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Take heart, Dodgers and Angels fans: Others are suffering too

As disappointing as the Dodgers and Angels have been, they're hardly alone. Ask fans in Toronto and Chicago, or Roy Halladay, or B.J. Upton . . .

May 11, 2013|By Bill Shaikin
  • Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus misses a fly ball in center field before running into the fence.
Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus misses a fly ball in center… (Jared Wickerham / Getty…)

The Dodgers — and their world-record payroll — have sunk to the bottom of the National League West. The Angels — and their collection of superstar hitters — are flailing in the depths of the American League West.

We thought we would be talking about the Dodgers and Angels meeting in a Freeway Series in October, not about whether the Dodgers and Angels would fire their managers before the Freeway Series at the end of May.

Josh Hamilton is fighting to keep his batting average above the Mendoza Line. Matt Kemp has one home run. Albert Pujols cannot run. Matt Magill, a fifth starter at double A this time last year, has started more games for the Dodgers than Zack Greinke.

The frustration runs so deep around these parts that we ought to pause for a few moments, to remind ourselves that this season's disappointment extends beyond our metropolis.

Beyond our country, in fact. The biggest disappointment in baseball is not the Dodgers, not the Angels. It's not even close. The Toronto Blue Jays are a disaster.

The Dodgers and Angels have the resources to contend for the long haul. The Blue Jays are buried in last place in the American League East, in the season they went all-in because of the perceived vulnerability of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

For all the outrage heaped upon Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria for breaking his promises and breaking up his club, the players he dispatched to Canada have not rubbed it in. Far from it.

Mark Buehrle has an earned-run average of 6.19. Josh Johnson has an ERA of 6.86 and is on the disabled list. Shortstop Jose Reyes played 10 games, then got hurt.

The Jays also got catcher John Buck from the Marlins, then flipped him to the New York Mets in a package for defending Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.

Buck has 10 home runs, second in the NL. Dickey has a 5.06 ERA. Melky Cabrera has a career-low .634 OPS, the encore to his career-high .906 OPS season that ended in August after he was busted for testosterone use. The Jays rank next-to-last in the AL in on-base percentage and earned-run average.

This was the team built for Toronto's first playoff appearance since 1993, a drought so pronounced that longtime ace Roy Halladay finally asked out so he could play in October. The Blue Jays traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies — and, in his postseason debut, in 2010, Halladay pitched a no-hitter.

This season has not been kind to Halladay. His ERA is 8.65, his fastball is not hitting 90 mph, and he is scheduled for rotator cuff surgery this week. Halladay, 35, asked if he might speak with reporters last Friday, so he could apologize to the Philadelphia fans.

"I just wanted to reach out to the fans, thank them for their support and apologize to the ones who pay the money and show up in the second inning and it's 9-0," Halladay said.

Halladay said he understood if fans did not like him. When a reporter gently said that "no one doesn't like you," Halladay replied: "If I paid $60 and the team was down 9-0 when I showed up, I wouldn't like me."

The Atlanta Braves thought that outfielder Justin Upton could flourish in a place where people liked him. The Arizona Diamondbacks had dangled him in the trade market for several years, and owner Ken Kendrick had publicly criticized him.

The Braves traded for Upton — after they had spent $75 million to sign his brother, outfielder B.J. Upton, as a free agent.

Justin Upton leads the majors with 12 home runs. No disappointment there. But B.J. Upton is batting .157 with a .513 OPS, both figures the worst for any regular player in the NL.

The only position player signed for more money in free agency last winter was Hamilton, for $125 million. The Oakland Athletics won the AL West last season, with the Rangers making their third consecutive playoff appearance.

The Seattle Mariners loaded up on offense. The Angels had Pujols, Hamilton and Mike Trout. And the four returning AL West teams could beat up on the new weakling, the Houston Astros, so much so that a fair share of conventional wisdom had three AL playoff teams coming out of the West.

But what appeared to be the roughest division in the major leagues now looks like the most disappointing. The Rangers were the only team with a winning record before Saturday.

There is disappointment all over baseball land. In Chicago, the Cubs and the White Sox are in last place. The frustration is not so great, not when the Cubs' brand is futility.

The Dodgers have not won the World Series in 25 years, and this year is not looking good. Let us recommend local fans temper their disappointment. Kemp might not be hitting, but at least he is not playing for a team that has not won the World Series in 105 years.

Twitter: @BillShaikin

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