As the 2014 season was about to begin, hopes were high in Anaheim, as the Angels were to begin the season with Mike Trout signed to a six-year contract extension, Albert Pujols had apparently returned to health, new, young arms maned the back end of the starting rotation instead of the aged and questionable ones counted on a year ago, and with devastating injuries suffered in Oakland and Texas, rivals for West Division supremacy just did not seem as imposing.
Then the ceremonial first pitch was thrown, and the season began like so many others for the Angels, with never-before seen events casting a pall over the game, which itself eventually became a crushing loss.
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|Angels’ management came up with the idea to have that ceremonial opening include two former Angels who had been American League MVPs handle the first pitch – retiring 2004 MVP Vladimir Guerrero, wearing an Angels’ uniform for only one additional day, would throw the pitch, to be caught by 1979 MVP Don Baylor, who has returned to the team to be its hitting coach.
Standing a mere 15 feet from home plate, Guerrero fired a low throw in the direction of the plate, and Baylor made an awkward stab at catching it, falling to
his knees. But he did not get up. the 64-year-old Baylor has been fighting cancer for 11 years, and its effects and the effects of years of treatment have caused havoc to his once vital and powerful body, and as he hit the ground lunging for the throw, perhaps the worst injury – maybe the only injury – in the recorded history of ceremonial first pitch throws occurred: Baylor had broken his right leg.
promptly gave up a run-scoring double, with that go-ahead run charged to Weaver.
Then, down 4-3 in the ninth, relievers Kevin Jepsen and Nick Maronde gave up six runs to the Mariners, extending their lead to 10-3, and so the game ended and the season began.
It was just one game, and one bizarre injury, but given the history of the Angels’ franchise, and all of the bizarre events that seemed to happen on a regular basis over a period of years, and given the bright prospects with which this team began the 2012 season and the 2013 season, and yesterday the 2014 season, yesterday had to be a shock felt from the field to the front office to the souls of every diehard Angels’ fan:
“Oh, no, not again!”