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Remembering the Angels’ Forgettable Season

Bet you didn’t know the Angels had a magic number this season. Unfortunately for them, it was 1989.

Somewhere, somehow, all that “Good Vibrations” talk became nothing more than bad advertising. The Angels had their moments, mind you, but all in all, this group rarely and barely registered on the Richter Scale, to say nothing of the AL West leader board.

Who to blame? Let me count the candidates.

This was an Angel season to be remembered for its wackiness . . . and forgotten for its disappointing record. But it was never dull, was it? This team was either sewage-treatment stinky or the hottest team in the league. There were few in-betweens.

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With that in mind, may we present The First Annual Angel Awards. The envelopes, please.

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time Award: To Angels management for its decision to hire Cookie Rojas. Rojas, it turns out never had a chance. Then again, he wasn’t really given much of one.

So dissatisfied were the Angels, that they dismissed Rojas with eight games remaining in the season. Rojas made mistakes--lots of them--but nothing so grievous that the Angels couldn’t have let him finish the season. Of course, Moose Stubing, Rojas’ replacement, turned things around. When he was presented the team, the Angels were on a four-game losing streak. Eight games later, they were 0-12. Stubing, who referees Western Athletic Conference basketball games during the off-season, might want to see about a full-time job.

Most Entertaining Player Award: Can there be any doubt? This one goes to Charles Theodore Davis--master bat breaker, concrete glove owner, RBI-man extraordinaire and one of the few players on this team not afraid to speak his mind.

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Whatever they’re paying Davis, it’s not enough. Anyone can slap singles to the opposite field, but how many guys have you seen who can snap bats in two? Chili can. Of course, rumor has it that Davis might have to go to a lighter bat next year. The heavier ones are killing his knees.

And enough about those club-record 19 errors Davis has committed in the outfield. They were fun to watch, weren’t they? If nothing else, Davis rarely retreated to the trainer’s room or the players’ lounge after a game’s worth of goofs, a gesture appreciated by media types everywhere.

Anyway, hope to see you next year, Mr. Davis.

Best Broadway Revue: Rojas’ stunning temper tantrum earned him ejection notices from--count ‘em--one . . . two . . . three umpires in a single game. Siskel and Ebert called it, “the finest mocking of game officials we have ever seen.” The Times’ Sheila Benson raved: “Not since Brando have I witnessed a more plucky spirit.”

Worst Sprained Ankle in the History of Man: From June 20 to Aug. 30, Dan Petry was sidelined with an injury to his ankle. It was diagnosed as a sprain, but did anyone think of applying ice? Broken bones have healed faster.

Not that Petry didn’t try to return. He did. He’s tough that way. But never has a more ordinary hurt ruined a pitcher’s season as this one did.

Lack of Imagination Award: When it comes to clever nicknames, the Angels might be the worst in the league. How’s this for cleverness: Bob Boone’s nickname? Boonie. Kind of daring, isn’t it?

Kirk McCaskill’s is Mac.

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Mike Witt’s is Witter. (Stop me if these are too original.)

Chuck Finley is Chief. (Who knows why?)

Stewart Cliburn is Hawk. (See above.)

Someone at least tried with Greg Minton. His nickname is Moon Man.

Thanks for Stopping by the Booth Award: We have a two-way tie. Oh, this is exciting. The award goes to Joe Redfield, who wore an Angel uniform from June 2-June 10, and Doug Davis, who stayed from July 8-July 20. Congratulations, fellows, and come by again real soon. Rojas finishes in third.

Worst Performance in a Supporting Role: Wally Joyner in the movie, “Stealing Home.” If I were Joyner, I’d make it a condition of my next contract that all copies of the movie be purchased by the team . . . and burned. I’d also try to make more of those 85 RBIs worthwhile.

Goodby Mr. Spalding Award: To starter Willie Fraser and his 32 home-run pitches.

Most Overrated Story Award: To Johnny Ray, who pouted because of a spring training move to left field, then received a renegotiated contract because of the move, then ended up at second base for most of the season, anyway. To Ray’s credit, he delivered at the plate with a .306 batting average, a team high.

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Disappointment of the Year Award: So many nominees, so few awards. But in a close vote, Mike Witt wins. Or is it loses?

Witt fans like to point out that he pitched into the seventh inning in 28 of his 34 starts, that in 12 of his 16 losses the Angels scored 2 runs or less, that he missed just 1 start all season, that he pitched 249 innings, that he had 11 complete games.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. But he started out 1-6 and he finished 13-16 with a 4.15 ERA, which isn’t worth the $2.8-million contract the Angels gave him before season’s start. And I bet if you asked Witt, he’d tell you the same thing.

The Sound of Music Award (“So long, farewell . . .”): Four winners this time. To George Hendrick and his $800,000 salary; Thad Bosley--the professional journeyman; Butch Wynegar and his 26-game season; Darrell Miller, who with Lance Parrish’s arrival probably won’t make it past spring training.

Best Imitation of a Slugger by a Career .250 Batter Award: The one, the only, Bob Boone. Through June 12, Boone was hitting .195. All he did since then was raise his average 100 points.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire Award: To Rojas and rookie pitcher Bryan Harvey, who both insisted Harvey’s elbow ailment was nothing more than a minor annoyance. Rojas swore that Harvey would probably be sidelined “one day or so.” Worse yet, Harvey played along and said the injury “was no big deal.”

By the way, surgery has long since been performed. According to team physician Dr. Lewis Yocum, Harvey won’t be able to begin throwing for at least three months.

The First of Many Award: To the Angels for acquiring Parrish for next to nothing, that is, if you don’t count that $1 million contract (plus $400,000 worth of incentives) they’ll be paying him to share the catching duties. Now all they need to do is find a left fielder (Brett Butler might be nice), a starting pitcher (Did I hear the name, Nolan Ryan?) and a manager.


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