Sunday, October 14, 2007

By Brian Ilten - Contributor

OK, so it has been a week. You could call it a time of mourning or grieving, a time of reflection or self evaluation; it could even be called a time of detoxification. I often explain that the Angels are my drug, and every addict, needs to come down sometime especially after a 162 game binge.

Unlike past seasons, while I was tempted to jump right into the fray spewing my opinions and numerous excuses and writing epitaphs on an otherwise successful season, I decided to take this time to really examine the team and try to figure out what went wrong.

What I found was that it wasn't the lack of home field advantage, or Lackey starting in Fenway where he has a career ERA the size of the national debt. It wasn't Sciosica’s lineup or his lack of managing, hell he managed game 2 like I have never seen him manage before. And no matter what anyone says, it wasn’t the injuries. Every team is banged up come October to some degree. This team was banged up all year and was still able to win 94 games. Depth was our strong point, so the injury excuse doesn’t fly here. I will even argue that it wasn’t the fact that we didn’t have a big bat to protect Vlad Guerrero.

The missing element started to become clear to me at the end of game 2. As Manny came to bat, any honest Angel fan would have to admit that the thought ran through you at the time, that perhaps it would be better not to look – as if a part of you knew what was going to happen. I did look, and in watching my eyes began to open. As quick as that ball left the bat, and subsequently the park, and the atmosphere with Manny raising his arms, the answer began to become clear.

The Angels lack swagger.

It is not enough to have the ability to change a game or series with the single swing of a bat. We have that in Vlad Guerrrero – arguably one of the most respected offensive players of our time. No, it is the ability to come to the plate knowing you can do so. This is what the Red Sox have that we do not. David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are undeniably the most formidable one-two punch in any major league lineup. They are not only capable of turning a game around, more importantly and more dangerously, they know they are capable of that. It is why they are so hated by all those outside of Boston and why they have endeared themselves to Red Sox Nation. Not only can they do it – they will do it. They have done it with such regularity that it is almost expected that at some point in a game, one or both of them will strike. They are patient and work with precision at their craft. We hate them, because they can. We hate them, because we can’t.

The Angels’ and their fans are one week into the offseason and already there are hundreds of opinions on who should stay, who should go, and who should be brought in. The names being brought up are a virtual who’s who of the baseball world each with their own resume of offensive stats and or potential. For me it’s a bit too early to really pin point exact names and their availability. That will come in time. Honestly, I am not sure that the complete player that the Angels need is even out there.

But my suggestion is that whoever is brought in, the missing element that must be found needs to have a little bit of swagger. That someone should be capable of walking or strutting with a defiant or insolent air. That someone should be capable of breeding that same attitude in an Angel team that lacks a true leader. Someone not only capable of improving our lineup, but more importantly and more dangerously, someone who knows he can… and will.
Love to hear what you think!


Mike Gwaltney said...


I agree on the issue of swagger, but in my experience, swagger is a byproduct of confidence. I think the Angels have swagger when they play the AL West teams. I think they have swagger at the Big A. Somehow they even manage to swagger a bit in New York. But the swagger against the Red Sox wasn't there in the playoffs, not in the regular season in part because they've played so poorly against the Red Sox for years. The red stockings have our number and it's taken the confidence out of the players, fans, everybody.

As for a player who can change the game with one swing of the bat, well, sure, Vlad can do that. Unfortunately, in the last couple playoff years, he looked like the only guy capable of it. Perhaps a couple more guys with that capability might mean the odds are in favor of someone at least lucking into a big fly. And into some swagger.

Listen to "A Fish Like This" Tribute song to Mike Trout's Greatness

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