This is just the beginning.
Contrary to your name, people don’t like you. They didn’t like you when you were awful for the better part of the 90s; they don’t like you now when you’ve been awful for the first month of the season. “Awful” may not be the right word. Try “horrendous.”
What does an almost $200 million dollar payroll get you? Well, aside from a couple of wins against one of the worst AL teams for the last decade-and-a-half…an 8-15 record and what is shaping up to be one of the biggest free-agent busts of the century. Albert Pujols still hasn’t homered in an Angels uniform and will face a tribunal in the locker room if he doesn’t do it soon.
How inept is Anaheim’s offense? The best example came two weeks ago when Bartolo Colon (the fattest kid from the movie “Heavyweights”) fired like 109 pitches into the strike zone and wasn’t hit hard once. This can mean one or two things: 1) Stem cell research is the most awesome invention since the iPhone 2) the Angels suck more than an episode of “The Good Wife.”
Three players on the Angels roster collectively make more than the entire A’s organization (but then again, so do the groundskeepers at Overstock Co), and they still dropped three out of four games to Oakland at home.
No, the Angels aren’t alone in terms of early-season disappointment. The Red Sox just realized that firing Terry Francona may have been the second biggest mistake in their franchise’s history, right between hiring Bobby Valentine and selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees.
But the Angels are a lot easier to mock these days. Yes, I’m talking to you, Anaheim fans. It’s time for you to get off your high horse. Stop gloating and sending obnoxious “Thank You” notes to your owner Art Moreno, a slightly less loathsome version of George Steinbrenner with a pornstache.
Don’t you know you’ve become baseball’s version of the Miami Heat? This means teams are only a Shawn Marion or a Jason Kidd away from beating you in the World Series.
Well, no, let me be as forthcoming as I can—you’re not going to the World Series, and barring another cataclysmic collapse by an AL East team in late September, the playoffs are as likely as someone watching a televised NASCAR race.
Take it from a Giants fan who wants you to win the pennant. There would be no greater pleasure than to see you in a rematch of 2002. Home-field advantage might be different this time around, but I’m sure Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain wouldn’t have any problem pitching in front of the thunderstix and Rally Monkeys.
Really, after putting up with Braves fans and their egregious, racist war chant for the last 20 years, how hard is it to deal with the sound of 40,000 kumquats banging their plastic balloons?
Dusty Baker and his toothpick won’t be in the dugout making mindless decisions like giving his pitcher the “game ball,” starting Livan Hernandez or letting his three-year-old son almost get steamrolled at home plate. Bruce Bochy likes to start pitchers who give up fewer runs. It’s a pretty good strategy, and if Dusty had figured that out 10 years ago, then the World Series would have been over in six games. Then again, if he figured out that pitchers can’t hit as well as everyday players, the Cubs would have won their first pennant since the end of the Spanish Civil War.
You won’t have to face down a roided-up Barry Bonds or the snarky little truck driver, Jeff Kent. Instead, you’ll be up against 25 talented guys who actually like playing together. This kind of affinity is pretty awesome. Just watch the 2010 MLB Playoffs, or this touching pitching-mound conference from Bull Durham.
But the real reason behind your team’s struggles is simple: The Angels are bad. Really bad.
I know, I know, you got Albert Pujols, CJ Wilson, blah, blah, blah. What about all your other "blockbuster" free-agent signings like Tori Hunter, Vernon Wells, Steve Finely and Gary Matthews...How’d all that work out for you? An 84-year-old-outfielder, a washed-up import from Canada and a guy who was essentially paid $6 million every time he hit a home run.
This team isn’t nearly as good as the one that won it all in 2002. Yes, even Giants fans will admit that was a great team. Their offense was so dangerous with guys like Garrett Anderson, Troy Glaus, Darren Erstad and Tim Salmon that they didn’t even need an ace to win a playoff series.What’s even more impressive was they only had one juiced up slugger (Glaus) during an era filled with frauds and cheats. Oh, and give that bullpen a lead after six innings, and the game was over.
Two years after winning a championship, Disney decided to sell its beloved franchise, and suddenly everything was nice and peachy. You finally had an owner who was willing to spend some money, and wasn’t afraid to spend more even with MLB’s no-refund policy. (If the Giants could get rid of Barry Zito’s contract, they’d have gone an entire season undefeated and sent 12 players to the All-Star Game.)
Moreno maxed out his credit line in his first year of ownership, picking up guys like Vladimir Guerrero, Kelvin Escobar and Carlos Guillen, and all it got Anaheim was a sweep in the first round of the playoffs.
I liked the team better when it was run by Disney. Well, no, actually I didn’t. The only thing worse than listening to Joe Buck and Tim McCarver call a World Series was having to endure Fox’s pre-game introduction. The wizards, fairies and talking squirrels were all enough to give me an aneurysm before every first pitch.
As awful as it was, this hyperbole worked well for them in the postseason. The Angels haven’t come close to achieving the same success since, going 2-5 in playoff series and never getting farther than Game 6 of the ALCS.
I know you still feel confident because your team loaded up on some great pitching, but until Weaver or Haren finally win the big game, nobody’s going to blink. Don’t count on your offense to bail you out, either. Your hitting isn’t scaring anyone in the American League besides the Kansas City Royals. Wait, what?.
It’s amazing how little of an effect a quarter of a billion dollars can have on a lineup. That Albert still hasn’t figured out how to hit AL pitching is the least of their problems. A little call to Ryan Braun will fix that right up.
The fact is that there isn’t a single player hitting with any kind of consistency.
Erick Aybar currently has an OBP of .247, which is just pathetic for an offensive table-setter. You were much better off when you had a homunculus batting in the leadoff spot from 2001-2004. Kendry Morales still has a pathological fear of home plate and can’t score runs without being promised a churro, and Tori Hunter and Bobby Abreu are picking up their social security checks from inside the bat rack. (Update: the Angels Fed-Exed Abreu's final $17.50 last week)
You don’t know it yet, but you’re screwed. Three years from now, when a 35-year-old Albert Pujols is getting paid $25 million dollars to eat Pinkberry’s in the dugout, you’ll be wishing that Mike Trout and and Jed Weaver will somehow single-handedly lead the Angels to the final out in the ALCS.
And when that time comes, you’ll probably have Donnie Moore warming up in the bullpen again.