Division titles in 2001-05, 2008 and 2009. League championships in 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2009.
If you were to ask me what professional baseball team had those numbers, only the New York Yankees come to mind. When the Yankees won their first World Series in the 90’s, I was transfixed and totally hooked on baseball.
As an avid fan, I recognized their success was based on their minor league system and their homegrown talent. With that farm system talent they won it all four times over a five-year span.
Since their payroll exploded beyond imagination, they have only won one title.
Enter the Orem Owlz. If you hadn’t guessed by now, those numbers listed to start out were not the Yankees but the Owlz. The Angels are the major league team that Orem is affiliated with, and they almost seemed to be the start of a new Yankee-esque dynasty.
Then they skipped a couple steps. They won the World Series in 2002 with some good young talent that, for the most part, was homegrown. Then the Wall Street model took over, putting Main Street on the back burner as they looked to buying talent rather than growing it.
The Angels are struggling this year. By no means are they out of the playoff race, but it appears they are turning back to young talent developed in the minor leagues. Some people look to the minors for a glimpse into what a player can do individually, but increasingly it is being discovered that team chemistry has a lot more to play into winning than many have thought.
In other words, you can’t just stick the most talented guys out there and expect to win.
The Owlz seem to be producing winners and the Angles would do well to follow their model. In this day in age with players thinking they are bigger than the game itself, it’s becoming difficult to find players that work well together and are willing to sacrifice to better the team. But Orem has been finding a way to get their players to gel.
Last season Orem was the first-half division leader but fell off and ended up five games back of the Ogden Raptors.
Guess who comes to town the second week of the year? It won’t take long for the Owlz to get a shot to avenge last season.
One major plus the Owlz have going for them is manager Tom Kotchman. He began coaching in 1979 at the age of 24; this year will be his 33rd consecutive season. He has proven to be the leader that not only produces winners but can also help to mold young players into major leaguers.
I’m not sure where new draft pick and former Utah Ute C.J. Cron will be playing to start the year, but for his benefit, I hope he gets as much of Kotchman’s expertise as he can.
Quick side note: the last time the Angels drafted a position player out of college was Troy Glaus. All he did was win the World Series MVP and go to multiple All-Star games.
No pressure C.J.
The beauty of the Owlz is that they are more than one player. They are a team in all aspects of the word, and we are in for another great season. All in all, I think we all are looking forward to a return to championship baseball and taking pride in the players that we get the luxury to cheer on.
Who knows, maybe some of this year’s players will end up being the Jeters, Posadas, Pettits, and Riveras of the next Angels dynasty.