The French have a saying (no, not “we surrender!) loosely translated as “the more things change, the more things remain the same.”
Welcome to the weird, but somehow familiar 2020 Major League Baseball season, especially as regards the Los Angeles Angels of Why Would Anaheim Want to Claim Them?
A casual glance at standings this fine Monday shows our Halos in a familiar position. One sixth of the way through a truncated 60-game season, the OC team is 3-7 and in last place in the American League West and 2.5 games out of first.
So, what’s wrong with the Angels this year?
There’s a lot of grist for this grim mill. As a team, they’re hitting .223, which is 17th in big league ball. Even worse is the pitching, 21st with a 4.83 earned run average.
Sunday’s game against the Astros is illustrative. Starter Shohei Ohtani, the much-vaunted two-way All-Star, is now looking like a two-way bust. He yielded two runs in a 1.2 inning stint, walking five batters. In two starts, he’s got a 37.80 ERA. At the plate, he’s hitting .148. He’s headed for an MRI to see if the surgeries he’s undergone have not been as successful as previously thought.
But that’s better than Albert Pujols, who’s batting a mighty .143, Sure, they both pop the occasional home run, but it’s usually when the game isn’t on the line.
That failing is definitely a carry-over from last year, and even the year before. With runners in scoring position on Sunday, the Halos were 2-for-16, leaving 14 runners on base.
In today’s stat-dominated baseball, manager Joe Maddon is going along with everyone else by throwing the whole pitching staff at the game. Eight pitchers came and went, hanging the loss on the last guy out of the bullpen, Jacob Barnes (0-2). He gave up an 11th-inning single that won the game for the Astros.
Sure, Mike Trout was out on paternity leave, but every team always has somebody out of the lineup. It’s grating to hear fans and coaches complain about injuries and such, as if every team in every sports doesn’t suffer that same problem.
So, what’s wrong with the Angels this year? The same as the last four or five years. Revolving door lineups, the absence of clutch hitting and a pitching staff that can’t seem to last more than a few innings without a) getting lit up, b) getting injured or c) both.
And that’s just 10 games into the season. As another saying goes, “past is prologue.” If things keep going as they are, Angel fans may wish that the 2020 were skipped and instead hope for better days in 2021.
Wild World of Sports is posted on Mondays.