The name of this blog is dedicated to my mother. Back in little league, my mother used to stand back behind home plate and give me that one, simple batting instruction: "get the bat off of your shoulder!"

Monday, June 13, 2011

Players you just don't like

As a kid I found it easy to dislike baseball players for no good reason. It made it easy that I didn't know any of them personally. I only knew them through pictures in the newspaper, or watching them at Anaheim Stadium, or through baseball cards. I knew their weight, height, what hand they threw with and where they were born, but I didn't know anything personal about them. They weren't really human beings to me. So when they did something that bugged me, I found it real easy to dislike them for that slightest of reasons.

As quick as that dislike would grow over some perceived slight, once the season ended, that dislike would go away. Fall would bring Winter and soon comes Spring Training when all things are new again, old dislikes are forgotten and all teams start out 0 and 0 in the win-loss department.

Being a fan of the Angels, as a kid, back in the 70's was pretty easy. Come April, we certainly didn't have any pretensions that the Angels would make the playoffs. Playoffs were for the Dodgers, or the Athletics, maybe the Phillies, Reds, Orioles or Pirates. Each season, you knew the Royals had a chance to take the AL West, but it certainly wasn't going to be the Angels. I had not just accepted that the Angels would never win anything, I think I just viewed them like some lucky AAA team that got to play other big-league teams, in order to give them a warm-up. just had to accept that the Angels would not win anything. That made it easier to never hate any of the Angels. I was no Red Sox fan stewing on Bill Buckner. That's just not what Angels fans are made of. Imagine if Josh Paul played for the Red Sox... he would be unable to show his face in Boston, hell, the entire Northeastern seaboard for that matter.
About the closest you could come to naming some scapegoat who got in the way of an Angels post-season appearance is Donnie Moore. But what that poor man didn't realize is that we didn't hold that against him. No one did.

So, being as I didn't really have any Angels to hate, I had to look elsewhere for it.

Take for example, as a kid, I just didn't like Pete Rose. There were a lot of reasons, one being how he plowed in to Ray Fosse during the All Star game, but that wasn't the main one. Primary reason was - I didn't like the way he ran to first base after a walk.
I mean, it's a walk!
Trot it down there, shuffle down there, but you don't RUN down there!
His running to first on a walk has long since been replaced by batters who stand there staring at their home run, but for a while there - I honestly couldn't stand Pete Rose for that simple reason.

Around that same time was Steve Garvey. I just didn't like Steve Garvey because... I don't know, exactly, but because he was just so clean cut with that chiseled jawed and his hair was always perfect... I remember watching the '77 playoffs, and the Dodgers had just finished what had to be the boringest final game of a league championship that my 12 year old eyes had seen. It was so boring, that Tommy John was left in to bat in top of the 9th. We all sat there watching, knowing the Dodgers would win and clinch, but nobody even cared. There wasn't even a hit after the 5th inning, I don't think. Anyway, after the game they're spraying champagne all over the place, everybody's soaked, everybody's catching bubbly spray in the kisser, everybody has sweaty hat-head... except Garvey! They get to Garvey and it's like he just stepped out of the hairdresser's chair. He's impeccable! And he's not rip-roaring and yelling, he's talking like he was running for office. Yawn!

Nowadays it's Yankee first baseman Teixeira. At first, I just hated him because he played for the Rangers. Then, once the Angels traded Kotchman away for him, I was OK with him. I could shelve my loathing for a few months and actually cheer him. Secretly inside, I still didn't trust him. By season's end, I was starting to like this guy though.
But wait, season's over and... what? You want to play with the Yankees all this time? You mean, you just kind of lied to us? Were we just the gateway drug to get you to your Yankee heroin?
It's like the Angels asked you to the prom, and you said yes because you figured you'd be more likely to have fun at the dance then you would with the Rangers. But then the dance is over and it wasn't quite the fun you thought it would be with the Angels, so you change your mind and just dump the Angels for that Yankees guy... I was heartbroken! Not only did we give up Kotchman for you, but after you broke up with us, you basically said that you'd always wanted to be with the Yankees. You used us! I still feel dirty.

But now, I don't dislike him for that anymore.
I have grown past that betrayal. I have matured and realized that he probably was never a part of long term Angels' plans, but just a way to clear Kotchman out of the way at first base for Kendry Morales.
So now I just hate him because he makes this stupid blow-fish face.
Zounds does he look stupid!