There are nightmares and nightmares, I’m sure you have your own. For a professional athlete about to prove himself as the cream of the crop, breaking your leg is pretty high on the list of heartaches. When it happens at home plate in a celebration after a walk-off home run and you don’t make it back to the 25 man roster for nearly two years after the hopes were high you’d come right back and be as good or better than ever, the story gets a bit worse.
Suppose your team then suddenly failed, after dominating the division for a while, and didn’t make the playoffs two years in a row. And this is your team, the one that signed you as a prospect out of Cuba, the one that gambled on you. Suddenly some folks say it was your absence that made the difference. Some folks look to blame you, you’re not trying hard enough to get back, you don’t want to play. But you do what you do? You do your best. You try to come back without post traumatic stress, although it is somewhere down there and enhanced by hearing fans think you’re a slacker. As if you don’t want to be as good as you can be.
Finally, you make it back after multiple surgeries. Like you wanted more than one, of course, so you’d have more time to kick back and laugh at the fans. Then after unnoticed effort and pain, a huge celebration. You, Kendrys Morales, are back in the lineup! With the addition of that dude from St. Louis, the team now has the middle of the order to compete with any team in either league. Looks fine from the outside, just like any job looks easy from a distance. Step right back into the top 5% of the top 1% of how many human beings have ever tried to play baseball alive today.
On opening day, when Kendrys Morales was in the lineup it was a big story. Like many Angels fans, I cheered and celebrated his return. I dreamed big dreams. I tried to forget a bit, I tried not to watch the video of his injury more than I’ve had to although those images come up without effort. Of course the national media replays that moment as often as possible. I’m his fan and ask myself how Kendrys will ever be the same player. In fact a week ago I would have said that was a pipe dream, but he has shown definite signs of coming around. This last week he seems different to me, not just his success at the plate but his joy. I know those things are connected but he looks like he’s back to me, like it’s getting easy again. And that could be a big deal given how desperately the Angels need him to become the primary run producer behind Pujols, Trumbo or no Trumbo.
Put those three in a row most nights and the Angels will be a successful offensive team. I don’t think the Angels are as dependent on Kendrys as it seemed at the beginning of the season, but to be an elite team they need Mr. Morales to completely wake up and show the nightmare is over.