Saturday, May 17, 2014

By Nate Trop, Columnist - 

There is currently a thread on the main board titled “Best I’ve felt about the team in years.”  After reading through it and giving it some thought, I realized that the last few years have left me very jaded and skeptical but also, it really is hard not to be excited by the recent success of the team.

In the last month, the best hitter on the team hasn’t been Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, or Josh Hamilton; in fact they haven’t even been the second best.  The best hitter has been Howie Kendrick, and the second best has been, brace yourselves, Collin Cowgill.  Now if you hadn’t been following the team very closely you would probably think “but Nate, you must be furious that the best players aren’t performing!” and I would be if not for the fact that the Angels are having their best season since Mike Trout was in High School and Pujols was still in his mid-30s.

Sure I could complain about some of Scioscia’s moves lately, but even he seems to have changed his ways.  He is playing Conger more, he gave up on classic bullpen roles, and he even benched underperforming veterans, albeit briefly.  I really think this roster, as it is right now is almost the perfect Mike Scioscia team.  He has a good set of players who legitimately benefit from being platooned and moved around in the lineup depending on matchups, as well as surprisingly good starting pitching and, well, we won’t talk about the bullpen.  The players sound like they are having fun again, even Scioscia sounds like he is having fun again.

If I can’t complain about Scioscia then there is always Butcher, this pitching staff is… pitching above their expectations.  Sure Santiago has struggled but it is nothing new for him.  Skaggs has shown improvement over last season and Richards, wow, he has matured a ton as a pitcher.  You won’t get me to give Butcher credit, I still am skeptical about his abilities as a pitching coach, but I certainly don’t have anything to bash right now, unless it was his choice to keep ole Jeppy around.

Then there is um, err, does anyone have any idea who the heck the hitting coach is?  Anyway the Angels have one of the best offenses in the game right now, despite Trout and Pujols slumping lately.  Aybar, Kendrick, Cowgill, Cron, Navarro, John “all glove no bat” McDonald have all come through.  Howie has an .815 OPS and amazingly a .383 OBP.  Sure it is still a nail biter whenever he comes up to bat with runners in double play position, but even there he has improved.  Amazingly, even though the team is scoring lots of runs, they are still struggling with RISP, something that will always frustrate us fans, but so many runs are scoring that it is neutralized a bit.

 Sure there is something to be said about $25 million players sliding head first into first base, something you are taught in little league not to do.  I mean, you have the skill to crush a baseball, run down a line drive in the gap, but not the brains to stay on your feet and run through the first base bag?  Hamilton was finally hitting like the Hamilton we all wanted when he signed and then he does an idiotic thing like tear a thumb ligament sliding head first into a base.  There are the injuries that were supposed to be cleared up by the end of spring that are still lingering with no end in sight, cortisone injections and endless setbacks.  These are the kinds of things that normally we can be up in arms about, frustrated, angry, and defeated, but no, the Angels have kept winning.

I could strike up an argument with Glen about which hair is worse, CJ’s flowing fluffy Head and Shoulders™ locks or Weavers awful mullet.  Maybe something about how dreamy Mike Trout is because he doesn’t show up late to games, drive 90mph on surface streets, or show up his teammates.  But we aren’t gossip columnists; we are above that… at least until July when we still don’t have anything to write about.  I expected to be collaborating with Glen on our Baylor vs Disar as the next Angels head coach PCP at this point in the season, not complaining about how I can’t complain.  If Glen and I write a PCP about who made the best dish at the annual Angels cook off, you will know that the Angels are really going well.

There is a murderous new Rally Cat that we have to contend with, and of course Buttercup.  If anything could kill Buttercup though, it would have to be a cat.  I mean have you ever seen a cat that didn’t look like it was plotting the earth’s destruction?  That hero cat just attacked that dog because the dog was disrupting his plans of world domination, right?  There is no other legitimate explanation.  Kind of like how there is no legitimate explanation of how Josh Wall still has a spot on the 40 man.

If the Angels are going to keep winning, at least our catcher could throw to first on a steal of second or Aybar could swing and miss, comically, at a pitch that was so inside it hit him in the groin.  Ibanez could throw a ground ball from the outfield or take a hilariously bad angle at a fly ball.  Butcher could try and fail to jump over the railing on a walk off hit, for my sake…

There you have it; this skeptical, jaded satire columnist doesn’t have anything to complain about.  Things are going really well for the Angels.  They are winning, the managers and coaches, even the ones we can’t name seem to be performing well, the much maligned farm system has provided excellent replacements for injured players, and nobody has been hit in the junk by a breaking ball.  As a fan, I love it; it has been so long it feels a little bit weird.  As a satire columnist, it is brutal, but I can’t complain.
Love to hear what you think!

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