One of the best Angels of all-time retired yesterday. Garret Anderson officially called his career over, but instead of appreciating his past glories, all I could think about was how much I hated watching him play. What kills me about that is that I know I am not alone, and so does GA. I just wish that it didn't have to be that way.
This is the most exciteable picture of Anderson that I could find on the entire internet.
Much like when a famous celebrity passes away, all the major media outlets that cover the Angels wrote glowing "eulogies" of Garret Anderson's career when he issued his retirement statement yesterday. Like a dead celebrity, there was nary a mention of any of the negative aspects of his career. Like when Michael Jackson passed away, people suddenly stopped mentioning his alleged inappropriate behavior with little boys. Or like when Joe DiMaggio died, everyone suddenly forgot that he was kind of a misanthropic bastard who may or may not have abused his wife, Marilyn Monroe. Or like when Charlie Sheen dies, probably sometime before Opening Day, we'll remember his film and TV work and all agree to ignore his dalliances with pornstars and every narcotic known to man (winning!).
In GA's case, the selective memory the media is employing isn't for anything so nefarious. The only thing Garret is really accused of is playing like he didn't care. For many fans, such as myself, that is commiting a cardinal sin and we shan't be so forgiving. In fact, my first thought when I saw Anderson had retired was "Farewell Garret Anderson, I will always remember you for the way you yawned in the batter's box and never ever hustled in the field... ever." I put this thought into tweet form and saw that it was re-tweeted several times. Clearly I am not alone in my distaste for Anderson.
I wish I could remember Anderson for being the career leader in several offensive categories for the Halos.
I wish the first memory I had of GA was his incredibly 10 RBI game against the Yankees in 2007.
I wish I was left reminiscing about the MVP-caliber season Anderson had en route to the Angels only World Series title.
No, such luck. I hate Garret Anderson and will never really look back fondly on his career. And that is saying something because he is pretty much the best athlete ever named Garret (although he does spell it with just one "T" like some sort of dork). Maybe it is unfair, but the images of Anderson casually jogging after balls into the left-center gap and looking like he just woke up from a nap even though he is at the plate with a 1-2 count and runners in scoring position in the bottom of the ninth inning of a game the Angels are losing. I mean, really, what about that am I supposed to like?
And up until yesterday I felt fully justified in my distaste for GA, holding no remorse for the snark I directed his way via that fateful tweet. Today, I feel like a jackass. So what made my heart start to thaw? This little excerpt from Anderson's retirement press release:
To the Angel fans, I want to apologize for being somewhat difficult to read at times and thank you for your support even still.
Well, aren't I just the perfect jerk. All this time I thought Anderson was some aloof athlete who didn't really have a passion for the game and let it show in his play. I'm still not convinced that isn't partially true, but now I'm sure the aloof portion is false. GA hasn't been with the Angels since 2008, but he obviously hasn't forgotten how a large section of the fanbase felt about him. I always thought that Anderson just never "got it." Now I think that he might have "got it" but he never figured out how to manifest "it" on the field. I still think that Anderson was lazy and passionless, but now I feel conflicted about harrassing him about it.
To complicate matters further is all the old stories trickling out from his former teammates. You see, my favorite player growing up was always Darin Erstad. Erstad always wore his heart on his sleeve and played hard every single inning of his career. He was literally the kind of player who would try and run through an outfield wall if it meant helping his team. To me, Anderson was always the anti-Erstad. But as it turns out, GA and Ersty were tight during their playing days, even having their lockers placed next to each other. Plain and simple, Darin understood Garret on a level that we fans never could.
Now, I want to understand, but I fear it is too late. Not even having my favorite Angel ever sign off on him can make me erase all those negative memories of Anderson from my mind. Maybe if GA could find a way to give us some more of those all-too-rare glimpses into what he is really thinking under his emotionless facade the way he did with that simple sentence in his press release, I might someday find it in my heart to absolve him of his playing day sins. I know that isn't much, but it is the best I can do for now.