It's an Angels/Giants series, and it's the ten-year anniversary of the 2002 World Series. You'll hear about the 2002 World Series. You'll see highlights. You'll read articles about it. You're reading one right now. You're thinking about John Lackey right now. Whatever you do, don't think about John Lackey. Great, now you're thinking about John Lackey. What did I just tell you?
It's pretty hard to feel sorry for ourselves, though. The Rangers fans just had to deal with this crap when they came to San Francisco. The wounds were a lot fresher, and they didn't have a dream season in the seasons after the pain to act as a fluffy mind-sanctuary. In fact, right after their figurative 2002 season, they had one that was even 2002ier. Like, right away. No time to think.
Scott Spiezio still follows me around in a Donnie Darko kind of way, but there are meds for that. When I thought of John Lackey up there, I stopped it by picturing Brian Wilson striking out Nelson Cruz. Now I'm not thinking about John Lackey. Rangers fans have nothing like that. They have the exact opposite of that. So it's pretty silly to fly into a rage whenever you see a red 'A' or think about the 2002 World Series.
This is the first time the Giants have been to Anaheim since all of that. People trying to whomp Reggie Sanders with an inflatable whomp-stick. Felix Rodriguez throwing fastball after fastball at the end of a long, long season. And I don't care. This is me ripping off my clothes and stretching my arms out to the sun gods. This is my Roger Sterling moment.
When I think of the Angels, I think of an amazing owner-inspired transformation of a franchise. They were always the second team in Southern California. It wasn't a Lakers/Clippers kind of imbalance, but it was a lot closer to that than the slight disparity of a Yankees/Mets. Now they're a big-market powerhouse -- the kind that can pick their teeth with a Vernon Wells as they sign an Albert Pujols. The transformation took about ten years, and it was an impressive gambit from an owner willing to get a little goofy.
When I think of the Angels, I think of Jerome Williams. It's 2012, and Ryan Vogelsong and Jerome Williams are going to pitch in the same series. Isn't that fantastic? I'm pulling for Williams so danged hard. Except for tonight, when I hope he gives up 18 earned runs. But I've sloughed off enough of the 2002 resentment that I can actually root for the Angels when Williams pitches.
When I think of the Angels, I think of Mike Trout, who is one of the most amazing baseball-related creatures to ever be developed in a lab. Seriously, he's so much fun to watch.
When I think of the Angels, I think of Jered Weaver sneering at something. And I think of the gift that Mama Weaver gave to the world when she produced two kids who could sneer like Roman gods of sneering on the fifth day of the sneering festivals held in their honor.
And when I think of the Angels, I think of the 2002 World Series. Yep. And I always will I remember the way my apartment looked as I watched Game 6. I remember who was sitting next to me, and what I did when Shawon Dunston hit his home run. I remember the all of the crap that flew off my entertainment center when I winged my remote at it.
I'm still upset that the Bonds/Kent/Aurilia core wasn't the one to win the first championship in San Francisco history, because they defined baseball for me during the years I became a super-fan. But at the same time, I'm not upset that the Lincecum/Cain/Posey core was the one to do it. That felt quite natural.
So I think of the Angels like I think of just about any other baseball team now. There's a weightier connotation, of course, but it's more like the one felt with the Marlins, Mets, or Cubs. The Cubs ruined a season once. Remember that? They also futzed up a chance for that core to win a World Series. But who cares about the Cubs now? And while the mention of the Angels will bring a deeper pain than that of the Marlins, Mets, or Cubs, it's now the pain of a book dropped on my foot, not a ritual self-disembowelment.
Your mileage my vary.
Hitter to watch
Albert Pujols is gonna look mighty funny in slightly different red and slightly different white. He'll probably look slightly different. His funk was the stuff of legend and history, but he's out of it now, and he's all pissed off like a hornet you shook up in a jar. Like a taciturn, boring hornet. Albert Pujols really isn't like a hornet. But he's hitting now.
Mike Trout doesn't qualify for this category because calling him a hitter would be gauche. He's the kind of baseball player that makes you cull through a bunch of foreign idioms looking for the things English hasn't figured out how to describe, but I have other cats to whip, so I'll do that later.
Pitcher to watch
Jerome Williams. Of course. He might get a longer post tomorrow depending on what he does tonight, but he was my guy. I think I prospect-cheated him with Foppert at one point, but he was the guy I pinned the unrealistic hopes on first and for the longest time. And I love that he's back in the majors, doin' okay. He's the same age as Adam Wainwright and James Shields, and I still think of those guys as youngish pitchers.
But if you could groove a couple tonight, Jerome, that'd be just ducky.