Posted in: Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on October 28th, 2011
After reviewing the magical 2002 World Series of the Anaheim Angels, it was only appropriate to review a half century of highlights and lowlights from the team’s history. The Angels are not a flashy team, they win with raw talent and a ton of heart. Their success in the 2000’s only came after many years where they floundered and did not meet expectations. Let’s explore the team the Autry’s built. Here are the Los Angeles Angels, now known as the Anaheim Angels.
The Angels name was actually birthed in the late 1950’s when Walter O’Malley purchased the team from the Pacific Coast League. However, it was not until 1960 when it became the focus of a new expansion for the American League. Enter Gene Autry who in 1960 (owner of Golden West Broadcasters and the famous actor) was trying to seek broadcast rights to the team. But soon he would become persuaded by others to actually purchase the franchise. He did and named it the Los Angeles Angels.
The Angels and the Senators (who would later become the Texas Rangers) were the two new kids on the block in 1961. However, the Angels surprised a lot of teams out of the gate and actually finished 70-91, still the highest winning record for a first year expansion team. The lowly Senators lost a 100 games and would lose a lot more in the coming years.
The next year, The Angels moved to Dodger Stadium(also known as Chavez Ravine). This year was even more promising where they finished third in the American League, only 10 games behind the New York Yankees. Even better was pitcher Bo Belinsky who pitched the team’s first no hitter. Pitching success would continue when a couple of years later, Dean Chance would win the Cy Young Award, the one time from 1963-1966 where Hall of Fame pitcher, Sandy Koufax would not win the title.
Soon, the Angels would find themselves a new stadium in Anaheim as well as a new name, the California Angels in 1965. In 1967, only their second year in Anaheim they actually contended for the pennant before fading in late season play (Boston would end up the champs which would become one of their main foes in latter years). However, the Halos (an affectionate nickname for the team) would find playoff success in the next decade. But first they took a trip on the Nolan Ryan express.
Nolan Ryan was acquired in a trade with the club that sent Jim Fregosi packing to the Mets. The Express would be quite the attraction for the team, tossing eventually four of his seven lifetime no hitters for the club. He, along with Frank Tanana would become a dangerous one-two combination for the team aka “Two Days of Cryin”. Nolan would last until 1979 when he was let go as a free agent (he eventually ended up with the Houston Astros). He would be greatly missed, but there was more tragedy to come.
The year of 1979 was also the first year that the Angels made the playoffs when the won the American League West under Jim Fregosi (who was oddly enough the guy sent in the Ryan trade). The team had bats in Don Baylor, Rod Carew, and Bobby Grich to form a very powerful offense. However, they ended up losing to the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Championship Series. In 1982, they would be one game away from the World Series when they gave up a 2 game lead to the Milwaukee Brewers.
But then come 1986. The year where they were not only one game away from the World Series, but one strike. Star Closer, Donnie Moore was on the mound in Game 5 with the lead 5-4. On the previous batter, Gary Lucas had beaned Rich Gedman to put him on first. It was an honest mistake, still two outs. Donnie Moore then got two strikes on Dave Henderson. But then the unthinkable happened, Dave Henderson hit a two run homer that put Boston ahead 6-5 and they eventually won the game.
Games 6 and 7 were blowouts which gave Boston the victory and the right to be in the World Series. That would not be the end of it either when Moore would commit suicide three years later, never quite leaving the moment of Game 5 in the 1986 American League Championship Series. Success would not find the Angels for many years to come.
Of course, the Angels did finally find success, especially in the last 10 years when they capped off their first World Series win in 2002. The team has a lot of history and a lot of heartbreak. This was a fun little disc, however the main problem with it is that after the 86 collapse, they run quite literally all over the place. All chronological progress just stops dead in its tracks. So therefore, 60-70% of the disc is a mess.
Whenever one is recapping sports, you start in spot A and move to spot Z. On odd occasions, you might start at spot Z, and then go back to A and keep going. The flashback philosophy. But you don’t go to A, continue to D then go to K, then back to F, then off to Q-R-WTF. It’s confusing and a real pain to follow a quite storied baseball team. They deserve better than 80 minutes of random news bytes.
