This year's baseball World Series between the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals has been a thriller–two close games decided by one run, followed by two blowouts, followed by yesterday's thrilling Game 5, which saw the Rangers rally in the bottom of the seventh with two runs on a bases-loaded double by the Rangers' catcher. That same catcher guided closer Neftali Feliz to do the nigh-impossible–strike out Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols on a 3-2 pitch at the top of the ninth inning–and threw out a baserunner trying to steal second base for the great double play.
That catcher, of course, is a name familiar to Angels fans: Mike Napoli, the catcher who displayed flashes of promise for five years before then-general manager Tony Reagins unceremoniously traded him and Juan Rivera for outfielder Vernon Wells at the end of last year.
I don't follow the Angels that closely, but I know enough that he consistently split time with catcher Jeff Mathis because manager Mike Sciocsia thought Mathis was the better defensive catcher. Not getting enough of a groove, Napoli never developed into a consistent hitter, even if he hit home runs with consistency.
Of course, what happened this year? Mathis blew; Wells–who was supposed to be the missing bat that would take the Halos to the World Series again–had a disastrous season. And Napoli, free from Scioscia's second-guessing, had a monster season: .320 batting average, 30 home runs, and 75 RBIs for the Rangers, helping them to the cusp of their first-ever World Series win.
Congrats, Napoli; I'm sure you and owner Nolan Ryan will rightfully howl it up at the expense of those goober Angels execs come champagne time. And vete a la chingada anew, Reagins!