With success comes expectations of constant high performance, but without unlimited resources like Boston or New York, teams need to manage talent in cycles of development peaking in a one or two year windows of title aspirations.
The other day I was working a charity event, and I saw these two kids sitting there, and as I passed them by, they coughed some joke out and both started to snicker to themselves... I wondered what these little brats were up to, but then as I walked by again, they got bolder and said, "Angels suck!" and I then noticed the little blue dodgers hats, me in my Angels cap... and I had to laugh.
We live in an era now where the Dodgers are now the bewildered child of Los Angeles Baseball, the kid getting shuttled back and forth between parents, looking out the window wondering what happened to the once proud family tradition of winning and competing.
I told the children, hey I like Vin, you got that going for ya! Enjoy the narrative, the last lonely dodger to leave the field of dreams, his voice pouring out over a big blue bowl of mediocre, trying to add honey to something that had long ago become tasteless bland oatmeal, caked and dry, difficult to swallow, hard to watch.
Let's face it, those kids have never seen the Dodgers win a world series, hell, their mother was still a virgin the last time the Dodgers even got a whiff of it.
Which brings me back to winning and better yet, our Angels winning.
After that first glorious title in 2002, we couldn't wait to get back there. It became a fever, it became an obsession, and we loved our Angels. The monkey was off our collectives backs and was riding shotgun, it was as if the organization got a really well crafted boob job, necks were snapping, the Halo was lit, and life was good.
A Winner was born, but, over time, the pressure of competing every single season, the expectation of trying to not only win, but get enough momentum to get over that damn Big Green Monster!!!, well lets face it, the team never had the playing time and space to really give the young talent a good place to get it's footing.
Our rookies and young talent were thrust into playoff caliber expectations, they pressed themselves, we pressed them, every strikeout in the clutch brought out 40,000 gasps, every error brought a collective murmur of uh oh... and we saw that young talent buckle in crunch time...
Times have changed.
This season the Angels enter the year as the projected #2 finisher in the AL WEST, and the pressure in Texas to win is so hot, the whole state is burning up. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Texas went down in flames, frought with injuries as players pushed themselves too hard, came back from injuries too quickly, over pitched, over swung, over dosed on expectations and obligations, new contracts wet with ink, or is it oil, sweet and crude, trying to be more than it really is.
This season, our young talent is alive and kicking! Our outfield is tighter than a prom date! Our pitching staff is the envy of the Yankees and Red Sox! We are primed to play some serious Angels baseball.
If we win this year, there will be joy, making the playoffs will be joy, whoever we face and whatever the outcome, there will be a joyful appreciation at this surge forward, and by god, I am so glad I am not a Dodgers fan.
These are our Angels, and whatever the outcome, this is going to be fun to watch! And that is the loose and fun atmosphere that won it in 2002! The overachieving youth that pulled off the miracle.