March 17, 2016

Please Bring Back the Swagger

As I anticipate the start of the 2016 baseball season, one thought prevails above all others.  It rises above the overall success of the team even though it is directly tied to the team doing well.  It’s an emotional thought and one that comes from the very core of my Angels fandom.

I want to see Jered Weaver return to being Jered Weaver. 

Maybe it’s a pipe dream.  Maybe I’m opening myself up for disappointment.  Perhaps I’m fooling myself into believing this is even possible.  Yet, I hope.  Isn’t that what spring is all about; hope?

I admire Jered as much as it is possible for any fan to admire someone they do not know, but has watched for years.  I have lived and died watching Jered do his thing over the years.  I have celebrated every fist pumping end to a climactic inning that he’s been involved in.  I have winced with agony when well intended pitches have left the ball park faster than Jered can throw them.

Jered Weaver has been everything I could hope for in a baseball player.  He’s far and away my favorite pitcher of all time.  No question and without a doubt.

From the moment Jered Weaver stepped on the mound for the Angels, I have been engaged and committed to watching him pitch.  Perhaps it’s because; like me, he went to Long Beach State.  He's a Dirtbag. He’s a throwback.  He’s old school. 

There is a fire in him.  The kind of fire we all want to find within ourselves when the going gets tough or the task seem bigger than ourselves.   He’s the taller, thinner version of every underdog you've ever cheered for; be it,  Rocky, Rudy or whoever.

He’s a lot of things, but he’s also uniquely just Jered.  There isn’t any flash to his game, just swagger.  Oh the swagger.  You have to love the swagger.  He reminds me of the gunslingers you see in the movies.  There’s a little bit of Clint Eastwood in him.  No nonsense.  No messing around. But plenty of attitude of the don’t-mess-with-me kind.  

Jered is what happens when intensity meets coolness and the two join forces.  That’s Jered.  That’s so Jered.

I always felt like everything was going to be okay when Jered took the mound.  I know I wasn’t going to get cheated as a fan because Jered was going to give everything he had to the effort.  No moment was too big.  His confidence inspired me to believe.

And I still believe. 

I’m not writing this as a eulogy.  I’m writing this because I want Jered to be successful as much as any fan can want anything.  I want to see that sneer again.  I want him to walk off the mound pumping his fist and screaming at himself.  I want to yell… “That’s what I’m talking about” again.

I’m not ready to say good-bye.  I’m ready to say hello again and "Hell, yeah - that’s the dude I know! That’s Jered Weaver and he just shut your team down."  I want him to remove all doubt and shoot that look (you know the one) at all the naysayers. 

Make no mistake about it, I want the Angels to win.  I just happen to believe winning will be all the sweeter with Jered being Jered.

If the Angels are lucky enough and good enough to win it all and they happen to do it without Jered, I’ll feel a bit empty.  It’s like any big moment – you want to share it with the people you love.  It would be like the Angels winning in 2002 without Tim Salmon.  Can you imagine?  Of course not.

So, as I prepare for the season that is fast approaching, I keep hoping.  I keep praying.  I keep watching.  Even more than all of that, I have raised my expectations; knowing full well what comes with that.

Let’s do this.

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