Anthony Rendon Is Already Feeling Pretty Angels

Anthony Rendon is the kind of Los Angeles Angel we would all like to be—exceedingly well-paid and powerfully reluctant. The Angels will do that to a person.

Rendon is less shy about it than most, in that he says this all out loud. And, in his words, it’s not the Angels per se that he finds unpleasant, uninspiring, and deeply un-fun, but baseball in general. He has the basic good sense and temerity to say, as he did to The Athletic’s Sam Blum on Monday from the Angels’ spring training camp, that baseball is less of a priority than his family or faith. This is as it should be, but as it comes in tandem with Rendon’s remarks several weeks ago about not being that keen on baseball in general, it scans as if he is finding justification for not liking his job that much. Also in that interview, as Emma Baccellieri noted, Rendon mentioned deleting old emails instead of paying Google for extra storage on his Gmail account; this is about as easy to relate to as MLB All-Stars get.

So full points for honesty within limits, with those limits being what baseball isn’t providing Anthony Rendon in fulfillment on its own merits. The only sensible way to be a human is to prioritize things above the job, whatever that job is. Family would be an obvious answer, even more so than faith because family is an absolute while faith will matter more to some than others. In other words, Rendon has given the correct answer here. Only people you avoid as a general rule would say otherwise.

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It’s worth noting, though, that Rendon’s recent gripes are also doubling down on remarks he gave to Blum after his broken tibia last year. It may be that he is also saying something about how baseball has let him down because of the vagaries of repeated injuries that have cost him 70 percent of the last three seasons and a stardom not fully realized. Rendon is certainly not the first person to move to California and find that it’s not any more fun to be unfulfilled in bright sunshine than it is anywhere else. He’s not even remotely the first Angels player to do it.

(Here we pause and remind you all that he is in the middle of a seven-year, $245 million contract. This is neither to castigate or commiserate, but to beg you to spare us all from “he’s making that money and he’s still not happy” nonsense from the commentariat.)

The only real issue with Rendon being so frank about his relationship with baseball is how it opens both him and his family to such high levels of unwanted grief about his motivational level. Nothing says “half-baked invective” quite like the modern sports fan, or anyway nobody dispenses it quite as vigorously. No group is better at mangling and reassembling context, especially with someone with fewer homers and RBI over four years with Los Angeles than he put during his last year in Washington. Rendon presumably knows all that, and yet willingly stuck his jaw out as the second most available target for Angels fan abuse after owner Arte Moreno.

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That is, if there is Angels fan abuse out there to court. That is, if there are Angels fans out there to find. There are harder than usual times a-comin’ in Halo World. The organization has been driving everyone around it into Rendon-ian flights of what-does-it-all-mean depression for a generation, and no longer has the shield of Shohei Ohtani as a distraction from 14 years without a postseason victory and 10 without a postseason. The people who have been made upset by this organization are going to want skins for their trophy rooms of frustration. Anthony Rendon may be saying the most obvious and correct thing imaginable, and something that any other working person might say, when he says it’s kin before wins. But his audience won’t be nearly as forgiving as the logic of his position might suggest. Some of that is just how it goes with this kind of thing. The rest of it, we can safely blame on the Angels.

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