I’ve been reading posts on Halos Heaven for a long time. After last years debacle I decided to join because I needed to interact with intelligent fans about the uncertainty of this team’s future direction. I expected to learn a lot and I have not been disappointed. At the same time, I never expected to learn in an area that I think I have learned the most. It's been an interesting start to a season, my first as a registered member of HH and I'm reflecting on what I've learned and the ways I still have to go...
I became an Angels fan in 1979 as a young boy. I fell in love with this team immediately. What’s more, this happened smack dead in the middle of a Dodgers family. Not to sound cliche, but I literally grew up watching the Angels on a little black and white TV that sometimes needed pliers to change channels. I also risked my life for this team: many times my I was warned not to turn the TV on while my mom was gone and endured the test of her hand on the unit for heat upon her return. I batted .500, a painful .500
My first baseball game was in 1978, Dodgers/Pirates. Watching baseball with my extended family? Dodgers games. I always watched the Angels alone. It’s safe to say I developed a relationship with the team that still holds to this day. As a result, I am very defensive and protective of my team. So when I joined HH, I was quite taken aback. I never imagined having to defend the team here. Since, I have worked to understand the idea of due criticism. It’s a work in progress.
32 years later, I still watch the games alone if I don’t go with my son (who watches the game alone, funny enough). The majority of these three decades were spent enjoying what individual players brought to the game, what they taught about life. We’ve had Cuban defectors, a one-armed pitcher, a deaf player, small players who were told they couldn’t be ball players, a ton of washed up guys looking for second chances, and an array of walking life stories. Even as losers, I took something from the games and still do. It gets even more cheesy. Growing up in a single parent home and now being a father, let’s just say a movie where a kid connects his ability to be with his dad to the Angels winning the pennant was a trip emotionally. Actually being alive to see them win the World Series? I never imagined it. I had nothing to compare it to.
None of this means that I don’t root for them to win. Trust me, I’m hardcore. I certainly know that many people on here have their connections with the team that go far beyond just the box score. To some, I also understand it’s just their local ballclub and they demand a winning team. That’s all fair game. I know the start we’ve had immediately makes people dread that we’re repeating last years ordeal. To some old-timers, the fear is that we’ll become that futile loser team again. I've been tripping out over the doom and gloom after only four games, reverting to patience I've had to learn over the 2500+ games I've endured.
So I am learning to understand that the criticism comes with losing now. That people don’t want to simply follow the team. I’ve heard it referred to as “blindly” and heard numerous conditioned statements under which terms people would stop rooting for the team: “If they do this...I’m gone”. Times sure change and I’m learning to roll with it. I’ve heard of calls to run the GM out of town before too. But I’m not used to the near dehumanizing, mean-spirited, treatment our GM gets. He put this team together so he should be on the hook. Boy is he. Somehow I think (actually, I know) if we win the world series this year, as I truly believe we will, he won’t get equal credit because “he’s not really, you know, making the decisions”. The idea of a guy starting at the bottom, working his way up and through the organization simply makes him one of those great stories in our team history. I just don’t get the venom. After he’s gone, I think that cruelty will stay as a stain on us that would never have existed before.
I’m no better fan than anyone else. I’m learning to roll with the punches, I just felt like expressing how much this is all new to me. I’m not going to tell people how to cheer, what to say, or how to think. Like I said, my defensiveness is a work in progress. I enjoy debating it out and learning from knowledgeable fans on HH. I'd like to think that this new experience of sharing the team with a bunch of die-hard fans could mean that we all end up learning from each other. I'll still defend them and some will always guard their feelings with doubt. The hard part is learning to accept that this isn't 32 years ago and I can't pretend to be the Angels only fan anymore. Sounds silly, but it's hard.
I know I will bleed Angels red until my last day, win or lose, regardless whose on the roster. Am I serious about my world series prediction? Yep. It’s not just the amazing 1-4 starting pitchers, the solid defensive outfield, the hitting machines in the infield, the potential of a bullpen without a choke artist, and our mix of veterans and youth. Thanks to the Angels of year’s past, I now have something to compare them to.