There was a low point in Angels baseball before, perhaps not after losing the 1986 American League Championship Series but a few years later, when Donnie Moore shot himself (after shooting and injuring his wife), giving Anaheim a grim brush with deeper loss. It was the Summer of 1989 and the Dodgers were still the reigning World Champions. The club could not make a good move to improve the team on the field if they tried. Soon they let fan favorite Wally Joyner go and all the goodwill from the late-1970s and 1980s had evaporated. A mediocre club that owner Jackie Autry insisted was “Middle-Market” floated listless.
The past twenty one calendar months have delivered a 587-day stretch of the Angels franchise at its lowest. Here is my recap of 21 tragedies in the past 21 months that have brought us deeper into despair than all the dullness of those dark days of yore. Read it and weep and go find that Garret Anderson rookie card or Tim Salmon replica jersey and repeat “Erstad says he’s got it…” like a mantra as you stare at the Vlad Guerreo bobblehead and wait for him to nod your way that this bad dream may soon end.
But none of this nightmare, sadly, has been a dream, it has just been a list…
•JUNE, 2019: Long-term Angels PR flak Erik Kay, who as recently as that Spring had been in rehab for a reported opiate-related addiction, is alleged to have scored street opiates laced with fentanyl for Skaggs at the pitcher’s request.
•JULY ’19: Pitcher Tyler Skaggs dies in his hotel room on the road in Arlington.
•AUG ’19: The Tarrant County (TX) coroner rules that Tyler Skaggs died from choking on his own vomit after ingesting alcohol, fentanyl and oxycodone.
•SEPT ’19: Angels finish the season in 4th place at 72-90. They were 30-47 after the death of Tyler Skaggs.
•OCT ’19: Owner Arte Moreno initiates a managerial change without consulting GM Billy Eppler, bringing in Joe Maddon and firing Eppler’s handpicked replacement for dinosaur (and still never-again hired) Mike Scioscia. Joke is on Arte as ex-manager Brad Ausmus remains on the team payroll. That’s right, we are paying for two field managers at once.
•DEC ’19: The Angels sign Julio Tehran to a one-year, $9 Million contract to fill what would have been Tyler Skaggs’ spot in the 2020 rotation. He finishes the season with an ERA over 10 in nine games started and 31.1 Innings Pitched.
•FEB ’20: Owner Arte Moreno, 75, debuts what may be the first public signs of senility when he nixes a trade to acquire pitcher Ross Stripling and power-hitter Joc Pedersen for utility infielder Luis Rengifo because Moreno feels disrespected that the trade is taking too long to consummate while other teams are examining medical records of separate players involved in what would have been a four-team trade.
•FEB ’20: Special Assistant to the GM Tony LaRussa gets a DUI in AZ during Spring Training but avoids any media coverage until he is hired as manager of the White Sox in October – leaving the three yokels covering this team for the OCR, LAT and the Athletic subscription site embarrassingly scooped by a Chicago media who don’t carry their team owner’s water.
•MARCH ’20: Billy Eppler trades Will Wilson, the club’s 2019 first round pick, for salary relief.
•MARCH ’20: The Covid-19 shutdown. It hit all of baseball but it hit us as well. It affected all of baseball and it affected us as well. It was a disaster for all of baseball but it was one of 25 disasters to happen t the Angels in the past 21 months.
•MARCH ’20: Longtime Angels staff member and visitors’ clubhouse attendant Bubba Harkins outed as pine tar chemist for hire. It is later revealed that former Astro Gerrit Cole was a devoted customer.
•MAY ’20: In response to the Covid pandemic, almost all Angels scouts fired, front office operations gutted.
•JULY ’20: Club refuses to pay minor leaguers until publicly pressured to do so.
•AUG ’20: Former team PR flak Eric Kay charged (in merciless Texas) with distributing fentanyl in conjunction with the death of Tyler Skaggs.
•AUG ’20: Club avoids signing any draft-eligible prospects after regular draft had been shortened to five rounds.
•SEPT ’20: GM Billy Eppler fired after dismal season.
•SEPT ’20: Owner Arte Moreno buys Angel stadium and surrounding parking lot acreage from the City of Anaheim for $150 Million. Angels contractually bound to stay in Anaheim for 30 more seasons. Moreno will redevelop the site with housing, retail and parking structures.
•OCT ’20: Former team PR flak Eric Kay indicted by a federal grand jury for his alleged role in the death of Tyler Skaggs.
•NOV ’20: New GM Perry Minasian hired, fourth Moreno GM hire is fourth consecutive rookie GM. Previous GM Billy Eppler remains on club’s payroll. That’s right, we are paying for two GMs at once.
•JAN ’21: Victor Rojas, the best TV announcer in team history departs the club.
•FEB ’21: Pitching coach Mickey Callaway outed as a creepy sexter.
AND… stay tuned for more as the Skaggs family has five months left to sue the Angels for wrongful death before the two-year statute of limitations expires and Eric Kay’s trial is scheduled for this April!
AND… to balance it out here are five good things that happened in the same time span:
JULY ’19: The combined no hitter.
NOV ’19: Trout MVP.
DEC ’19: Bundy Acquired in a trade for 4 scrubs.
DEC ’19: Rendon signed.
JUNE ’20: Detmers drafted.
That is all I got and there is still plenty of time for those last three to leave the “good” category.