The first indication something wasn't right with Wednesday night's Angels home opener follow-up came from a sign in front of the Big A ticket window announcing $5 seats. Those were for the right-field pavilion, where the view revealed a half-full stadium that stayed that way even after the inevitable arrival delays caused by rush-hour traffic.
Then came the sorry display on the field . . .
Unlike what the Halos could not get at key points against the A's in an 11-5 bloodbath–which was a night after a 9-5 drubbing by Oakland in the Angels home opener–I actually had an out. When the $48 tickets someone gave me were scanned at the entrance, they turned out to be for a June 17 game against the Mariners. That led me to the ticket window and later the cheap seats. Wouldn't you expect a sellout or nearly so from the fourth highest spending team in Major League Baseball, and one that supposedly boasts a lethal offensive attack? Indeed you would. And "offensive" sums up the fan experience Wednesday night.
Five random observations:
-The announced crowd was 36,011. The place holds 45,050. Sure looked less than half full to me, though. That would continue last year's trend and add fuel to rumors owner Arte Moreno is looking for an Anaheim exit strategy. Last night was an embarrassment: The Big A was so empty, the A's fans were as loud if not louder than Anaheimers. The visitors had many more opportunities to make noise, of course. I had to move when I found myself surrounded by Oaktards, who included some young chicks who arrived late, found someone sitting in one of their seats (surrounded by dozens and dozens of other, adjacent empty seats) and had their leader, in her best Nick Kroll pubLIZity voice, squeak, "People aren't this rude in Oakland." She's obviously never been to a Raider game.
-At one point, four large seabirds majestically flew over the stadium, their flapping wings illuminated by the Big A lights. It's amazing they weren't downed by balls off Oaktown's bats. First baseman Brandon Moss alone had 5 RBI, including his second homer in two days.
-Despite everything else going to merde, Angels DH Albert Pujols put on a hitting clinic, going 4-for-4 with two ground-rule doubles, including a screamer down the left field line that I believe was the hardest hit ball I have ever seen in person.
-The Angels being 2-6 is no reason to panic, despite the slow start being what ultimately killed Anaheim's 2012 season. Pitcher
Josh Joe Blanton beginning 0-2 after signing a two-year, $15 contract and John Josh Hamilton hitting .156 with a .237 OBP and no homers after inking a five-year, $125 million deal are also not reasons to panic. Neither is the lackluster performance of a starting rotation without ace Jered Weaver for a month. But the bullpen? Yikes! If this keeps up, the Angels should host an open casting call on the Big A mound.
-But the most troubling thing about the whole ordeal last night–and sitting through all that was an ordeal, trust me–was just the general malaise hanging over the joint. There was more excitement in the Chronic Tacos line than there was in the seats filled by mummies in red. I don't know if the Angels are projecting their out-of-sortness on the crowd or vice versa. Or both. All I know is, if the effort both fans and team put up against one of their fiercest West Division rivals is indicative of what's to come the rest of the season, we're in for a long one and Scioscia would be wise to starting printing up resumes.