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Bill Plaschke is waiting for Albert

Apr 20, 2012, 11:33 AM EDT

Oakland Athletics v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Getty Images

We know this, because that’s the refrain he uses to turn what should be a one sentence thing in a notes column — Albert Pujols has yet to hit a home run this year — into a full-blown column about a 54 at bat homerless stretch:

Waiting for Albert …

At 8:20 p.m., he steps to the plate in the fourth inning for his second at-bat, takes a strike, then lowers the bar to an entirely new level. He fouls a pitch that soars into the press box and lands at my feet. This meaning he has now hit more balls to me than over the fence.

In this Plaschke is correct: it’s all about him and his search for a column idea. Pujols doesn’t care, nor should he.  Nor should the Angels. Not yet anyway. Because as Plaschke himself notes in a column-nullifying sentence near the end, Pujols went 107 at bats without a homer last season at one point. And, in case anyone forgot, the season went just fine for Pujols and the Cardinals.

Call me in a few weeks if Pujols is still homerless. And if the Angels are still seven back of the Rangers, or more.

  1. danaking - Apr 20, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    It never ceases to amaze me that allegedly knowledgeable people–sportswriters (no offense, Craig)–can work for years and never figure out home run hitters–like goal scorers in hockey–hit them in bunches. It’s not like a 40 homer guy hits one every four or five days. They may go a week or two (or more) and not touch one off, then hit five in a week.

    Plaschke is playing into the Dick Young old fart school of writing: big contract, so he’d better be God every fricking night or he’s not worth it. You’d think we’d be past this by now.

    • bsbiz - Apr 20, 2012 at 11:42 AM

      But then you realize it’s Bill Plaschke who wrote it and the expectations get lowered significantly.

      • hep3 - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:32 PM

        How sad for the LA Times. To have a sports page once revered for great writers Jim Murray and Mel Durslag and now the Times is wallowing in the cesspool that is Plaschke and T.J. Simers.

    • Cris E - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:02 PM

      I’m an old fart and Plaschke is making serious money: how long do readers have to wait for him to write a decent column? The only difference is I’ve given up on going to the games and watching for progress.

  2. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Apr 20, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    And if the Angels are still seven back of the Rangers, or more.

    Granted it’s a new season and all, but this is a bit ominous per Sam Miller with Baseball Prospectus:
    There was no stretch last season in which the Angels gained 6.5 games on the Rangers. They’re about to fall 6.5 games back of the Rangers

    • Jonny 5 - Apr 20, 2012 at 11:56 AM

      Texas is showing no signs of letting up either. They even score enough runs to cover bad outings by pitchers.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Apr 20, 2012 at 11:59 AM

        Just looked at the standings for some numbers, and the 11-2 mark and the 79 run scored aren’t surprising, but the 33(!) runs allowed is the most shocking. They’ve given up 13 less runs than any other AL team and 1 less than Philly(!).

      • Jonny 5 - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:46 PM

        Yeah, so that’s telling me they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

  3. 12strikes - Apr 20, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    Bill Plaschke is a tool… I have nothing else.

    • 18thstreet - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:07 PM

      I hate that our biggest newspapers keep these people around. At the Boston Globe, it’s Nick Cafardo and Dan Shaugnessy who add nothing to my experience as a fan. I spend much more time with the Providence Journal for baseball than with New England’s largest newspaper. It’s amazing.

      The Globe could save a ton of money letting the old farts go and hiring 4 hungry reporters and analysts with the salary slots.

      • danaking - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:35 PM

        It’s a shame about the Globe. I lived in Boston in the mid-80s, when the line-up was Peter Gammons for baseball, Wil McDonough for football, and Bob Ryan for basketball. (I forget who was the hockey guy.) That was an all-star team.

      • 18thstreet - Apr 20, 2012 at 1:32 PM

        Shaugnessy was the beat reporter for the Celtics back then. Jackie McMullen was there, too. I really loved it. (I liked basketball better than baseball as a kid.)

    • 12strikes - Apr 20, 2012 at 2:18 PM

      A THUMBS DOWN!!!!! I guess that Plaschke (or someone in his family) reads HBT.

  4. marshmallowsnake - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    What if TJ Simers wrote this article?

    • 12strikes - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:12 PM

      (insert LA TIMES sports writer name) is a tool…. I have nothing else.

  5. Dan the Mets Fan - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    He’s not a good columnist. Also, I think he might live in my neighborhood here in SoCal – the other day I was picking up dry cleaning and I saw a jacket with a customer tag that read ‘Bill Plaschke.’

  6. 12strikes - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    After watching Bill Plaschke on the 4 letter network there is one thing for sure.
    If you come anywhere close to bad mouthing a LA team, be will defend it to the hill.
    If Plaschke bad mouths a team, then he (thinks) he knows more then everyone else.

