I’ve been a fan of the Angels for about 29 years, I have gone to numerous games but never in my lifetime could I ever imagine that a home game would ever feel like a road game. Yesterday I attended my first Angels’ game versus the Boston Red Sox ever, it really felt like a road game rather than a home game. I often wonder how many Red Sox’ fans were actually from Boston or had ties to Boston? To that burning question I decided to do some investigating, I approached five Boston Red Sox’ fans that were around my seating area last night. In casual conversation, I progressively built up to the question, “what ties you to the Red Sox? Are you or your family from Boston?” Not surprisingly, four out of the five people that I had conversations with said they were born and raised in the Los Angeles metropolitan area; they had no ties to Boston whatsoever, they hadn’t even thought about going to visit Boston, nor had they ever been to Boston. The one person that was, had a thick Bostonian accent and moved to Southern California because of a job opportunity. I realize that my small investigation yesterday is a very small sample and would never hold up as a legitimate scientific experiment.
I honestly don’t get it. I genuinely believe that we were actually outnumbered by the bandwagon Boston fans last night. After talking to an usher, who is a good friend of mine, he stated that it’s even worse when the New York Yankees come to town. How can a East Coast team out number a team on the West Coast in their home venue?
To the credit of Los Angeles Dodgers’ fans, at least they are only 35 miles north of Angel Stadium most of them either make the trip to Anaheim or are Dodgers’ fans that live in Orange County, most with the rich family tradition that stems back to the Fernando Valenzuela years, and when we play the Dodgers it has a rich playoff like atmosphere, it always feels evenly split never does one go outnumbered. It is a genuine and fun game because for the most part this stadium is full of genuine fans from both sides that have followed their beloved teams for as long as they can remember. I did not get that feeling from the game last night, it felt synthetic, manufactured, and not genuine.
I do not understand the bandwagon concept. I cannot fathom cheering for a team that I do not feel I have ties to or a strong connection. Good or bad, winners or losers, I will always be an Angels’ fan. I feel the same about Angels’ bandwagon fans that have followed the team since 2002 but don’t know any of the Halos’ history prior to that. I remember what it’s like to not make the playoffs, I remember what it’s like to finish 41 games out of first place, I remember what it’s like to be the source of everyone’s baseball jokes, I remember what it’s like to have a Disney movie “Angels in the Outfield” poke fun at the team that one dearly loves. I remember what it’s like to be one strike away from their first American League pennant and then lose it all to these same Red Sox.
I will always have a healthy respect for those fans that have ties with the city that a certain major league team represents. Regardless of whether they were transplanted, their family has ties to that particular city, whether they still reside there or they have childhood memories of living in that city and watching the games as small children with the people they love. Those fans I will always respect, and they will always be welcomed into Halo Heaven, also known as Angel Stadium. Bandwagon fans, not so much.