The nonsense has died down, thankfully, because I really was starting to get annoyed with a few websites a few weeks ago. There were numerous suggestions that the Angel’s, their season all but over, should essentially lay down and play dead in the hope of improving their Draft position in 2014.
Since then, the Angels have shown the team they could, and should, have been all year. They’ve won at home, they’ve dominated on the road, they’ve played complete baseball, and amazingly, they’re still not, mathematically, out of the wildcard race at the time of writing.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not optimistic enough to think they’ll really be in the post-season. However, what these last few weeks, and the week or so left to go, can do is restore some pride.
Think of the last game of last season. Whilst all the attention was on the A’s and Rangers, the Angels were quietly getting eviscerated by Seattle, 12-0. What that means to a fan like me, is that for the entire offseason, whenever I checked for Angels news online, MLB At Bat or any other site, the first thing I saw was that scoreline. What that means to a player is that at the end of a disappointing season, your lingering memory is of being totally outclassed by a team you should have beaten. There was a danger of that happening this year, too, when they were finally, inevitably, mathematically eliminated from the division by, fittingly enough, the Astros. This is a team they should have crushed, but ended up dropping 10 games to over the season. Considering they’re currently only 8.5 games out from the Wildcard, that has to prey on the mind. If they can leave this year on a comparatively high note, then they can reasonably look back on the injuries, the bad calls and tough luck that plagued them all year and think “maybe it’s not us who suck.” And then they can regroup next spring refreshed, healed, and with the confidence that they can play the type of baseball that their payroll and stats suggest they can.
There’s also another factor in wanting to keep going, which CJ Wilson summed up perfectly after the rout of Oakland earlier this week:
“…even though we’re not in the playoff race, the other teams are that we’re playing. We have to give it everything we have to make it fair.” *
The Angels can still have an impact on the playoffs, and in doing so they can stay relevant. Which is a better end to the season than most, myself included, could ever have predicted.
*Quote via Alden Gonzalez, MLB.com