October 7: Eve of Game 1
I can’t believe we’re doing this again. Angels and Red Sox. Every October, it’s deja vu all over again. Every October, it’s Groundhog Day come to life, and I’m stuck in some sort of twisted loop, reliving my worst nightmare. Being here again, in the same exact place, a year later, two years later, five years later, it’s almost as though my life has somehow regressed. Because nothing’s changed here. I start getting that same helpless feeling again, and it’s sickening. Sure, there’s always a twinge of hope mixed in there, but it’s overwhelmed – by memories past, by fear, but mostly, by raw desperation. And getting that familiar feeling just reminds me that this is territory that’s been treaded. That this aspect of my life remains stuck in this same fucking place. Year after year. October after October. So here we go. Again.
October 8: Game 1
I heard it from the crack of the bat. The entire stadium did. Long before Torii Hunter’s mammoth shot landed in deep centerfield, not too far from my section, I started going insane. I jumped up and down, screaming “Oh my god – YEAHHHH!” without even having to follow the trajectory of the ball. It was that loud. It was that clear. For four innings, Jon Lester had shut the Angels out on a single hit. We had left five men on base, and the crowd was tense. I was a wreck. And then Torii Hunter crushed it. That was the dam bursting. I won’t lie to you – I remained a wreck for the rest of the game. When Lackey lost control for a couple of batters. When Rivera hit into a 5-3-5 double play. When the guy behind me started counting down the outs (“Only 9 more to go!”). When Scioscia went into the bullpen. But the Angels pulled it out. They lead the best of five. I high-fived strangers and screamed my way home. It was magical. It was amazing. I’m about the happiest I could possibly be. And it’ll last all of tonight. Because tomorrow, Josh Beckett awaits.
October 9: Game 2
The ball hung in the air for the longest time. Jacoby Ellsbury was retreating into the deepest regions of centerfield. There had been a play yesterday just like this, only Ellsbury had made a sensational diving catch to rob Figgins and end the inning. When Erick Aybar hit his ball, I immediately flashed back to that play. I leaned a little, trying to put some body english into it. The entire crowd watched, breathing softly, and you could almost hear the pause, and the “oooohhhhhh….” And about a split second before it happened, I could see that it was going to go over Ellsbury’s head. He flailed his glove upwards, helplessly. Aybar ended up at third – and like that, the Angels were up 4-1. And like that, it was pandemonium.
I screamed, of course, jumped up and down, practically delirious. I glanced over to my right, and this guy – who had been urging the crowd on from the aisle – had turned around now. Slowly, he slumped down against the waist-high wall. He wasn’t drunk or anything (or maybe he was), but I could tell from looking at his face that he was just emotionally exhausted. He was so relieved and happy and spent that he had to sit down for a second. I leaned over and gave that guy a high-five. He smiled, almost in disbelief, but mostly with weariness and joy. And I knew what he felt, because that’s how we all felt these past two days, against that team from Boston. A two out hit. A two game lead. And now, a real chance.
October 11: Game 3
I thought there’d be tears, but there weren’t. It was pure bliss. I can barely even express it. I was at a bar in Anaheim (for this 9:00 am start), and when Papelbon began to fall apart – he of the 27 scoreless postseason innings and 0 blown saves – you could feel the momentum. Figgy worked the count. Abreu with a masterful at-bat. And then… You don’t intentionally walk a guy to get to Vlad Guerrero. You just don’t. It didn’t matter that there were two outs, that Figgy hadn’t come around to score on that ball off the Monster, that Vlad hadn’t driven any postseason runs in since 2004. Because you could sense the magic. You could sense the electricity. And when it unfolded, how beautiful it all was. Afterwards, we danced. We jumped, we hugged, we screamed. We couldn’t believe it – but there it was. 2009 was not 1986. It wasn’t 2004, 2007, or 2008. The Angels sent the Boston Red Sox home in a sweep. Jesus Christ. How truly beautiful it is.