Tagged: Dodgers

It’s Hard Out Here For An Angels Fan

I’ve always imagined how difficult it would be to root for a team that’s based in another state or faraway city.  How “uncomfortable” is it to be a Seattle Mariners’ fan who lives in Chicago?  Are you even allowed to live in New York and be, say, a Colorado Rockies fan?  I happen to live just a few miles north of Anaheim Stadium so I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by “my own kind”.  During my very short commute to work, I constantly see other cars sporting identical “Angels Baseball” license plate frames, car flags and logo stickers on their rear windshields. 

                              

With Game 1 of the ALDS versus the Red Sox just hours away, the excitement is building.  At least among fans.  Real fans.  It’s just too bad no one else seems to think the Angels have a snowball’s chance in Southern California. 

                                  

Did I miss something?  If you watch the local news here in the southland, you’d think the Dodgers were the only MLB team in the state.  Every single night the Dodgers get their extensive coverage with reporters out at Chavez Ravine while the Angels get their usual 15 second mention.  I’m sure every Angels fan knows exactly what I’m talking about, but concrete evidence of this bias?  Back on July 21, the Angels played a double-header with the Royals.  The local ABC affiliate quickly reported the 8-5 win in the first game and then moved on to other stories…without even mentioning the second game! 

                 

Coverage of the Angels was extended slightly the night they clinched the west but only to allow time to mention their shortcomings in the postseason these last few years.  How nice.  I guess the Dodgers blowing a considerable lead in their division and needing nearly another entire week to win it wasn’t worth mentioning by the reporters in the Dodgers’ locker room.  Nope.  Nothing but good things to say that night.  Whatever.  I’m used to it, as I’m sure other Angels fans are too by now.  But today, just as every Angels fan is gearing up for Thursday’s game, things got decidedly worse.

                                            

While television news coverage of the Angels is at best neglectful, at least we can turn to our local newspaper for some fair and balanced reporting, right?  I mean, I’ve certainly enjoyed writing about the amazing season the Angels have had, from overcoming their early starting rotation struggles, to the fairytale that is Matt Palmer, to their sweep of the Yankees at the All-Star break, to Bobby Abreu’s strong and steady influence, to the brilliant acquisition of Scott Kazmir, and on and on.  It’s been quite a ride, all leading up to game 1 of the ALDS where, once again, we face the Red Sox.  Fans all around the country have nothing but good thoughts and love for their Angels right now and, when my husband handed me Wednesday’s sports page and special playoffs insert from the Orange County Register, I was looking forward to reading something encouraging in my local paper.  After all, it was the Orange County Register…NOT the Los Angeles Times (which I wouldn’t even use to line my bird cages).  The Register is headquartered less than 5 miles from the Big A but do you think they could hire a sports reporter who maybe, kinda, sorta likes the Angels just a little bit?  Nah.  Why do that?  Why would OC residents, who may actually support their local team, want to read anything positive about the Angels?  

             

First, there was Jeff Miller’s story in the sports section entitled “Curses!  Angels Get Boston Again”.  Now, I’m not sure who Miller hates more, the Angels or the Angels fans.  Has anyone forgotten the column he wrote, just after Frankie Rodriguez went to the Mets, in which he implied that Angels fans are racists?  (Feel free to refresh your memory here:  Angels Less Colorful Now, Which Pleases Some , but be sure you’ve taken your blood pressure meds first.)  I’m sure Miller fancies himself a comedian but one of the nicer points he made in Wednesday’s column compares another Angels / Red Sox postseason match-up to having “multiple molar extractions”.  Gee, thanks Jeff.  Way to pump up the team and the fans.  He ends his column by predicting a Red Sox sweep in 3, explaining his prediction by saying, “Only because the Red Sox can’t – mathematically – eliminate the Angels in just two games.”  What. An. *ss. 

            

The “special” playoffs insert in the paper was anything but.  I completely regret even looking at it.  Mark Whicker devoted his entire column to the numerous reasons that this ain’t the year for a Dodgers / Angels freeway Fall Classic.  He compliments the Dodgers, mentioning their “formidable bullpen” and gives credit to their back-to-back playoff appearances due to the fact that they “became more like the Angels”, but states that the Cardinals “just look too solid” for the Dodgers to overcome.  Fair enough.  So, what does Whicker think the Angels have going for them?  Not a whole lot.  He calls them “a bit arrogant” and says their home-field advantage is useless.  Sorry kids, but Mr. Whicker thinks your Angels suck.

