I’ll come out and say it: The most improbable aspect of Disney’s Angels in the Outfield isn’t the fact that Christopher Lloyd somehow skirted the player’s union to get on the field or that Joseph Gordon-Levitt wouldn’t be adopted. Instead, what really grinds my gears is that the lowly California Angels—despite not receiving any angel assistance whatsoever in their final game—somehow beat the 1994 Chicago White Sox to clinch the division title and the pennant at the end of the movie.
How could this have happened? How could that year’s Angels squad, a team so bad that Gordon-Levitt’s father bet that he wouldn’t have to regain custody of his child until they won the pennant, pull off a victory against a White Sox team that clearly would have won its first World Series championship in 77 years had the 1994 season not been stopped short by a player’s strike? It’s a mystery that grows ever more perplexing when you compare the team’s rosters:
White Sox: Frank Thomas. Frank Thomas losing out on the full 1994 season is one of the worst travesties in American sports. The Big Hurt posted a shocking 1.217 OPS in 1994, the 18th best single-season OPS of all time. The guy was in the midst of a Ted Williams–caliber streak, and he was well on his way to earning his second straight AL MVP award and my everlasting love and affection. The Angel Gabriel couldn’t have stopped Frank from winning this game. Post-playing career boosted by Nugenix.
Angels: Mitchell Page. Second place AL Rookie of the Year in 1977. Career batting average of .266, but he couldn’t make the roster for the Athletics’ 1981 postseason campaign. Post-playing career cut short by alcoholism.
Advantage: White Sox, and it’s not even close.
White Sox: Joey Cora. Survived a stabbing, one-time All Star, and won a ring as the third base coach for the 2005 White Sox. Brother of Rob Manfred–patsy Alex Cora.
Angels: Israel Juarbe. Played Freddy Fernandez in The Karate Kid, a role for which he has been referred to as a “bitch motherf*cker” in at least one MMA-themed forum. Probably best known for his limited role as the room service waiter in this exceptionally 80s clip.
Advantage: White Sox.
White Sox: Ozzie Guillén. There’s a lot that can be said about Ozzie. The spitfire-spewing third baseman-turned-Fidel-Castro-praising-and-gay-slur-using manager who we let things kind of slide with. The man invented Ozzieball (grind out a single, bunt him over to second, then smash a two-run home run) and managed the best Sox team of the 21st century. But I think this clip comes the closest to capturing all he brings to the table.
Angels: Albert Garcia. Dude doesn’t even have a wikipedia.
Advantage: White Sox.
White Sox: Robin Ventura. A two-time all star, six-time gold glove third baseman, and by all accounts a nice guy who was never as good of a manager as he was as a player.
Angels: Stoney Jackson. Appeared in the “Beat It” music video. Doesn’t seem to have heard of a “Drake LaRoche.”
Advantage: Angels. As far as I know, Jackson never got his ass whooped by a 65-year-old Nolan Ryan.
White Sox: Tim Raines. A 10th-ballot hall of famer and arguably on the Mt. Rushmore of Montreal Expos players (I assume that this is a statue made out of chewing gum and used kilts outside a Montreal punk venue).
Angels: Mark Cole. Actors without their own wikipedia pages are the theater equivalent of kids getting stuck playing left-center field.
Advantage: White Sox.
White Sox: Lance Johnson. Most famous for the fact that I somehow confuse his name with Larry Walker’s. Wikipedia tells me he’s the only person to lead both the AL and the NL in bats, hits, and triples, which is cool if that’s the thing you’re into.
Angels: Matthew McConaughey. With McConaughey, you get power and longevity. The McConaissance was still decades away when McConaughey made this spectacular catch in center field. Dude had range, and no I’m not talking about going from Dallas Buyers Club to Wolf of Wall Street to True Detective to Interstellar in a calendar year. Just imagine the 30–30 potential he would have deep into his Magic Mike era as a ballplayer.
Advantage: Alright, alright, alright. Angels.
White Sox: Darrin Jackson. Jackson’s most notable career achievement to date has been the fact that he (mostly) stayed awake alongside Ed Farmer’s radio calls (RIP to a real one, Farmio). That fact alone is far more impressive than beating out Nicolas Cage for a bullshit Oscar for The Pianist.
Angels: Adrien Brody. This man definitely would not kneel for the national anthem. We never see him playing his position, but given his Mookie Betts–esque stature and Italian American–ass quaff, he must be a right fielder.
Advantage: Angels, I guess.
White Sox: Kit “Hit or Die” Kesey. In real life, this position would probably be filled by Julio Franco, who slashed .319/.406/.510 in 112 games. But one of the few White Sox players we actually get to see in the movie is good old “Hit or Die,” which doesn’t even come close to the worst nickname for a White Sox player.
Angels: O.B. Babbs. He’s listed as only an “Angels Player” on Wikipedia, so I guess he gets slotted in at DH.
Advantage: White Sox. You don’t cross a guy with a nickname like “Hit or Die,” especially when he’s allegedly the league RBI leader.
White Sox: Jack McDowell. Played in a band that once opened for The Smithereens. Also pulled off a goatee for most of his career and won the Cy Young in the year before Anaheim started receiving angelbolic steroids.
Angels: Tony Danza. Angels wasn’t Danza’s first or best role as a washed-up MLB player. In real life, Danza went 9–3 as a professional boxer, but in Angels it is revealed that he’s about to die because of his lifelong smoking (womp womp).
Advantage: White Sox.
White Sox: Ron Karkovice.Daddy. The only thing Ron Karkovice looked like he enjoyed more than performing an unconstitutional traffic stop is drinking a Miller High Life after mowing the lawn.
Angels: Tony Longo.Daddier. And noted chili dog aficionado.
Advantage: Nobody’s out-thiccing Longo.
White Sox: Gene Lamont. Fresh off a 1993 Manager of the Year Campaign. Survived more than 15 years of working in Detroit and Pittsburgh.
Angels: Danny Glover. Keeps referring to a mysterious, ill-fated “stint in Cincinnati” throughout the movie. But he won’t come clean about working with Mel Gibson? Also, google keeps thinking I’m trying to do half-assed research about Donald Glover.
Advantage: White Sox. Say what you will, but Lamont never threw his players on the bus by suggesting that they needed angels to win a game.
White Sox: Michael Jordan. Performed surprisingly well at AA Birmingham while he was riding out the storm after retiring from the NBA under suspicious circumstances. Would probably choke out Ozzie during a practice. Remember, even angels buy shoes.
Angels: Joseph Gordon-Levitt. College dropout. Shoehorns the female lead into a “manic pixie dream girl” persona in (500) Days of Summer. Had better chemistry with Tony Danza in Don Jon.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, JGL gets savagely dunked on during one of the worst (among many) screenwriting of this film:
- [having just given up custody of Roger, JGL’s character, forever]
- Mr. Bomman (JGL’s character’s father): I’m sorry, boy.
- [he exits the courtroom]
Advantage: White Sox. And you know Jordan is betting on this game too.
White Sox: Jerry Reinsdorf.
Angels: Ben Johnson.
Advantage: TBH both of these owners seem pretty anti-player and determined to lose rather than spend an extra dollar. This one’s a toss-up.
Overall: If this game had actually occurred in real life, I had known about sports gambling, and the internet existed to the point where I could place a bet with an offshore sportsbook whose servers are located in modern-day Yugoslavia, this would have been a traumatic gambling loss for me. That is to say, it is patently absurd that the White Sox didn’t win this fictional game, and I hope that Disney deep-sixes Angels in the Outfield from Disney+ like it did to Song of the South and Star Wars: Ewoks.