Friends, loved ones, thank you for joining us on this somber occasion. As many of you know, Brandon Wood’s Angel career met an untimely end last night when the Angels designated him for assignment with the big waiver wire in the sky. Let us all take a moment of silence to honor his memory.
So long, Brandon. We hardly knew ye.
For many of us, this passing is a bittersweet moment. Just a few years ago we all fell head-over-heels in love with Brandon. With all those home runs he hit in the low minors, who could resist? The feeling Brandon gave us all was just glorious because for the first time, in my lifetime at least, the Angels had themselves a legitimate, can’t-miss superstar prospect. I think we all probably had at least one lively debate at the time about whether or not there was anyone in the league the Angels would trade Brandon for. Ah, yes, such fond memories.
Alas, his ascension to greatness was not meant to be, which is really why we are all hear aren’t we? Well regarded prospects fail in this league every year. The list is literally endless, but I fear that Wood’s name will be at the very top of that list for years to come. I know that is a point of great frustration and disappointment for many of you, but for me, I’ve moved beyond those emotions and find myself merely perplexed.
How did it come to this, Brandon? Where did it all go wrong? Did we somehow fail you?
While we may never know the real answer to those questions, I like to think that the unfortunate fate that befell Brandon was really a failing on everyone’s part. It was the prospect-mongers in the media who took Wood’s numbers in Single-A and blew them out of proportion without truly acknowleding how many more hurdles he would have to clear as he climbed the farm system ladder and simultaneously overlooking his obvious flaws. It was the fans that bought into all the hype hook-line-and-sinker and never relented in their lofty expectations. It was the Angels organization that never developed a clear plan for bringing him into the major league fold, instead letting him float in the limbo between dominating in Triple-A with nothing to prove and forcing him to tinker too much with his swing or languishing on the big league bench without ever getting a real chance to show what he was capable of until it was already too late. And yes, it was Brandon’s fault for not being able to handle all the pressure that was mounting on him to perform.
The true shame of Wood’s ill-fated career is that most people will remember him as a colossal bust without ever really considering just how egregiously his career development was mishandled along the way. My sincere hope is that as Wood moves on into his Angel-afterlife that he is able to find peace with another franchise. Be it him finally tapping into his full potential or merely carving out a niche for himself as a quality utility player, for him to have anything resembling a productive career will save him from the grand infamy of being the biggest prospect bust of all-time. That will provide little solace to we Angel fans who shall forever have the image of him flailing hopelessly at a breaking ball seered into our collective memory, but it will at least spare a very nice guy who simply found himself in a bad situation the indignity of going down in baseball infamy.
Whatever the future might hold for you, Brandon, in your next plane of baseball existence, know that we Halo fans do really wish you well. No doubt there has been a fair, perhaps even unfair, amount of vitriol aimed in your direction the last year or two, but it never stemmed from malice. We all just wanted to see you do your best, knowing that your best could have been so very great. I guess you could say that we loved you too much and we let that intense sense of hope fester into something negative. For that I apologize, if not just for myself, but on behalf of all the other Angel fans who could not hide their disappointment. I wish it didn’t have to be that way, but there is no changing the past.
As for the future, Woody, we wish you the best. May you finally find the peace that eluded you here in Anaheim.