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The Strain Of Sucking Mondo Ass Is Wearing On Anthony Rendon

Anthony Rendon, during happier times.
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Anthony Rendon, star-crossed third baseman for the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim), was suspended five games by Major League Baseball Monday for attempting to punch a fan of the Oakland Athletics last week. The players' union subsequently negotiated the suspension down to four games. Rendon, who has played in just 159 of a possible 388 regular-season games since signing the second-most expensive contract in franchise history, will be eligible to return to the lineup April 9, for the final tilt of a three-game home series against the Toronto Blue Jays. If, that is, the Angels will still have him.

The incident occurred after the final out of the Angels' season-opening loss to the Athletics, a game made notable by the Tungsten Arm O'Doyle-esque performance of starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani, and by a genuinely stunning feat of wasted athletic grace by outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Rendon, who went hitless and struck out twice in four plate-appearances, was making his way into the visitors tunnel when he thought he overheard a fan of the home team call him a "bitch." Rendon summoned the man to the railing and then grabbed him by his shirt-front.

Rendon had a pristine reputation among fans during his time with the Washington Nationals, when he was known for being about as chill as any public figure in history. But his time in Los Angeles (of Anaheim) has been an uninterrupted spiral into hell. His very respectable inaugural season was cut short by the pandemic; groin, knee, triceps, and hip injuries limited him to just 58 games in 2021, and wrist surgery wrecked his 2022 season in mid June. The Angels had visions of Rendon finally filling the team's need for some real-deal lineup protection for Mike Trout, and instead they've gotten three partial seasons of Maikel Franco-level production, at approximately 54 times the cost. And Rendon went from being the beloved centerpiece of a World Series winner to the roster equivalent of a ketchup stain on an already hideous necktie.

The angst of all that was naturally cresting in the aftermath of a one-run loss to baseball's worst team in one of the sport's dreariest mausoleums, and Rendon finally succumbed. "It sucked," Rendon said Monday, after the suspension was handed down. "My emotions got the best of me. I'm usually pretty good about interacting with fans ... I have fun with it." Rendon said he and the A's fan talked it out over the phone and that "both apologized about what had happened." Gio Urshela has started the last two games at third base for the Angels, going 0-for-9 from the plate with six strikeouts, and committing one fielding error in six total chances. In a rare reverse Tungsten Arming, the Angels have won both games. They are presently 3–1 on the season, but there's still plenty of time. Recent performance notwithstanding, if the Angels want any shot at being Actually Good, they will need Rendon to be good, healthy, and available, all at the same time, for the first time in three years.

I am not suggesting that it is necessarily wrong to confront some loudmouth stranger who insults you in public. I am not even sure that it is wrong to punch such a person. If said punching is something society is able to condone—not necessarily as a matter of law but as a matter of morally defensible behavior—certainly a member of the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim) who is insulted by a perfect stranger should have the same right to punch as anyone else. But our society is famously capricious, and often rises in defense of a fan's right to be a shitheel just as righteously as it rises in defense of the everyman's right to do disproportionate violence to someone who pisses him off. What I am saying is this: The Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim), the most accursèd of all professional baseball teams, should not permit any of their important players to take one step in any direction, ever, without several layers of personnel between them and all possible provocations, and/or a solid 18-inch carapace of bubble wrap.

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