One of the things I love about Twitter is that it makes it so easy to find and talk to other Angels fans. At almost any time of day I can hop on the old internets machine and talk Halos with a vast array of people. Now that I live in Seattle, that is actually very important to me since Angel fans are not so easy to find up here. Long story short, Twitter is great.
Actually, I should say Twitter is great most of the time. One of the unfortunate side effects of it being such an open platform is that it is almost unavoidable to run into people are less interested in having a constructive or fun dialogue and more interested in tweaking rival fans. For me and other Angels fans, that means dealing with Rangers fans.
One Ranger fan in particular has been on my radar for the wrong reasons most of this season, that being Jamey Newberg of The Newberg Report a prominent and respected Rangers blog. Now, I actually follow Newberg because he is a really good blogger, even if it is for the rival team. He's smart, he knows his stuff and is generally a good follow. But it turns out he really likes tweaking the Angels as is shown by his tweets reveling in our bullpen's failures this season and, most noticeably, his #scwatching and #stwatching tweets in which he gleefully announces how many games back the Angels are of the Rangers. If you haven't seen these tweets yourself, and I'm sure many of you have, they are really irritating to have pop up in your timeline mere moments after a Halo loss.
But that's the point, right? Newberg and the hordes of Ranger fans who have followed his lead want to both celebrate their own team's success while also aggravating their struggling rivals. To me, especially at this point of the season, it seems like a bit much. Then again, I am not exactly impartial. But you know who is? Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein who noticed the #scwatching trend last week and voiced his opinion on the matter.
Sorry Rangers folks, but scoreboard watching in April is kind of gauche.— Kevin Goldstein (@Kevin_Goldstein) April 20, 2012
I couldn't help but retweet that, in part because of the sentiment, but also because people so rarely use the word "gauche." The tweet set of a bit off a firestorm with Ranger fans and probably only stoked the #scwatching fire even more. It even prompted a well-reasoned rebuttal from The Newberg Report. What I haven't seen is any Angel fan chime in on the topic, which is what I am going to do, not that I speak for Angel fans by any stretch of the imagination.
I feel like the rules of fandom demand that I chastise Newberg and his cronies, but I just can't. He is 100% right, he can say whatever he wants and, frankly, it isn't like Texas fans are saying anything offensive or inflammatory. They are merely flaunting their early dominance, something I'm sure we Angel fans wish we could do. It may be "gauche" to do so at such an early point of the season, but as far as trolling goes, it is rather benign. On the other hand, I am very much in the camp of "act like you've been there before." And I don't say that because April games don't mean anything, they do. I know full well that they count. We all do. But we all also know that a 7.5 game lead in April isn't nearly the same thing as a 7.5 game lead in August.
What I really fail to understand though is the need to bait Angel fans at all. I just don't see what anyone gets out of it. I mean, I've been to other Angels sites and other team sites where the commenters/forum members actually consider it a badge of honor that they have been banned from the fan site of their team's biggest rival. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy it when the Rangers fail, but have never been compelled to seek out their fans to rub it in their face. I'm sorry, but I have better things to do with my life.
With that attitude, you'd think these efforts at trolling would not bother me, but it does bother me. You see, that's the thing about having a real rival, you are supposed to rub each other the wrong way. Considering that I wrote last season about how much fun it is for the Angels to have a true rival, it would be, dare I say, "gauche" of me to reprimand a Ranger fan for fanning the flames of that rivalry. The whole #scwatching thing irritates the hell out of me, but it is just part of the territory, so carry on, Ranger fans, not that you need my permission or Kevin Goldstein's, for that matter.
Plus, just think about how about how good it is going to feel to know that Texas fans spent so much time and effort trolling Angel fans when the Halos rally back to win the AL West. Right? Umm, yeah. Sure. That's the ticket.
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It's not even Angels fans that the comments are meant to tweak. Last year, it was the Red Sox who were dubbed the greatest team ever assembled, and picked to go to the World Series by like 30 of 31 people on ESPN. So when they went down in a haze of chicken and beer, Rangers fans (and Yankees, and Rays...) mocked them openly, too.
This year, Moreno stepped out, gave 300 million to free agents and said "put us in the cross-hairs." When you make yourself a target and then others take aim, it shouldn't be surprising. The Mariners and A's are just as far back (well, ALMOST) and it's not like Newberg is hash-tagging #6.0 when the M's go down peacefully in the 9th. They just didn't have (admittedly hackish) national writers who say the Angels are "the first team with too many good players." That stuff doesn't go unnoticed.
(note: I know Jamey, and like him. He churned out maybe a million words in his lifetime about crappy Rangers teams for minor profit. Getting some of that back about GOOD rangers teams 140 characters at a time isn't something he'll stop because of something Goldstein or even Gammons says)
@TheAdam9 That's an interesting angle I hadn't considered. I guess I am so Angel-centric that I assumed it was the rivalry aspect, but I definitely see how national hype can play a role and I certainly was amongst the rest of the masses reveling in the Red Sox flameout. I guess this is a case of being careful of what you wish for. Moreno wanted the Halos to be a nationally followed team, but that also come with being nationally ridiculed when things go wrong.
@monkeywithahalo Now, when I say something like "Vernon WeLOLs" that's designed to tweak Angels fans. Also: comments about Mike Napoli being too poor a catcher to call games after Darvish shuts down the Yankees, things about "Positive Mental Attitude" after another bullpen failure, and a "Trumboner" in the field are more specifically aimed at the Rivalry.
The rivalry would be better if, say, The Rangers won the west (again!) by going 8-2 against the Angels in the last 2 months. Not if you guys watch it end by going 10 back before the two teams even meet.
@monkeywithahalo Twitter search for Michael Young defense or the people opposed to re-signing Josh Hamilton. We're better at self-loathing than you guys, too.
@TheAdam9 So does that mean I am trolling my own team when I also make the "Trumboner" reference on Twitter? I had no idea I was such a self-loathing Angel fan.
It's not the Rangers' fans unbridled and deserving joy, of which I wish I had some, that is kind of gauche. Responding to it is, though. That part smacks of bitterness. And that I am. It's getting near the end of April and the hope is rapidly draining away from me. Maybe sitting here next to a dying person isn't helping but when can we no longer say, "It's early"? Do you have a date for that? May 1? June 7? At some point that slump turns into the end of your season.
And I see it's already Mickey Hatcher's fault nobody can swing the bat, pitch well (although that might be improving, but I don't want to jump the gun), or field their position (which may also be improving a little). It's a little gauche, and cliche, to hand the Designated Goat horns to Hatcher when there are still so many players deserving of this honor. OK, no more French.
@Rick K. Yeah, Hatcher is getting too much blame, but the quote I had on him in the links this morning was just too good just because he was talking about the batters being too aggressive as if it was something that he had absolutely no control over.