The video is in 1.33:1 fullscreen presentation. It is the very definition of a mixed bag. We have footage from the 60’s up until today. So it is a broad range of quality and color. It is just a lot of archival footage thrown together with interview clips. You get what you expect. There is not much detail to talk about but honestly I don’t think it could ever be that great considering the age of the material.
For the audio portion, we get a 2.0 English Stereo track. Again, this is a mixed bag. It is mostly dialog along with a bit of crowd noise. Thankfully, it is clear dialog and we can comprehend almost every word (a couple of occasional thick accents are mixed in). There is not any use of surrounds and do not expect any marvelous bass to shine through on the subwoofer. Again, it is pretty average but most fans won’t mind.
- Rod Carew Feature 3:30: Rod Carew was arguably the best Angel of all time (only other Angel that came close was probably Nolan Ryan). When he came up to bat, you almost felt like every time he would get a hit. In fact, over his career, he had 3,053 hits and a .328 lifetime batting average. He was inducted in the Hall of Fame on the first ballot with 90.5% of the vote. He would go on to spend his later years as a batting coach for the Angels and Milwaukee Brewers.
- Garrett Anderson (2002 Week in Baseball) Feature 5:28: This is the first of the This Week in Baseball segments which was first hosted by Mel Allen. Garrett played left field for the Angels for a number of years from 1994 to 2008. He only recently retired in 2010 and finished with 2,529 hits and a lifetime .293 average. He also chipped in 287 homers and 1,365 runs batted in. He’s arguably borderline Hall of Famer but we’ll see in a few years how he fares.
- Tim Salmon (2003 Week in Baseball) Feature 6:00: On to Tim, there is a good featurette here about how World Series rings are made. Salmon’s career was respectable, with a lifetime .282, 299 home runs and 1,016 runs batted in fourteen seasons of play. He is also married to Holly Hunter and was the rookie of the year in 1993. That ought to count for something.
- Chone Figgins (2005 Week in Baseball) Feature 1:58: Chone is the master of multiple playing positions. He has played every position except 1st, pitcher and catcher. He is mostly a utility player that steals a ton of bases. Here he gets interviewed by softball hottie, Jennie Finch.
- Anaheim Angels (2007 Week in Baseball) Feature 3:45: Here they talk about the 2007 Home stretch. They ended up finishing 94-68 and won the AL West. Vladimir Guerrero and Howie Kendrick are two of the spotlights.
- Anaheim Angels (2008 Week in Baseball) Feature 4:03: 2008 saw a very similar result where they ended up 100 and 62 and again too the AL West. However, the Red Sox tore through them again in the playoffs. Torri Hunter gets some of the spotlight here.
- Fred Lynn (2009 Week in Baseball) Feature 2:19: This focuses on the 1983 All-Star game. Before 1983, the National League was dominant in All-Star play losing only one in over thirty years. Fred Lynn would hit a grand slam homer (still the only one in All Star play) in the third inning as the AL crushed the NL, 13-3. After that according to this program, the AL would take the next 19 of 26 games against their foe.
- Darin Erstad (2000 Week in Baseball) Feature 3:41: This focuses mostly on an interesting hobby Darin has, ice fishing. Every year, Darin goes to North Dakota to do the traditional little house ice fishing as well as flag ice fishing (which has to be the laziest sport I have ever seen). He had an decent MLB career where he was on 2 all-star teams and a 3 time Golden Glove winner.
This year was not to kind to the Angels. They ended up finishing 86-76 and 10 games out of the AL West Division crown losing their last four games. However, I think in the years to come, they will always be a contender. They usually have a fun very team centric club and do so much with so little. This disc is an okay effort, it mainly suffers from poor pacing and moving all around their historical last fifty years.
The video and audio are average and the extras just make us wish for a whole lot more. I give this a slight recommendation, mostly for the fans of the Angels who want to look back at some of the history. The rest probably want to avoid this one, there isn’t much to look at. Go HALOS!