On a beautiful evening in Southern California, my friend John and I went down to Anaheim to see the Angels' season opener against MLB's Triple-A Kansas City Royals. John is a partial season ticket holder and the opener was thrown into the package gratis. I should mention that John is a transplanted Yankee fan and I, of course, am a Cubs fan. However, I will admit to an affinity for the Angels as my "AL club". So I was wearing my old-school Angels' cap and my Western Michigan University flannel jersey. (Totally didn't occur to me that it would look like the Royals jersey, but I was in Anaheim, not Dodger Stadium, so my life was not in danger.)
Just two baseball fans taking in our great game. Making a pilgrimage to our temple on a holy weekend.
Our seats were in the 500 section, about six rows from the top, but comfortably between home and first. Yes, we may have been closer to the C-17 that did a pre-game flyover than we were to the pitcher's mound, but the view was outstanding.
(This isn't the small world story yet. Thanks for bearing with me.)
So we are sitting there watching a great pitching duel between Jared Weaver (expected) and Bruce Chen (highly unexpected). We see Albert Pujols getting a standing ovation in his first at bat before lining into a double play as Howie Kendrick did a remarkable TOOTBLAN at second. (Make the line drive go through, Howard.) Then, we saw Kendrys Morales getting a standing ovation, then hitting into a double play. For the record, two standing O's, four outs.
When we had gotten up to the upper deck, I saw a woman proudly wearing her Cubs gear and I said "Go Cubs" as she walked by. About the fifth inning we moved a row back and few seats over to give us more space to stretch out, and were sitting behind this woman and her Angels' fan husband. (I am going out on a slight limb with this label, but as he was wearing an Angels' cap, Weaver jersey and an Angels' shirt, I am willing to do so.)
(We have now reached the small world story.)
John and I talked baseball and shared witty banter, talking about how much we love the game, how Alcides Escobar's 18 sacrifices last year really means that he can't hit worth a damn, watched Mark "I'm not a third baseman" Trumbo make an error on his first attempt at 3b, and how we hate fans who throw beach balls, boo attempted pickoff moves, and start the wave.
When we mentioned the wave, the woman turned around and said that at Wrigley they boo you if you try to start a wave.
I replied "I know. The blog I read went nuts when some people did the wave."
"You mean Bleed Cubbie Blue?"
"Yeah, are you on there? My screenname is Ross."
"Mine's Helen." Her husband Rob (he of the Weaver jersey) is the owner/operator of the 6-4-2 Dodgers/Angels blog. He was keeping score, which allowed me to verify that Alex Gordon, the Royals' leadoff hitter, had indeed gotten the strikeout hat trick.
We chatted a bit more, talked about their trip to spring training, their dinner with Al, our shared mutual disdain for singing "God Bless America" in the seventh inning, the fact that we could now admire Pujols without watching him crush the Cubs. In the eighth, we discussed the rules for deploying the "Rally Monkey," including the fact that the Titanic-themed Rally Monkey skit was somewhat in honor of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the ship.
(We are now somewhat leaving the small world story. Those of you interested in reading that part can leave now. Thanks. The remainder of the post will contain some details about the game.)
In the eighth, the Angels' scored five runs. Lots of high-fives. With the Angels up 4-0 cowardly Ned Yost intentionally walked Pujols with two outs and a runner on third in the eighth while trailing 4-0. (Really Ned? You are that afraid of Albert? If you are down 4-0, you have a chance to come back, but 5-0 and you are totally out of the game? If I were Greg Holland, I would have thrown the ball at your fat head in the dugout. But I digress.) Then Torii Hunter singled and the fifth run came home anyway. I hope Ned Yost cried a little bit.
Former Cub Scott Downs pitched the ninth. Yay for Cubs alumni. Woo-hoo, something for the Cubs fan in me to cheer about.
Anyway, opening day was great, and it was cool to hang out for a couple of innings with another Cubs/BCB fan. Helen and Rob, it was nice meeting you.
Now, Cubs, please take care of business today so Helen and I have something to really cheer about.