Friday, February 1, 2013

By David Saltzer, Senior Writer

One of the things that I most enjoy about is the entire community that we have developed. When Chuck Richter started the website in 2004, I doubt he had any idea of what it would become—a vibrant community that supports and cares for one another. It’s that community that makes special.

In our community, there are many angels—people who have gone above and beyond to help someone else in need. These angels can do things ranging from praying for someone who is sick to comforting someone through the loss of a loved one. I know many who have given others free tickets to games to actually driving out, getting someone, and bringing that person to a game. And, all of this happens because of our love for our team and our connection through the website.

Besides those who have been generous and kind with their time and work, there are other angels on our website. These are real Angels, many of whom come here to see what we are saying about them and how the fans are responding to the team. Everyone from the newest players to Arte Moreno and the front office comes onto to see what we are saying. Because we go out and interview players in Rookie ball and Single-A, we are often their first exposure to the media, and often the first chance that they have for their family and friends to learn more about their successes. They may not post much, but, they are on here nonetheless.

As one of the writers for the website, I have been fortunate to meet many of the players, especially the Minor Leaguers. They are men working hard to make their dreams come true on the baseball field so that we, the fans, can see our dreams come true with a championship. They put in long hours in far away places just to get a shot at the Major Leagues. They are good guys. Even the guys who are spending most of their time on the bench in the Major Leagues are still putting in long hours to be ready just in case they are needed.

When I interviewed Jerry Dipoto, there’s one thing that he said to me about players that I find particularly important for all fans to remember. “If a player makes it to the Major Leagues, even for 1 at-bat, or one inning, that means he is one of the top 1,000 people at his job in the world.” Think about that. Most of us work in jobs with hundreds of thousands or millions of people doing the same thing. Not all of us will make it into the top 1,000 people in our professions. Nor, will we have so many metrics used by so many fans of our work to evaluate our strengths and weaknesses, or the passion to do so with such intensity.

Part of why works so hard to make a Top-50 Angels Prospect List is to give as much praise to as many prospects in the organization as we can. We want to expose and educate the fans about as much that is happening in the organization as possible.

Nothing gives me or Chuck as much joy as when we receive an email from a player or a player’s family member thanking us for allowing them to see themselves or their loved one being celebrated on our website. And nothing pains us more than to hear the opposite.

As continues to grow, we are becoming the premiere destination for the Angels community to come and talk baseball. Healthy, vibrant, and even contentious discussion is one of the hallmarks of the website. With that growth comes more responsibility from all of us to continue to make the community the best Angels community on the internet.

So, in the spirit of the community that exists on this site, please remember, that when we are talking about players and performances on the field, ultimately, we are talking about real people who have real feelings. While we might not always be pleased with their play or all of their choices in life, they are entitled to be treated with the dignity and respect that every other member of this community has. While it might appear cute or fun to get a dig in on a player, or to come up with a term to describe him, in the end, it only weakens our community. None of us has the right to cast the first stone.

I can assure you that this website is read by many of the players, their families, and members of the Angels Front Office. They all recognize that fans have passions and strong opinions to support them. It is okay to criticize poor performance and other issues. Being critical, though, is not a license to become offensive or a bully. While the temptation to post something spiteful is strong, it’s better to take a pause before posting so as to avoid any problems.

Here’s one tip that I would recommend before posting: Ask yourself, would I say that directly to the player’s face, or if I knew that he would read it? If the answer is no, then don’t post it. Because most likely, that player will read it, or his parents, wife, or children will read it, and it will get back to him. Not only is that rude to that player, it also hurts this website, as it makes that player less likely to want to talk with us, do interviews, or attend our functions.

Like many of you, I can hardly wait for the 2013 season to get underway. There will be plenty to talk about over the next 8 months. There will be thrills and joys, dramatic wins and spectacular performances. And, as with every season, there will be heartbreaking losses, slumps, and miscues, all of which will confound us as fans. That’s all part of the game.

But, as I think about writing about the upcoming season, I will remember what truly makes this site the best Angels fansite on the internet, the community. A great community is one that welcomes all, and treats all members with dignity and respect. In an online community, the person reading the posts could become an angel to you in a time of distress, or a real Angel coming onto our website to see out what we’re saying. So, as 2013 gets underway, remember, there are Angels amongst us.
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