COMMENTARY | It's been a particularly rough season for the Los Angeles Angels.
Not only has their season been disastrous, but the crosstown Los Angeles Dodgers have also been enjoying a historic run toward the playoffs.
At the epicenter of the Angels' disaster are Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and the hundreds of millions of dollars that are being paid to them. Though they are not necessarily the cause of the team-wide implosion, they stand out as the easiest targets for the venom of Angels fans.
As with most outrages in the world, the recipient of the anger is rarely the actual source. The general manager and owner of the Angels are the real bad guys here, but they're not the ones in front of the cameras, stinking up the joint.
Making a cursory look through Angels history, it's hard to find any players on the team that were actively despised by the entire fan base. Pujols and Hamilton are quickly becoming those guys.
But these two players want to play well. They want to earn their massive fortunes. They aren't bad guys. It's not their fault that Arte Moreno paid them.
Fortunately, for all parties involved, Southern California is a pretty easy-going sports environment, because Southern California is a pretty easy-going everything environment. And no part of Southern California is more easy-going than the Angels' home of Orange County.
Los Angeles has endured riots, flooding, fires, earthquakes and Paris Hilton. But Orange County has avoided most of these and, with the exception of the Great Mimosa Shortage of 2008, they live a somewhat charmed life.
Most teams in the league have former players they can detest for any number of reasons -- screwing up in the playoffs, signing with a rival team or even criminal behavior. The Angels don't really have this, except for maybe Mark Teixeira, who they traded for and who refused to re-sign with the team. But even this is thin because the Angels gave up almost nothing (Casey Kotchman) to get him.
Also, and this is a huge deal: The Angels used their compensation draft pick for losing Teixeira to draft Mike Trout, the best player in baseball. So, the Angels traded Kotchman for two months of Teixeira and Mike Freaking Trout -- a Babe Ruth-level trade.
Besides, the teams that really hate him are the Boston Red Sox -- with whom he was reportedly "just about to sign" and then signed with the New York Yankees -- and the Atlanta Braves, who originally traded for him from the Texas Rangers, giving up Elvis Andrus, Jarod Saltalamacchia, Neftali Perez and Matt Harrison -- a Herschel Walker-level trade.
Lacking their own villains, Angels fans have had to resort to hating other teams' players or just everyone on the Dodgers. But this is the docile domain of Disneyland, so even this has a limit. Heck, their manager, Mike Scioscia, is a former Dodgers player.
There are some non-Angels who are despised for their on-the-field antics -- guys like A.J. Pierzynski, though he's pretty much hated by every player, fan base and spell-checker throughout the land.
But now the Angels fans have the combo of Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols to vent their frustration at. With two of the most untradeable contracts in baseball, it seems, Angels fans are stuck with them for the foreseeable future.
However, it's not all as bleak as it might seem. Yes, they paid Pujols too much. But, getting him helped the team to sign a bigger TV contract, so one could argue that the Pujols money is actually somewhat of a wash. Unfortunately, they then turned that extra money into Hamilton instead of pitching.
I don't think anyone other than Arte Moreno thought these two signings were a good idea, and it turns out that the entire free world knows more about baseball than Arte.
And that's your silver lining in this dismal $350 million cloud. Maybe Arte Moreno will now step aside from baseball operations and let the people who actually have some idea what they're doing start steering this ship. At the trade deadline, I wrote about how it looks like that might be happening.
This probably won't be enough for Angels fans to stop hating Pujols and Hamilton, but maybe this, the 300 days of sunshine, easy beach access and an ice-blended coffee will help take the edge off.
Jed Rigney is a Los Angeles-based award-winning filmmaker who also fancies himself a baseball writer. He is the lead humor columnist at Through The Fence Baseball. You can follow him on Twitter @JedRigney.
- Sports & Recreation
- Albert Pujols
- Josh Hamilton
- Los Angeles Angels
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Arte Moreno