A good friend of mine recently asked why I love baseball so much. While the obvious answer is it’s a chance to look at good-looking men in tight pants for three-plus hours without anyone questioning you, there’s much more to it than that. (I was especially fond of the few months with Mark Teixeira at first. Those pants fit like a glove.)
At 23-years-old, I’m relatively young in my love of baseball. I didn’t watch the Angels win the World Series in 2002, and I didn’t jump on the Halo Bandwagon the following year, either. I started watching baseball during the 2007 season, and admittedly, contemplated being a Dodgers fan before I realized what a dumb decision that would have been.
The complexity and the simplicity of the game are what draw me in. It’s simple in nature – hit the ball, get on base, run around the diamond, go home, win. (Why didn’t anyone ever tell Jeff Mathis that?) I digress. At its core, though, baseball is so much more. It’s the bunt that catches the opponent off guard. It’s the hard-hit ball that Nelson Cruz swears is going to go foul, but ends up dropping fair right inside the line. It’s the intentional walk, the strike-em-out-throw-em-out, the stolen base, the in-the-park homerun. It’s the friendships you make because of the sport and the energy at the field. There is no other sport like baseball.
If you’ll recall from earlier in this post, I once was young and naive and considered bleeding Dodger Blue. As a kid, my family and I would go to an Angels game here or there, but it was moreso just to get out of the house. In high school, a friend of mine invited me to go to some Dodgers games with her family, who had season tickets. I went a few times, but really just because those garlic fries are to die for. No, really, I’d take a bullet for one of those things. When I started to really get into the game, I had a choice to make: Angels or Dodgers. I clearly got my head out of my ass and started to follow my beloved Angels.
As I started to learn more and more about the game, I came to love how much rivalry lies within the sport. The team that I had once considered loving, I now loathed with a passion. The Yankees and Red Sox games got me going like few things could. And now, in the past few years, the rivalry with the Texas Rangers has become insurmountable. When I moved to Texas this past March, I knew I would be surrounded by loud mouth Rangers fans, and I was actually pretty excited. One of my first nights back in Austin, a dude at the bar brought up baseball. After telling him I was an Angels fan instead of a Rangers fan, he promptly asked the bartender to cancel the drink he just ordered for me and told me good luck winning with Jayson Werth. I reminded him that Mr. Werth played for the Washington Nationals, and had never played for the Angels. Convinced I was a girl that knew absolutely nothing about baseball, he took out his phone to Google Jayson Werth. After realizing he had no idea what he was talking about, he and his friend left the bar. His ego proved that everything really is bigger in Texas.
This past weekend I drove three hours north to see the Rangers take on the Halos in Arlington. Going into enemy territory in an Angels jersey and hat is a small pleasure I hope everyone gets to one day experience. Because of the rain delay in Friday’s game (which I was not at), I was able to see CJ Wilson pitch on Saturday afternoon. I knew Texas’ hatred for Wilson would be great, but the “boo’s” as CJ came on to the field each half-inning were almost bone chilling. I’d say I was one of maybe ten people in a sea of 49,170 that cheered as Wilson took his place on the mound. For Saturday’s game, I sat a few rows behind homeplate and was surrounded mostly by older, white haired men. Behind me, however, were two 20-something frat boys who were determined to piss me off. They hurled comments about Wilson, Pujols, Scoscia, Hatcher, and just about anyone and everyone who came to the plate. Then there were the comments when Mike Napoli would come to bat for Texas. They sure do love Napoli in Texas. After a two-run shot by Trumbo in Saturday night’s game, I turned around and asked the pair, “You do know y’all are losing, right?” They shutup for the most part after that. Things started to get tense again as the Rangers drove in a pair of runs, but ultimately the Angels held on for the win. Walking out of the ballpark in my Angels swag as people gave me dirty looks and yelled obscenities at me was a joy I’ll never fully be able to explain.
I was certain Sunday’s game was a definite win with Weaver on the mound for the Halos. I’ve never been more cocky in my life as I was going into that game. I’ll tell you that sitting in a sea of Rangers fans when Weave gives up a Grand Slam is something you never really want to experience. A rough night for the boys meant a rough night for me, but luckily beers are only $5 at Rangers Ballpark. Even still, I wore my red and white proud and cheered my team on as they battled back. As we all know, they fell short and Texas won the game by a final of 13-6. Leaving the ballpark was a bit different after a loss, but it makes the anticipation of my next trip up I-35 to see the Angels again that much more exciting.
Oh, and just for good measure, I made sure to fill out as many All-Star Game ballots with Angels players as possible while I was there. It’s the small things in life.