By David Saltzer - AngelsWin.com Senior Writer
They say that Angels fans are different than other baseball fans. The beach balls, the wave—all are considered signs of less passionate fans. I disagree. Angels fans are great fans and very passionate. They care deeply about their team and want to see them win. They may not yell and scream at the players like fans in other stadiums, but they care deeply, nonetheless.
For example, take Claude, Denis, Rock and Terri Bilodeau. They best represent the level of passion that can be found amongst Angels fans. Together, they created the Matsuiland sign (with Terri being the creator of the name) and displayed it prominently in right field. They thought that Matsui was a natural fit for the Angels and decided to become the official welcoming party for him. While they may have rooted against him as a member of the Yankees, they jumped at the chance to launch a fan base for him in Orange County.
In order to do the Matsuiland sign, the Bilodeaus had to purchase 10 seats in a row for every game that they attended as well as design and print the sign. They needed to ensure that they had 10 people who would be there for every one of his at-bats so that they could display their sign. They were sure not to interfere with the view for the fans around them or to bring unruly or disruptive people with them.
Although Matsui struggled in the first half, the Bilodeaus hung tough. They stayed with their player. They remained optimistic that Matsui and the Angels would turn their seasons around. They hoped for the opportunity to meet him and to show him up close the sign that they made for him and for the Angels to return to their winning ways.
As a superstar, Matsui is a quality celebrity. Before games, he can be found signing autographs for his fans. He deals with the needs for his press corps and makes sure that they all get their photos and stories. Unlike many celebrities, Matsui embraces the needs of his reporters to supply the content for his fans.
As an organization, the Angels are a quality act. They too recognize the passion of their fans and often do many things above and beyond to celebrate the passion amongst their fans. After Matsui posted an incredible second half to the season (.304/.404/.560), the Angels arranged for Hideki Matsui to meet Matsuiland prior to the game on September 24th, 2010.
Watching the Bilodeaus meet Matsui was a reminder about all that is good in baseball. While this season may have been disappointing, the team, the players, and the fans still share a level of passion that transcends the record on the field. For a moment, it wasn’t about the upcoming game or the numbers in the books; it was about the magic that can only happen in baseball.
In 2009, the Angels were rated as the #1 overall sports franchise by ESPN in their Ultimate Standings. And, in 2010, the Angels were still rates as the #1 baseball franchise in the ESPN Ultimate Standings (3rd overall). With passionate fans like the Bilodeaus and quality community relations, it’s easy to see why the Angels are ranked so highly.