For those refined gentlepeople who prefer the cerebral grace of baseball to the plebian savagery of football, October is the greatest of months. Will Leitch looks at each of the eight playoff combatants. Now up: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
One of the stranger conceits in the coverage of sports is the fallacy that past performance is indicative of future returns. It makes the least sense in college sports. People will write, "Illinois seems to have Missouri's number" (obviously I'm speaking of basketball, not football) as if what happened six years ago, with entire different players, coaching staff and circumstances, could possibly be relevant. As if someone looks at a member of the opposing team and says, "Holy shit, we always struggle with teams wearing black. Oh no!"
The Red Sox, Anaheim's first-round opponent, seem to Have The Angels' Number, which mainly means Angels fans are pretty goddamned sick of seeing the Red Sox every October. The Angels look better than the Sox this year in a random, flip-a-damned-coin five-game series, but they looked better last year in a random, flip-a-damned-coin five-game series. Unfortunate head-to-head dominance on this seems to affect fans psyches' more than it does the players'.
The Angels are a large-market team that somehow strikes the world as a small market team, and the fans react accordingly. (I particularly loved this Bud Selig is rigging the series for the Sox and ratings! fanpost at Halos Heaven.) Anaheim actually has a larger payroll than the Dodgers do, but I suspect none of you think of it that way. Maybe it's Anaheim. It's a lot freaking farther from Los Angeles that I realized. It's also one of those unfortunate ballparks in large metropolitan areas where you can't find anywhere to have a damned beer before the game.
For years, the Angels had a reputation, because they had a bunch of free swingers and because they were in the same division as Billy Beane's A's, for being an almost anti-Moneyball team, a team that won because of a great manager, "playing the game the right way" and an inordinate amount of luck. Well, this year, they had their Happy Gilmore "Happy learned how to putt! Uh-oh!" moment: They learned how to walk and get on base. The lowest on-base percentage in their lineup belongs to Vlad Guerrero. They also run like crazy, perfect against a team like the Red Sox, whose catchers should seriously consider throwing left handed because, well, yaneverknow. This team really is different. This team should beat the Red Sox.
But lots of things should happen in the postseason that don't. If the Angels lose to the Red Sox, it won't necessarily mean they just Can't Beat Boston. And it won't mean the Angels aren't better either. Sometimes shit just happens. Now, you will go to sleep. Or I will put you to sleep. Check out the name tag. You're in my world now, grandma.