Alright then. That’s over now. And by ‘that’ I mean football season. The Super Bowl was fun and all. Yes, I know that mistakes were made on both sides but, hey, I was entertained, especially in the 2nd half. And Jacoby Jones made me exclaim colorful variants on “No way! That’s so great! Wow!” on several occasions. I mean, I only watch maybe 4 football games a year, so I don’t really know what’s normal, but his performance looked pretty special to me. However, my point is, it’s over now. Even the postgame crying, cheering and speeches part. Heck, with the Ravens’ win, the jokes and gripes about the power outage will probably even taper off sooner than they would have otherwise. So, to make a long story short — too late! – can we have baseball now please? I know, I know. Just a few more days until pitchers and catchers report and then it isn’t really that much longer until Opening Day but…but…that’s just not good enough. I want baseball now. *sigh* Oh well, in the meantime…
I do wish Albert Pujols would drop the idea of trying to play in the World Baseball Classic. I know that he enjoys playing for the Dominican Republic and would love to continue doing so but the man just had knee surgery. Yes, it was a minor procedure, he had it back in October and allegedly the knee feels good. Sure, everything could be just fine. But what if it’s not? Look, Pujols had a notoriously slow start last season, a fact which I certainly found frustrating at the time but have never held against him. However, judging from Twitter, Facebook and behavior at the games, many other Angels fans have barely forgiven Albert for the slow start, if at all. Especially in light of this environment I think that it would be an excellent PR gesture on his part if Pujols made it clear that his commitment to the Angels is a priority and that he won’t do anything that even gives the appearance of risking his health for the season in any way…any way such as, for example, playing in the World Baseball Classic right after knee surgery instead of going through the normal Spring Training warm up into readiness for the season.
Besides, it’s clear that this is what his bosses expect of him as well. Angels GM Jerry Dipoto is diplomatically quoted as saying “It’s our understanding that Albert will be with us the entirety of spring training and we look forward to having him.” I don’t imagine that Dipoto intended that as a suggestion and, really, baseball can’t be so very different from more normal sorts of jobs in that, seriously, it’s best to do what your boss wants you to do. Now, I understand that WBC insurance doesn’t cover players who had surgery in the offseason and therefore MLB is unlikely to approved Pujols playing for the Dominican Republic. For that I am grateful. But given Pujols’ insistence that he wants to play, I have a concern that somehow, someone will make an exception. Really, it would be best for all concerned if Pujols chalks this up as being just one more of those “Gosh, it sucks to be a responsible adult sometimes,” decisions we all have to make from time to time and moves on.
In other news, C.J. Wilson is set to be a Head and Shoulders Mane Man for 2013. I’ll admit it, the Joe Mauer commercials cracked me up and part of me is looking forward to seeing if Wilson’s delightful sense of humor comes out in the commercials. However — gosh, am just a giant curmudgeon today or what? — a larger part me is saying, ‘Really? Another distraction, C.J.?’ Hearing about the resurgence of Wilson’s bone spur problems last year – which he had offseason surgery to correct — I do believe that pain and physical issues were far more significant contributors to Wilson’s 2012 issues on the mound than his plethora of taxing extracurricular activities. And I absolutely believe players should be able to take advantage of endorsement deals that come their way. However, I can’t help but feel that this situation falls into the same category as the one I outlined for Pujols above – an obvious, ‘I care deeply about my commitment to the Angels and will not do anything that even gives the appearance of jeopardizing that’ gesture is in order, perhaps toning down a few of his other side activities until he’s shown post bone spur removal ace stuff again for a while.
All appearances to the contrary, however, I am not all gloom and doom. It’s really just the relative lack of news in the offseason skewing things. I am thrilled the Angels hired Omar Vizquel and his 11 Gold Gloves of talent and experience as a new Infield Coach. Seeing Mike Trout in the Subway Super Bowl commercial made me smile – okay, smile and shout “Trout!” but, seriously, who’s keeping track? While none of the Angels recent minor league especially acquisitions excite me one way or the other, I am pleased with what these moves symbolize – a realization that the team needs to bulk the farm system back up soon. I’m not sure if these are the right moves for the job but, still, they’re a start. And, most important, Angels pitchers and catchers report in one week. I may not be very good at waiting patiently for Opening Day – okay, so I’m not good at it at all – but I will have a lot more tide me over news shortly.
We interrupt this Angels blog to discuss…football? Well, it was Super Bowl Sunday after all. I am not a big football fan. I have nothing against it at all. I understand the rules. I appreciate the strategies, it just doesn’t hold my attention for more than a game or two a year. I don’t even have a specific team I root for casually. And yet, every year, I enjoy the Super Bowl, especially if Seth and I are invited to a Super Bowl party. I’d say this is strange but, judging from the hype and the overflowing parking lot at our local Costco, a lot of folks who don’t normally follow football climb on board the band wagon for the big game.
This year my boss threw a Super Bowl party and invited the whole department along with our spouses and significant others. Pretty cool boss, yes? Anyway, I wound up rooting for the Packers because it’s more fun if you actually root for someone, the majority of party goers were Packers Fans, I do not like Ben Roethlisberger and it’s been longer since the Packers won – the usual kind of silly reasons a non-fan uses in such situations to avoid actually saying eni meni mini mo.
Here’s the thing though, and it happens every year, even when the game just isn’t all that fantastic – neither team is my team and the game isn’t even my sport, but I still get swept up in the passion and the cheering. It’s an any port in a storm response really. It’s February. I haven’t cheered for a baseball game in three months and now I find myself in a room full of passionate sports fans. I know it’s only a temporary substitute but it’s impossible not to get caught up in the joy of a shared fan experience even though, for me, it’s only a borrowed fan experience. Passion is passion after all and, while I do not share a passion for football, I think all sports fans can appreciate one another’s passion.
Thinking about this for the blog also made me realize both how much I enjoy the shared fan experience and how little I get of it, even during a typical baseball season. Seth and I usually watch Angels games at home, which is a lot of fun but certainly lacks a big cheering crowd. Going to 16 games in 2010 was unusual and something we may or may not be able to repeat in 2011 – I got some ticket steals last year and friends with season seats handed us the tickets a fair bit. Apparently, I need to find a good Angels bar to watch a couple of games at this year.