During last night's game, I really wanted to blog and give everyone some perspective on the kind of achievements Garret Anderson was going through. However, since his 10th RBI came at about 9:35 p.m. I didn't have much time other than to think about making first deadline.
So, I rose early this morning to write about the atmosphere of last night's game and where Anderson stands in history.
I was at the last game that a player had 10 RBI in, when Alex Rodriguez drove in 10 in April 2005 against the Angels in New York. While some may claim Yankees fans are the best in the world because of their undying affection for anything pinstripes, I have to say that the Angels fans treated Anderson better last night than Yankees fans treated A-Rod on that April night.
Here's why: While Anderson has rankled fans at times with what they feel is a lack of hustle, A-Rod was booed in New York. I can't remember Anderson ever being booed mercilessly in Anaheim. Maybe at times, after a bad play or something, but not constantly like A-Rod was. When he hit the third homer off Bartolo Colon that night, everyone loved him and all seemed forgotten. As we know, that wasn't the case.
With Anderson, Angels fans have always accepted him and appreciated his contributions over the years but he is a distant second (or third or fourth) in likeability on the team. But, fans still like him. And they were waiting the opportunity to shower him with love.
That opportunity came last night. And it was something to be seen.
One, Anderson says he doesn't try to hit home runs (and judging from his totals in recent years, it's easy to see why) but I swear when he came up with the bags juiced in the sixth, he was trying to hit one out. You could just tell.
As he rounded the bases after the no-doubter, the fans were going nuts and forced him out for a curtain call, 13 seasons of like turning into one night of love. It was great to see. And then, in the eighth, a base hit from Anderson would have tied the AL record. I'm sure the fans didn't know it at the time - the video board flashed that Anderson's 10 RBI at that point were a team record but didn't say how close he was to the all-time marks - and most of the fans stuck around, in an 18-5 game, to see if Anderson would do it.
That is a good fan base.
On A-Rod's night, most of the New York media wasn't even at the game, deciding to head to Shea Stadium where the Braves and John Smoltz were facing Pedro Martinez and the Mets - a matchup of two future Hall of Famers.
By the sixth inning of that game, the big-time columnists and sidebar writers had jumped into the subway and were trickling into Yankee Stadium to see A-Rod. How fickle everyone turned out to be.
Even if the Giants were in town facing the Dodgers, there would still be a sizable amount of L.A.-based media at Angel Stadium for a game against the Yankees. They wouldn't have to jump on I-5 and go south when word came back that Anderson was on the verge of history.
As for me, well, when I started counting up Anderson's night after his first home run and realized he had six RBI in the first three innings, I thought two things - if he makes an out in his next at-bat, Manager Mike Scioscia may sit him and give him the rest of the night off, and there is no way the Yankees pitch to him the rest of the night.
I was wrong on both counts. Scioscia kept Anderson in the game to allow him the chance to make history. A few feet one way or the other on his grounder up the middle and he would have done it.
And, another reason fans appreciated Anderson's night - he sprinted up the first base line trying to beat the throw and get the run in. They could tell, no matter what he said afterward, that he was aware of what was going on and trying to get No. 11. Even as he made his way to left field, the fans cheered him.
For the media, Anderson has never been fun to deal with. That's why it's rare that you see him quoted either on TV, the radio or any newspaper outlet covering not only the Angels but baseball. He is not the best of quotes, but it's not to say he's not bright. He, in fact, is very intelligent and will not agree with a reporter's point just so it doesn't play well in print.
Plus, he doesn't exactly treat the media well. While in the minors he had some negative press and he's held it against every journalist throughout his career. That's probably a reason that during his four-year stretch of 2000-2003 when he averaged 30 homers and 120 or so RBI, he was never played up nationally. When interviewed, he sits in his chair and ties his shoes - even untying them and re-tying them than looking the reporter in the eye. Last night he did that, looking each reporter in the eye, treating them as an equal and not a peon. He even smiled and chuckled a few times, letting his guard down.
Kind of the way he did when he came out and took his first-ever curtain call in his 13-year career. It was truly a special night.