                     

Marcia C. Smith threw her two cents in with a column that basically says the Angels have allowed themselves to be “mind-f*cked” (my term) by the Red Sox.  Ms. Smith opines, “Scioscia would probably send Ervin Santana to bat cleanup before admitting that another team has a history of owning his.”  Are you kidding me?  Is that what a manager is supposed to do hours before facing his postseason nemisis as a way to rally his team?  How the Register could even deem Ms. Smith’s ignorant dribble worthy of half a page is beyond my comprehension.  She revealed her pathetic lack of any kind of original material by lamely rehashing the worst moments of the 2004, 2007 and 2008 ALDS games, because surely that’s what every Angels fan wants to think about right now.  Further proof of her “hack-ness”?  Her column also contained the words “Donnie Moore” and “1986”, the lowest of blows to fans and the Angels organization.  Ms. Smith need not make room on her fireplace mantel for a Pulitzer Prize any time soon ever.  

                         

I guess the 3 million plus fans who flocked to the Big A this season (and filled seats at a higher percentage than the Dodgers) are all delusional.  According to the esteemed staff of the Register, we should all just accept the fact that postseason history will once again repeat itself and not even bother to tune in or show up to the games.  Putting on the red and pulling out the old rally monkey will prove to be an exercise in futility.  Let’s all just face it.  Our season’s over but there’s always 2010.

                         

Oh, hell no!!!  My first order of business on Thursday morning will be to call the OC Register and cancel my subscription (877-627-7009).  Next, I’ll be calling the Editor, Ken Brusic (714-796-2226) to voice my displeasure with the Register’s coverage of the Angels and I encourage others to do the same.  There’s power in numbers, folks!  Then, I’ll be rushing home after work to watch Big John Lackey take the mound as he and the rest of my Angels play their hearts out against the Red Sox, just as they have this entire season.

        

On Friday, I’ll be there (T231, Row G) WITH my rally monkey AND my thundersticks AND wearing my lucky postseason red underwear.  I can’t wait to sit elbow to elbow with my fellow fans to cheer my Angels on.  Before the game, we can all chat about how the Angels were never supposed to make it past the Yankees in 2002 and when they did, it was considered a fluke.  Then we can talk about the 2002 ALCS games with the Twins and how Tim Salmon led the team in a victory lap around the field when they won it.  And if there’s enough time, we’ll laugh about the Giants having the champagne all chilled and ready to go during game 6 of the 2002 World Series.  Ah…how sweet it will be to relive good memories, happy moments with people who believe, just as I do, that the Angels can do it.  Why not talk about 2002?  Every Angels fan I’ve talked to recently seems to agree, it does feel an awful lot like 2002.  So sure, history can repeat itself, but who’s to say which history that will be?  Make no mistake…I believe in Angels.

                        

 

Angels Baseball…FAN STRONG! 

 

 

Oh, October!

What a season.  Seriously.  Here we are, days away from the start of the playoffs and the AL Central will be decided by a one game tie-breaker on Tuesday.  The Twins and the Tigers will duke it out for the top spot and a chance to take on the Yankees. 

               tie.gif picture by lafmyers

It doesn’t really surprise me that it would take a tie-breaker to determine a division.  We’ve seen all kinds of crazy stuff this season.  Who would’ve thought, after their record setting start, that the Dodgers would struggle more with Manny than without him?  And who didn’t write the Rockies off before the All-Star break?  I actually thought the Cubs would’ve been contenders in the NL Central but I sure was wrong.  I wouldn’t have guessed the Mets would end the season with a record that resembled the Nationals’ more than the Phillies’. 

   

In the AL, the Yankees had a shaky start while the Red Sox looked like they would easily put insurmountable distance between themselves and the Bronx Bombers.  I’ll give the Yankees credit.  When they get their act together, they really get their act together and perform like a well-oiled machine.  A super-expensive machine.  The Rangers sure kept the battle for the west interesting.  Everyone kept expecting them to implode but that didn’t happen.  The Angels had to fight hard for every inch of ground they gained.  (If you’re reading this, Big Mike…yes, the Angels did finish 10 games ahead, exactly as you predicted, but it wasn’t easy.)

    

I’ll admit the last few days have been less stressful.  I watched the remaining games of the Texas series, as well as the final three games in Oakland, secure in the knowledge that my boys had made it to the postseason.  It was fun to watch the newbies take the field and do their best to impress the powers-that-be in the Angels organization.  Strike-outs?  Yawn…whatever.  Errors?  I just rolled my eyes.  None of it mattered.  How refreshing is that?

