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Abbott’s Troubles Won’t Last Forever

Thought for the day:

“You win some, you lose some.”

--Anonymous.

*

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Or, in modern-day context: Hope for Jim Abbott at last . . .

* Abbott, who hasn’t won since May 2, starts for the Angels in Milwaukee tonight, primarily because neither he nor the Angels could delay it any longer. Depending on whom you talk to, this could be Abbott’s last start before a) moving to the bullpen; b) moving to Vancouver; c) being traded back to the White Sox; d) being traded back to the Yankees; e) being sent home to Flint, Mich.; f) retiring; g) becoming the backup quarterback for the Piranhas; h) finding a job in the U.S. Postal Service, where velocity of delivery is not so crucial to one’s career . . .

* Abbott, who makes any top 10 list of nice guys in baseball (yes, researchers now claim they have discovered 10), has caused more sad head-shaking this season than anything that hasn’t come out of Marge Schott’s mouth. How do you explain 1-10 and 7.67 from a 28-year old pitcher who had the league’s ninth-best ERA in 1995? No one can, but everybody, it seems, has a destination in mind for Abbott should he lose again tonight . . .

* Two words of advice to the frothing masses: Deep breaths. Abbott is winless in his last eight starts, but his personal losing streak is six. That’s not even halfway to the club record; Andy Hassler lost 17 in a row from May 4, 1975 to July 2, 1976. In 1964, Ken McBride went 4-13. In 1969, Rick Clark finished 1-11. Rudy May, in 1973, wound up 7-17. In 1980, Chris Knapp made 20 starts and wound up 2-11. Just three years ago, John Farrell went 3-12 with a 7.35 ERA in 17 starts. So, the Angels have been down this path before. Over the course of the history of this franchise, six losses in a row are nothing more than a pothole . . .

* Anthony Young once lost 26 games in a row, a major-league record. And then, in early 1994, the Angels attempted to trade for him. Attempted to trade J.T. Snow for him. Fortunately, the Angels consulted their advance scouts before lighting the fuse on that one. One of them found a New York Mets media guide, flipped through it and frantically phoned the front office: “That’s right, boss, oh-and-26. Says right here. No, I don’t think it’s a misprint . . .”

* Five reasons why Abbott will break the streak tonight:

1. He’s pitching in Milwaukee, where he made his triumphant return to the Angels last July 29, working six scoreless innings in an eventual 4-0 victory.

2. He’s pitching in Milwaukee, which means he isn’t pitching in Anaheim.

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3. He’s pitching in Milwaukee, which means he’s pitching against the Brewers.

4. If Chuck McElroy can win four in a row, Abbott can win one in a row.

5. Angels just scored 24 runs in three games against the White Sox. If they continue that pace, and Abbott continues his, Abbott will win tonight by a score of 8 to 7.67.

* Then again, five reasons to keep the incense smoldering:

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1. The Brewers lead the American League in runs scored.

2. The Brewers (the Brewers!) are hitting .295 as a team, second-best in the American League.

3. Mark Langston drew Brian Givens Thursday night. Shawn Boskie faces Angel Miranda Saturday night. Abbott? He gets Ben McDonald.

4. Angels’ timing is abysmal. They scored 14 runs on Wednesday. Two days too soon.

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5. When’s the last time the Angels scored 14 runs twice in the same week?

* The last word on the plight of Jim Abbott, courtesy Angels assistant general manager Tim Mead: “Did we make a mistake in the off-season of 1989 when we spent $15 million on Mark Langston, who went out and finished 10-17 the next year? And went 19-8 a year later? How did anyone expect the most sought-after free agent of that winter to lose 17 games? You don’t even think about it anymore . . . It’s baseball. You don’t explain anything in baseball.”

* At first glance, Gary DiSarcina’s new $12-million contract looks a tad rich for a .231 hitter. At second glance, his contract, along with Snow’s new one, locks up the team’s two most important infielders through the end of the decade. At third glance, wasn’t DiSarcina the Angels’ most valuable player last season? The post-Aug. 3 numbers do not lie . . .

* Darin Erstad has the speed and the swing to cure the team’s top of the order ills, but unless the rules change before Jim Edmonds’ return from the disabled list, the Angels probably won’t be able to start an outfield of Edmonds, Erstad, Tim Salmon and Garret Anderson. Proposed project for this trip: “Darin, this here is third base. You stand to the right of it, we’ll hit you some grounders.” . . .

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* Paul Kariya wins the Lady Byng Award. Finally, the Ducks beat the Florida Panthers to something . . .

* Mario Lemieux is voted NHL MVP. Michael Jordan is voted NBA MVP. And they say major league baseball lacks imagination . . .

* Dodgers decide to haze rookie Chan Ho Park by cutting the pant legs and coat sleeves off his expensive suit, wrecking his dress shirt and nailing his shower towel to his locker stall. Park responds by throwing a plate of sauteed mushrooms, cursing and crying. Dodgers respond by complaining that Park can’t take a joke and ruined all their fun. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it’s Act-Like-Little League World Series, also known as the Immaturity Stakes, and it looks as if they’re headed for extra innings . . .

* What if there was a baseball team made up of nine Rex Hudlers? “It would be a team that’d be pretty hard to live with,” Hudler says. “And I imagine it would drive Lach insane. It’d be great in the emotion department, but we’d be hurtin’ in talent.”

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