ANAHEIM – The Angels aren’t giving up on their season, even as their fans are giving up on them.
At least that’s what it looked like Sunday, when they played Tampa Bay in front of vast stretches of unoccupied seats, the game sold out only in terms of public indifference.
If these are indeed the dog days of summer, Angel Stadium on this particular day should have been lined with newspapers just like this one, newspapers that feature columns about the team’s staggering capacity to bore.
The official attendance was announced as 36,178, which reflected tickets sold and not tickets used, many of the tickets for this one used for something other than ballpark admission.
It wouldn’t be right to criticize people for bailing, the Angels this season routinely producing offensive displays that have been the exhausting combination of uninspired and uninteresting.
C.J. Cron, mercifully, wrote a different ending this time with a two-run pinch-hit homer in the eighth inning, helping lift the Angels to a 4-3 victory that prevented a crippling sweep by the visiting Rays.
“That’s kind of my job,” Cron explained afterward. “That’s kind of why I’m here, to put a charge into a ball.”
And, by extension, into a ball club, shortstop Andrelton Simmons so excited as the Angels executed a stirring, buzzer-beating double play to finish the game that he kicked his glove into the air in celebration.
This was a big leaguer behaving like a Little Leaguer, which in this case was a good thing, Simmons proving that this team can still entertain.
This would be an entirely different column if the Angels were overtly guilty of not hustling or of not competing or of “according to sources” in-house bickering. None of that is obvious.
This instead is simply a team good enough to hang around wild-card contention, taking advantage of the American League’s general mediocrity while exhibiting little reason to believe a postseason run is a genuine possibility.
All of which leads us to the fact that this would be an entirely different column, too, if the Angels were in a position where the act of foolishly clutching to playoff hopes was damaging the franchise’s future.
Believe me, I’d love to tell Billy Eppler right here just how wrong he is in thinking of doing anything other than selling as the July 31 trade deadline approaches.
I could even give him a biting nickname, like Boneheaded Billy or Eppler the Egghead, and demand that he be tested for whatever’s the…