How Green Was My Valley
The winter rains came in downpours and drizzles this year. As a result, the color I see from my deck looking at my Mystic Hills slopes and across Park Avenue to Temple Hills is one of beautiful green. There is a large swath of Temple Hills that years ago was cleared of all brush and chaparral. In seasons when there is enough rain, it is verdant and breathtaking. Spring is coming and there is hopefulness in the air.
It is silly perhaps, but as I look at this beautiful sight, it brings to mind a film I saw as a boy. Loosely based on Richard Llewellyn’s book, the movie “How Green Was My Valley” tells the story of a Welch mining family. At the start of the film, life was green-full of optimism and happiness.
Looking at the large patch of green on Temple Hills, my mind makes the leap to a baseball field. It is March. It is spring training for major league teams. My Angels are preparing for the upcoming season. Alexander Pope said, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.” I have been a hopeful Angel fan since their first season, which was 1961. There has been a lot of pain over the years, save for that one World Series victory in 2002. But that seems a long time ago and I am not getting any younger. But this year, just maybe this year, the magic will happen again.
In spring training, every Angel hitter is a potential .300 hitter; every starting pitcher is a potential 15 game winner. The Angels have the best all-around player in baseball, Mike Trout. Even though he cannot pitch this year, the amazing Shohei Ohtani will still be able to hit. They picked up new pitchers like Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill, who could very well regain their former ability. And I know it is a long shot, but Albert Pujols could be the player he was ten years ago. Add a new manager and the Los Angeles Angels could…
At this moment I had a Scrooge- like experience and was visited by the Ghost of Angel Seasons past. He reviewed with me all the anguish I had suffered over the years by believing in the Angels. Especially devasting was the 1986 playoffs against Boston, where the Angels were one strike away from going to the World Series and lost. Painful memory after painful memory hit me like nails driven into my eyes.
He asked, “How many post-season games have the Angels won even with the mighty Trout?” “None,” he answered. With that he was gone. The next visitor was the Ghost of Angels Seasons Yet to Come. Whereas the previous ghost had been restrained, almost respectful of my pain as a long-suffering fan, this one was something of a wiseass.
“Hey, Jimmy Boy, how does that movie you were thinking about when you looked at your green hills end?”
“Well lots of people die in the mines, many are forever unhappy, and the town is reduced to a contaminated shell,” I admitted.
“And that big green patch next to San Remo Street, what is that going to look like when the burning sun of July and August hit it every day?”
“It will turn brown and ugly,” I answered.
“Well, buddy, that is what is going to happen to your Angels this year. Spring will turn to summer, and they ain’t the boys of summer. They will stumble, bumble and finish far out of the playoffs. To add insult to your injury, the Red Sox will again win the World Series and Trout will not resign with the Angels because he wants to play for a winner. How green is your valley now? Have a nice summer.” With that he vanished, and I was alone.
What was I to think? Easy. The earth on Mystic Hills and Temple Hills is still a beautiful green. Spring training is under way and every Angel is a potential .300 hitter. Mike Trout will be the MVP of the American League and the Angels will make the playoffs. I think of the song in “Ghostbusters” that went, “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.” Get your tickets early. It will be a great year.
James Utt is the author of “Laguna Tales and Boomer Wails.” He really hates the Red Sox.