The Angels lost last night. They did so with Shohei Ohtani on the mound, striking out over 10 hitters again. It’s this thing he does. But it didn’t matter, as the Halos never scored and lost 2-0 to the Rangers. Ohtani has struck out 10 hitters or more in six straight starts. The Angels lost the last two, though to be fair Ohtani did give up six runs to the Braves in his previous start. Either way, they’re 5-16 in July, and once again their truck is in a ditch, and they’re trying to figure out how to get it out and maybe reposition it next season so that it doesn’t veer off the road.
In that vein, rumors have them at least not hanging up the phone when teams call to find out what it would take to pry Ohtani loose in a trade before the deadline. It’s almost certainly not going to happen, but there’s a resignation emanating from Anaheim that they’re not going to be able to entice Ohtani to stick around after the 2023 season when his contract expires. Because he’s not that young (he’s 28), and well, it’s becoming quite clear that spending an extended amount of time in Orange County is a test run for spending an extended amount of time in purgatory.
Ohtani himself certainly isn’t committing himself to a long stay, if you read between the very well-spaced lines of this quote:
He might as well have sung the Wet Leg line: “I don’t even know what I’m doing here I was told there would be free beer.”
Here’s the thing though, as bad and incompetent and really stupefying as the Angels have been for the entirety of Mike Trout’s career, baseball would be better off if more teams fell squarely on their asses like them. Because it’s not like they haven’t tried. The Angels will be paying Anthony Rendon and his one functioning wrist — the other one is made of paper mache — $38 million next year. They signed Ohtani after all. They’ve signed Pujols. They signed Noah Syndergaard. Traded for David Freese not all that far removed from a World Series MVP once upon a time. They’ve swung wildly from trying to buy a pennant to trying to develop a team from within and everything in between.
Has all of it made sense? God no. Has any of it? Not really. But you could at least argue all of it was out of desperation to actually do something. To win. Yeah, it was all splatter paint that never generated any discernible pattern. But they were at least throwing shit to the wall.
Do the Pirates ever throw shit at the wall? The Marlins have produced a collection of young pitching that a lot of teams would envy and then never bothered to pair it with any hitting. They’ll lose that pitching before playing any game that matters. The Nationals certainly aren’t trying, though they at least have a half-pass from 2019. What are the Rockies doing? (Editor’s Note: Continuing to be inept) The Cubs? The Diamondbacks?
It’s not much of a salve for Angels fans, however many are left at this point, but at least their team has generally given them something to talk about during the winter. Something to look to when spring training comes around. Something to dream about during a hot streak in April that just maybe it would be worth the time. Sure, it never was, but at least there was a flicker.
Soon enough Ohtani will be gone, owner Artie Moreno will still try to get his shady stadium and real estate deal, and maybe Trout will never be Trout again as his back continues to be a concern. They’ll just fade into the backdrop with most of baseball, becoming part of the scenery of the Flying Dutchman, another faceless face.
But you can’t say they didn’t try. More fans than you think would trade places.
Failure in Chi-Town
Speaking of the Cubs, here’s a prime example of how having a ton of money doesn’t mean anything near being smart:
Just to be clear, this team launched its own channel right at the same time it was sending its team into the goddamn dirt, and then can’t figure out why no one wants to watch this dreck. This is how you fall upwards, kids.