Contrast: A Study of Angels Fans

With opening day behind us, we find ourselves reminded that Angels fans, as a whole, truly have no rhyme or reason. Orange County has a highly diverse range of peoples and cultures and Angels fans are not ones to escape the melting pot. Look around a bit, we are quite the motley crew. Nowhere is our variety more evident than in our stadium and in our fans. Where else in the MLB can you get a footlong veggie dog, an extra, extra cheesy panini, a plate of dessert nachos, and a basket of street tacos all in the same place? It’s Anaheim baby! That’s how we roll! If you’ve ever been to home game, you already know the stadium is a little bit crazy. What you may not know is how crazy some of the fans can get. Here then, is a breakdown of some of the fans you can expect to see around the stadium in 2012.

The Bros
Oh, Bros. You are the ever present reminder that we are, indeed, in Southern California. Blending in with the crowd is not on your list of priorities. Your style is unique and you rock it with the confidence of a thousand Torii Hunters. You bring the camo shorts, the black tank tops, the expensive sunglasses, and, of course, your Angels hat with the stickers still on it. We love our bros at the Big A. You roll into the parking lot in your raised trucks and folding chairs and you bring the party. You are the masters of hide-and-go-beer as police on horseback trot on. You do this in stark contrast to the generosity you show in the red cups you offer passers-by.

In some ways, the Angels Bros are the die-hard fans. They arrive at the stadium hours early just to hang with their mates before the game. It’s the traditional backyard barbecue with friends, but the backyard planter is the 57 freeway and horseshoes have given way to ladders and beanbag toss. Bringing the party to the stadium is a factor of fandom that cannot be ignored.

On the beach, in the bars, they may be the annoying brothers, but at the stadium, they’re OUR annoying brothers and they’re with us!

The Ladies
In a complete 180, we examine the role of the fairer sex in the stadium experience. Some have beauty, some have brains, most of the girls at the Big A have both. Whether they’re showing up just to support their man’s team, or they’re cheering their lungs out in fashionable, logo-adorned outfits, they are not to be ignored. We have women that can tell you Hank Conger’s average at AAA Salt Lake, and women that are still learning the infield fly rule.

From tweens to baby boomers, students to senior managers, interns to executive vice presidents. They’re all here and they’re ready for the game. They’re ready to let their hair down and knock down the stigma that sports are a man’s world. These are Angels girls and they’ll humble you mightily if you question their loyalty.

(It is worth noting that an interesting phenomenon occurs around the women at the big A. For some unknown reason, female presence seems to be increased on nights when Jered Weaver is on the mound. No one is sure why this is, but MLB scientists are hard at work examining the trend and hopefully, one day soon, we will unlock the secret behind this mystery.)

The Family
Picking their way through the raucous crowds of the Budweiser patio, you can see the family trying to inch their way to their seats in right field. Unlike our previous fans, there is no archetype here. Just as you can’t pin down exactly what people comprise a family, you can’t create a “type” for this breed of fan. You have the couple celebrating their 2nd anniversary with their baby girl, asleep in her red hair ribbons. You have the dad taking his kid straight from coach-pitch baseball practice to catch the game. You have the grandfather telling his grandson about the days of Albie Pearson and explaining the strike ’em out throw ’em out. They’re all here and the one thing they have in common is that they can all out cheer you.

These people bleed Angel red (it’s a different red than regular blood, trust me on this). Being a fan is literally in their genes. You can hear it in their excited banter before the first pitch. You can hear it in their cheesy jokes (“Why does Dan wear a baseball cap? To keep his Har-en!”). You can hear it when they boo AJ Pierzynski, Mark Teixeira, and soon, Justin Verlander. These people are rabid and they want you to join the fray. They’re the generals of this cheering army and they want YOU! It doesn’t matter if you’re a bandwagoner or if you own a Chili Davis jersey. Find a family and get ready to smack high fives when Trumbo knocks one over the rock pile.

The Smartphoner
Some fans still love the old pencil and paper feel of a score card. This fan prefers the feel of aluminosilicate glass beneath his fingertips and the nation’s scores and stats displayed in the cool glow of an app. Everyone remembers the scene in The Matrix where Neo saw the code. That’s this guy. He knows it all. While you’re guessing whether the next pitch will be a strike or a ball, he’s already calculating how far beyond the wall Kendrick is going to place his next homer. While you’re looking at the scoreboard to see how fast Jordan Walden’s last pitch was, he’s already put in a trade for him in his fantasy league.

Purists unfailingly knock this guy. “Hey buddy! You’re missing a hell of a game!” is not an uncommon call for the Smartphoner. It is entirely possible our friend is so engrossed in the digital world, he can’t enjoy the crack of the bat or the whizz of a hot grounder cutting through the grass. However, it’s worth exploring the possibility that our Android/Blackberry/iPhone wielding friend may have transcended in a sense. In his world, he may be more in tune with the world of baseball than some of us will ever be. He’s in a world we can’t see or feel and to him there’s no better place to be. …Or he’s playing Angry Birds.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how you label the fans. We all love the game and we love being part of the game. From the guys that show up in red jumpsuits and capes to the businessman that had no time to put on any team apparel but a ballcap, we’re all a part of this crazy world of fandom. If it stays this fun, we should all do our best to make it a little more crazy and never even think of hitting the brakes.

Until people start comparing us to Raider fans. Then we might want to consider reigning it in.