Unless you’re Mike Trout, even on a day during which you got iced by Clayton Kershaw sustaining a scoreless inning streak, it must suck to be a Los Angeles Angel these days. Even when you’re in the thick of the American League West races despite being swept by the now-first-place Astros before dropping the first two against the Dodgers.
In his 1970s days with the Milwaukee Brewers, George Scott, the big colourful first baseman who’d been a Red Sox favourite, had a chat with the team’s then co-owner Edmund Fitzgerald, about whose team Gordon Lightfoot did not write “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” “If we’re gonna win,” Scott told Fitzgerald, “the players gotta play better, the coaches gotta coach better, the manager’s gotta manage better, and the owners gotta own better.”
Now that it’s a consummated deal, and Josh Hamilton really is going back to the Rangers, on about four-fifths of the Angels’ dollar, it just keeps getting better and better. The more that comes forth, the more it seems as though the Angels, in NBC Hardball Talk‘s Craig Calcaterra’s words, shot themselves in the foot, by the manner with which they handled Hamilton’s self-reported Super Bowl Sunday substance relapse, and the manner in which they came pay as much as they will to be rid of him.
When Josh Hamilton joined the Angels, discovering his new home park was a pitcher’s park for the most part, and finding pitchers otherwise began exploiting his willingness to chase out of the strike zone, life became difficult enough on the field. It became impossible, though, when the Angels’ management decided his reward for copping to an off-season substance relapse, on Super Bowl Sunday, without being compelled to do so by a drug test or an arrest or another factor beyond his own conscience, should be his head on a plate.
Merely six games have passed in the new season but there are questions as to whether the Los Angeles Angels’ 2015 might be dying before it really begins to take shape. And whether their own owner and front office hasn’t detonated a poison gas bomb that will take months to clear.
The Hilton Anatole hotel in Dallas has been there before. That’s where Alex Rodriguez accepted $250 million of then-Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks’s misspent money, once upon a time. Hicks had a club three-to-thirteen-deep in pitching woes, and he decided the most surefire way of plugging up the leaking runs was to commit the near-equivalent of a solid pitching staff to . . . a shortstop.
While the Tampa Bay Rays were opening an American League Division Series with a striking 9-0 thrashing of the Texas Rangers, including one rookie starter and two relievers combining on a two-hit shutout, the Rangers’ main American League West rivals, whom they shoved out of the wild card picture after snatching the West from them, made a cruel prophet out of their general manager.
“We have to make moves, we can’t stand pat,” Tony Reagins said the day after the regular season ended with the Angels not even showing pride enough to shove Texas back and take away their division series home field advantage. Only nobody bargained that the first move the Angels would make was Reagins moving out of his job.