For the first home weekend series for the Texas Rangers, I spoke with Jon, one of the hosts of the Locked on Angels podcast for a pre-series Q&A!
Obviously he’s a big signing but after pitching two innings last year, do you think Noah Syndergaard will be a big contribution to the Angels team?
Thor is someone that I was hoping even last season that the Angels would go after, even with the injury history. While I wish they would’ve added one more trusted starter to the rotation, I’m thrilled with Syndergaard, especially after his first start. He endeared himself to the fans, asking permission to wear Nick Adenhart’s number 34 from the family (Adenhart was tragically killed by a drunk driver in 2009 after an excellent start earlier in the night, and no Angel player has worn his number since), and handling the Astros in a fashion reminiscent of his Mets days on the 13th anniversary of Nick’s passing.
If this is the guy we get moving forward and he stays healthy, he’s going to be a big part of this rotation and a huge fan favorite!
Do you think the “Shohei Ohtani Rule” will encourage more two-way players or is Ohtani more of a once-in-a-lifetime type player in the MLB?
I think both of your questions are correct; I’m hopeful that in a few years, we’ll see more two-way players, but we may not see anyone do it like Shohei ever again! He’s truly a unicorn, and when the Angels weren’t going to make it to the playoffs last season, Ohtani made the team easier to watch. Now that the Ohtani Rule is in place and that is an option for players, I think that we’ll start to see more high school and college kids want to do what Shohei is doing, and MLB managers will want to make use of the rule down the road. I’m sure we’ll be talking about many more two-way players in the coming years!
For a long time Mike Trout was the face of baseball (although MLB did a terrible job at promoting that) do you think he’s still the face of baseball, or could Shohei being a two-way player, become the face of the sport?
Oh man, you’re going to make me regret saying this and feel like I’m turning my back on the best player of this generation, haha! But yes, Ohtani has taken this sport by storm, and I think he’s helped generate interest in the game. GQ, MLB The Show 22, Time Magazine, the Commissioner’s Award, AL MVP, and being the most-memeable player on the field, I think this is Shohei’s time.
Mike Trout has been the guy that young people and players look up to in everything he does; his respect for the game, his hustle on the field, and his accolades at the plate are unmatched. But, Ohtani made history last season and continues to do so (pitching and leading off on Opening Day), and I think it’s amazing that he’s earned the recognition he’s received. It’s heartening to me that a Japanese-born player can be the face of baseball and break down cultural barriers, especially considering what our world has gone through in the last few years.
Do you think the Rangers and Angels have a rivalry? If not, what would make it a rivalry?
The Angels went 11-8 last season against Texas, and the Rangers have only improved their team on the field this offseason. I think that this will be an intriguing rivalry this season considering how close it already was last year. While we may not have the kinds of slugfests we used to see between Kendrys Morales and Adrian Beltre in the late 2000s and early 2010s at Globe Life Park, Globe Life Field will produce some great pitching matchups for the Angels and Rangers.
I imagine we’ll see more gap-to-gap hits and manufactured runs on the basepaths these days, and the Rangers will likely have the best rotation in the next few years with their young pitching coming up through the ranks. If there’s anything that makes this not feel like the rivalry to me, it’s that the Astros still run this division, and until they’re unseated, they’re the ones to come after. Every time the Angels play Houston, the atmosphere feels elevated, and every game feels like a must-win.
That said, I’m looking forward to the matchup this weekend, and I’m a closet Adolis Garcia fan!