October 8, 2010

Baseball reminds us that anything can happen

The latest story about why we love baseball comes to us courtesy of a previous blog from the Orange County Register. This was posted on April 12, 2010 and is being reposted with permission from the author.

October 26, 2002

Most Angels fans can tell you exactly where they were that night. Just the mention of the date brings back a flood of memories. This date has significance to me for more than one reason. It was the 6th wedding anniversary for my husband John and I. We didn’t have tickets to the game, but, being the devoted fans that we are, we parked ourselves in a local restaurant/bar and watched the game with a few hundred other OC Angels fans.

By the time the bottom of the 7th inning came around, I was quite devastated. Believing it was over, I basically threw in the towel and started grumbling. “I can’t believe they got this far and are going to lose”, I said. “They’re done. I need some more nachos. This game is so over.”

John had a different take on the situation. “Come on, Jen”, he said. “The game isn’t over yet. They still have a chance here. It’s not over until the last out, right? You need to start believing in the power of the Rally Monkey.”

Ah yes, the Rally Monkey. The Angels had pulled off many come-from-behind wins that season with the supposed help of their furry mascot. Clever concept, but since I’m pretty sure the players are the ones who deliver the dramatic comeback, I was not one of those who bought into the whole “power of the Rally Monkey” thing.

Being the eternal optimist he is, John didn’t see any reason why they couldn’t rally and do it again. And being the realist that I am, I figured there was no way they were going to win that night.

I looked at him, almost glaring; shocked that he would even suggest such a thing. All my mind could picture was the years of crushing disappointment. He knew the history too, but he was truly confident, almost with the excitement of a kid.

And then, the game took its defining turn.

The Rally Monkey came out and the fans went crazy, pounding the life out of their thunder sticks. What we witnessed next, as a lifelong Angels fans, were moments for the ages. Spiezio. Erstad. Glaus. With every run that crossed home plate, my body got more tense. I kept my hands over my eyes as if that would some how shield me from potential disaster. But I spread my fingers apart just enough so as to not miss what happened.

Celebrating the win like that in a restaurant setting was as unique a sports experience as I have ever had. We were surrounded by all these people, strangers basically, but bound together by our love for the Angels.

I had no doubt they would win Game 7. It became merely a formality. And on October 27, 2002, the Angels won their first World Series Championship. As a fan that had witnessed so much disappointment over the years with this team, I felt pure elation. The home team, my team, finally won it all.

You don’t soon get over a comeback moment like that. It stays with you. In the days to follow, while getting very used to the term “World Champion Angels”, it occurred to me, that for this fan, there was something bigger behind the use of the Rally Monkey. It was more than just trying to get the fans out of their seats and onto their feet to cheer on the players.

I think it reminds us of why we are fans of the sport we love.

It reminds us that part of the wonder of the game is that anything can happen. This is why we follow sports. This is why we turn on our TVs, and show up to the ballpark or stadium or arena. It’s because we believe that on any given night, our team has a chance to win, all the way up until the whistle blows, the buzzer sounds, or the final out is recorded. And every once in awhile, we get to witness amazing moments that solidify our love for the game.

After all, this is why we watch, isn’t it?

I’m proud to say that I’ve been an Angels fan my entire life. I began watching them as a young girl, during the rough years, when, but for a couple of seasons, wins were hard to come by. I remember the epic collapse that was the 1986 postseason. And I rejoiced during the 2009 postseason when the team took that 86-pound weight off their backs and hurled it at the Green Monster. I cheered for Rod Carew’s 3000th hit and I cried at the news of the death of Nick Adenhart.

And I am a believer in the power of the Rally Monkey.

Every year as October 26 approaches, John and I reminisce about the game and our unique experience that night. “I knew all along they would win”, he reminds me. And he’s right. There’s nothing like a little good old-fashioned child-like optimism to bring the fun back to the game. I know it had that effect on me.

Do you believe?

Submitted by:
Jenelyn Russo
Rally Monkey Mom

"Rally Monkey Mom" is a frequent contributor to the OC Register's Angels Blog

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