    • stuckonwords - Apr 20, 2012 at 1:27 PM

      I don’t really think it’s a bad thing that a guy loves his local teams. That’s being a fan. I get that writers are supposed to be impartial, theoretically, but I kinda get a kick out of guys going to bat for their local teams.

      • 12strikes - Apr 20, 2012 at 2:20 PM

        Not when your doing a national show. I don’t tune in for homer-isms I look for impartial insight. He is not there to defend LA.

  7. pauleee - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    He’s hitting the ball hard. 7 of his 16 hits are doubles and last night he hit one off the top of the fence. A slight change in loft and it would have been well out.

    Pujols is the least of our worries. The team looks like hell out there right now.

    And yes, Plaschke is a tool.

  8. thefalcon123 - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    About that…

    In the 2004 season, this guys had a stretch where he went 50 PAs without a homer and hit .103
    …another stretch where he went 87 PAs with just 1 home run and hit .196. That player’s final stat line was: 45 HR, 101 RBI, .362/.609/.812

    So let’s not freak out just yet..shall we?

    • paperlions - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:48 PM

      While that is true, having 2 such stretches over 11 years is not uncommon….starting a 10 year deal with such a stretch is quite different. This isn’t what the Angels are paying for…and….like it or not, this year is the most likely chance they have to actually get decent value out of the contract…every year after that likelihood goes down.

      He looks to me like he’s holding back on the power to take good smooth swings at the ball….sacrificing max power for solid contact. He’s been making far better contact the last week…I wouldn’t be surprised if the next step is more power with the same rate of quality contact.

  9. garylanglais - Apr 20, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    So a guy goes 3-for-5 with 3 2Bs and a run scored and he subsequently becomes the centerpiece of a negative column. (Yes, small sample but…) Pujols raised his average 30 points and his OPS 100 points last night!

    Lets keep this going…Plaschke is a tool

  10. stuckonwords - Apr 20, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    So, Craig…if “it’s all about him and his search for a column idea”…what do you call a column about a column like that?

    Normally I like your columns, Craig, and read tons of your stuff. But I’m just confused about how you can justify coming up with a column criticizing a guy for coming up with a column criticizing a guy.

  11. stuckonwords - Apr 20, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    I think the bottom line is that Plasche is expressing the same kind of unease that most Angels fans are feeling. It’s the first year of an eye-opening 10 year contract with a potentially-older-than-stated, but-already-advanced-age-of 32 year old player whose numbers, in all honesty, have declined the past two years. Granted those numbers are still better than most players, even great ones, but it’s still fair to expect that his best years are behind him, and certainly won’t get better as those ten years roll on. If you’re an Angels fan, you have to be pretty anxious to see him get on track.

    • umrguy42 - Apr 20, 2012 at 1:57 PM

      I would think that right now, if you’re an Angels fan, this stretch is making your owner (blanking on the name) look like an idiot for waving that fat stack of cash at Albert, while Cards fans are thinking that DeWitt and Mozeliak were friggin’ geniuses for saying “send us a postcard from CA” and letting him go…

  12. stuckonwords - Apr 20, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    If I see a kid get picked on in school (well…a hundred years ago when I was actually in school) I have to step in and try to help, even if it isn’t popular with the “cool” kids.

    At this point I see 100% agreement that Plasche is this awful guy, so clearly nobody is going to like what I say here, but I personally think very highly of Bill. He is a decent person on the human being scale. He believes in doing the right thing, opposes hitting women, doesn’t kick dogs, contributes to charity, and generally looks out for his fellow man. The world would be a better place with more like him in it.

    • 12strikes - Apr 20, 2012 at 2:21 PM

      That just means he is a tool with morals.

    • spindervish - Apr 20, 2012 at 2:41 PM

      I’m not sure everyone is in agreement that Plaschke is some sort of horrible human being…I doubt many of the people commenting have ever met him. It’s just that he’s a hacky writer and a willfully ignorant sports analyst who routinely says and writes dumb stuff. He’s also an unabashed homer, which I would guess doesn’t really help his case in most people’s eyes.

      A few weeks ago on Around the Horn I saw Michael Smith absolutely smack Plaschke in the mouth for basing his answer to some football question on a bunch of stats that Smith had just argued (convincingly) were irrelevant to the conversation immediately before Plaschke gave his answer. Plaschke got legitimately offended, and though Smith did try to smooth it over he stopped short of apologizing, feeling he was in the right for calling Plaschke on his BS. I wish there was more of this sort of thing in sports analysis. Plaschke’s face as Smith initially tore into him was priceless.

