On this day back in 1961, the Russians, via a shuttle called Vostok 1, launched the first man into space. The average home cost roughly $12,500. And the California Angels were struggling in their inaugural season, off to a 1-8 start.
Now, 52 years later, space exploration is looked at more as a hobby, not a full-time job. MLB players like Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton earn and exceed a measly chunk of change like $12,500 in one swing of the bat. And the now Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are struggling in their highly anticipated 2013 season, off to a 2-7 start.
Times change but also stay the same. For the Angels, they probably wish things could be a little different—and I’m not talking about the price of bread.
The team has landed in a storm of confusion, ranked last in the AL West, imploding at important times and dropping games with ease.
The bullpen is not there.
The timely hitting is not there.
Let’s face it: With the exception of Albert Pujols’ bat and Peter Bourjos’ defensive chatter, they are lifeless.
And though things are not completely lost for the team—it can all turn around over a weekend—in the time of “what are you doing right now,” it looks bleak.
Fame does, in fact, have a shelf life.
And it only took Carlos Quentin’s rage, Zack Greinke’s best NFL lineman impression and the joys of hearing Vin Scully give a blow-by-blow call of, well, the blow-by-blow, to drop the Los Angeles Angels into yesterday’s news in California.
That’s right. No fertilizer (to coin a Scully phrase)!
One of the most highly covered organizations in the offseason is currently last in the hierarchy of California-based MLB franchises, seemingly crunched between other athletically befuddled masterpieces like the Sacramento Kings and the Oakland Raiders.
How did this happen?
It’s easy to put a massive amount of blame on the front office—Jerry Dipoto and Arte Moreno, Moreno’s cash—or look to the deficiencies by the coaching staff, led by Mike Scioscia (ex-Angel Trevor Bell did, then he deleted his Twitter account).
Oddly enough, if dissected, stretched and skewed, you could blame Zack Greinke. It was originally his arm that had the Angels in the news. Now, it’s his shoulder keeping them out of it.
But those scenarios are only useless excuses—it’s like blaming the clubs when you shoot a 100 on a par-three course. There is more to it. A reality.
It’s the players, the athletes making the machine work that are usually the guilty party. And the Halos have been caught, red-handed, dismantling the machine while driving the man (or fan) insane.
No question, we knew that the starting pitching would be suspect. However, the unknown in the form of Jered Weaver’s injury has made that a little more obvious.
But that doesn’t mean the other arms in the rotation are inept.
After all, this is the MLB, right? They have uniforms and everything.
The same argument can be made for the bullpen with the absence of Ryan Madson. Regardless of who is on the hill, someone will have to step up, get an out and hold an inning…or three.
But that has not happened.
And as feared as this Angels lineup is, there can never be an expectation to win games/series when the hitters are responsible for putting up a five-spot every other inning just to keep pace.
That formula doesn’t work; moreover, Scioscia switching lineups for this and that reason won’t solve it.
Now, this is not a complete barrage of lost hope toward the Angels. I would never give any sort of “they are out of it spiel” this far from September; no one should. In fact, I’m still under the notion that this much talent will eventually pull together and pull away in the West.
However, it’s worth pointing out how quickly a team’s stock can rise or fall, especially in major sports like the MLB.
Especially out here in Los Angeles.
Failure leaves doubt. The "wish we could have had Zack Greinke envy" creeps back into a fan’s psyche, and the organization is left to rethink its decisions for crafting this current 25-man roster.
It leaves them all looking back into history.
Note: All stats were courtesy of baseball-reference.com unless otherwise specified.