Just as we were polishing this article about the demise of the Los Angeles Angels, Scott Miller of CBS Sports chimed in with juicy details about a fight that nearly broke out between Albert Pujols and Torii Hunter in August 2012.
According to team sources, emotions were running high following consecutive home losses to the Tampa Bay Rays on Aug. 17 and 18.
Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson each performed poorly, as the Halos dropped to 62-59 overall, eight games back of the AL West lead and three short of the closest playoff spot. Hunter was annoyed by how the pitchers deflected responsibility onto everybody else through comments and gestures, and he and Wilson were involved in a small altercation.
Veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins decided to nip this madness in the bud with a players-only meeting.
From there, the situation escalated quickly:
In a glimpse into how fractured the Angels had become, they could not even agree on a meeting format. Hawkins called for a players-only meeting. Pujols, insisting that manager Mike Scioscia and the coaches attend, wound up co-opting the meeting.
Pujols called out Weaver for showing up a teammate the night before. Then he turned his attention on Hunter, blaming him for the dugout altercation with Wilson.
Hunter snapped back at Pujols and, according to the report, they would've tried to rip each other's heads off if not for Hawkins and Vernon Wells intervening.
Miller believes the root of all this dysfunction is owner Arte Moreno. Since taking control of the franchise about a decade ago, he has trimmed the staff to increase his role in the decision-making process.
Moreno digs deep into his own pockets to woo top-tier talent and expects those acquisitions to translate into more wins and ticket sales.
His problem, however, is paying players exorbitant sums based on what they've previously accomplished, rather than what they're capable of doing in the future. Big checks feed big egos, and that's why Hunter, Pujols and Wilson struggled to coexist last summer.
Mike Scioscia brought the club its first championship in 2002, before Moreno entered the picture. One reason he hasn't returned the Halos to the World Series since is because his boss influences the front office to acquire the aforementioned marquee names, regardless of whether they fit into Scioscia's vision.
The current roster is a mess and, more importantly, the franchise's leaders don't see eye to eye. Unless that changes, the issues we've learned about in the clubhouse and those we've witnessed on the field will persist.
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