Monday, March 16, 2009

#71 -- Angels Team

California Angels

The Angels finished 5 games below .500, but that was only good for 5th in the West at 18 games behind the A's. Even at that, they overachieved. They really didn't have much offense, with Bob Oliver being about all they had. The coolest thing about this card has to be the dude in the sky blue leisure suit on the right hand side of the card. Based on the fire orange jacket I saw Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl wearing over the weekend, I have to wonder if that guy borrowed that jacket from Dean Smith. ("Go to hell, Carolina, go to hell!")

Their strength was in the starting rotation. Nolan Ryan came over from the Met bullpen and joined Andy Messersmith, Clyde Wright and Rudy May to form a formidible roation. Unfortunately, they didn't have much of a bullpen. They had 16 saves that year. Sixteen. Francisco Rodriguez was getting that many a month last year.

The Angels were kind of stuck as a franchise. By this time, they were in their 12th season and they were going nowhere. In their 2nd year (1962), they'd had a surprising 3rd place finish in a 10 team league. But 10 years later, they weren't going anywhere. They'd also traded the "face of the franchise" Jim Fregosi for a talented pitcher named Nolan Ryan that didn't have the control to pitch regularly with the Mets.

We've been told a lot about the curse of the Red Sox and the Cubs. However, the Angels were thought to be a cursed franchise. There were a lot of accidents, injuries and illnesses that kept them down. There wouldn't be much happen for the Angels for several years except for Nolan Ryan, who became a pretty good pitcher once he was allowed to throw, no matter how many he walked.

In 1972 the Angels didn't have any award winners. They only had the one All-Star everyone gets. Nolan Ryan was named to the team, but he didn't pitch in the game. The Angels really didn't have much in the minor leagues, either. The only players they really produced in the first 15 years of the franchise were Andy Messersmith and Frank Tanana. They do much better now.

The next year they tried to develop more talent through trades by trading Messersmith and Ken McMullen to the Dodgers for Frank Robinson, Bill Singer and some young guys, but that didn't really work out. It wasn't until they could pick up some stars through free agency (Don Baylor, Joe Rudi, Bobby Grich, Rod Carew, Reggie Jackson) that they broke through.

At this point in time, however, for the Angels, contending was like Fantasyland and they were as likely to find that at the Big A as they were down the road at the land of Disney.

1 comment:

  1. Always found the stats on the back of '72 team cards interesting. The all-time leaders in the top half was consistent team-by-team but the bottom, featuring team records, varied.

    A team like the Angels that had no post-season success? Just showed their recent regular season records and finishes. Teams like the Yankees had title years shown, if my memory is correct.