Beyond Golf — 16 May 2012 by Jim Street
Are Angels in dysfunctional mode?

A power struggle appears to have emerged within the Angels organization and it isn’t a pretty sight.

That was made clear in a story written by ESPN.com reporter Mark Saxon.

Regarded by many before the season started as a team with World Series-caliber talent, the Angels have been sluggish from the get-go, the primary reason being their $240 million player has been performing so far under the radar that he can’t be found.

Oh, Albert where are you?

It didn’t surprise me last night when I heard that the Angels had jettisoned long-time batting coach Mickey Hatcher. He did, after all, have the audacity to inform reporters recently about a meeting he had with some of his underachieving hitters.

Names weren’t necessary and Hatcher, the Angels’ hitting instructor for the past 13 years and close buddy of manager Mike Scioscia (pictured on right), never threw anyone under the bus. Even so, King Albert was upset that the coach said ANYTHING about the meeting.

As might be expected, when things didn’t turn around immediately, Hatcher got the axe.

I covered MLB for 40 years and still can’t tell you what makes a good hitting coach, other than the fact he works with good hitters. I have seen hitting coaches get fired one year after being lauded for the team’s hitting prowess.

How bad is Mickey Hatcher? He can’t be too bad when you consider that under his tutelage, Chone Figgins batted .296 in 2003 and ’04; batted .290 in .05, .330 in ’07 and .298 in ’09. Anyone watching Figgins struggle at the plate the past two-plus seasons has to think Hatcher is the best darn hitting coach in the business.

But King Albert obviously thought otherwise and guess who became the scapegoat for anemic .212 batting average, 1 home run and 14 RBIs through May 15 (146 at-bats).

It’s hard to feel sorry for him.

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Jim Street

Jim’s 40-year sportswriting career started with the San Jose Mercury-News in 1970 and ended on a full-time basis on October 31, 2010 following a 10-year stint with MLB.com. He grew up in Dorris, Calif., several long drives from the nearest golf course. His first tee shot was a week before being inducted into the Army in 1968. Upon his return from Vietnam, where he was a war correspondent for the 9th Infantry Division, Jim took up golf semi-seriously while working for the Mercury-News and covered numerous tournaments, including the U.S. Open in 1982, when Tom Watson made the shot of his life on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach. Jim also covered several Bing Crosby Pro-Am tournaments, the women’s U.S. Open, and other golfing events in the San Francisco area. He has a 17-handicap, never had a hole-in-one, although once he came within two inches of an ace, and witnessed the first round Ken Griffey Jr. ever played – at Arizona State during Spring Training in 1990. Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Kapalua Plantation Course, Pinehurst No. 2, Spyglass Hill, Winged Foot, Torrey Pines, Medinah, Chambers Bay, North Berwick in Scotland, and Princeville are among the courses he has had the pleasure of playing. Hitting the ball down the middle of the fairway is not a strong part of Jim’s game, but he is known (in his own mind) as the best putter not on tour. Most of Jim’s writing career was spent covering Major League baseball, a tenure that started with the Oakland Athletics, who won 101 games in 1971, and ended with the Seattle Mariners, who lost 101 games in 2010. Symmetry is a wonderful thing. He currently lives in Seattle and vacations in Arizona (and other warm climates) as much as possible.

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