Purgatory Online

Monday, August 23, 2004

The Angels swept the Yankees in New York over the weekend, which is pretty freaking sweet. Even sweeter was the fact that they finally looked like a team that could reasonably be compared to the 2002 squad. For most of this year, they've been in contention, but there's been little of that je ne sais quoi the championship club had. In 2002, it was pretty clear that the Angels, Yankees, and A's were the class of the A.L., with the Mariners, Red Sox, and Twins a little bit behind. In 2004, so far, the Angels have been in that second tier, but their wins over Tampa and New York have been very encouraging, showcasing starting pitching and offense in addition to an already-stellar relief corps.

Somewhat lost in the overall warm glow of Yankee-mauling, however, was the fact that Chone Figgins played third like a man possessed yesterday, making a couple of really exceptional plays (one of which was even a "Web Gem" on Baseball Tonight). I've long thought that third was Figgins's worst position, but yesterday he handled some very challenging plays with aplomb. One game doesn't mean much, but if Figgins can handle third base defensively, it will mean a great deal down the stretch.