Tuesday, September 29, 2009

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

By Zach Stoloff - AngelsWin.com Columnist

I have been an Angels fan since about 1992—when I was 7 years old.

I went to Dodger games during my youth, as well, but despite their greater success on the field, the Dodger Stadium atmosphere was a bit off-putting, and there was something more intriguing about the Angels’ brand of baseball. Vin Scully was (and is) the only thing I liked better about the Boys in Blue.

However, the Dodgers did go to the playoffs a couple times during the mid ‘90s, and while the Angels floundered in relative futility under the reins of men like Bill Bavasi, Marcel Lacheman, and Terry Collins through that entire decade, suffice it to say I got some odd looks when I told people I was an Angels fan.

Well, that is no longer the case.

After decades of toiling as a second rate franchise, the 2000s have thoroughly belonged to the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim). With a World Series Championship in 2002, and now an incomparable five American League Western Division Championships over the past six years, the Halos have thoroughly established themselves as one of the perennial powers in baseball.

In writing about the Angels, I have been criticized for overly-lauding the team, or not often enough criticizing the decisions of the personnel (Tony Reagins) or player (Mike Scioscia) management. Well, as much as I believe he stands for all that is wrong in sports journalism, I’m going to quote Jim Rome:

“Scoreboard, baby.”

Looking at the standings, pure wins and losses, what exactly do I have to criticize about this team? Say what you will about their futility against the Red Sox during October, but realistically the 162 game schedule is a far better test of a team’s makeup than a 5-game set where, quite frankly, anything can happen. However, I must give credit where credit is due, and Boston, like the Angels, have put together a very good, consistently winning franchise.

The two ought to provide another exciting matchup.

All in all, when a team puts together a run like the Angels have over the past 8 seasons, it means that the people who run the organization are doing something right on a consistent basis. Division Championships and playoff appearances don’t just fall out of the sky like they do in sports with 16-team playoff structures. In baseball a postseason berth is earned in a daily grind unlike any other.

Since the advent of the Wild Card, the Angels’ success puts them in an elite company in terms of winning year in and year out: only the Braves, Yankees, and Red Sox can claim playoff runs which best Los Angeles. But despite all the regular season winning, there are a growing number of fans who claim they’re not “satisfied” with Angels baseball. My reply:

Try rooting for the Pittsburgh Pirates!

I want this team to win another World Series title as much as anyone, but just because I have perspective on how difficult it is to maintain success in baseball over such a long haul does not mean I don’t have ‘passion’ as a fan. Just because I realize how rare it is to have 162 plus meaningful baseball games to watch every single season does not mean it doesn’t pain me to see them exit in the first round of the playoffs.

For right now, however, and for the next days, as fans let’s all just be satisfied with what we have been privileged to watch this season. At this moment there are 17 (nearly 19) teams who have been eliminated mathematically from playoff contention—and many of those were doomed from day one. Conversely, the Angels give their fans an entire season of opportunities to tune in, show up at the ballpark, and care about the outcome of a game.

The Angels have just captured the American League Western Division Championship after a hard fought season.

How about enjoying it? Until next week, that is…
Love to hear what you think!


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