Tuesday, September 28, 2010

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By David Saltzer - AngelsWin.com Senior Writer

Every fall I go into a bit of a funk. When the baseball season ends, there’s a void in my life until February when the pitchers and catchers report. Sure, there’s football and hockey, but they aren’t baseball. They don’t have the drama that only a 162-game season can bring.

Knowing that tonight will be my last game of the season, my funk is setting early. For the first time since 2006 I won’t be watching the Angels in the post season.

Unlike some, though, I’m not finding these final games to be meaningless. In fact, I’m finding them to be quite the opposite; these games may prove more pivotal as for the Angels as they search for the answers to improving their club.

It’s easy to sense that there is a deep analysis going on around the team. Watching batting practice, the coaches are intensely focused on some of the players, especially the youngsters who were recently brought up. There are hushed conversations; quick mental notes made. I’ve seen more of the Angels front office around the stadium and in the press box than I’ve seen in previous games.

This offseason will prove pivotal for the Angels. Do they go for a major reconstruction or do they go for just a piece or two? Should they invest heavily in one player or should they spread the money around to try and solve many of their needs? A lot of the factors affecting those decisions will be determined during the next few games. So, watching these games is important; they show what the club is thinking.

In these final games, it’s important to note how the players finish the season. Some, like Torii Hunter want to win every game, no matter what. For him, it’s a matter of pride. Talking with him before the game, he doesn’t care about the stats or the numbers; he just wants to win.

Angels fans have every reason to be optimistic about 2011. They have an owner who is committed to winning and the management who knows how to deliver. They know that they need to improve and have every intention to do so.

Listening to the reporters around the stadium, they expect the Angels to be busy this offseason. They’re already talking about meeting up at the stadium again for some announcements. They sense what I sense—the Angels do not want a repeat performance.

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. As I sit here enjoying my last home game of the season, I’m trying to savor as much as I can to hold me until February. Already, though, the anticipation of the upcoming offseason is getting me excited, and I can hardly wait to see how the 2011 team shapes up.
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