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Know Your Enemy: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Defying expectations to remain stubbornly mediocre

As the calendar slips off into June, as the one-third point of the season moves us closer and closer to a fully lost year, we get visitors from Anaheim to the South Side. Or Los Angeles. Or whichever. Some soulless monstrosity sucking up the Colorado River.

The Angels, the third-most popular team in Southern California, have perfected a special blend of Notable Anonymity. They have two of the most famous ballplayers in the world, yet no one can tell you a thing about them other than “they should be better.” It’s kind of a neat trick to pull off, maybe the most original thing to ever come out of Anaheim.

The White Sox are 374-388 against the Angels, NOT COUNTING THE POSTSEASON, in which the Sox lead 4-1. Remember that? That was awesome.

So How Are They Doing, Anyway?

Well, they’re 28-25 as of this writing, so, fine. They are one game better than their X-W/L, so nothing remarkable. They’re about tied with Seattle for third, which is probably disappointing to Seattle. The Angels probably aren’t as good as Houston will be, and probably aren’t as good as the Rangers seem to be. They’re obviously better than the A’s.

They’re the Angels. You might have swapped the Mariners and the Rangers in your preseason projections, but this is exactly where you thought — where you knew, with a knowledge that transcends language — the Angels would be. Twas ever thus, and ever will be.

Are the Hitters Fearsome? Need I Worry About Dingers?

You read this blog to get in-depth insight into the matchups, and reader, I will not disappoint. When I look at the Angels, I bring my years of analytical expertise, but unlike most of the goddamn nerds on this site, I integrate that with an intuitive, almost spiritual feel for the game. And I am here to tell you that the two guys on the Angels who worry me, as a Sox fan, are Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani.

Trout has been so great for so long that it is background at this point. I almost think he must be in his decline phase but nope, still great. In all likelihood I saw someone say Ohtani is the greatest player ever and my thought was “I don’t know about that, but interesting,” and not “that’s ridiculous!” because it might not be ridiculous.

And then the rest. Hunter Renfroe and Brandon Drury are fine. Anthony Rendon is too sad to even contemplate. And then there are a bunch of guys with names like “Zach Neto” and “Mickey Moniak” and “Logan O’Hoppe.” I’m sure they are good people who love dogs and such, but this story will not be giving you a scouting report on Logan O’Hoppe.

And the Pitching Matchups? What of Them?

I’m going to presume you scrolled down here first to see what day Ohtani pitches. Well guess what, jack, it ain’t happening. The one potentially exciting thing to happen this year. Nope.

Monday May 29
Sox: Michael Kopech (3-4, 4.24)
Angels: Griffin Canning (3-2, 4.95)

Tuesday May 30
Sox: Lucas Giolito (3-4, 3.98)
Angels: Tyler Anderson (2-0, 4.81)

Wednesday May 31
Sox: Lance Lynn (4-5, 5.83)
Angels: Jaime Barría (1-2, 1.55)

Why Do We Hate Anaheim?

Look, I know they are the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, but no one has ever recognized that. Anaheim has been built as an escape from Los Angeles, a way to have the plasticity and manufactured palm lushness of LA without any of the seedy vice. It’s a place for permanent conventioneers and retired defense contractor ghouls and a million people who don’t live there.

It’s a city of shopping malls and convention centers and theme parks, a series of places that exist as temporary zones where people aren’t supposed to live, but merely pass through, like a brief surreal vacation spot or a transit center. It’s full of wide inhuman avenues that don’t ever lead anywhere. It has taken the liminal nature of the suburb and distorted and stretched it over the scope of a huge and sprawling city.

Like much of Southern California, but to a degree unmatched anywhere, everything in Anaheim has been built, and nothing has grown. There are lingering memories of orange groves, but they’ve been supplanted by oil derricks, roaring and pulsing as ghosts in every downtown street, a tribute to extraction, the only thing that the area has ever been good at. Anaheim takes — your money, your time, our water — and never gives anything. It’s a town that is pretending to be a city but is a shambling cannibal.

Why Do We Hate the Angels?

We’ve been over this, but because there’s no reason to like them. They were fun in 2002, I guess. They have, as we’ve said, the greatest talent in baseball history, and they are still boring. They have the best hitter of his generation, and there’s no real reason to turn on a game.

You know what? They exemplify the frustrating nature of baseball. That there are no guarantees. A basketball team with the equivalent of Trout and Ohtani would be an instant contender. A football team who has a QB/WR equivalent would be a threat. But you can have these two and it just doesn’t work. It’s not enough.

Baseball reminds us that as a sport it is, like much of life, a triumph of anti-climax. Very little happens until everything happens, and a lot of times that everything is terrible. So I don’t want to say that we hate the Angels because they remind us of the maddening stubbornness of baseball and the crushing futility of living a life in these temporary bodies, but that’s also what I am saying.

Also I always hated Darin Erstad. God that dude annoyed me.

Let’s Hear it From Sox Fans!

Because Anaheim Sucks!

For Dumb Stuff They Do!

Because of Hockey!

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