Go back 15 years or so, to Oct. 26, 2002.
That, to my best recollection, is the most recent time the Angels received a break.
I mean an actual, genuine, dumb-luck kind of break, one that fell at their feet so unexpectedly they could have tripped over it.
That was the night then-Giants manager Dusty Baker handed the ball back to departing starter Russ Ortiz during a seventh-inning pitching change that altered the course of the World Series.
Following the unusual exchange, the Angels immediately came back from a five-run deficit to steal Game 6. They then won Game 7 for the franchise’s lone championship to date.
While it’s unlikely Baker’s semi-celebratory gesture directly ignited the Angels, there’s no denying the move unnecessarily tempted the baseball gods, who responded by giving the Giants a swirly for the ages.
That moment in Angels history is what I thought about this week when it was reported that the team is one of seven still in the running for Japanese sensation Shohei Ohtani.
The Angels? Among the chosen ones? No way. For this franchise, a break is usually something that ends up in a cast and a two-month stay on the disabled list.
Until the latest news broke, it was generally accepted that Ohtani would be joining a higher-profile club, such as the Yankees or Red Sox or Dodgers. It’s always the Yankees or Red Sox or Dodgers, huh?
Only this time, it’s not. Instead, it’s the Angels or Padres or Mariners. OK, it’s the Dodgers or Cubs, too, along with the Rangers or Giants.
But the Angels are very much alive, thanks mostly – it would appear – to their location, Ohtani, like anyone searching for a new home, realizing the importance of where that home is located.
By being in nothing more than the right place, the Angels now have a chance to secure the serves of an affordable, potential two-way star who could greatly increase their relevance in the standings and everywhere else.
This franchise is suddenly one decision away from becoming so much more than Mike Trout, a bunch of pitchers at various points of injury rehab and a late second-half fade into oblivion.
By saying yes to the Angels – and, therefore, no to the Dodgers – Ohtani would shift at least a sliver of the local focus away from the franchise that continues to dominate everyone’s attention.
Teams like the Angels just don’t get players like Ohtani, right? Not this easily. Not this dramatically. Not this soon.
Oh, sure, the Angels could have acquired a Shohei…