Reggie Willits: "The Happiest Man on Earth"

Steve WaverlyContributor IOctober 13, 2009

BOSTON - OCTOBER 11:  Pinch runner Reggie Willits #77 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim reacts after being picked-off first base by pitcher Jonathan Papelbon #58 of the Boston Red Sox in the eighth inning of Game Three of the ALDS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Fenway Park on October 11, 2009 in Boston,  Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Wow, that was close.

I don’t know what keeps you up at night, but I know what would have kept up Reggie Willits.

What is it that goats eat again?

It was a wonderful, strange, incredible game. Plenty of articles are being written on the amazing comeback.

And it was amazing. The best game in Angels history since game 6 of the 2002 World Series.

But it didn’t feel like it was going to be that way. The Angels seemed out of sorts, timid, unfocused.

Four times they took a called third strike right down the middle of the plate. What were they waiting for?

Now we know. The eighth and ninth inning.

But Reggie Willits? Oh, Reggie.

Mike Scioscia chose to keep you on the playoff roster, even though you can’t hit, because you can bunt and pinch run.

Well, at least we know you can bunt.

You get the call to go in, the potential tying run in a key moment of a key game, and what do you do? You stretch your lead, a little bit more, a little bit more…

And almost get picked off. No worries, though, because you know as well as anyone—better—the No. 1 rule of any pinch runner: don’t get picked off!

Okay, so you had your close call. You had measured your lead. You had it in control.

And then you do get picked off.

Unbelievable. A single responsibility, and you blow it. It felt like the game was over right there—especially when Boston scored their insurance run.

But your teammates had another thing in mind. Like a miracle.

I bring this up in the midst of Angels euphoria only because I’m happy for Reggie Willits.

I’m happy that his huge goof of a play can be forgotten, erased by a comeback that still feels unreal, even after it actually happened.

And I’m happy because, since Reggie plays next to Disneyland, “The Happiest Place On Earth,” he gets to be happy, too. 


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