In case you haven't heard, the Angels are the most disappointing team in baseball. Nay! The most disappointing team in the world. No! The most disappointing team the history of history across all possible dimensions of existence!!!
Or, just maybe, they are a little less disappointing than that. Maybe.
Call me biased if you want, but I don't buy into this theory that the Halos are the most disappointing team in baseball. I'm not even sure they are in the top three this season. Yes, they definitely fell short of expectations, but the idea that they have been massive failures is one based more out of crafting a narrative than it is based out of fact.
How disappointing can a team really be if they win 90 games? That is a healthy number of wins. It isn't the win total that many projected for the Halos thanks to their off-season shopping spree, but it is still the kind of win total a "pretty good" team compiles. Can you still be a "pretty good" team and disappointing? I guess you can, but it becomes a matter of degrees.
And let's not gloss over that 90-win total either. It is not an insignificant milestone as it represents the magic number that most people quote as being good enough to secure a post-season berth. It just turns out to not be good enough this season. Most any other season, it sure as heck was. In fact, 2002 (eerie, I know) was the only other season in the Wild Card era that saw one league boast six teams with 90 or more wins. This season, the AL duplicated that feat, assuming the Angels and Rays win their finales (which makes it even more annoying that the Tigers get a playoff spot despite winning fewer than 90 games). So, I ask you, does that make the Angels disappointing or just guilty of bad timing?
That is only half the story though. The fact that the Angels missed the playoffs is not disappointing without the context of their spending spree last winter. Between signing Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson and handing out contract extensions to Jered Weaver, Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar, the Angels paid out a whopping $386 million in long-term contracts. That is a lot of scratch to dole out to not even get a chance to make a playoff run. Then factor in the one fact that every hack columnist loves to point out, that "they got Mike Trout this season too!" (exclamation points!!!) and you have the context of the exaggerated expectations making the Angels failing look so much worse. So, yeah, very disappointing but still not most disappointing.
What about the Miami Marlins? They spent nearly as much as the Angels did this off-season and they are going to lose over 90 games. Their organization is now in shambles with them holding a mini-fire sale at the trade deadline, lining up the rumored ouster of their top front office officials and possibly firing manager Ozzie Guillen who they went out of their way to trade for specifically to guide this budding juggernaut they thought they were building. Not to throw them under the bus, but how do they not take home the "Most Disappointing" team title by a landslide?
I also challenge you to explain to me how the Angels are more disappointing than the Boston Red Sox, a team who carried a payroll that was $20 million greater than the Angels this season. They, like the Marlins, are going to lose over 90 games. The Red Sox never even feigned at contention this season, becoming embroiled in controversy before the season ever began and still haven't emerged from it. This is a team that was so bad that it basically paid the Dodgers to take their best player off their hands and even still they seem destined to just burn the whole franchise to the ground this off-season to cleanse themselves of the Bobby Valentine experience. How that makes them less disappointing than a team that didn't get eliminated from playoff contention until the final series of the season is beyond me.
None of this is to excuse the Angels for coming up short, mind you. They are the ones who stepped out before the baseball loving world and declared this season "World Series or Bust." What it does is put in perspective the degree of their failure. Yes, they missed out on their goal, but not by much. That doesn't give them an excuse to ignore the on-field factors that led to their disappointment and just chalk it up to bad luck though. Based on comments from the players and team executives, that certainly doesn't seem like it is going to be the case, which is good news because it puts them in good position to go back to the drawing board this off-season so that we don't have to have this same conversation again next October.