140 days, United States Presidents traditionally get evaluated by the United States media in the first 100. days. A baby finishes its first trimester and is 18 days into his/hers second trimester. 20 weeks, that’s how long I’ve been personally affected by the corona virus pandemic; by now, I probably would have attended maybe 10 home games. This pandemic has changed life as we know it. Hopefully we can get back to some semblance of normality soon. However, we must all work together by wearing our masks and keeping proper distance from each other in order to end this soon.
For someone like myself, who loves sports and views them as a healthy barometer of our society it’s been especially hard. I have missed seeing the faces that I usually see when I go to the ballpark, friends, who complain about how the team that we love is not doing as well as the team should be given the talent that they have; friends, no matter how bad the team is doing their faith and their loyalty is unwavering. The same friends that swear every year that the team will find a way to not only make the playoffs, but also win the World Series.
Baseball, it is probably one of the most beautiful words in the English language, where my friends and I can cheer together as one, one voice, one mind, and one goal. The Angels are 1-2, I’m hoping for a series split tomorrow against the Oakland Athletics.
Rather than write an analytical post, today, I rather reflect on the beauty of baseball, and discuss some of my memories that help me appreciate how happy I am that the game I love is back. This 60 game Sprint, as the sports’ media has dubbed it, will have the spotlight as soon as I write my reflections of the first series.
I find it appropriate that the Angels have opened the first series of the abbreviated season against the Athletics in Oakland, as I have mentioned numerous times in previous posts before, the Athletics along with the Dodgers are the two teams that I love to hate, the Athletics as a division rival, and the Dodgers as the natural rival.
The Athletics and the Angels have a history, whose story cannot be told without first explaining what each team means to each other. Since 2002, both teams have mutually beaten each other by a difference of two runs or less 173 times; from 2002 to 2009 the Athletics or the Angels won the American League West championship, and again for a brief period between 2012 and 2014 with neither team claiming and American League West title since then. I myself had the pleasure of watching the Angels clinch a title on Oakland’s home-field both in 2004 and in 2005, Oakland is also where I met current Angels’ owner, Arturo Moreno. (Arte Moreno) I still remember the brief conversation that I had with him fondly. It is one of the highlights of my Angels’ fandom.
What makes Oakland so special? Well, I lived in the bay area for 12 years, and although I was seldom interested in Oakland Athletics baseball as a whole, I did try to make it whenever the Angels came in as the visiting team. The Oakland Coliseum is a part of Major League Baseball history, up until 2019 it was the last shared facility between Major League Baseball and the National Football League, before the Oakland Raiders moved to Las Vegas after the 2019 season.
Who can forget Roy Steele, the Athletics public address announcer since 1968, as a visiting fan I loved to hear his voice, when he would announce the Angels lineup it would be a very somber, matter-of-fact tone, almost as if he had a disdain for announcing any visiting team. In contrast to the deep cheerful voice that he would use in announcing the Athletics. He was one of the great voices of baseball. Roy Steele, was to the Oakland Athletics and the West Coast what Bob Sheppard was to the New York Yankees and the East Coast. Great voices that probably could be imitated but never duplicated. I’ve heard many derogatory terms when referring to the Oakland Coliseum from other people, in reality the Oakland Coliseum is one of the crown jewels of baseball and in my humble opinion, if people can’t see that, then they don’t understand what the Oakland Coliseum and its history means to baseball.
This is what makes the Angels/Athletics rivalry so special therefore this is why it was especially important for Major League Baseball to start the season with such pageantry and tradition between the last remaining founding members of the American League West. This is what makes baseball so beautiful and so important to help us through this pandemic. If only for a moment, this rivalry helps both fan bases appreciate the beauty of the game that we all love.