               

Carefree?  Yep…that’s me.  I haven’t felt like this since just before spring training.  On one hand, it feels like it’s been years since Opening Day.  On the other hand, it seems like it was just yesterday.  When I went to the Big A last Monday night to watch the Angels clinch the west, the usual video montage that’s played before games to the Train song “Calling All Angels”, had been replaced with a new montage that chronicled the 2009 season.  It was a bittersweet ride down memory lane and I found myself a bit emotional when it ended.  There wasn’t anything in it that I hadn’t already seen.  But I think that’s what got to me.  I realized I’ve been there for all of it, good and bad, happy and sad.  Just like seasons past, I haven’t missed a single moment of it.  I’ve cried with my Angels and I’ve rejoiced with them too.  And no matter what happens in the postseason, I’ll do the same next year.  Because I’m a fan and that’s what fans do.  I know for many players, it’s just a job.  But I’d like to think that it’s more than a paycheck.  More than a quest for a mention in the record books.  There may be a few hundred players but there’s millions of fans.  And without us there wouldn’t be Major League Baseball.

 

Baseball…good to the last drop!  

 

 

Sympathy Pains

My Angels followed up a four game sweep of the Mariners by taking 2 of 3 from the White Sox.  All was good in Halo-ville.  Then they got on a plane and entered the twilight zone, losing a make-up game to the Yankees and the first of 3 at Fenway.  During both east coast games I was basically tortured by Mark Gubicza and Rory “Whose Side Are You On Anyway?” Markas as they kept referring to the games as “post-season previews”.  Ugh.  Not what I wanted to hear as once again, decent starting pitching was wasted by absent bats. 

                  

But as I started to seriously ponder my Angels’ post-season chances, I had to stop myself and consider the alternative to this dilemma.  Granted, the Angels haven’t locked up the west but they are sitting 6 games ahead of the Rangers, giving them a more than fair shake all the way to the end.  But so many of my fellow baseball fans have already had their hopes and dreams dashed as the dreaded “E” has shown up in their teams’ standings. 

                   survivor.jpg picture by lafmyers

I’m sure fans of these teams will watch the remaining games…afterall, they’re fans.  And there’s always a chance that their team will act as a spoiler and snatch the post-season away from one of their most hated rivals.  There is a certain kind of pleasure in watching that happen.  They’ll also watch simply because, once the season is over it’s a long wait until April of 2010.  They may watch the play-offs and the World Series.  Or maybe not.  Sometimes there’s little interest in watching teams who may have smacked your guys around during the regular season celebrate in a heap of arms and legs in the middle of the field.  That can be tough. 

            

Diehard baseball fans will hang in there for all that October has to offer because their love of the game transcends their love for their own team.  There’s no shame in that.  They may also secretly harbor a bit of affection or respect for another team and will be quietly rooting them on in private.  Sssshhh.  I’ll never tell.  I can understand that with a team or two.

             

Baseball fans may stick with it in October just to watch their most despised team go down in a ball of flames.  Again, I can totally relate to this as well.

                  

                   

(That one was a toss up.)

And so today, I just wanted to express my sincere condolences to Rays, Jays, Orioles, A’s, Royals, Mets, Nationals, Reds, Pirates, Padres and Diamondbacks fans everywhere.  I’ve been in your shoes.  I know exactly how you are feeling.  You gave it your all and fought the good fight.  You observed every good-luck superstition you could.  You yelled at your players, managers and front office personnel through your TV screen or in person at your ballpark. 

                             

You should be proud.  Hold your heads up high.  As a fan, you brought your “A” game.  You held up your end of the bargain.  You wore the gear, you flew the flag, you showed up at the ballpark, you skipped dinner with the in-laws to watch the game (good), you missed the birth of your third child because of extra innings (not-so-good).  You gave it your all.  YOU did not strike out looking with the bases loaded.  YOU did not bobble an inning-ending double-play.  YOU did not blow a save.  YOU did not drop a routine fly ball. 

                                       

No remorse.  No guilt.  No regrets.  Sleep well this winter, my fellow baseball fans, knowing there’s always…well, there’s always…NO…I’m not going to say it.  I’m not going to patronize any of you by throwing out that morsel of helpful advice, usually dished up by someone who doesn’t understand what it means to be a loyal fan.  I’m NOT going to say “there’s always next year.”  But what I will say is…there’s always the Angels!!!  Well, if you’re examining other possibilites, let me give you my pitch (no pun intended but it’s appropriate, isn’t it?):

      Great group of guys with catchy little nicknames like Figgy, Mighty Macier, Bam Bam, etc.

      Not a prima donna among this bunch.  It’s all about the team, NOT individual stats.

      Cute little mascot that I swear, will grow on you.

      The best manager in all of baseball.  (Of course I’m biased.  Duh!)

      They OWN the Yankees.  Need I say more?

I know the pain is still fresh, but I just want to give you something to think about in the off-season. Consider me an “Angels Ambassador”.  If you’re thinking about making this life-changing move, leave me a comment or shoot me an email.  I’d be happy to answer any questions or offer a little more persuasion, if that’s what it takes.  Oh, and free thundersticks to the first 100 new fans who come aboard.  (Must be able to pass a slightly invasive background check.  Please have references available.)

                  

 

Baseball…it keeps going and going and going…!

