ALCS Game 4: Halos Get Hammered, But It’s the Fans Who Suffer


The role of fan may be the toughest in all of sports.

As our teams go, so do we. And when things go wrong, we can only gnash our teeth and slam our couch cushions and suffer the inability to do absolutely anything about our team’s performance.

Alas, if only the remote in our hands was a bat.

Blowouts are the worst of all. At least in a close game, there is always a glimmer of hope that our boys will succeed, even without our help.

But watching your favorite squad get squashed is like sitting ringside while some hulking prize fighter scores an early round knockout over your best friend, only to watch him continue the beating after the bell has rung.

We want to jump in and prevent the massacre, but we know we can’t.

So it was on Tuesday night, when I watched my beloved Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim play tomato can to the fleet-footed, swift-handed New York Yankees, who’ve been using the ALCS like a tune-up for their imminent World Series championship bout.

On Tuesday night, the Yanks trounced our helpless Halos 10-1 on the strength of pitcher C.C. Sabathia’s second dominant outing in the series, and Alex Rodriguez’s continued brilliance at the plate.

And as fans, all we could do was look on in agony.

We saw Sabathia’s pitches clear as day, his tailing fastballs and drooping sliders that consistently ended up out of the zone. But we hold no bat to swing, only that same bloody remote.

Like a dugout-bound bench player, we are forced to watch our players flail away at balls outside or in the dirt. The difference is our bench is made of plush stuffing and microfiber.

We have no hope of ever having any measurable effect on the game, and the fact that we are at home during the game makes it all the more frustrating.

Those fortunate 45,000-plus in attendance at Angels Stadium could add something to the mix. Attendees can always scream their hearts out to provide their team with moral support, or at least a little constructive ballpark criticism.

“Swing the damn bat, Bobby!”

You know, like that.

But those of us who weathered tonight’s storm from the suffocating isolation of our living rooms had no one to scream at but our family members and our television sets. Hi-def really brings the game to life, but no matter how loud I shriek, the realistic players on screen don’t seem to hear me.

It makes it all the more discouraging to watch those same realistic players fail in such unreal fashion.

Being a fan is an incredibly taxing experience, both mentally and emotionally. We invest so much of ourselves in our team that when they turn out to be just as flawed and human as the rest of us, well, we take it personally.

To see the Angels go belly up like they have this series is disheartening, to say the least.

They were the second-best team in the American League, and arguably in all of baseball. The Yankees certainly seem to be the better team, but right now it wouldn’t take much to knock the Angels out of the playoffs.

In every at-bat, with every pitch in Tuesday’s troubling defeat, they looked scared. They looked frightened, never believing for a moment that they could actually take the Yankees in this game, to say nothing of the series.

If that’s true, then the Angels truly don’t deserve to win. As I’ve pointed out before, this ALCS match-up has always been about mindset, who thinks they have what it takes to win it all.

As fans, we naturally have a bias toward our team. However, those of us who are also students of the game understood going into this series that, while the Angels would probably lose, they had all the necessary tools to pull out yet another postseason upset.

Unfortunately, no one told the Angels.

After a lengthy 162-game season, any reasonable fan would’ve judged the Halos a worthy adversary for the evil empire, but that ultimately evil would prevail. That said, reasonable fans would’ve also predicted a heavyweight slugfest when these two teams eventually squared off in the playoffs.

Instead, we’ve been witness to a demoralizing beat down of a truly talented but ultimately flawed team.

Angel players and fans alike were energized by the incredible extra-inning victory over the Yanks in Game Three, and we mutually hoped that the win would bring about a shift in momentum in the series.

We were sadly mistaken.

The brutal nature of Game Four stung deeper than any other loss could have. Had the Yankees won a nail-biter that came down to the final innings, we could have tipped our caps to a better squad and slept like babies.

But the nine-run drubbing we sustained on Tuesday left no doubt the Angels are simply no match this year for a bigger, stronger, and more mentally stable Yankee lineup.

It’s just too bad Major League umpires aren’t more like boxing referees.

Tim McClelland could have shown some mercy and stopped this bout.