August 2009

Angels? Losers? Huh?

The very definition of noise pollution:
Since the Trading Deadline came and went, people all over with a microphone or an IP address have been unloading on the Angels, consigning them to the “Losers” bin for not making a move.
Hello? Speaking of consignments, how about dropping all these polluters in the looney bin?
Best record in the AL (and only a couple of ticks behind the Dodgers neighbors for best in MLB). And that’s not all. Since the weekend prior to the All-Star break, 17-3. And that’s still not all.
How about this: Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero simultaneously going on the Disabled List coincides with that start of that 17-3 spree. Name another team that could’ve similarly withstood the double-loss of its two biggest bats. No chance. Especially a team, incidentally, considered offensively challenged to begin with once they let Mark Teixeira out of their grasp.
Oh, yeah … the Angels were drilled for that one, too.
And here they are, the Majors’ highest-scoring team. Always willing to help out: With the Metrodome about to be replaced by the open-air Target Field, the Angels jump-started demolition with a 35-run weekend in The Igloo.
In those last 20 games, they have scored 148 runs. For reference, in the preceding 20 with Hunter and Vladi, they had scored 115.
Mike Scioscia, easy call as Manager of the Year? Nope. Not enough. I’m holding out for Alchemist of the Year.
Scioscia ignited his latest batch with a rare blow-up not as memorable as 2006-vintage Jim Leyland (“We stunk, and it’s not good enough. It’s been going on here before and it’s not going to go on here.”) but just as effective.
“That’s a bad game. We need to get better. We need to play with consistency. And if the guys in that [clubhouse] aren’t going to do it, then we’re going to have to look at some changes,” Scioscia had said after a blowout loss to Tampa Bay on June 11 had dropped the Angels’ record to 29-29.
Since: 34-11.
I do get it: Deep-thinking analysts bashed the Angels for not acquiring the added pitching they’ll need to survive October. Can’t win without a fortified rotation, they said. Gotta load up on arms, they said. In other words, you need a staff like the ones of the Braves in the ’90s, jammed with Cy Young Award winners.
You know, those Braves who went into 14 consecutive postseasons, and came out of them alive exactly once.

Less bang for the Buc

Neal Huntington might need a lot of help getting out of this one. Can Captain Jack give him a hand, if there is such a thing as a brotherhood of Pirates, of the Caribbean and of Pittsburgh?

Okay, so the Bucs have again unloaded a booty of players, still looking for the right combination the way the peg-legged kind used to search for a treasure map.
But, as a former Pittsburgher with trickles of black & gold remaining in the bloodstream … can we please stop piling on, as if this was the biggest joke of a ballclub since Charlie Brown’s, which Charles Schultz had made funny on purpose?
Oh, sure — 16 straight losing seasons make them fair game. Doesn’t make them the black hole of baseball, though. Hey, how about some perspective.
Which brings us to Washington. Looking at a slightly longer timeframe, the Pirates have had two winning seasons in 18 years. The nation’s capital has had two winning seasons in three franchises.
The Nationals haven’t yet mastered that. The Senators went 86-76 in 1969, three years before becoming the Rangers. The 1952 Senators were 78-76, nine years before becoming the Twins.
Two (slightly) winning seasons in 30 years of actual play, one in 24. Now that’s a dry spell. (No bailout jokes, please.)