October 12, 2009
I've never supported the Angels past buying a cool throwback hat, but I have to admit that I felt like standing and cheering when Vladimir Guerrero(notes) stroked that first pitch to center field off Jonathan Papelbon(notes) on Sunday.
I mean, what a great, great moment. Guerrero has always quietly been a fantastic player and one day he'll head to the Hall of Fame. Watching him hit was one of the game's most underrated pleasures for most of this past decade.
Of course, that career has also always contained a lot of playoff failures — he has hit .259/.357/.306 with just one homer and nine RBIs over 23 postseason contests — and his regular season statistical dropoff over the past two seasons has been so severe that Terry Francona believed Boston's best play would be to intentionally walk Torii Hunter(notes) and get to Guerrero for the third out. (An inherently dumb move, says Joe Posnanski.)
Given all that was in play, it was memorable to see Guerrero blast Papelbon's opening fastball through the middle for a two-RBI single that gave the Angels a 7-6 lead and a subsequent sweep of a team that had traditionally owned Vladdy in October.
Even better, the quiet slugger provided a touching quote when asked to place his hit in the perspective of his illustrious career:
"I'm not going to say it's my biggest hit, but one thing it brings to mind is that we lost a teammate earlier this year.
In a postseason that has featured way too much negative news, Guerrero's game-winner and dedication was a plus-sized positive that baseball should absolutely play up.
And so long as your name isn't Sully from Southy, it was exactly the type of feelgood moment that any baseball fan should stop and savor.