Wednesday, December 5, 2012

By Jessica Grey - Feature Writer

I have a loyalty problem.

My issue isn’t that I lack loyalty. I have buckets of it. Sometimes, maybe, I have a bit too much loyalty. Case in point, my first job as a teenager was for KB Toys. It wasn’t until two years ago that I could even bring myself to step into a Toys R Us. Even then I felt a nagging sense of betrayal and KB Toys had been out of business for a full year.

Most baseball fans are pretty darn loyal. Angels fans sure are! Of course, we are first and foremost, supporters of our team, but we all have favorite players. When a favorite player gets traded, or chooses another team during free agency (or doesn’t get their option picked up), it can be stressful and upsetting.

Though trades happen during the season we have games and rankings and stats to distract us. During the off season we have nothing to focus on but trades, and rumors of trades, and who is going where for how much. This off season it has been especially rough for Angels fans because so many moves are being made - or not being made. There’s a part of me that wants to stop reading all of the tweets, and blogs, and newspaper articles, and just re-engage at the start of spring training. There’s something to be said for the “Oh my god, where is everyone? Oh, so this is our team now?” over with in one fell swoop. It’s like ripping off a really huge Band Aid.

Of course, I can’t just disengage...Who are we kidding? I can’t even make myself take a two hour break from obsessively checking for Winter Meeting tweets. I used to be in a much more healthy place before Twitter. Newspaper articles are one thing, but now fans have instant access to every thought that crosses a sports writer’s mind. Every rumor gets retweeted a million times before it can be confirmed or denied. The interweb goes into complete fan-freakout-meltdown in less time than it takes for one of C.J. Wilson’s race cars to hit sixty miles per hour.

In the interest of saving fellow fan’s off season sanity, let’s examine four common reactions to favorite players leaving a team and some ways to deal with the emotions that arise.

1. Betrayal and gleeful wishing for career demise:

This is usually the case when a player obviously choses money over being part of the franchise. A prime example would be John Lackey. I’m sure there were a lot of Angels fans that were angry at Lackey for going to the Red Sox. In other news, my previous sentence just won an award for Biggest Understatement Ever. I’d like the thank the Academy...

Best ways to deal with these unhealthy emotions:

Burning the player’s jersey/shirt. Please burn responsibly. Only you can prevent forest fires.

Drinking. It’s old school, but there’s no school like it.

Creating nasty rhymes about the player and teaching them to your young children to chant when we play their new team. At home only. Please be a good sport at the stadium. Also, this one wins you parenting awards and huge therapy bills when your kids are teens. Bonus.

2. Frustration with Management:

Disclaimer: Yes, we all want the strongest team and of course I think management wants that too. This doesn’t mean that every fan agrees with every trade or business decision ever made.

When a great player, or a fan favorite player, is traded and the trade seems uneven or has unintended consequences, like, oh I don’t know, the new team turning around and trading said player to a division rival (cough, Napoli, cough), fans get agitated. We wonder what management is thinking, we maybe even wonder if they’re smoking something. There’s wailing. There’s gnashing of teeth. There’s a rush on that player’s bobbleheads on eBay.

Best ways to deal with these unhealthy emotions:

Expressing your anger. Tweeting, Facebooking, or writing a strongly worded letter. I am a huge proponent of the strongly worded letter. I’m not saying you should actually mail it in to Arte Moreno, but writing one is extremely cathartic. (If you chose a public forum to express your anger, please do not be shocked when you get blowback from fellow fans, because no matter how much you love a player, somewhere there is a fan who thinks he is the sole reason we didn’t make the playoffs).

Drinking. Hey, it’s a winner.

Quickly buying up all player memorabilia you can get your hands on. It’s a scientific fact that buying stuff makes you feel better (source: Jessica’s Made Up Facts). Making creepy shrines to your favorite players also makes you feel better. And you can rest in the knowledge that you’ve helped to stimulate the economy.

3. Mental Bargaining

“I’ll be okay as long as he doesn’t go to Team A, or Team B, or, God forbid, Team C.”

Angels fans just recently went through a very public group mental bargaining over Torii Hunter and his move to the Tigers. If he’d ended up with the Rangers there might have been some sort of mass online grieving process. Having had several Twitter...altercations...with Tigers fans, they were definitely a part of my “as long as he doesn’t go here” mental bargaining process.

Best ways to deal with these unhealthy emotions:

Accepting that you’re powerless. Wow. That’s boring. True, but totally boring, so let’s follow up with:

DRINKING! And lots of it!

Throwing a tantrum when the player selects one of the teams on your mental bargaining list. The emotional benefits of chucking a straight up, toddler-worthy, full on tantrum are highly underrated. It helps if you actually throw yourself on the floor and kick your feet and pound your fists. It’s amazingly freeing. Please try to chose a carpeted surface if at all possible.

4. General Sadness

Often, even if you know it’s the right move for the team as a whole, it’s hard to say goodbye to a player. And even harder to know your team is going to have to face them during the upcoming season. Once all the other emotions settle down - anger, frustration, the mental bargaining process - we face the quiet disappointment left behind.

Best ways to deal with these unhealthy emotions:

Public well-wishing. Tweeting, Facebooking, commenting on articles about the trade or move and wishing the player well on their new team. I think we can all agree we want them to do spectacularly on their new team - just not when playing the Angels or when in direct competition with us in the rankings.

Not drinking. Did this one come as a shock? Alcohol is a depressant, folks. Try something with caffeine instead.

Buying tickets for next season / spring training / other baseball related items. In spring, all things are made new, and that includes our team and our teams chances! The best way out of a sadness slump is looking forward to a new year.

So those are my suggestions for dealing with all the off season craziness, but I’m always open to new methods of coping. What do you do when your favorite players are traded or not picked up?

Follow Jessica Grey on Twitter @_JessMelendez  

You can also check out & purchase her published work at
Love to hear what you think!

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