The 14-game road trip the Angels have just embarked on just got an added degree of difficulty tacked onto it now that Kendry Morales has literally jumped onto the disabled list. This brutal stretch of away games was already poised to test the Angels’ depth and testicular fortitude, but now that their franchise player has fallen, the boys from Anaheim will have their hearts and minds put to the test as well. Their season has reached a critical mass and how they play over the next two weeks could very easily determine the fate of their season.
Will Kendry take the Angels’ hopes down with him or will they rally around his loss?
Having 14 games on the road in 14 days is enough to send a shiver down the collective spine of even the best of teams, so just imagine how the Angels must be feeling as they set out on the road as the third-place team in the AL West, one game under .500 as of today and still reeling over the comically tragic injury suffered by Kendry Morales. Nobody would blame them if they were feeling extremely depressed and anxious about the trip, but as strange as it sounds, Kendry’s injury might have been exactly what the Angels needed at exactly the right time to get their heads in the right place and overcome those negative emotions.
The most puzzling part of the Halos’ sluggish start is that they haven’t really been saddled with a particular hardship that set them back. They simply haven’t performed well with roughly half the roster grossly underachieving and the other half barely playing to their normal standards. We’ve all been trying to find some sort of reason for why so many Angels just aren’t getting the job done, but the only logical conclusion anyone can come to is that they just aren’t properly focused or motivated.
Well, they just got all the motivation they could possibly ask for.
When this road trip started, the Angels knew it might very well be a do-or-die for their season, especially since they were sitting at just 9-14 away from Anaheim. If they kept that same winning percentage up on this trip, winning just five games. They’d have fallen all the way down to six under .500 and nudged themselves uncomfortably close to the edge of falling out of contention in the AL West. Nobody really knew if the Angels were up to the task. Not the fans. Not the players. Not Mike Scioscia. Not Tony Reagins. Nobody.
But with Morales going down just before the trip started, the Angels very well might have gotten the wake up call they needed to rally themselves for this trip and the rest of the season.
Nothing brings a team together like shared hardship. The 2009 Angels came together after the tragic death of Nick Adenhart. The players used that loss as a rallying point for the entire season and it brought them within two games of the World Series. Now, I am not saying that Morales breaking his leg is anywhere close to Adenhart’s death, far from it. But it is similar to it in that it was a shocking loss felt by the whole team who all saw him collapse to the ground in agony right before their eyes. In 2009, they were looking to win it for Nick. In 2010, they can win it for Kendry, or more accurately, prove to themselves that they can win without him.
We already got a sneak peek at how the team could come alive when the Angels pulled off a huge comeback victory the very next day after Morales broke his leg. Could that be a sign of things to come?
Before this last weekend, the Angels had shown a shocking lack of heart. Not once had the Angels pulled off a single come-from-behind win in the eighth or ninth inning this year. This is the team that has been renowned for their comeback abilities to the point that they spawned an unofficial mascot that went from a joke to something that opponents actually fear. Kendry’s fateful blast got the Angels their first comeback win and his injury inspired their second the very next day. Now it is up to the rest of the Angels to see to it that he wasn’t injured in vain and use his absence to light a fire under themselves despite the odds being stacked against them on such a daunting road trip.
Good luck, boys. Do it for Kendry. Do it for yourselves. Do it because you know you are better that you have shown.