By David Saltzer - Senior Writer
It’s been a week since I left for Spring Fanfest, and I’m still thinking about it. Last Sunday, Tim Mead told us that “Baseball is life.” He told us about the joys of living so intensely with so many players that they become family. He told us about the sorrows in losing key people and family members in the offseason. If baseball is life, so too is AngelsWin.com. It has an intensity and family that comes from so many people sharing their intense passion for Angels’ baseball.
In many ways, I consider myself more like a typical member of AngelsWin.com than a Senior Columnist. While I love writing on here, I don’t always have time to keep up with all the stories and interactions between the members that often happen on a day-to-day basis. And, while I went last summer to the AngelsWin.com Tailgate Party, I don’t really know what everyone looks like because I tend to read the boards with avatars off.
When I arrived in Phoenix, I wasn’t sure what to expect for the weekend. One of my best friends, Kevin, joined me for the weekend, so, I knew I’d have some fun. But, while Kevin is an Angels fan, his only connection to AngelsWin.com was that he knew that I write for the site. He’s not a regular reader of our website, although, he’s been on it a few times to see some of the articles on the blog (such as the Top-50 Prospects). I wasn’t sure how much fun he’d have hanging with a bunch of people that he didn’t know or how much fun I’d have in a weekend with a bunch of people whose main connection to me was a keyboard and monitor.
When Kevin picked me up at the airport, we went straight to the ballpark to catch our first game. While the Angels didn’t win, we still had fun. Neither of us had been to a Spring Training game since 2002 when we made a hasty trip for 1 game—and it was an away game at that. Kevin was impressed with the beer selection in the stadium and the hot dogs lived up to their reputation for being the best in the Cactus League. We met up with Chuck and the gang from AngelsWin.com who were hanging out by the first base side, and they immediately welcomed us as old friends. Even though I had to ask many people “Who do you post as?” and everyone wondered who Kevin was, the AngelsWin.com crowd was more than friendly, more than happy, and more than ready to share Angels’ baseball. People that I hadn’t seen since last summer picked up as if no time had ever passed between the two events.
Saturday, Kevin and I woke up early to catch all the pre-game activities. We watched the minor leaguers heading out to the lower fields and then went into the main stadium to watch the players stretch and take batting practice. We met up with fans from AngelsWin.com and talked baseball. We met Angels fans from all over Southern California and all over the country. Most knew of AngelsWin.com. We got some autographs and talked with the players and the Japanese reporters covering Matusi. Everyone was in a good mood, and Scioscia kept the humor flowing on the field. Players were approachable and the fans were having a great time.
We then went over to Phoenix Municipal Stadium to see the Angels take on the Oakland A’s. The good thing about going to see the Angels play an away game against the A’s was that it felt more like a home game. The crowd was mostly Angels’ fans, which made for a fun afternoon. Kevin and I ended up sitting near some incredibly drunk A’s fans and many members from the Angels Front Office. Some of the people on our board heard our banter back and forth with the drunk A’s fans, and the Front Office guys were even laughing at how we were putting them in their place. It was funny watching them try to stay focused on the game and the players while knowing that they were trying hard to hold back the laughter.
Unfortunately, the Angels lost the game (we really need to consider getting a live chicken to exorcise the AngelsWin.com Fanfest “curse”). But, that loss was quickly erased by the party at Hail Mary’s. The food was great, the drinks were flowing, the service was impeccable, and Brian outdid himself by making classy tickets for the event and making all the arrangements for the dinner. There were over 50 members from AngelsWin.com at Hail Mary’s all gathered to enjoy each others company and to share in the joy created by AngelsWin.com.
When Terry Smith, Jose Mota and Darren Chan spoke with us, the crowd was buzzing. The told us how much they go online to see what the fans are saying. They read the articles and boards at AngelsWin.com and know what we offer to Angels’ fans and know how much of a community we are. They answered our questions and told us great stories. And, when Terry Smith spoke about his friend Rory Markus, you could have heard a pin drop in the room.
Kevin and I stayed late with the gang at Hail Mary’s. By the end of the night, we were laughing and joking with everyone. There were all sorts of fans from AngelsWin.com there, ranging from newbies to lurkers to hard core posters and writers. Yet, we were all there as the AngelsWin.com family—dedicated to our love for the team and dedicated to each other through the website.
On Sunday, Kevin and I got to the field early to hear Tim Mead speak. Again, it was an incredible opportunity for Angels fans. Only the AngelsWin.com crowd was allowed in early into the stadium on Sunday to watch the pre-game and to hear Tim Mead speak.
Tim is an incredibly classy and polished individual. He spoke with us for over 30 minutes, answering all of our questions, even though it began to drizzle about halfway through his presentation. He stayed as long as we had questions and he told us stories that we would never have heard through the newspapers. It was everything a fan could want, and it was all made possible by AngelsWin.com.
Although the game on Sunday was canceled, the fun continued. We went to Aunt Chilada’s with the AngelsWin.com crowd and had an incredible lunch—this may have to become part of our future Fanfests. We talked more baseball until it was time for me to catch my flight home.
As Kevin and I drove to the airport, we agreed on three things. First, we both agreed that we had an incredible time with everyone from AngelsWin.com. Everyone from AngelsWin.com formed an incredible family. Second, we both agreed that we’re going to make the Spring Fanfest an annual event for both of us—the weekend just was too much fun. Kevin has already signed up on the website and is reading the boards. Finally, we both left the event thinking that 2010 is going to be a great year for Angels baseball.
Thank you to everyone from AngelsWin.com who made the Spring Fanfest such an incredible event. You are all very special people and you all make AngelsWin.com a special place on the internet.
Check out other AngelsWin.com members reaction in this thread on our forum and if you haven't seen our Terry Smith & Jose Mota questions and answers session at Hail Marys, you can stream that on our Blog .