Here’s Hoping Red Sox Can Handle Angels’ Anger in ALDS


Here's Hoping Red Sox Can Handle Angels' Anger in ALDS Dear Red Sox,

I have concerns. There?s backing in, and then there?s being dragged in, kicking and screaming. If you don't want to go to the playoffs, just say so. There's no need to throw any temper tantrums.

I recognize that you might be acting out by being swept by the Yankees and subsequently by the Blue Jays, but the way September has played out certainly isn?t inspiring a lot of confidence in your fans.

Unless you're trying to lull the Angels into a false sense of security. Is that it? Is that what you're doing? You're trying to convince Mike Scioscia and his merry band of miscreants that you're beaten up, beaten down and just want to take a nice, long nap or perhaps jump in a pile of freshly raked leaves instead of competing like you mean it in the ALDS?

Because if that's the plan, I could get behind it. Almost. I could support the reverse psychology and the mind games in the service of making Chone Figgins cry.

But as it stands, your play of late has mostly just made me want to take a nap. Really. It's fall, and I get sleepy. There are leaves for me to jump in too, you know. Also there?s football … and apple cider. There are plenty of other things I could be doing as well, but I want to watch baseball.

My point is that I don't think any of this is working.

Sure, the Angels are susceptible to Red Sox-related brain cramps in the playoffs, and while I would normally think that would work in our favor, the Angels are an actual professional baseball team, and they do know how to play baseball. They get paid quite a lot of money to do so. Sooner or later, they're going to find success in October.

Look, I understand the concept of self-fulfilling prophecies — there is a reason Alex Rodriguez is known as a playoff choker — but the law of averages states that the Angels will eventually figure this whole ALDS-against-the-Red-Sox thing out, and I am concerned that it might happen this year, on your watch.

This could be the year they finally cast that Boston-shaped monkey (a relative of the obnoxious Rally Monkey, of course) off their backs and get down to simian-free winning — because I'm not sure that this Angels team is the same as previous Angels teams.

The players may be largely the same, and Scioscia and his everpresent parka are still at the helm, but something about this year's Angels seems different. They've won 94 games this year thus far which, granted, is not quite so good as the 100 they won last year. But something feels different. Those feel like empty numbers.

I think what this year's team may have that last year's didn?t is anger. They're pissed off. They've lost to the Red Sox two years running (and also in 2004) in the ALDS, and they just might be tired of it.

You could start to see the cracks in the normally calm and collected Angels facade during a mid-September series at Fenway in which close calls went against the Angels, ultimately resulting in accusations from the game's umpires that the Angels' coaching staff acted "unprofessional and unbecoming.?

They're not just annoyed. They're downright irate. And I'd be concerned if I were the Red Sox, since the Angels clearly feel they have a bone to pick and they may very well think that three times is the charm.

If anyone knows anything about the dangers of playing an angry team in the playoffs, it?s the Red Sox. People still cringe at the memory of the 2003 ALCS. I know I do. But I am also 100 percent certain that those memories translated into anger and vengeance and pure, unadulterated Yankee-beating, New York-embarrassing fury during the 2004 ALCS — because you do not come back from a three-games-to-none deficit without a hefty dose of anger. You have to fuel the fire somehow.

This is what I'm concerned about with the Angels. They're angry, and they want to take it out on you.

Will you be ready for it this time?

You have been able to hold the Angels at arm's length the last couple of years, like the bully who halfheartedly picks on the nerd in a playground fight. But once in a while, that nerd gets some good shots in.

Be careful, boys. That's all I'm saying. This ALDS will be anything but a cakewalk. And do you really want to see that monkey drinking champagne on your watch?

I didn?t think so.


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