Pissing off the Baseball Gods Vol. XIII: Angels and Demons

Leave a comment

March 9, 2014 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

Baseball is an incredibly superstitious sport; from players such as Wade Boggs and Justin Verlander, and instances like a black cat walking across Ron Santo in the one deck circle, it’s a sport that is steeped in superstition as much as it is rooted in tradition.  The reason for such is that much the same way that the course of the NBA is dictated by David Stern, the MLB is governed by the baseball gods.  They are the committee that controls the flow of the game and the outcome of events.  Like the gods of ancient mythology however, they are not infallible and from time to time have been stymied by the actions of a certain player or team.  As such, there comes a price for crossing the gods and their plans for baseball.

Pissing Off the Baseball Gods: is a 30 part anthology wherein I will go through each of the 30 franchises in the MLB and give an example of how they crossed the baseball gods, and give the ensuing penalty that arose from their transgression.  Essentially, a gigantic dose of karma, each team has had to pay for a victory they shouldn’t have had, or having unfavorable players on their team.  Most of the examples provided may seem disassociated and incongruent, but given the superstitious nature of baseball, chances are it’s just the price to pay for pissing off the baseball gods.

Outside of their 50,000 fans in the Greater Los Angeles area, the Anaheim Angels are one of the more frivolous teams in the MLB.[1]  They’ve won one championship, they have no history, and play second fiddle to the Dodgers.[2]  As far as influence, aura and overall impact on the MLB, the Angels aren’t the Yankees, but they aren’t the Brewers either.  But despite their rather quiet and uninspired play over the past 50 years, the Angels have been beset by horrible occurrences.  And it’s for a myriad of these horrible incidents that have befallen the team that for the first time in this anthology, I can offer no reason as to why the Angels have been plagued for much of their history.

Prior to 2002, the Angels had only made the playoffs three times since their inception in 1961.  In 1979 they were beaten in the ALCS by a better Orioles team, in 1982 after leading the ALCS 2-0 against the Brewers, they go on to lose the next three games, and in 1986 in the ALCS against the Red Sox, they go up 3-1 games, but with one strike separating them from a pennant, they blow the lead in game five and go on to lose the series in seven games.  The playoffs were not only unkind to the Angels, but they were downright brutal for them.  And that’s with 1995 notwithstanding.

In 1995 the Angels were leading the American League West by 11 games on August 16.  From August 25 to September 23, the team went on to lose 18 games, dropping them out of first place.  Had it not been for a late season surge they wouldn’t have even faced off against the Mariners in a one game playoff.  In that one game playoff to decide the winner of the division, the Mariners crushed the Angels 9-1, and cemented the biggest meltdown in franchise history.  An in season collapse, followed by a late pulse of hope which would be snuffed out almost too quickly was only the latest in a string of on field tragedies for the Angels.

Off the field, the Angels are marred by two distinct tragedies that don’t lend themselves to other teams.  In 1978, outfielder Lyman Bostock, one of the nicest and most charitable rising stars in the game was murdered in his hometown of Gary Indiana by a complete stranger.[3]  Not only did the Angels lose an up and comer who surely would have been a huge helping hand in 1979 and 1982, but the game was robbed of a generous and caring soul who once donated his entire month’s pay to charities because he thought his poor performance was not deserving of so much money.

Fast forward eleven years later to 1989 when relief pitcher Donnie Moore committed suicide in the presence of his children; unlike Bostock, Moore’s death was entirely baseball related.  It was he who gave up the game winning home run in game five of the 1986 ALCS which allowed Boston to win the game and eventually the series.  Having a history of depression, coupled with his becoming the scapegoat and the target of so much hate from fans led him to crack.  A few years later, the final straw came when he was cut by both the Angels and the Royals.  Being unable to let go of that game five, and his inability to find a new team allowed the depression to take hold again, and he ultimately took his own life after shooting (not fatally) his wife.

Tragedy strikes every baseball team; for the Red Sox it was Tony Conigliaro, for the Yankees it was Thurman Munson, for the Mets it was Gil Hodges.  For some reason however, and without any warranting incursion, the Angels on and off the field tragedies are magnified to be even more heartbreaking.  There have been some theories as to the reason for all these tragedies that range from Gene Autry’s unnatural amount of luck and success in all this prior endeavors, the use of religious imagery in sports, and the belief that their old stadium The Big A was built on an Indian burial ground.[4]  But for whatever reason, maybe even no reason at all, the Angels incurred the wrath of the baseball gods.

 

Next Week: Oakland A’s


[1] California Angels, Los Angeles Angels, or whatever the hell they’re calling themselves this season.

[2] A.K.A. the Mets of the American League

[3] His murderer was found not guilty by way of insanity, served less than two years in prison, and lived out the last 35 years of his life in relative comfort.  This is Indiana after all.

[4] I’m fairly certain this last theory came after the release of the Amityville Horror

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Join 121 other followers

%d bloggers like this: