Los Angeles Angels: Basking in Mediocrity
We have been spoiled.
The one downside to always getting what you want is when you start to believe that it lasts forever. It becomes scary when one begins to believe there is no light at the end of the "I always get what I want" tunnel. After awhile, some even begin to think they deserve it. That's a great place to be if you can make it last. For most, however, life settles in and smashes that fantasy to pieces. Ask Tiger Woods.
As Angel fans, we have been spoiled.
When Arte Moreno bought the club in 2003, the change was felt immediately. From the broad smiles at the press conference to the sombreros he had everyone wear, it was clear that good days were ahead.
Moreno infused Angel fans with excitement and optimism; no small task for a group of fans whose team had just won the World Series.
He lowered beer prices (which I understand is a popular beverage at ballgames), approved the signing of Vladimir Guerrero, attended games regularly and mingled with the paying customers. Most importantly, he empowered his staff to bring consistent winning baseball to the OC.
The Angels before Moreno were hit or miss season to season. They had great runs in 1979, 1982 and 1986 but they were horrible in 1980, 1981, etc.
Under Moreno, they have been a model of consistency having won five Western Division Championships with only one losing record during his tenure. That came in Moreno's first year as owner. Angel fans know that if they make their way to the Big A, they are going to see one of the best teams in baseball coming out of the home dugout.
This year, however, the team seems to be mired in mud.
There is no worse place to be in sport than to be stuck in mediocrity. Obviously, being good is best, but I'd rather my team be really bad than mediocre. At least when your team is bad there is hope for the future and good draft pick position to help you retool. There is a sense that things will get better, and I would take that over having to suffer through two wins, one loss, one win, two losses, bleh.
That, however, is where we find the 2010 Angels, 26 games into this season. The Angels are good, but not great. They win, but don't dominate. They play, but don't excite.
The saving grace in all this is that the AL West is following the Angels lead. The Seattle Mariners, pre-season favorites to win the division, look lost. Cliff Lee's recent announcement that he might go the route of a college basketball freshman phenom and be "one and done" in the rainy city can't be good for clubhouse chemistry. The Rangers of Texas look to be what they have always been: all hit, little pitching.
The Athletics, well, Billy Beane can take solace in knowing that Brad Pitt is playing him in the Moneyball movie.
All it will take to pull ahead in what is now the mild, mild West is a six game win streak. None of these teams seem to have that in them. Maybe things will change for the Halo's. Maybe they will ride on the shoulders of a player who suddenly gets hot. Maybe they will acquire a significant contributor via a mid-season trade like when they pulled the trigger on Mark Teixeira.
Maybe in the Angels' case, mediocrity is temporary.