In the bottom of the eighth, after the Halos had started off the side by getting two quick outs, I sat in my seat in section F109, thoughts aimlessly moving from “Dude, this has been a long day”, to things like “Wait, where’d my wife go?”. You’ll notice that those are NOT Angels related; baseball was far from my mind, but that’s only because the Angels were getting their butts kicked and they outwardly appeared to be going through the motions.
Yeah, they had put two on the board in the seventh, and the previous 6-1 Astros lead was cut to 6-3, but I told myself “that doesn’t mean they have enough vim and vigor left in the tank to actually put up a fight and/or win this thing.” Not after those two quick eighth inning outs. Right?
It was really too bad, because there I was, surrounded by a bunch of Halos Heaven community members, enjoying our much-anticipated meetup, all after having watched Vladimir Guerrero get inducted into the Angels Hall of Fame before the game started. The camaraderie was there, the good vibes were there; I had just hoped the team would have shown up and so would the mojo.
Then, Mike Trout walked. Some enthusiastic and hopeful clapping followed, and that was then repeated, only with even more enthusiasm, in the next AB, as Albert Pujols lined a single to center field. “Wait, is something happening?”, I asked myself, still hesitant to really open up my mind to the possibilities that this Team of Destiny Angels squad had in store.
Before I could put another iota of thought into the situation on the field, Kole Calhoun lined a single to center, and now the Halos were down just 6-4, with two men still at the plate. That’s when I realized what was unfolding; I had been shrugging off their chipping away at the score up til that point, but only because I was doing my Angels analysis and speculation all wrong.
See, it was the Halos Heaven Big A Takeover, and it was Vlady’s big night at the Big A. Anybody with half a brain could see that there was massive potential for some special voodoo in the air, I was just expecting it in all the wrong ways and places. If the Team of Destiny were to put on a show, or more importantly, pull out a win against the visiting Astros, they wouldn’t have done it in the early innings. For all of those in attendance, ready for some magic, they’d make it a textbook 2017 epic comeback win.
It could only ever happen this way. I should have known.
By the time Kole had driven in Trout and brought them within two runs, though, I had wised up to their tricks. Who was at bat next? Andrelton Simmons. The tumbler in my head began turning and winding and clicking into position, a smile came across my face, as wide as an Orange County skyline over the rockpile at sunset. Simmons was at the plate, with two men on, two outs ,down by two runs.
Oh, it was ON.
The fact that Tyler Clippard was in the game in the first place was a sign in and of itself, because he would be a guy that would totally give up a huge homer. When he threw the ball to the plate, and Andrelton Simmons made contact, we all jumped up and I saw some of our Halos Heaven faithful already erupting with joy. In what felt like super slow-mo, the ball sailed over the outfield and towards the left field fence. Josh Reddick would try to make a play on it, but it was futile; that beautiful white pill barely got over Reddick’s outstretched glove and landed in the bullpen.
Andrelton Simmons, wearing a Players Weekend jersey that said “Simón” on the back in place of his last name, had gone down on one knee and belted the ball out of the ballpark, sending our Halos Heaven section into euphoria, the Big A turned into the biggest party in southern California, and the Angels had come back and taken the lead 7-6.
It was a perfect encapsulation of every awesome thing this team has done this year, and it happened while I was surrounded by some amazing Angels fans. So many high fives and hugs were doled out, I nearly got dizzy. Or perhaps I was just getting a massive head rush from the incredible baseball feat I had just witnessed.
If it was scripted or if I had planned out what I thought would be the perfect game to watch during this insanely fun night, it would have been exactly like the game we saw from the Halos here this evening; it would have also seemed like a little too on the nose or impossible or unbelievable. It was still all of those things, except it was what actually happened. I know, because I saw it and you saw it and all of the Halos Heaven crazies I came with saw it.
The Angels would, of course, close out the Astros in the ninth, the crowd at the Big A erupting once again into a rollicking round of cheers and jubilant screams to celebrate the victory. I felt so lucky, because I got to see a ballgame as memorable as they come, but also because it was a perfect ending to a perfect afternoon.
The Halos Heaven meetup solidified everything we already know about Halos Heaven: That the people here are the best, coolest, smartest, dopest, funniest, smartest and downright nicest Angels fans on the planet. If you didn’t make it out, don’t worry, because I’m also talking about YOU when I gush about our community, not just those in attendance. You guys are the best, and this team is the best. Life is pretty damn good; tonight, it was as good as it gets.
Thanks to everybody that came out, it was great to meet all the people I hadn’t yet met in person, and it was so nice to get to catch up with people I hadn’t seen in a few years. We definitely need to do this again soon. But I’m going to say this right here and now: I can’t promise that it’ll be as rad as tonight’s game with a finish that’s anywhere close to being as jaw-dropping as the one we got tonight.
It’s the Angels, though, so you never really know. Only one way to find out! Til then...Go Halos!