Remember all of two years ago when for every Mike Trout mention there was an equal and opposite reaction including the words “Bryce Harper?” Ah, those were quaint times.
Today, Angels’ center fielder Trout is almost universally considered the best player in baseball. And Nationals’ outfielder Harper, well, isn’t. As Trout has raised his game, the level of praise has increased as well. Now he’s compared to Mickey Mantle on a fairly regular basis, to Yasiel Puig — presumably because they are both young stars who patrol Los Angeles-area outfields — and to Clayton Kershaw, because one is the game's best hitter, the other its greatest pitcher.
The Trout-Kershaw comparison is especially topical this week with the home-and-home staging of the Freeway Series. In fact, Googling the phrase “Trout Kershaw” yields 35,900,000 web pages in 0.57 seconds (“Trout vs. Kershaw” a mere 4,000,000).
So when the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, with their prepositional phrase of a name and the great Mike Trout, took center stage where Pope John Paul II once stood, Angels Nation followed in mass (pun intended). Angels fans, with their blinding red jerseys, were absolutely everywhere.
They were boisterous yet mostly well-behaved, which in a way made them even more obnoxious. I mean, how do you get in the face of an enemy while he’s politely applauding your favorite son right along with you? They respected Kershaw while Los Angeles disrespected Trout (and I wish I could tell you where that came from). They knew their way around Dodger Stadium the way no visiting fans should, and even invaded Philippe the Original, a Dodger fan's pre-game stomping ground for over half a century.
And I’m thinking of Stuck in the Middle With You, by Stealers Wheel.
The series moves to Orange County for two games beginning tonight at 7:05 p.m., Dan Haren versus Matt Shoemaker, and concludes Thursday at 7:05 p.m. with a battle of lefthanders, Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. C.J. Wilson. Anaheim officials would be wise to expect an equally loud, although perhaps less well-mannered, throng of fans from the Great North for the final two games.
Angels fans will be there too — all of them. Fine, almost all of them. I have a theory, you see, logical although difficult to prove: There are more Dodger fans in the OC than there are Angels fans outside of it. Think about that for a minute. While Angels fans may travel, and travel well, to watch their team play, they pretty much empty Orange County to do so. Dodger fans, on the other hand, thrive not just in the OC, but throughout California and around the globe.
Get your tickets for tonight and tomorrow on StubHub and be one on them. You won't be alone. Consider stopping at Coco's, or wherever Angels fans hang before games, and make them squirm throughout, like they did to us.
And remember, glove conquers all.