The Angels Go All In. To Where Is The Question.

I have a friend that actually knows the brilliant JEOPARDY! champion James Holzhauer, who revolutionized the game during a streak in 2019 when he won nearly $2.5 million with aggressive gamemanship, particularly when he would mimic the move that has made him a poker champion in his hometown of Las Vegas.  “All-In” James became the meme of the moment, and still pops up when someone decides to defy conventional wisodm and literally put all their chips on the line.

That friend has no idea if Holzhauer is a fan of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, or even if he likes baseball.  And I have no idea if Angels owner Arte Moreno likes JEOPARDY!, or even sees memes.

Yet, somehow, I imagine Arte could identify with this image. because there’s honestly no other way to explain his decision to hold onto Shohei Ohtani as the trade deadline looms, and the end of his deal approaches with a team that is four games removed from a third wild card spot, trailing two other teams, including the Blue Jays, with whom they began a three-game series in Toronto last night.

Not only did Moreno use a rainout of Ohtani’s start against the woeful Detroit Tigers to end specuilation that a trade might occur, he stoked the fires more by trading the organization’s two remaining top prospects to the White Sox in exchange for Southern California native Lucas Giolito and spare part reliever Reynaldo Lopez.  And after Ohtani, as expected, delivered a stellar two-way performance on an otherwise sleepy afternoon on Thursday, Moreno’s confidence was brimming.  Despite the fact that almost every objective observer, including most of the remaining Los Angeles sportswriters that actually care about the team, believes this quixotic move is chasing a windmill far larger than their current deficit.

So with a national-ish audience on Apple TV+ “tuned” in, Giolito made his Angels debut, and Ohtani did do his part.  But then, well, let the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER’s Jeff Fletcher tell you:

 A day after Shohei Ohtani was pulled with minor cramping that did little to cast a shadow over one of the best days of his career, the condition suddenly seems like it might be more serious.

Ohtani was pulled from the Angels’ 4-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night with what Manager Phil Nevin called “cramping in both legs.”

Ohtani would have hit with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, but when Michael Stefanic came out to pinch-hit for him, it was clear something was wrong. 

Ohtani has shown himself to be exceptionally durable, in addition to being historically productive as a two-way player. He was in the lineup for the 101st time in the Angels’ 104 games on Friday night, even though he had a gruelling day on Thursday.

Ohtani threw 111 pitches in a one-hit shutout in the first game of a doubleheader, then hit two homers in the second game. Ohtani didn’t finish that game because of what Nevin described as general cramping.

Giolito gave up three runs in 5⅓ innings in the Angels’ 4-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night, his first game after he was acquired in a trade on Wednesday night.  Giolito gave solo homers on misplaced fastballs to Matt Chapman in the second inning and Danny Jansen in the third.

The series continues over the next two afternoons, then they merely head to Atlanta to take on the team with the best record in baseball on their turf.

Wonder if even Holzhauer would have bet that much on the outcome of that kind of Daily Double.

But hey, Angels fans, we keep hearing Mike Trout’s coming back soon.  Anthony Rendon is expected to play  And let’s not give a second thought to the fact that their promising rookie shortstop Zach Neto missed that fine Ohtani start–he’s reassuring everyone that he’s ready to go, too.  Just like Ohtani.

And manager Phil Nevin?  The one who gave this quote to Fletcher:

Nevin said they “aren’t thinking about” putting Ohtani on the injured list.

“We’ve got to take a look at it tomorrow and see what happens,” Nevin said.

Maybe Nevin isn’t aware of Holzhauer.  But he’s old school enough where he might identify with this old standard:

If you’re confused of its origins, Google it.  But I’m sure you get the idea.

If somehow the Angels roar into the post-season and actually win a post-season game for the first time since the early 2000s, before Trout was even on the team, and if they actually then can advance far enough to satiate the undisputed burning desire of Ohtani’s to play for a REAL winner then I will sing Moreno’s praises from here to Las Vegas and beyond.

But if the odds do play out in a way that anyone else but the likes of Holzhauer seem to experience, then we will indeed know where these Angels are going.

To hell and back.



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