Molina, Spiezio, Kennedy, Eckstein, Glaus, Anderson, Erstad, Salmon, Fullmer, Palmeiro, Gil, Wooten, Nieves, Fabregas, the other Molina, Ochoa, Ramirez, DaVanon, Amezaga, Ortiz, Washburn, Appier, Sele,Percival, Schoeneweis, Weber, Levine, Donnelly, Pote, Callaway, Cook, Wall, Lukasiewicz, Wise, Rodriguez… and now Figgins and Lackey. Every single one of them is gone. The 2002 World Series Champion Angels have but one player left from their magical 2002 season… Scot Shields.
Only one face in the poster remains in Anaheim, but it happens to be the most important face.
Was it really so long ago that the Angels got their sole taste of championship glory that all they have left to show for it is a middle reliever that had pretty much nothing to do with the team’s success that year? If ever there was a sign that this is the end of an era in Anaheim, this is it. But it also isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As upset as many fans are to see Figgins, Lackey and so many other Angels leave the last few years, we would all be better served to think about just how different things are for Angel fans as we start a new decade compared to how things were for us when the last decade started.
What is now a proud and respected franchise was pretty much non-entity in the MLB landscape before that 2002 season. Even in Southern California the Angels were so low on the sports team totem pole that the Clippers actually had more sway with local fans but now there is legitimate debate as to whether or not the Angels have surpassed the mighty Dodgers as the premier baseball club on the West Coast. It used to be that making the Angels making the playoffs was a rare and celebrated event but after all the continued success that the 2002 team triggered, a playoff appearance is merely the status quo in Anaheim. That is something every Angel fan should be proud of, no matter how jaded recent events might have made them.
There is one reason and one reason alone the Angels have been able to turnover almost their entire roster and remain one of the elite teams in baseball. Scot Shields might be the only player that remains in the Angel clubhouse, but it is the constant presence of Mike Scioscia that has guided the Halos from the depths of MLB anonymity to the heights of the championship stratosphere. No matter how frequently the faces of the players in the team photo change, the Angels will always be competitive as long as Mike Scioscia’s portly visage remains can be found in those photos. So come each Spring Training when you are perusing the Angel roster hoping to find a familiar name to inspire some hope for a return to championship glory, instead of bemoaning the absences of the Salmons, Erstads, Lackeys and Rodriguezes just look below the player names where they list the team manager. If you still see the words “Mike Scioscia” printed there then that should be all the hope you really need.