August 29, 2012

Finding joy in a season of struggles

I know, I know, trust me; I know exactly how you feel.  

You’re frustrated.  You’re disappointed.  You’re confused and you’re even angry.  You keep asking yourself or anyone that will listen - how can a team with this much talent be this inconsistent?  You want to assign blame.  You’re ready to fire any combination of Mike Scioscia, Mike Butcher, the Rally Monkey and Vernon Wells.

I get it.  It wasn’t supposed to be like this.  Like I said, I know.

I don’t have any answers for why the Angels are in the predicament they’re in.  Sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t.  That being said, I do have some thoughts and even some questions for you; yes – questions for you.

Let me ask you – can you enjoy a baseball season where your team doesn’t make the post season?  I know the quick answer might be – “No way” – but stop for just a second and think about the question in a deeper way.

Have you enjoyed watching Mike Trout burst onto the scene like a hurricane?  Have you enjoyed Mark Trumbo’s sophomore season as a middle-of-the-lineup-force-to-be-reckoned-with?  How about the season Jered Weaver has put together?

Look – I know nothing compares to a team that is winning and winning often, but the cold hard fact is that only one of the thirty teams in Major League Baseball will be a champion.  Don’t take this the wrong way; because I am in no way throwing in the towel.  I’m just asking some questions and sharing some thoughts.

Here’s what I know.  On many levels this season has been incredibly fun for me.  There was the Jered Weaver no-hitter and the fine individual performances of Mike Trout and Jered Weaver.  I have savored every moment of Torii Hunter’s season; knowing this could be his last in Anaheim. 

And yet… there’s an empty feeling that goes along with all the good times and it’s the feeling we have all come to know when the team struggles, under-achieves and just plain sucks.  It’s a horrible contrast in realities.

Still… this season isn’t over and if the Angels can make it to a wild card play-in game, they have a shot.  At this point in time, I’ll take that.  Just give them a shot; that’s all I ask.

If last season taught us anything about baseball; it’s that the season really is a marathon and that until your team is mathematically eliminated, anything can happen.  It’s a beautiful thing.  It can also be agonizing.  Watching a team this good – struggle, isn’t easy to do and judging by the attendance, many of you have definitely checked out.

And then there’s last night.

I know there are lots of other games I could talk about – such as the 14-13 triumph in Boston, but I’m going to bring up last night for the simple reason that we (Cheryl and me) were there.

When the Angels fell behind 5-2 in the sixth things looked grim, but if you’ve been following this team, you know that they seem to be hitting Clay Buchholz pretty good this season.  That gave me a little hope; albeit, just a bit. 

When the Angels closed the gap to 5-4, the spark of hope got a little brighter.  And then it happened...

Cheryl turned to me and said “We’re going to win this game; I’ve already played it out in my mind.”  You know what?  I believed her.  I didn’t say it at the time – but deep down, I knew I’d be reminding her of that statement after the game.

And then it happened… the Angels came from behind in the bottom of the 9th for a walk-off win.  With one out- Erick Aybar was hit by a pitch.  Alberto Callaspo (who is under-appreciated in my opinion) walked.  Mike Trout singled and Aybar scored.  With runners on first and third; up steps Torii Hunter who delivered a sacrifice fly to score Callaspo to win the game.

Walk-off wins are about as much fun as you can have at a baseball game and last night was all that!

Sometimes I think Cheryl takes the losses harder than I do; so when she sees something or feels something about a game, I take notice.  It’s fun to watch.  She starts out by giving the players tough love – telling them how bad they are (not to their face, but just out-loud of course), but as soon as they do something positive, she’s cheering and high fiving everyone around her.

On a night when the weather was horrible (it was hot, muggy and the heat coated us like a heavy blanket), something cool happened – a walk-off win - over the Boston Red Sox no less.  More than that – a memory was created and a little bit of joy took place.  As we walked out, Cheryl realized she had called it… she called the come-from-behind win.  It was perfect.

That’s what baseball is all about. 

Even in the midst of a season of struggles, we can still manage to have a little fun and a heck of a good time anytime we’re at a game.  How about you? 

See you at the ball park.