“Why do you build me up (build me up) Buttercup, baby
Just to let me down (let me down) and mess me around…
…Buttercup, don’t break my heart”
This has to be the least-liked song by any fan base in the history of team sports. Any team sport! But sadly… it’s a fitting song to play during the 7th inning stretch so far for this edition of the Los Angeles Angels.
Was getting swept by the Houston Astros the nail in the coffin for the Angels 2013 season? Well… maybe. You have to figure the Angels need 95 wins or so to even have a shot at making the playoffs. But to get there, they’ll have to win at a .673 clip the rest of the way. Not impossible by any means, the talent is there, but you cannot get swept by the likes of the Astros. You just can’t!
But sadly, that’s just what happened last night. Following the loss, the team held yet another closed-door meeting, after which Angels first baseman/Medicare spokesperson, Albert Pujols reiterated that there’s still a long way to go and the Angels haven’t been eliminated from the playoffs yet. You’re right, Albert, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t play the game with passion, with fire!
Personally I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I know part of the playing the game is maintaining your composure and concentration so you can hit, catch, and throw a 9 inch circumference, leather-wrapped ball, but somewhere in there, you have to be able to mix in intensity and heart. I know one thing… this calm, patient approach clearly isn’t working.
Maybe the biggest thing this team is lacking is legitimate leadership. Someone the team can rally around and someone who is the true face of this franchise. Mike Trout certainly has the ability to be that guy, but to be fair… he’s just 21 years old. His time to be “that guy” will come. Those that should be leaders like Pujols, and Josh Hamilton, simply aren’t getting it done. What’s worse is the calm demeanor they show after every failed at bat, every big moment in the game.
Now I’m not saying to go all Milton Bradley out there and throw a fit every time something goes wrong… but I would like to see one of these guys get tossed after a ridiculously bad call. Lord knows the Angels have seen more than their fair share of bad calls this season.
Some of the Angels old guard, like Tim Salmon and Mark Langston show that fire as commentators. After getting swept by the Astros last night, I listened to Tim Salmon’s comments on the post game show. He placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Angels 3, 4 and 5 hitters and went so far as to say if they’re not embarrassed by this, something’s wrong with them. We all know exactly who he’s talking about and I couldn’t agree more. Man I got fired up listening to King Fish talk. I wish he was in on that closed-door meeting. Hopefully the middle of he order guys see that and it lights a fire in them like it did me.
What’s most frustrating for me as a fan of this team is how the Halos can come off a stretch where they win 10 of 12 games and then completely lose focus when playing a clearly inferior opponent like the Astros. This just screams of a lack of mental toughness and leadership, real leadership!
The team used to have that kind of leadership in right field, but decided to go in a different direction this season. It’s definitely looking like when Torii Hunter left the Angels, he took the team’s heart and soul with him.
There are some exceptions, like Jered Weaver… He’s the unquestioned Ace and leader of the pitching staff, but he can only be out there 20% of the time.
However… there’s still hope… As bleak as things look right now, the Halos still have plenty of games versus the rest of the AL West. If they can manage to play to their potential and get rolling there’s still a shot. But that window of opportunity is closing more quickly than a collapsing stone wall in an Indiana Jones movie.
This team needs a heart transplant ASAP! Someone needs to step up and become the unquestioned leader among the everyday players. Who’s going to step up and take that mantle Torii Hunter left? The easy answer is Albert Pujols, but only if he can become that feared machine of destruction again… Time to step up Albert, if not just for your team, for yourself… your legacy is at stake.