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The 100 Greatest Angels: #29 Mark Langston

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#29 - Mark Langston, RH SP

Career Stats

Ya know what? I recall where I was on December 1, 1989 - the day that the Angels signed Mark Langston. It was euphoric to hear the news - they had signed the top free agent pitcher for the biggest contract (then) in baseball. I was very happy. It was one of two times that joy and Mark Langston occurred in my consciousness at the same time. The 2nd was a little more than 8 years later when he was signed as a free agent by another team.

Despite my personal feelings for the gutless wonder, he managed to contribute to the Angels in spite of himself and outside of a single positive recollection by yours truly:

His 88 wins as an Angel ranks 5th.
His .543 Winning Percentage ranks 7th, just below Ramon Ortiz
That 6.92 K/9 ratio is 6th in club history
He had 1,112 strikeouts in his 8 Angel seasons, one of 5 players with 4 digits worth of Ks
His 74 losses tie Jim Abbott and Kirk McCaskill for 7th in franchise history

But none of this makes up for his building of Safeco Field.

Say what? Yep, Langston blew a one-game playoff to the Mariners, the domino that ensured financial stability to a division foe for a generation.

That perpetually smug Washington State fan base of Microsoft retirees, Linda Farris Gallery rejectees and Walla Walla parolees all sip their lattes in an exquisite baseball cathedral because ex-Mariner Langston lobbed their team into the 1995 postseason, inspiring every sasquatch spawn and Cobain imitator to vote for the funding of a guaranteed moneymaking machine - Safeco Field.

On that early October afternoon, as all those Mariners were crossing home plate, the bottom of the television flashed letters that the O.J. Jury had reached a verdict - one that (in hindsight) wasn't half as stupid as manager Marcel Lachemann's decision to start Mark Langston in a one-game playoff, dooming the 1995 Angels to the inglorious ash-heap of all-time pennant race chokers.