The Angels and the Dodgers each get “C” grades for their work over the past week. The boys from Chavez Ravine had a chance to catch the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants in Los Angeles, but lost three of four. After taking two of three from Colorado, the Dodgers will get another crack at the team in orange-and-black this week. Still trailing by two games, they’ll play three up north Tuesday through Thursday with hopes of turning the tables.
Regardless of how that series turns out, the Dodgers are in much better shape than the Halos. The defending World Series champs have the second-best record in baseball, and are virtually guaranteed a post-season spot, even if as a wild card team.
Although the Angels are performing at an average level – they are 49-49 – their hopes for a playoff spot are getting thinner and thinner. If playing into October is the basis for a “passing grade,” the Halos seem about to flunk the 2021 season.
Situated in fourth place in the American League West, there are six teams ahead of them and are 5.5 games back. To end up with more wins than their rivals would taken a Homeric effort. The Baseball Reference website puts their chances at 0.9 percent – that’s nine-tenths of one percent.
In many ways, the Angels are in much better shape than in 2020. In that abbreviated season, they never were above .500 at all, and never at break-even after three games. They finished eight games underwater and lost all six games against the regional rivals, the Dodgers.
So far, manager Joe Maddon can point – in his second season at the helm – to a relatively competitive team with several emerging young stars, the greatest of which is Shohei Ohtani, hailed as the 21st Century Babe Ruth.
Joe can’t the blamed for the extended absence of Mike Trout, and one could reasonably demand that he not be judged for his managing of a team with a pitching staff that – on some days – seemed to resemble the hurlers at a slow-pitch softball game.
So, unless the Angels completely fall off the cliff and they post at least an 82-80 season, Maddon deserves no worse than an “incomplete” grade with the Angels. But if the boys from Anaheim are not doing better in 2022 than they did in 2020 and 2021, Joe may consider transferring to another school.
Dressing up for the Olympics
Every Olympic Games seem to have side issues not really related to athletics. This time around – coronavirus crisis aside – it’s clothing.
As you may have read the German women’s gymnastics team is competing in full-body “unitards” instead of more revealing outfits worn to date. They were acting to protest what they called “sexualization” of their sport. Additionally, the change provided more comfort and coverage, it was argued.
Another athlete was sanctioned for refusing to wear bikini bottoms in beach volleyball competitions.
These are reasonable points to make. But the Olympics are – let’s face it – in many ways an entertainment event. Otherwise, why have all the fireworks, musical moments and hype? It all comes down to the financial benefit of hosting and broadcasting these games. If this were purely an athletic enterprise, it could be held on a community college campus and athletes could dress in jeans and T-shirts.
A crusade to curb sexualization is a good first step. Maybe curbing the commercialization might be the next.
“Sports Monday” is written by Pete Zarustica.