How frustrated are the Angels after starting the season 6-12?
After last night’s 3-2 loss Torii Hunter talked to reporters about how everyone on the roster has “to dig deep” and then seemingly called out manager Mike Scioscia for his lack of in-game strategy.
Hunter specifically seemed upset about Scioscia’s failure to call a bunt with two runners on base in the second inning, which led to the Angels being held scoreless following back-to-back singles to begin the frame.
Hunter avoided flat-out ripping Scioscia, but based on his comments to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times it’s pretty easy to read between the lines:
We have to fight a little harder. I don’t think we believe we’re trying that hard. We’re just going through the motions. We have to do what we’re capable of doing. That’s everybody; not just the players.
Obviously “not just the players” is directed toward Scioscia, although DiGiovanna called it “a veiled criticism.” However, when asked specifically if a change in early game strategy could have turned the game around Hunter replied:
You mean if we bunted in the second? What can we do? All we do is play the game.
Meaning, of course, that the players can only follow orders from Scioscia in those spots.
Hunter has always been praised for his leadership and is generally one of the most well-liked players in baseball, but in times of adversity dating back to his days in Minnesota he’s shown a willingness to publicly rip teammates and, now apparently, managers.
UPDATE: DiGiovanna reports that the Angels are holding a players-only meeting before today’s game, adding: “Can’t say I’m surprising after the events of last night.”
The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.
Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.
There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.
That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.
The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.
One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.
Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.