In the November 1977 issue of “Yale Alumni Magazine and Journal”, Bart Giamatti opined that baseball “is designed to break your heart” (Giamatti). It is. And it does.
Giamatti was speaking about the schedule of baseball as he continued “as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone” (Giamatti, 1977). A lot has changed since 1977, and the fall is now full with the Arizona Fall League and the Hot Stove Season. Yes, not watching the standings for you favorite team is difficult, and so is knowing that your team probably fell short of your spring training expectations. But, in 2012, baseball breaks your heart in a much different way than it did in 1977.
The majority of what has changed can likely be linked to Free Agency. In November 1977 the Yankees had just become the first team to truly benefit from Free Agency (and the excellent managerial skills of Billy Martin), and fans hadn’t truly seen how the market can change a team. In 2012, with a new collective bargaining agreement changing the rules of free agency and team options yet again, fans are acutely aware of how every idiosyncrasy can impact their team.
And, on November 2, 2012, Angels’ fans specifically are aware that the familiar face we’ve seen smiling in the outfield since 2008 is likely moving to a new city. To play for new fans. To found a new ToriiTown. Today, baseball is breaking the hearts of Angels’ fans.
This must be how Twins’ fans felt in 2007.
My Dad and I started watching baseball together religiously in the early 2000’s. On what feels like a nightly basis we would ask each other the following question: “If you could have anyone in the league on the Angels, who would it be?” Our answers never changed. This game never got old.
My Dad, without fail, would say Torii Hunter. He loved his defense prowess. In 2008, when Hunter came to the Angels I couldn’t have been happier for him. And, I too learned to look forward o Torii’s presence on the field, and his always smiling face during interviews.
I would always say Mark Teixeira. I loved the idea of getting a switch hitter in the lineup. Halfway through the 2008 season the Angels traded away Casey Kotchman and got Mark Teixeira from the Braves in return.
For half of 2008 my Dad and I couldn’t have been happier, seeing the two players we wanted most in the league on our team. Our dreams, despite a first round playoff loss, had come true.
Teixeira left after 2008, but Torii stayed and became a favorite of mine as well. Torii’s play and leadership has given my Dad and I countless memories to share forever. In 2010 I had the opportunity to interview Torii for Angelswin.com. Torii Hunter has played a large role in my development as a baseball fan, and researcher (as well as my fantasy team).
So finding out today that the Angels had not made Hunter an offer by the deadline broke my heart. Yes, I know these things are to be expected, after all in 2012 this is how the game “is designed to break your heart” (Giamatti, 1977).
But even when you know something is coming, it often doesn’t make it any easier.
Thank you Torii, for all the memories. Know, wherever you go, my Dad and I will still be watching!
Giamatti, A.B. (1977). The green fields of the mind. Yale Alumni Magazine and Yearbook.