The Angels have become masters at surprising me. And not in a good way.
Just when I thought it couldn’t be a more frustrating season, and I could no longer be surprised by anything that happened with this team, they went to Texas recently and gave up three straight home run walk-off wins to their division rival, the Rangers.
My (filtered) reaction was something like this:
Game 1 loss: Oh, wow. Really, Angels? So predictable.
Game 2 loss: Are you kidding me right now?
Game 3 loss: Of course. Buttercup trifecta. Awesome.
That’s the first time I had ever seen anything like that, in any sport. And apparently, it was the first time this had happened in Angels club history (although not the first time in MLB history). Hooray for reaching new milestones! Eyeroll.
As I was sitting there after the Game 3 loss, stunned, staring blankly at the television, my two daughters skipped into the room (because they still do that), saw I had the postgame program on and asked a simple question.
“When are we going to the Angels game again?”
“Yeah, we want to see Big Bang Friday! And Mike Trout! And Mark Trumbo!”
They were totally serious.
I bit my tongue and thought to myself, “They have no idea what’s going on with this team. Clearly.”
But honestly, that wasn’t entirely true. They knew the Angels had lost that game and that the Rangers had hit a home run in the bottom of the 9th inning to make that happen.
But here’s the difference: They didn’t care.
Giving up walk-off home run wins to the other team. An unreliable bullpen. Sloppy fielding. Questionable base running. Big contracts that aren’t producing.
None of it fazes them.
They still wanted to go to the Big A and see the Angels play. Because the Halos are the home team, our team. And it’s summer. And that’s what we do in the summer at the Russo house. How the team is playing and what the win/loss column says are of little consequence to them.
So staring down at the final weeks of summer, I said, “We will be there soon, girls. Very soon.”
And the next morning, I drove myself to Angel Stadium, walked up to the ticket booth and got tickets for an upcoming Friday night game, along with a couple of other games.
Because it’s summer. And John and I only have so many summers with our girls.
While I was there, I made a long overdue visit to the Angels Team Store, with my Angels jersey in hand. There was something I needed to do, and I was thinking that the timing might be right for a sort of an attitude adjustment for me.
I got my Angels jersey personalized with Number 36, Jered Weaver.
This is a big deal. The name on the front has always been more important to me than the one on the back. So much so, that I try to not get too attached to players on a team. Sure, I have my favorites. But the business of professional sports leaves too much room for disappointment in that department. And because of that, I left my Angels jersey unadorned for years.
But Weaver’s loyalty, his desire to stay close to home, and his realization that there was more to his decision than just the money stayed with me. And then he went and named his first-born son Aden, after his dear friend Nick Adenhart.
Seriously. He’s awesome.
And he quietly remains the ace of the pitching staff, without much fanfare and overshadowed by the underachievement of the team.
I fully realize that he may not remain an Angel his entire career. But nonetheless, he’s earned the spot on the back of my jersey.
As I left the stadium that day, I had a different perspective. And I felt a little better.
I thought back again to those words inspired by my younger daughter from Angels Opening Night that have become a sort of theme for this year of Angels baseball for me.
Don’t worry. Maybe they’ll win next time. Have fun and enjoy the experience.
Because sometimes, the experience is bigger than the game itself.
The team still isn’t playing to their potential. And it may get worse before it gets better. But I’m determined to not let it get me down.
The kids on the team have infused some new energy and exciting play into the season. Kole Calhoun, Collin Cowgill and J.B. Shuck can be seen making fantastic highlight reel plays.
And Mike Trout.
We have Mike Trout, y’all.
The guy hits home runs on his birthday. Two years in a row. If nothing else, we should be watching this team play just to watch him. He’s something special.
So we will continue to show up to the Big A this summer. Because our girls want to go. Time with them is fleeting, so we will take them. No matter how the Halos are playing. And no matter what the win/loss column says.
Rough season or not, I’m sticking with my team.
And I will always be a fan of the Angels.