      • stuckonwords - Apr 20, 2012 at 3:01 PM

        I like Michael Smith more now than I used to. When he first started coming on the show he would often show genuine anger when his point of view wasn’t accepted as gospel. There was a point in time, though, when he clearly started making an effort to take things more in stride, and laugh it off when things weren’t going his way. Now that he’s less surly, I do enjoy listening to his points, even if I don’t always agree.

        One of the reasons I like Bill is because 99% of the time that’s exactly how he handles things. He has a really genuine chuckle over things even when they’re at his own expense, and I like a guy who can laugh at his own misfortune. Heck, I can’t count the number of times he’s had a belly laugh at someone else’s clever point and says, “Aww…ya gotta give him the point on that one, Tony. He got me.” I mean seriously, what a good sport.

      • spindervish - Apr 20, 2012 at 3:28 PM

        Sure, he might be a nice guy, but he just comes off as a schmuck when someone annihilates his argument and he has no retort other than that sheepish chuckle to which you’re referring. That’s basically my point…the guy’s opinions are routinely dumb and his analysis is remarkably shallow. He gets paid a lot of money for that gig and has won numerous awards. He really ought to step his game up. I don’t think he should get a pass, either from his audience or his colleagues, just because he’s a swell guy.

        I applaud guys like Michael Smith and the little I’ve seen of Bomani Jones for their low tolerance for bullshit from their fellow talking heads. I think the fact that they’re from a younger generation of sportswriters has a lot to do with their willingness to be aggressive and take their colleagues to task for spouting bullshit analysis, and I wholeheartedly welcome this approach.

      • stuckonwords - Apr 20, 2012 at 3:43 PM

        Well, he’s modified his approach, so I think even Michael disagrees with you. It’s a friendly format, and anger has no place.

        As for his opinions being dumb and shallow, that’s your opinion and I won’t call you dumb or any other name just because you have it. I personally like his opinions a lot of the time (Michael’s too) and listen to the points they all make without preconceived notions. Maybe that makes my opinions seem dumb and shallow to you, but the beauty of it all is that that’s why we do this: to debate, agree, and disagree…and sometimes to agree to disagree.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Apr 20, 2012 at 5:32 PM

        He has a really genuine chuckle over things even when they’re at his own expense, and I like a guy who can laugh at his own misfortune. Heck, I can’t count the number of times he’s had a belly laugh at someone else’s clever point and says, “Aww…ya gotta give him the point on that one, Tony. He got me.” I mean seriously, what a good sport.

        Agreed, his attitude on AtH is exactly like that, and makes him semi-tolerable. Unfortunately, for those of us who were first introduced to Plaschke from the old FJM days, he was/is a bad writer that was stuck in the old ways, and probably helped get DePodesta fired from his job.

        So his writing = bad, AtH appearances = ok

  13. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Apr 20, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    Someone get me an A/C unit. Plaschke is blowing a lot of hot air.

  14. scatterbrian - Apr 20, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    The real issue here isn’t Pujols. Angels fans — and a lot of baseball fans and writers — incorrectly assumed Pujols would transform the Angels offense into a juggernaut.

    • BigBeachBall - Apr 21, 2012 at 7:47 AM

      whats this u speak of?

  15. cintiphil - Apr 20, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    I always liked Albert and thought he was the very best I ever saw play the game. Over 60 years, that is a lot of players and teams. Yes, I felt he was better than Stan and Willie and Hank. However, when the Angels made this deal, first I was glad to see him out of the division with the Reds, and second, I felt the Angles were fools to pay that amount of money for Albert. The only team who should have paid him $250 Mil plus were the cards, because they would be paying him for past performances as well as the next few years. Albert can not wait to lead this team, because the Angels have few others who can carry the team.

    When Albert had a poor start last season, they still had Holliday and Berkman and others to carry the team. You have to be optimistic that he will pull it out and hit his 40 H-R’s and drive in 100+, but he has to start now. No one else on the team is now, or is capable of doing it.

    Just think; that if this year is the first poor year that he has, does anyone really feel that he is going to be better in future years? A lot of rumors floating around about his age and health etc. I personally don’t put much stock in that, but he still can not afford to have his first Angles year be a poor one.

    Good luck to Albert, my all time favorite, but you have to get it going soon, or the Angles owners,will look like a bunch of saps.

  16. aceshigh11 - Apr 20, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    Plaschke’s charming little story reminds me of Roy Hobbs intentionally fouling the ball backwards into Max Mercy’s (Robert Duvall) press box in “The Natural.”

  17. westcoastredbird - Apr 20, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    Albert is suffering from the curse of the squirrel. 12 games in 7 games back. By June 1 the Angels will be mathematically eliminated. I freakin love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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