It’s not easy to being a fan, watching and rooting for a team that’s underperforming on a regular basis like the Angels have done this year. It’s even harder being a female sports fan. As the only girl in a room of guys cheering for a sports team, you have to prove you know what you’re talking about even more than guys who are just casual fans at best. It’s a fact I’ve come to accept and even enjoy. Great fun can be had when you show you know more about sports, teams, and players than is expected of you simply because of your gender. I’ll never forget the time I told some male coworkers that Babe Ruth pitched for the Red Sox, which they didn’t already know, so they didn’t believe, and the looks on their faces when they looked it up and found out I was right…
But I digress because that’s not my point, in fact it’s a topic for a whole other post. The point I was going to make is that the most difficult thing this year has been being the kind of fan that I want to be, the kind anyone would be proud to have, the kind that’s as supportive of the team I love as possible. Lately, it seems like I’m alone being this kind of fan. The lone voice struggling to find positives amidst a chorus of negatives. Doing this can be a nightmare at times.
I’m not delusional. I’ve been watching every game this season. I was at the home opener and watched the A’s win that game (thanks Kevin Jepsen!), then go on to sweep our Halos at home. I saw the Astros come into town and do the same thing in June and was aghast last week as the Rangers walked off to win every single game our boys played in Texas. It’s not easy to watch, and wasn’t pretty when the offense gave the team lead after lead only to watch the Rangers win the game when they came up to bat. All of this is to say that I know this season has been difficult to watch and that I understand all the disappointment, I’ve been disheartened too.
But the kind of fan I try to be entails not giving in to the urge to simply say “they suck” and be done with the rest of the season. Too bad really, because it would be easy to do. I try to be the kind of fan that sticks with my team even when it’s doing poorly. It’s harder, but it’s when the players need the most encouragement. And as fans, sometimes it gets forgotten that the players out there are human beings with feelings, and they have to be just as frustrated playing in these games, as we are watching them, if not more. They might need to be uplifted, not dragged down further.
We may have winced watching Albert Pujols run down the line trying to leg out a single, but imagine how much it hurt him to play through that pain. Sure, he makes a lot of money, and that’s exactly why he said he needed to play, because he was being paid too much money not to.
We might watch Josh Hamilton slump and wonder when he’s going to hit like he did in Texas, but don’t you think he’s also baffled by his lack of production and trying to figure out how to perform up to expectations?
Mark Trumbo is streaky, and he’s in the middle of one of his slumps right now (.120/.185/.360 over his last six games). But, just watching him, you can tell he’s trying to make adjustments to get back into a hitting streak.
It’s also easy to forget that we’re lucky. We get to watch Mike Trout play on a daily basis and he’s following up his amazing rookie season with a sophomore one that’s just as good, he’s also a 21 year old who’s doing what he can to help his team all the time.
We saw J.B. Shuck the other day ruefully admit on TV that he doesn’t think he’s ever robbed a home run before at any level, and while he’s made some errors out in left field, he’s done his best to step up, and that catch shows how much he’s grown this season.
There are times when Howie Kendrick is chastised for looking disinterested, but I’ve seen him slide into first trying to beat out a throw, which shows just how much he cares.
I look forward to players proving their biggest critics wrong. For some reason, one of the players that seems to be judged the most is Peter Bourjos (I’m lookin’ at you Tom), but he certainly has proved those critics wrong when he’s had the chance to play this year and I can’t wait for it to continue when he’s able to play again.
I can go on and on, but I’m really just saying that that there are enough fair weather fans around baseball. Just look at the difference between games at Oakland at the beginning of last year and compare that to now. Fans have come out of the woodwork now that they won the division last year and are leading again this year. I don’t want to be a fair weather fan saying the Angels suck, I want to try to remember that even though it can be exhausting, the team needs the most support when they’re doing badly, and I am going to provide that for them whenever possible!