I can’t believe this. It must be almost comical to those of you who aren’t me, to those of you who aren’t Angels fans. I left the stadium today after the home finale (an inconsequential blowout loss to Texas), and as I waited to cross the street back to my car, a guy couldn’t help but offer, rather nonchalantly: “Boston’s the Angels’ kryptonite, huh?” I didn’t say anything. No one else at that intersection did either. It is an entire year later. 162 games. And a tragedy that has changed the complexion of everything. But to put aside the bigger picture, to look solely at the baseball aspect of it, I really can’t fucking believe that it’s come down to this again. The Angels and the Red Sox. Third consecutive year. Fourth time in the last six.
I suppose for me, the devastation of last year – given the 100-win team, the 8-1 regular season record, the absence of Ramirez and Schilling – had a certain air of finality to it. I imagined that our franchise would be spent spiraling, put to pasture, while theirs would thrive, at the top of the heap for years to come. I never considered that given the division they were in, the Red Sox might have to settle for the wild card; that given the division we were in, the Angels could realistically be back here again. Hell, after all the tragedy, the injuries, and the struggles, I believed that anything we accomplished this year was a bonus. That anything we did would speak volumes as to the strength of our organization. And that remains true. I remain proud.
A year ago, I came to the sad conclusion that I would live the rest of my life without watching the Angels beat the Red Sox. A year ago, the future didn’t exist. But a year later, it is us and them again. The end of 2009 will bring about drastic change, with the possibility that Lackey, Figgins, and Guerrero will all depart via free agency. I’ve thought about the fact that it might almost be fitting to fall to Boston again, with this year as the bookend of the Angels era that began with 2004 (and the sweep in the ALDS). Of course, I don’t want that. I say, without hyperbole, without exaggeration, that the alternative possibility – the miraculous happy ending – would be among the greatest moments of my life. I want to believe. I don’t know if I even can. But the thing is, more than anything else, I can’t believe we’re here again. That I have to go through this. Again.