Arte Moreno may have purchased the (then Anaheim) Angels from The Walt Disney Company in 1996, but after riding a roller coaster as thrilling as Disneyland's Incredicoaster in back-to-back nights these past two days, his team has shown that it hasn't completely shaken its theme park roots.
While Saturday night's epic comeback win brought a rush akin to surviving the Incredicoaster's 108-foot drop, Sunday night's come-from-ahead 9-8 loss was more like, if not flying out of the harness, at least getting stuffed into a trash can by Goofy after exiting the ride.
You can always count on the great Sarah Langs to be there to provide the roller coaster-like peaks and valleys of a wild win probability graph, and the non-stop, late-inning swings of last night's game provided the perfect fodder.
Last night's loss was a gut punch that the Angels may not be able to recover from.
For as high on life as Angels fans were after stealing the middle game of the Astros series, they must now realize that cold, stark reality was there waiting for them all along. Instead of closing to within four games of Houston for the final Wild Card spot, last night's loss drops them to six games back with a three-game set against the Yankees looming.
Angels fans have mostly been united that becoming buyers at the deadline is not the way to go. Hopefully losing yet another series to the Astros also makes the front office come to the same realization.
The Angels have the extremely improbable task of catching not only the Astros to reach the playoffs, but also jumping the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mariners. That's right, the Angels are now in sole possession of fourth place in the AL West, ahead of only the Bad News Athletics.
Arte Moreno has already pulled a 180 on his decision to sell the team, opting instead to hold on at least a bit longer. After years of mediocrity under his stewardship that has seen the team waste the primes of the two most talented players of their generation, Angels fans would have gladly accepted a fresh start under new leadership.
If Moreno wants to endear himself once again to Angels fans, he'll need to make one of the most difficult decisions an owner has ever had to make: trading the best player in the league. As Jimmy Dugan said in A League of Their Own, though, "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. It's the hard that makes it great."
The Angels could be great. They still have Mike Trout and a location that should be able to attract free agents. The team's young core has shown real promise. Zach Neto is going to be a franchise cornerstone. Logan O'Hoppe looked great before his shoulder injury, and Trey Cabbage has hit the ground running since being called up, going 3-3 with a double last night and hitting .600 in his first three games.
Having to trade Ohtani is an unenviable situation for the Angels to be in, but there are few people that think he plans to re-up with them this offseason. Trading him for even more young talent is the way to go. Even though he could be just a rental for a contending team, he would be the most sought-after rental of all-time, or at least since the month-long stretch where my brother and I would check Blockbuster every day to see if they had a copy of Earthbound for the Super Nintendo back in stock.
Just like Ohtani would be for a team with World Series aspirations, Earthbound was worth the wait. Sunday's loss signaled that for this Angels team, the ride is likely over. Are you going to let the park fall into disrepair? Or are you going to make the hard but correct decision and build for the future? Disneyland is still an attraction because it adapted to the times. It's time Arte Moreno did, too.