It all started a couple years ago, springing into baseball minds as a mere piece of hypothetical baseball trivia. It was around that time when astute Angels fans began to take notice of the fact that Vladimir Guerrero, easily one of the most popular and most legendary players to ever don a Halos uniform, was coming up for Hall of Fame eligibility.
While some were pondering the former slugger’s chances at being voted in to those hallowed Cooperstown halls, fans that had been paying attention to Guerrero’s career knew his induction into the Hall of Fame was as much of a no-doubter as the home run he hit against the Yankees in Game 3 of the 2009 ALDS. Those same fans were instead focused on a much more important question that was swirling around Big Daddy Vlady’s impending call to the hall: Who was he going to be representing in the HOF?
Cut to yesterday. Halos fans everywhere could be found smiling ear to ear upon hearing the news that the wait was over; in his second year on the ballot, Vladimir Guerrero had gotten an avalanche of votes and was officially part of the 2018 Hall of Fame inductee class (alongside Jim Thome, Trevor Hoffman and Chipper Jones). The only remaining question mark, of course, was the same one that had already been igniting discussions in comment sections, on Twitter and just about every other place where fans talk baseball with other fans. It was the same question we’d been kicking around since about two years prior.
Who was Vlad going to be representing in the HOF?!
Vlady had a great run with the Montreal Expos before coming to the Angels in 2004, and in the five seasons after coming to play for Arte Moreno & Mike Scioscia, he had another great run, to put it lightly. When a player of Vlad’s caliber and prestige gets into the HOF, while having put up god-like numbers for two different teams, the choice of which baseball cap that’ll be worn in Cooperstown can be maddening. Well, for the player, at least.
In my opinion, the answer is easy; I mean, c’mon, the Angels or the Expos? THE EXPOS!?!? Nobody cares about the Expos (read: I don’t care about the Expos), plus Vlad had the MVP award while he was playing in Anaheim, and he had more post-season appearances and celebratory moments while with the Angels.
Sure, when sites like fivethirtyeight crunch the numbers and show us that Vlad’s time in Montreal was more impressive, statistically speaking, it can muddy up the waters a bit. In the end, that’s just a distraction, and I go right on back to being resolute in my totally biased, but correct, opinion that he should represent the Angels.
You know what, though? Vlad himself didn’t really see it as cut and dry as I did, go figure! He seems to have genuine love for the city of Montreal and all the old Expos fans that still have a bit of the fire inside them that was originally started and stoked by Guerrero. He is a man who respects his past, and the people that gave him a shot and put him on the path to the Big A to begin with.
After a handful of times where he asked fans to chime in with their thoughts, after a few Twitter polls on the subject, and after talking with friends, family and former teammates, it was time to make the decision that was, at the very least, two years in the making.
This afternoon, at a press conference in New York put on for the Hall of Fame Class of 2018, Vladimir Guerrero made the historic announcement that he would be wearing an Angels hat in the Hall of Fame, making him the first ever Halo in the hall.
In front of Arte Moreno and with Jose Mota by his side, Vlady chose to wear the cap that we all wanted him to wear, the one we were wishing for all these months. It was one last time where us fans got to see Vladimir Guerrero enter a situation that was teetering on total Buttercup, and with his quintessential casualness, flipped the script by putting the Angels on top, sending the Halosphere into a state of euphoria in the process.
Vlady choosing the Halos was his last towering home run into the rock pile, it was his final game-saving missile launched from his hand in right field to the catcher’s mitt at home plate. It was just another amazing and magnanimous move from a dude who has a lifetime of amazing and magnanimous moves under his belt, and that’s why we love him as much as we do.
He made the Angels a force to contend with in the American League for much of the 2000s, putting them on the MLB map and making people take notice where they would normally ignore. Now, he’s doing the same thing for the Angels, it’s just that he’s doing it in the Hall of Fame, and not on the baseball diamond.
The importance of Vladimir Guerrero choosing to represent the Angels in Cooperstown cannot be overstated; this is a day for rejoicing, because we not only get to see Vlad get the immortalizing he deserves, but because he used this huge moment in the national spotlight to tell the rest of the baseball world that the Angels are the real deal and they’re not going anywhere.