Sometimes I just don’t get the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
For starters, they change our name, make it the longest and most-often-joked-about in sports history, then leave us fans to deal with arrogant Dodger fans who say things like "You don’t deserve to have Los Angeles in your name," and "There’s only one ‘real’ Los Angeles baseball team."
Then, the front-office kicks every important Angel from the past decade to the curb, without any real explanation, only to watch each player decompose on another team (more than likely the St. Louis Cardinals or Seattle Mariners) for the following three years.
On top of that, we sign "The Player That Shall Not Be Named" to an indefensible contract after a flash-in-the-pan year, only to find out he’s the love child of Bernie Madoff and Mo Vaughn.
Then, come every trade deadline and offseason, fans cry for "the one missing piece: a big bat or a power arm," complain about the excruciating inactivity from the Angels’ front office and whine about our unwillingness to trade heralded prospects for proven veterans, only to hear we traded for Mark Teixeira or Scott Kazmir, or signed Torii Hunter or Bobby Abreu.
Finally, the year we need our front-office brass the most – a monster 2010 offseason with cornerstone pieces of the franchise up for grabs – they go M.I.A. as our rivals feast on our roster, triggering questions like "Are Arte Moreno and Tony Reagins still alive?" and "Is it possible to trade Gary Matthews Jr. for a box of baseballs and a couple fungos?" (Which we pretty much did.)
In what could possibly be remembered as "The Offseason That Changed Everything," at times it seemed like the Angels have been hosting a liquidation sale at "The Big A," with Matthews Jr. assuming the roll of that old, holey leather couch nobody wants to buy for $10.
When Chone Figgins signed with the Mariners in December, I felt like Christine Taylor’s character in Dodgeball after enduring five minutes of seduction by White Goodman. When Figgins actually threw on that disgusting pea green and grey uniform I felt like hurling something fierce.
When John "I've always wanted to play for the Red Sox" Lackey chased the dollar signs all the way to Boston, I channeled my rage into a Grand Theft Auto IV killing rampage on par with Liam Neeson’s destruction of Paris in "Taken" and Charlie Weis' destruction of any and all Home Town Buffets in his way.
Throw in the out-of-nowhere firings of long-time television announcing duo Steve Physioc and Rex Hudler, and the Angels did everything but fire the guy who fills the buckets of Dubble Bubble before each game.
(Sidenote: Firing Rex Hudler was inexcusable. Say what you may about the Wonderdog, but nobody can deny his unrivaled ability to liven up any television broadcast. Was he quirky? A little. Did he say some pretty ludicrous things? Can’t deny it. Did he unnecessarily shorten every player’s name by one to three letters and add a "y" or "o" to the end? Uh-huh. Did hearing him call Brandon Wood "Woody" make me giggle like a third-grader in sex-ed class? Of course it did. Whatever. You can’t deny the man’s love for the Angels. He and his trusty baseball will be missed.)
Then our newly anointed play-by-play guy Rory Markas died in his sleep on January 4. Arguably the most prolific player in Angel history signed with the freakin’ Texas Rangers, and then, on top of everything else, Mike Scioscia was caught wearing lipstick, leather chaps and a Yankees cap in a Los Angeles hotel room, handcuffed to the bed beside a drag queen, a rodeo clown and Brigitte Neilson.
(Wait, that didn’t happen? You mean, not that we know of anyway.)
In an offseason full of head-scratching moves, the Angels lost two of the remaining three players from the 2002 World Series squad (Lackey and Figgins), our most dependable set-up guy (Darren Oliver), our Vin Scully (Hudler) and the only guy who could possibly put the first Angels hat in Cooperstown (Guerrero).
In exchange, we added an international media circus in the form of an aging designated hitter with no ties to the Angels, their fans, or America for that matter (Matsui), another unreliable closer (Fernando Rodney) and a number-five starter for the low price of $8 million a year (Joel Pineiro).
All that, yet we ignored our needs: a solid catcher, power-hitting third-baseman, guy who has a handshake for everyone on the team and someone to replace Erick Aybar as the designated "tell Bobby Abreu that the umpire was wrong for calling that ball a strike" guy.
In what has, without a doubt, been the most active offseason in recent memory, it’s hard to argue the Angels are any better than they were the night they walked out of Yankee Stadium last October.
Then again, that’s why they play the games.