BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 31: Former Boston Red Sox first baseman Mo Vaughn salutes the fans as he walks onto the field before the game against the New York Yankees on August 31, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
After the Rangers won the division, the Angels went out into the offseason and awarded the biggest contract in club history to an All Star MVP 1B who is acclimated to wearing red. The club gets tons of press, sells thousands more tickets and lots more merchandise. His big debut is opening night at Angel Stadium on April 6.
Tell me the coincidences end there.
If the second batter of tomorrow night's game pops foul to visiting dugout territory, Albert Pujols has someone to thank for the railings there. But unlike the drizzly night of April 6, 1999 there are plenty of friggin' flags flyin' in the outfield, the home uniforms look great and the forecast is for clear skies over Anaheim.
Mo Vaughn sprained his ankle trying to catch an Omar Vizquel foul popup. He fell into the visitor's dugout and took the entire home crowd with him. Almost thirteen seasons after the Donnie Moore game and there was not a single Angels veteran who didn't know immediately that the season was lost right there and then. If, as every good baseball fan does, you believe that heaven sends signs you learn to believe the obvious bad ones when they slap you in the face. That it happened on the first day of the season even carried some relief to it.
But now Mo is the mid-point between Donnie and the new dawn, the beginning of our new age. The mark between back then and way back when. Mo went on to insubordinately wreck the team, but the phoenix rising form the ashes was named Mike Scioscia and he cleaned the clubhouse out quick of malcontents and curses alike.
As chilly as it gets tonight, the silence of thirteen years ago is not likely to be matched at a game all year. The franchise changed forever because of one free agent signing. It was all for the good, despite being painful, but it was not at all like what was supposed to have happened.
It never is. Play ball.