No, I’m not going to give my Angels a merciless tongue lashing. I’m not going to dissect their lackluster performances in both of their losses to the Yankees either. I will, instead, point out the single bright-shining event of the last few days. The Angels gained a half game on the Rangers and their magic number is now 4.
And how did this happen? My Angels had a day off. Oh, and Oakland beat the pants off the Rangers, 12-3. How else could it have happened? My Angels have lost some steam and frankly, I’m baffled by it.
The addition of Scott Kazmir to the starting rotation has done much to reinforce a slightly shaky starting rotation. We’ve seen the bullpen find their groove with Jason Bulger, Kevin Jepsen, Darren Oliver and Matt Palmer providing solid relief. They’ve continued to hit, though perhaps not on the grand scale we saw last month. But most of the starting line-up continues to maintain batting averages hovering around the .300 mark. They did out-hit the Yankees in the last two games but they’ve not been hitting in the clutch. On Wednesday, the Angels went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position! It’s as if all of the “post-season preview” talk that surrounded their games with both the Yankees and the Red Sox, had a terrible effect on my Angels. I certainly don’t have any medical experience (I do have a nifty box of Sponge Bob band-aids) but I’ve made my own diagnosis.
My Angels are suffering from a case of “post-season jitters” also known as the “championship chokes”. We’ve seen the symptoms before: sudden lack of confidence, uncharacteristic sloppy base running, sudden onset of unexplained errors. We know this is not typical of our usually sharp and on-the-ball (literally) Angels but it is an ailment we’ve seen in post-seasons past. Maybe this bug has struck early this season? And maybe, just maybe, it will run its course over the next week and be out of their system by the time the real play-offs start. Wouldn’t that be perfect?
I want my Angels to show up in October brimming with confidence, bringing their A game and being the superstars I know they are. I want bats blazing, lightning fast speed on the base pads and defensive plays being executed with the surgical precision that takes our breath away a second time when the re-play rolls.
Let’s face it. 2002 was magical…from start to miraculous finish. It cannot and will not ever be duplicated. But I don’t know a single Angels fan who hasn’t had a “feeling” about this season. There’s no denying it would be an amazing story of tragedy to triumph. I’m not saying the Angels should win the World Series because Nick Adenhart died. But I sure would love to see them win it for Nick. That would be a story. And my favorite stories all have happy endings.
Baseball…make someone happy.