It takes all kinds. People root for their favorite sports teams in many different ways. That point has been hammered home for me over the last 18 hours or so as I've seen comments and gotten emails from more than a few people who have expressed something to the effect of "WHAT THE $^%& IS THIS TEAM DOING?!? I can't handle the ineptitude. I'm out." I understand that perspective. Watching professional sports and having YOUR TEAM is supposed to be enjoyment. This is supposed to be fun.
Whatever you can say about the Angels' prospects now that Jerry Dipoto has stepped down as General Manager, "fun" is probably not a word you would use. Arte Moreno seems meddlesome, penny-wise/pound foolish, gripped by cronyism, etc. The rest of the front office has made some choices recently that have left us scratching our collective heads: comments about the way fans spend money, poor draft picks, the Josh Hamilton fiasco. With anti-analytical Mike Scioscia entrenched at the helm, it seems likely that the rest of the division will move forward while the Angels languish in mediocrity, only propped up by the best player in baseball, Mike Trout, and an occasional blast-from-the-past streak by Albert Pujols. It seems unlikely, given the relationship between the owner and the on-field manager, that we'll be able to attract much talent to fill the GM spot, which makes the future seem bleak.
None of that matters to me.
Okay, that's a bit of an overstatement. I absolutely want the team to get a good GM, and I'd love a better owner, and I'd love a better farm system, and I'd love for the Angels players to all be great. But at the end of the day, the only thing that really matters to me is that I get to watch the Angels play everyday. I grew up an Angels fan, and I will be an Angels fan no matter what. Whoever ends up in the Angels front office, I will be hopeful that they will lead the team to more division championships, just as I rooted for Jerry Dipoto and, yes, even Tony Reagins. That person could be the reincarnation of Branch Rickey or they could be someone they pick randomly from the stands. I will be optimistic about our new GM.
It's this view that has allowed me to root unapologetically for guys like Steve Finley, Vernon Wells, Jeff Mathis, and now our very own Matt Joyce. If you've got an Angels uniform on, I am a fan of you (unless you're an outwardly unabashed jerk, but there are few of those around the game). If you are in the lineup, I am optimistic that you'll go three-for-four with a double, as unlikely as it might be. I lament poor lineup decisions, but it doesn't bother me all that much; the nine who go out there in the field are the nine that have a chance to win tonight's game. They are my Angels, and I will live and die with those guys.
Some people might call this pollyanna-ish, that I'm sticking my head in the sand. A true fan would make his team pay for their behavior by staying away from the stadium or not buying merchandise. I understand that viewpoint, and I'm not trying to be critical of anyone who takes that stand. I just can't do it. I see the joy on my sons' faces when they watch Mike Trout hit a laser beam down the left field line. I find myself at Angel Stadium standing and clapping in the eighth inning of a one-run game. I can't give up the hope I have at the beginning of every season that the team can make the playoffs, as unlikely as it may be. I can't give up the expectation every night that the Angel team on the field can beat the other team. I live for those moments and those feelings.
There might be some leans years in the future, just as there have in the past. I'm willing to endure those years because this is my team, for good or bad. Go Angels!