little more realistic today. The idea is tangible; the goal seems realistic, but the task will still be difficult.

Winning championships are never easy and that’s probably what makes them so special. It’s all about the journey and our journey just got a little more interesting – it’s the stuff memories are made of.

History may very well be on the horizon; in the mean time, the "swagger" is back in Anaheim.


  1. Do you think the Angels moved Jeff Mathis just to free up the #5 jersey before they moved in on Albert?

  2. The answer to your question is here:!/truegrich/status/144836312611041281


  3. I still think that the Rangers have a better lineup when it comes to their offensive, but there's no doubt the Angels have one of the best starting rotation in the league. What do you think about it?

  4. The Rangers offense is still a monster and the organization has great leadership and a smart GM. I expect them to be a force for a long time.

  5. "Winning championships are never easy and that’s probably what makes them so special. It’s all about the journey "
    this reminds me of two movie quotes.
    FIRST: the part in A League of Their Own when Tom Hanks says, "its supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it good".
    I apply that to my own life and tell others this as well...I really hope the Angels have a great journey ahead of them this year...and I am very much looking forward to them taking me and many others on that journey as well.
    2nd: there is a part in the movie HEAT where Pacino is attempting to arrest DeNiro and Kilmer when they are sitting in the back of a closed truck and a cop sits down and the top of his rifle hits the side of the truck and makes a noise. This spooks Deniro and his gang takes off.
    Pacino gets out of the truck after a nights worth of work is waisted and he hits his walkie talkie on his leg several times and frustratingly says, "BACK TO WORK".
    I have said this very phrase to myself every year since 2002.
    Perhaps now with Albert, CJ and perhaps some more upgrades/changes in the mix...I won't have to tell myself this several times in the next 10 years :)
    P.S. I still get giddy thinking of the team that we are gonna have this year and for years to come...GO ANGELS!!!

  6. As usual James, you get right to the heart of it, and eloquently so. I am so excited right now! So very proud to be an Angels fan! That never really ceases but it is even more so right now. I can't wait for the honest to goodness division race we should be able to enjoy this season.

  7. I've been an Angels fan since '95. They actually made me start liking Baseball since the Dodgers made me hate it. And I too felt what you felt yesterday when I logged on to my phone and went to and saw the headline: Pujols to sign with the Angels. I was sooo happy I said WHAT!!! out loud in the bus packed with people. lol It was a great feeling and moment. I couldn't have said it better myself. You described the moment perfectly.

  8. Tools of IgnoranceDecember 10, 2011

    This takes me back to the 2000/01 offseason, when ARod bolted for Texas. At the time, he was a spectacle - a player I felt privledged to watch with my own eyes. And yet, it was almost an immediate blemish on the player in my eyes; ARod - overnight - became a villian.

    As a Jays fan, this move had little impact on my team. By this time, I had little hope of my beloved team competing, so taking interest in the hopes and dreams of others had become a vicarious necessity for my rabid fandom. But now there was a new target of my schadenfreude - Texas. Oh, the pleasure I reaped by watching the Rangers consistently play the also-ran; Tom Hicks was getting his just desserts, and I couldn't be happier.

    I have the same feeling today with the Angels. Albert Pujols will cease to be a player I celebrate the accomplishments of. And the sooner his inevitable decline arrives, the bigger my (admittedly shallow) smile will be. He could have been Gwynn, Williams, DiMaggio - a treasure. Now, he's just another bum who took the money over his legacy. A shame.

    Don't take this as rain on your parade; you are likely well aware that "they" will be gunning for you. That's the natural order of sport. I'd be tickled pink if I were an Angels fan right now. But for the next decade........go Rangers! Go A's, hell, go Mariners!

  9. Honestly, if Mathis had stayed, I think he would've given up #5 for Albert. But it is a pretty interesting coincidence.

    The other good thing that the Angels have done which I believe some people will now overlook is that they essentially stole Chris Ianetta from the Rockies. Chatwood will be a #5 starter putting up 5.00 ERA seasons at Coors Field and CJ Wilson will make everyone forget him.

    I say put Vernon Wells in front of Pujols and he'll see great pitches like he's never seen before.