The time is now for the Los Angeles Angels. They've got the players: sluggers like Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton; baseball's best young player in outfielder Mike Trout; and pitchers like C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver. They've spent the money – a Yankees-like $300 million over the past two years. They're not built to just contend, but to win a championship. If they feel the pressure that comes from those expectations, they aren't showing it: At spring training in Tempe, Arizona, the Angels seem relaxed and confident. "We go karting, target shooting. I put together group dinners, just fun stuff we can do with the guys," says Wilson. "They're looser than ever because they have such a good team," says ESPN baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian. "It's easy to be confident with this kind of offense."
C.J. Wilson: 32, pitcher.
As a kid growing up in Orange County, Wilson was anything but a baseball phenom. "I actually wasn't that good at all," he remembers of his Little League days. "The coach told me, 'Maybe you should play soccer.'" Perhaps that's why he developed such diverse interests – studying aikido, photography, and film (he studied screenwriting in college at Loyola Marymount), and pursuing auto racing (he owns a race team, CJ Wilson Racing), not to mention surfing and deejaying. Just about the only thing he doesn't do is golf: "Don't have the temperament for it."
Wilson, who has the phrase "straight edge" tattooed on his torso, will be joined on the Angels this year by all-star Josh Hamilton, who has publicly struggled with drugs and alcohol. Wilson has said of Hamilton, whom he played with for four years on the Texas Rangers, "I was one of the few guys that he had the green light to hang out with. I was a zero risk."
As the Angels try to downplay expectations for the team, Wilson's ambitions are pretty clear. When asked about his most significant moment in baseball, he says, "Hopefully, I haven't had it yet."
[Wilson wears a lambskin Napa leather jacket by Ermenegildo Zegna, $3,695; V-neck tee by John Varvatos, $168]
Credit: Photograph by Michael Muller