Thursday, April 3, 2014

If


By David Saltzer, AngelsWin.com Senior Writer

Growing up, my dad had a poem posted in the house. It was his favorite. Though I really didn’t understand it as a child, I knew it meant something to my dad, so I read it and reread it until I mostly had it memorized.

Now, as an adult, I am glad he had it up in the house. It’s taught me a lot and given me the wisdom to know what to do and when to do it. The words in the poem apply today as much as they did when they were first written.

The Angels did not start the season off the way that any of us wanted. They have not played well. Compared to their Spring Training, they were underwhelming. After winning 10 out of their last 11 games in Spring Training by a combined 83-45, they were swept by the Mariners by a combined 26-8. I know that Spring Training games don’t count, but you can’t look at the start of the season in pure isolation either. It’s just too small of a sample size so far.

At this point, I’m not panicking. I’m still planning on watching all the games and having plenty of fun this season. In no way am I throwing in the towel.

Why?

Because we’re talking about 3 games—a whopping 1.85% of the season.

Now I’m not going to pull out the cliché that games early in the season don’t matter. They do count just as much in the standings as the ones in September. However, what I am saying is that I’m not going to sweat every small detail in a season. The season is too young and the story lines too small for us to truly evaluate all that will happen this summer.

Looking around the leagues, does anyone really think that the Blue Jays will win the A. L. East and that the Yankees will lose all of their games (having dropped 2 against the Astros)? So, why should we believe that the Angels are going to have a poor season just after one bad series?

When I wrote 10 Reasons Why I’m Excited About the 2014 Season, I said “The season won’t be won in a day and it won’t be lost in a day either. No matter what, there are 162 games between now and the end of the season that we cannot predict all that will happen.” That’s just as true today after getting swept by the Mariners as it was when I wrote it, except we now know the outcome of 1.85% of the games.

Baseball is the greatest professional sport because it has peaks and valleys over a 162-game season. It has ebbs and flows. No one wants to start off with an ebb, but that’s what we’ve got. I’m not happy about it, but I’m not pulling out my last few remaining hairs over it either. The best teams will still lose 60 games and the worst teams will still win 60 games. I firmly believe the Angels have the ability to win 92 games this season, and will do that with the team they have.

One thing I specifically want to address. There’s been some criticism of the coaching staff that I think is a bit unwarranted. Anyone who says that they would have pitched to Cano instead of Smoak is delusional. In no way do the numbers support that. That’s akin to saying that after flipping a coin 20 times in a row and getting tails that the 21st time has a greater chance than any other flip of getting heads. The odds are the odds, and sometimes the odds don’t work out in your favor no matter how much Effie Trinket says “may the odds ever be in your favor”. So you always play the odds straight.

I have watched the coaches working with the players. They are working very hard to do their jobs and develop advanced methods to improve the performance on the field. They are doing things that will truly make the Angels one of the more advanced teams in the game, especially with their approach.

So, let’s all take a deep breath and relax. As Douglas Adams taught us, don’t panic. Instead, read the poem below and get ready for this weekend’s series against the Astros. The season has barely begun, and we are but a fraction of the way through it.

If

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!
Rudyard Kipling
Love to hear what you think!

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