Saturday, October 6, 2007

By Geoff Bilau

In the top the ninth inning of Friday's game, I received this text message from board member Chad Sjule:

"I can't take another walk off in Boston."

At that moment, I decided I couldn't either. When the Angels didn't score, I told my friend to come get me if there was a tenth inning and I went outside.

While I paced my cul-de-sac, I hoped one of my kids would soon be dispatched to inform me the Angels were coming to bat. But my mind was already envisioning the very scene that came to fruition: Red Sox players mobbing one of their own, with that stupid green wall practically laughing at us in the background.

A neighbor came out to get something from his garage, spotted me standing in my driveway and asked "Can't bear to watch?"

I told him I didn't want to see another celebration at Fenway Park. He laughed and assured me, "There are two outs."

There would, of course, not be a third.

Once I realized nobody was coming to get me, there was no last-minute reprieve from the governor, I wandered back into the house just in time to catch a couple of seconds of the celebration before switching off the television.

It was crushing. And exhausting. And frustrating.

But after a night of sleep and a morning of contemplation I've reached the conclusion it was also necessary.

"Now, wait a minute!" you might protest. "You're saying you wanted to lose in the ninth inning, at Fenway Park, on a walk-off three-run home run by Manny Ramirez, setting up a must-win situation for the Angels in the next three games?"

Well, not exactly. I wanted Figgins to drive that ball down the right field line and give the Angels a 5-3 lead in the eighth. I wanted the series to come to Anaheim tied, 1-1, with the Angels in the driver's seat and with all the momentum.

But it didn't happen that way, and instead we'll be watching a team facing elimination on Sunday, and again on Monday and Wednesday should the Angels win at home.

My point today is that maybe that's not such a bad thing. Consider the regular season. What was the most gratifying moment? To my mind, it was not the division-clinching game in September. Instead it was the three-game sweep of Seattle at the end of August.

Why? Because of what would have happened if the Angels hadn't swept, how the season could have had a dramatically different outcome had the Mariners won all three.

The clincher, with the division title all but assured, came as more of a relief than a joyous celebration, especially coming on the heels of the two losses that preceded it.

Now, when I say last night's loss was necessary, I'm not speaking specifically of this series. In reality, the Angels have probably dug themselves a hole too deep to dig out of. I'm talking about the bigger picture, the factors that create the intensity of our passion for the Angels.

The World Series in 2002 was special not only because it was the franchise's first, but I would argue even more so because it was preceded by the collapse in 1982, the nightmare of 1986, the choke of 1995 and all the other gut wrenching disappointments we fans endured through the years.

There can be no denying that these events are woven as deeply into the fabric of the 2002 season as Adam Kennedy's and Scott Spiezio's home runs.

And as such, the weaving has begun anew, with last night's loss another stitch in what will some day be another warm, fuzzy memory in which to wrap ourselves during the cold winter months.

Curtis Pride's triple off Francisco Cordero in Texas to save the 2004 season. Big Papi's walk-off winner. Darin Erstad's diving stop and flip to Francisco Rodriguez as Hideki Matsui lunged helplessly for the bag. A.J. Pierzynski, Doug Eddings and now Manny Ramirez's game winner -- each a chapter of the next great Angels story.

A little bit of desperation is good now and then. It makes the triumphant conclusion, whenever that may be, all the more sweet.

In the meantime, we've just got to plug our noses and try to choke down the sour.
Love to hear what you think!


Cyrus Melchor said...

Put some fire under that spoon and give me some. And chase it with a double shot of omniscient optimistic perspective. Thanks. I rrrreally needed that!!!!!

Listen to "A Fish Like This" Tribute song to Mike Trout's Greatness

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