The Angels’ 2016 season has plumbed some low, low depths, and it still has weeks to go before coming to a merciful end. We stare down historic amounts of losses, GIDPs, pitchers used, etc., all for the grand prize of last place in the AL West. For the fans, it’s been the culmination of a long-coming winning drought, forced unto our laps via bad front office moves, ignorant ownership and a stale manager.
I’ve personally known a handful of long time fans who have more or less tapped out; between last year’s drama with Josh Hamilton, and then Jerry Dipoto, to their bungling of drafts and/or international signings and/or free agent signings, there are those that have chosen to walk away. They will be back. I don’t blame anyone for checking out, because the previously listed items show plenty of dysfunction, enough to turn someone off from a franchise by itself.
Then you add to all of that the disaster that is this season, and I often get surprised that there is anybody still watching the games every night. Yet, here we are. We’ll watch, and when they can muster up wins, and not go on insane losing streaks, we’ll cheer for the short bursts of joy we can get our hands on. It’s all done begrudgingly, though; every few weeks, I’ve found myself in the position where I’m just so burnt out on the predictable losing and seemingly never-ending stream of organizational screw ups, but then the evening comes and I sit down and watch the game play out. For better or worse.
It can make me grumpy, and frustrated, and tends to create a lot of bile, snark or condescension in the words I write about the team, whether I mean to or not. This is baseball; it’s supposed to be fun! It’s supposed to a kid’s game that we’re lucky enough to enjoy every summer, even outside of any pretense of winning or losing, but as much as I may try to tell myself to look for the little, hidden joys in each at-bat or the pleasing subtleties the game can offer wholesale, but even I have my breaking point.
Then I see things like the video below, about a man named William. William, according to Southern California Hospice Foundation’s description, is 71 years old and had been battling homelessness and drug addiction for years before coming to them. He’s in a sober living home now, through the hospice, and the one final wish he asked them to grant was that he get to go to an Angels game with his housemates.
That’s because William is a hardcore Angels fan. William is one of us, and he’s probably been through the wringer more times than he can remember, living a life that most of us would probably find difficulty just imagining, let alone living. Still, he’s one of us.
I was skimming for some new Angels-related videos on Youtube when I came across William, and I was hit with a brick wall of feels. No amount of grumpiness or resentment towards the team’s recent shortcomings could fight back the urge to cry, to sympathize with what appears to be a very kind, old man who doesn’t have much time left on this Earth, but the time he does have, he wants to spend it watching the Angels.
Perspective is everything. William’s story, and the visible joy brought to him by the Angels, is a great way to defeat the dog days of out-of-contention August baseball. It’s a reminder to enjoy these little things, this kid’s game. We still have our team, our community, and our stadium. Most of us can still get to the games, fairly easy, or watch every night from our homes, and the cathedral of the Big A isn’t that hard to get into.
In a perfect world, we’d have William around here, arguing with us about the Halos, but I’ll settle for this video as an artifact of the Angels’ power to make a positive difference in people’s lives. When I found it, the video only had 41 views. It should have close to 41,000 or maybe 410,000. More people need to see it, to always have William in the back of their baseball-loving minds, so that he can always live on as a reminder of what’s really important. Lucky for us, there are people like Southern California Hospice Foundation that can make these last days wishes come true.
And yes...as tough as it may seem from time to time, we’re also lucky to have the Angels. Thanks, William. I won’t forget this. Go Angels!
(Big props go to Southern California Hospice Foundation for doing such amazing work. You can find out more about them here and if you feel so moved as to donate to them, head here)
Update 08/17/2016 05:23pm:
Because of this post, I was lucky enough to have a quick messenger chat with Michelle from Southern California Hospice Foundation. She was very happy to see William, and the foundation, getting some love from the Angels community. She also relayed the following story, from 2012, showing that their work with people in hospice care has gone hand-in-hand with the Angels for some time. Here’s what she said:
Thank you so much! We also worked with the Angels back in 2012 when we arranged for a little boy with terminal bone cancer to meet the entire team. He was an avid baseball player before he got sick and had to have his leg amputated. The boy passed a short time later and the team actually paid for his headstone. The family was astounded by their generosity as were we. Another reason why we love our Angels! You can watch the video about it here:
It goes to show how baseball is a sport that connects both the young and the old. And fans, (especially Angel fans), are fans until the very end.
Next year will be the So Cal Hospice Foundation's 15 year anniversary and we are looking for a celebrity spokesperson during 2017. If you know of any players who would like to support our cause at that level, please let me know.
I will definitely let you know when we have requests for anything regarding the Angels so that you can share it on your site.
Thank you again for your incredible support!
I thought I was getting hit by the feels earlier, but after that video and story about the Angels coming through for this kid...I’m speechless. I think we need to figure out which players we can reach via social media, and send them this article, or the foundation’s info, and get them an Angels spokesperson ASAP!