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Just The Sports: Darin Erstad, Shut Up

Just The Sports

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Darin Erstad, Shut Up

In the sports world there is much ado about team meetings where curse words are said, feelings are hurt, and to hear sports writers and fans tell it, the team always emerge a better, more cohesive team. Count me in the camp of the skeptics who question that such a meeting has any positive effect on the future performance of the team.

While there have been reported instances where a closed-door meeting has led to success on the field, there are probably just as many instances where it held no effect at all on team performance. I basically chalk that myth up to the same one that proclaims a team on the perceived winning side of a basebrawl will see a sharp increase in wins in the near future. That being said, Bill Plaschke's reaction to Darin Erstad's shouted comments to his teammates is patently ridiculous.

"There's going to be no finger pointing! I don't care who you are! It's over! We either go down as a team or we win the whole … thing as a team!"

Judging from the Angels' 17-25 record and their run differential of -39 runs, I would say the Angels will find themselves going down as a team.

It was Erstad who reminded them what it was like to play for a team.

And to have a team on-base percentage of .301. Last in the American League.

It was Erstad who reminded them what it was like to be an Angel.

And to have a team slugging percentage of .381. Also good for last in the American League.

Erstad, shouting like this while batting .238 with no homers and four runs batted in. Erstad, scolding like this while on the disabled list because of an aching ankle. Only a true leader would dare sell something while dressed like that.

Too bad none of the Angels bought what he was selling, as evidenced by their 16-3 shellacking the next day at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

If the Angels have any intention of imploding with 120 games left in the season, the walls will have to collapse against the weight of an ornery, snuff-dripping former football player.

These may be colorful descriptors, but none of them disguise the fact that for his career, Erstad has been a below-average hitter, having contributed -8 BRAA and a 97 OPS+ where 100 OPS+ is the average. His only saving grace is the defense he provides in center field, but even that will be called into question if he cannot remain healthy.

Also, Erstad is a former punter, not the toughest position to play on the football field by any stretch of the imagination.

It was Erstad being Erstad, the rock of the 2002 world championship team, a .300 postseason hitter, the guy who has served as Scioscia's clubhouse conscience for all of Scioscia's seven years here.

Pretty soon, it will be what Ersty was, as the Angels are expected to allow him to leave when his contract expires after this season, his bat and step having slowed in 11 seasons here.

I guess being a rock and the clubhouse conscience for your team aren't what they used to be.

But he will not go easily.

Pretty much he will have to. When a team declines to extend a player's contract, he/she cannot continue to show up whenever he/she wants and demand to be let into the clubhouse and given a uniform to play in.


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