Every team has their fair share of misfortune, the what-ifs and what could have beens torment their fanbases and organizations for seasons on end. Looking through the short history of the “Los Angeles” Angels, there were many pivotal moments that shaped the ball club for years. As we go down the list, we will look at what affected the Angels from the least to most impactful decisions.
7. Dino Ebel
Dino Ebel, you led and coached our Halos for 12 years, and you did us well. Waving our boys home from third and those low fives on home run trots will be missed. But out of all the teams you could have went to, you chose the Dodgers, talk about heartbreak. Now I understand the blue team is where it all started for you, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. At least you can still wave our boys home from third base dugout during the Freeway Series. 🙂
6. Marisnick out, Lucroy Injured
Tough plays at the the plate are bound to happen, but going out of your way to truck someone is not okay. Last year in an Angels-Astros game, outfielder Jake Marisnick collided at home with Angels catcher Jonathan Lucroy, where it seemed the Astro went for his head. Yes it happens and it’s a part of the game, but don’t you think a concussion and broken nose is a little excessive? Fellow catcher Yadier Molina was quick to defend Lucroy as the league first sought no punishment, and called it a b**lsh*t play, forcing a reaction from players across the league. Astros pitcher Justin Verlander was not shy to call out those defending Lucroy, including Molina, but c’mon Verlander, you’re a pitcher. You get behind the plate, or any position that includes collisions, and take that hit and let us know how you feel. The MLB did eventually suspend Marisnick, but only for 2 games. Meanwhile our catcher was out for far longer. Maybe take a rule from football and implement unnecessary roughness.
5. Saying goodbye to Napoli
Remember that time when we let go of an All-Star catcher for three catchers who all hit below a .210 average? Mike Napoli, who had just finished three straight seasons with 20 plus home runs, a .320 batting average and a 1.046 OPS, was a catcher for the Angels; up until manager Mike Scioscia decided that he wasn’t a defensively strong enough catcher and chose Jeff Mathis to play in the 2 position with a solid .174 batting average. Within 20 hours, Napoli became a division rival with the Rangers where he became an All-Star and then later became a World Series Champ. Glad that went our way!
4. From California to Anaheim to Los Angeles
The history of location name changes dates back to the very beginning of the Angels franchise. The very first team was known as the Los Angeles Angels, which made sense as they played in Dodger Stadium until their stadium was constructed (fun fact: their very first season was actually played at Wrigley Field). After that, the Angels changed to the California Angels, to the Anaheim Angels, to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and then came full circle back to the Los Angeles Angels. Even though the Angels are set to stay in Anaheim through 2050, we unfortunately will be bearing the Los Angeles name for years to come.
3. Losing Nolan Ryan
Nolan Ryan was arguably one of the best pitchers in the MLB, and he was a Halo. He was a great franchise player, and an even better dealer on the mound. With a better offense, the Angels could have been a serious contender in the postseason thanks to him. Everything was going so well as everyone in the organization loved him, until GM Buzzie Bavasi ruined all that in the off-season forcing Ryan to request out. Nolan Ryan was ready to compete in red for years to come, as he had just bought a place near the stadium; until the time came to re-sign him and the GM foolishly went to say that he was a replaceable pitcher. Ryan contacted his agent immediately, thanked the fans, and signed as a free agent to our division rival, the Houston Astros, where he later went on to set even more records and have an amazing career. As Drake would say, “You had it then you lost it, hall of shame.”
2. The Dodgers
No, they aren’t in our division and they aren’t even in our league. However, the constant mention of the Angels being their little brother does not end. We did not choose to be called the Los Angeles Angels, as mentioned before, however we continue to face constant backlash for having the Los Angeles stamp. Trust me, we do not want to be associated with that. Not to mention the Angels-Dodgers overall record is 70-54 in favor of the Angels; but we are still considered the lesser team. Sure, they have more rings than us, but don’t forget they started almost a century before we did. We would seriously hope that we, or any other organization for that matter, would have at least 6 rings since 1883…
1. A. J. Pierzynski
A.J. Pierzynski is one of the most hated players in baseball, and there is no question as to why. As for the Angels and their fans however, there is a special kind of animosity felt towards the pompous catcher. The year was 2005, and the Angels and the Chicago White Sox are fighting for the American League Champion title. It’s the bottom of the ninth with two outs, Pierzynski strikes out on a ball low and in, the defense runs into the dugout cheering and ready to take that momentum to the plate. Pierzynski fakes to save himself the embarrassment and runs to first as if it were a drop third strike. The umpires call him safe and the White Sox go on to win the game, then finish off the season by becoming World Series Champs. Yes, you can argue that one game doesn’t cost the entire series. However, after a needed strikeout in the ninth, momentum happens to go your way, inspiring the team to play as if they were on fire. A 2005 pennant would have looked great in center field, but thanks to the cheater we will never know what could have been… Angels fans would like to give a special shout out to Cubs catcher Michael Barrett for doing us all a favor and punching him in the face, you may have never been an Angel, but after that moment we were always rooting for you.
Honorable Mention: Vicente Padilla
This didn’t effect the Angels or their season, however it is a story I’ll forever cherish. Rangers pitcher Vicente Padilla had it out for the Angels offense that day. He had hit multiple batters, but the worst was Vladimir Guerrero. He hit him in the third inning and then in his next at-bat, Padilla went right for his head, and thankfully missed; and if you think it was unintentional then you weren’t watching. However, two pitches later, Big Daddy Vladdy took Padilla’s pitch to deep right field with two runners on for his 27th home run of the season, giving the Angels the lead at 6-3.