As I watch what has unfolded in the Valley of the Sun with regards to the Arizona Cardinals, the feeling of the fans and the play of the team, the events and fan enthusiasm seems to be very similar to the '02 Angels and their road to their World Series title.
I have been a life-long Angels fan. I grew up just 20 minutes from Anaheim Stadium, began going to Angels games when I was a little boy. I was in the stadium when the Angels clinched the division in 1986 (the year Dave Henderson ripped our hearts out). I saw Wally Joyner's first major league home run. I saw Jim Abbott's first shut-out (against Roger Clements and the Red Sox). I died with the Angels in 95 when they blew a 12 game lead. When the Angels finally made it to the World Series in 2002, I was awestruck by how rabid the Angel fans were. This is a fan base that often would arrive late to the game and leave early to beat traffic. Not this year. We all were nuts. It was 40 years of frustrations, that were bottled up. We had come so close in the past, but endured so many years of frustration. I cannot imagine what it will be like when the Cubbies finally break their draught.
Arizona fans are experiencing the same thing. I was able to attend the Wild Card game against the Atlanta Falcons. I was struck by the intensity and enthusiasm by Cardinal fans as they cheered their team to victory. On the way out as we walked down this multi-level ramp, the crowd spontaneously kept erupting into cheers, as they walked out to their cars. It was very cool to watch and listen to. I could feel the electricity in the air throughout the game. It was amazing.
I don't know if the Cardinals can win it all, but the fact that they get to play the NFC championship game at home in front of their demon exercising fans, I think they have a good chance. At the very least, the Arizona Cardinal fans will be screaming for their team and hopefully they will help the Cardinals to victory.
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