Wednesday night I was having a marvelous taco dinner with my family of origin when one of my sisters threw a nasty slider low and away. We’re on a vacation in Florida and the Evil Blue Empire had tied the Phillies and the game was in extra innings. My sister’s significant other, a baseball fan and Phillies fanatic, finally came to dinner in frustration after his team allowed the Dodgers to tie it up in the bottom of the ninth. It was hard to tell who was more upset, the Phillies fanatic or my sister, who explained to those present that her life would be impacted if the Phillies lost (which they did on a Matt Kemp walk-off homer in the 12th) because the man she loved would be irritable for hours.
As she said this she looked right at my wife, who nodded knowingly as the following zinger unfolded: “I bet that never happens in your house!” My wife and sister laughed, then swapped crazy baseball fan stories including several about furtive checking of scores and detours from nightly trips to the bathroom to check the score or outcome of a game. Of course, they forgot to mention that we fans do that only because we allow mere life to interfere with the reality of baseball and so don’t watch all of every game like we’d wish to.
Unfortunately, I made one of those detours late the other night to check on a game that I had last glimpsed as 1-0 Angels in the first after a Pujols home run and with C. J. Wilson going for the Halos, only to discover that the Tigers won easily 7-2. After that loss the Angels were 2-4 since the All Star Break, but with a chance to go 3-4 on a seven-game road trip through New York and Detroit. Not a disaster, season not over. Still, I was disgruntled going back to bed and downright grumpy in the morning.
This Angel team has the chance to be spectacularly good, even great, but to do that they’ll need to beat teams that are above .500, especially the ones that they are likely to face in the playoffs. The Yankees and Tigers seem likely to be in that group, in fact if the season ended after Wednesday’s game the Yankees would win the East and the Tigers and Angels would be playing in the AL wild card round on October 5th.
Of course, Friday begins the 13 games left against Texas, and if there’s a chance to avoid a one-game playoff (I’m imagining Weaver vs. Verlander to make it to the Divisional Series), the Angels will need to win a majority if not most of those games. I understand one game at a time and so on; I get taking care of business against the teams that the Angels should beat. But it’s also important to play well against teams that are at a championship level. I’m hoping to see that against Texas this weekend; I’m sure my family will understand if I check the score or even watch a few innings.