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.
God knows (as does His servant Casey Stengel) that I had better things to write about on the day after Opening Days. Things like Nationals’ shortstop Ian Desmond calling second baseman Dan Uggla (yes, Virginia, that Dan Uggla) off a by-the-book popup, dropping the ball, allowing the Mets first and second, leading to Lucas Duda busting up Max Scherzer’s no-hit bid with the two run single that made the difference in the Mets’ win.
You don’t need to be a medical expert to know what injuries do to formerly competent players. Unfortunately, fans buying their way into the ballpark don’t always have the patience to comprehend.
Whether you’re an extravagantly paid starter or a modestly paid second stringer. Joe Fan wants nothing more than to tell you to suck it up and play, and sometimes so does Joe Sportscaster or Joe Sportswriter. And unless the latter’s spent any time on the field or in the dugout, he or she isn’t all that inclined to look deeper.
Forget the payrolls, as Kansas City outfielder Jarrod Dyson rightly points out. They don’t matter when you hit the field or step into the batter’s box. The wealthiest teams in baseball have been known to collapse like insolvent counties.
The Los Angeles Angels joined their ranks ignominiously Sunday thanks to a Royals team that seems to know nothing of the meaning of rolling over and playing dead. And these Angels, who’d run roughshod after the All-Star break and turned into a threshing machine while all around what remained of the American League West deflated, looked and played like zombies in a division series game they had to win just to stay alive.
Perhaps it’s wise to accept at last that the winter meetings, freshly concluded in Nashville, are not always going to produce blockbusters. Since this year’s meetings didn’t, unless you want to count Dan Haren landing with the Washington Nationals, there’s a consensus brewing among the hot stove toppers that they were “boring” or “eventless.” Well, as the man used to say on old-time radio, oh, now, I wouldn’t say that . . .
LEGS UP . . .
Don’t be surprised if the word “defiance” turns up on Baltimore Orioles’ caps or uniform sleeves somewhere during this postseason. Their very season seems to define it, and the way they pushed the Texas Rangers out of it seems to redefine it.
My God, the Rangers even managed to load the pads on Oriole closer Jim Johnson with two out in the bottom of the ninth and David Murphy coming up, and all they could do was watch in mute horror when Murphy’s fly settled into Baltimore left fielder Nate McLouth’s glove for the game, 5-1.