Sometimes in life there’s something so great and comforting that you end up taking it for granted. It’s in the human psyche to do so, to avoid the thought of that big fluffy teddy bear leaving your forever. For the Los Angeles Angels and fans, Mike Trout is that big fluffy teddy bear, as he has been for the last six-plus years.
On April 28th, 2012, Trout was called up for the last time, replacing veteran Bobby Abreu. I was still too young to recognize the value of prospects or the salary cap; I basically liked the players the TV broadcast told me to like. The eighth grade dance would be a month later, and I wouldn’t meet my best friend for another four months. I liked Albert Pujols and Jered Weaver because they were stars, not caring about the huge drainage that they placed on the cap.
Then there was Mike Trout. I don’t remember a lot of his firsts personally—they didn’t seem all that important in 2011 or 2012. And then something magical happened. There was talk that Trout, the clear ROY winner in 2012, could be named as the MVP. I watched, I listened, and soon enough, I myself believed that Trout was the MVP and the best player in baseball.
For the past six years, there has been no better sound than Mike Trout connecting with a baseball. He may not have the exit velocity of Giancarlo Stanton or Aaron Judge, but he’s pretty gosh dang close, and he hits the ball so much more frequently that it isn’t a comparison.
Throughout high school, Trout was my guy, the one constant as I learned more about the world. As Weaver faltered and Aybar and Kendrick were traded, I leaned more and more on the one constant on the team. Time floated along...
I never really took all the trade-Trout stuff seriously. I knew there was Stanton, Halladay, McCutchen, Griffey, etc. But Trout was on another level. It was irrational, because all Jerry Dipoto or Billy Eppler would have to do was have a bad day in the office, decide to blow it all up, and move him for spare parts. Yet something stronger kept me believing, an emotion stronger than logic. Maybe hope, love, nostalgia, comfort, or one of the teddy bear emotions that makes a person all fuzzy inside.
Yet these past two years, Trout has missed significant time. The missing time part didn’t bother me (both times had very good reasons), but it did make conscious the idea that 2020 was quickly approaching. Soon a baseball fan in Anaheim might not be able to go to the ballpark and hear one of the purest sounds in the world, the crack of Trout’s bat on wood. He could be wearing another uniform, playing for another city, chasing rings for another franchise.
Andrelton Simmons, Kole Calhoun, Justin Upton, Andrew Heaney...they’re great players, but they don’t carry the weight of the world like Trout does. Sometimes, it almost takes real life events like injuries and tragedies to remind the general populace that he even is human. I know this. I knew this. Yet when he hit that triple last night, I was once again cheering like I always had, like some part of my childhood had restored itself.
Thank you, Mike Trout. For everything. Take care of yourself.
One of the fuzzy teddy bear emotions has me believing that Trout will sign another contract with the Angels after the 2020 season. Now all I have to do is see if it is true.