 

 

Just A Touch of Heart Burn

That’s because I’m eating my words.  I know, I know.  I said I wanted a close race all the way into September.  Would you believe me if I said I was talking about the AL East?  How ’bout the NL West?  (Mannywood? Mannywoops!)  I’m the first to admit the last few games have been painful.

                   thrill.jpg picture by lafmyers

 

But on the bright side, it could be worse…

 

 sox-casket.jpg picture by lafmyers

I think what makes it so tough to watch the Angels struggling lately is the fact that they were playing so darned good!  They weren’t playing well and getting lucky.  They were playing like a true championship team.  I may be behind with my posting but I haven’t missed a single moment of Angels baseball.  Let’s do a quick little re-cap:

Saturday vs. Blue Jays (W 7-3)  Ervin Santana had a good 6 innings, Angels’ relievers were strong.  Offense combined for 11 hits with Erick Aybar going 3 for 4.  Vladdy and Juan Rivera each had a home run.  All in all, the Angels seemed to bounce back nicely after losing 2 in a row.

Sunday vs. Blue Jays (L 3-8)  Trevor Bell had his bell rung, giving up 6 runs in just 1 and 2/3.  The Angels managed to score 3 in later innings but on 12 hits, that was it.  The walks (6) didn’t help.  This was the 10th and final game of their road trip and it seemed as if they were victims of delayed jet lag. 

Monday vs. Tigers (L 7-10)   Oh, this one hurt.  By the time the Angels were able to score their first run in the 6th inning, they were already down by 10.  At this point, I was just happy it wouldn’t be a shut-out.  But then things started happening.  They scored 4 in the 6th and had scored 3 in the 8th with 2 runners on and 2 outs.  But then in came Fernando Rodney for a 4 out save and the party was over.  Bobby Abreu’s 3 run shot in the 8th turned out just to be for show. 

Tuesday vs. Tigers (L 3-5)   John Lackey again was going for career win #100.  And again, it was not to be.  The Angels looked as if they were going to pick up from where they left off the night before as Howie Kendrick skyed a 3 run shot to right field but former Angel Jarrod Washburn (a new Tiger) decided that was enough.  He and Tigers’ relievers held the Angels to 9 hits and no additional runs while all of the Tigers’ 5 earned runs were courtesy of Big John.

If this keeps up, the Rally Monkey’s gonna need some Prozac.

 

Fear not, Angels fans!  Drastic times call for drastic measures.  Yours truly, Lucky Lori, is headed to the Big A!  I will be there in person to whip my boys into shape and turn things around.  Now, I know I have not been out this season to see my Angels in person as much as I usually do, but the timing couldn’t be better.  With the Angels lead over the Rangers dropping to 4 games, we need a win on Wednesday.  The Rangers beat the Yankees 10-5 Tuesday night.  Come on!  WE do that…not stinkin’ Texas!  So yes, I’m fired up.  In fact, I’m not even worried about jinxing anything when I tell you the Angels have won every game I’ve been to this season.  And not only am I going to the game…it’s a day game!  That’s right, guess whose hubby gave her the day off?  It was pretty easy, actually.  I’ve been been walking around in a zombie-like state, clutching my Rally Monkey and mumbling, “Let’s get Figgy with it,” and singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” totally off key.  He’s calling it a “mental health” day and he’s absolutely right.  Whatever it is, I’m expecting…no, demanding…a win and when it happens, I’ll come home in such a good mood he’ll probably score a little monkey lovin’.  I know, TMI. 

                        

On a serious note, Monday, August 24, would have been Nick Adenhart’s 23rd birthday.  My thoughts and prayers were with his family and friends on what I know was an unbearably difficult day.  July 30th was my dad’s birthday, the first one since his passing in March.  I know it’s supposed to get easier but I’m not experiencing that yet and don’t expect to for quite some time.  I miss him so much every day and continue to try to make the most of this baseball season without him.  I know he’ll be smiling on Wednesday when he sees two of his daughters and two of his grandkids having a great day out at the Big A.  With Dad as an Angel in the outfield, how can they lose?

 

Baseball…bringing families together. 

 

 

XXXs and Orioles

The Angels finished up their four game series with the Orioles on Monday night.  Can I just say that ending a series on a Monday really throws me off.  All day I kept thinking it was Wednesday.  No such luck.  Oh well.  At least the Angels ended their time in Baltimore on a high note, taking 3 of 4 games. 

                                      pie.jpg picture by lafmyers

Ervin Santana had another good outing, giving up 3 runs in 6 innings.  But in a game where both teams each had 9 hits, the Angels made theirs count.  Kendry Morales had his two run shot in the 2nd and Macier Izturis had a solo HR in the 6th.  Homerun-itis then struck Vladimir Guerrero who launched his own 2 run shot in the 6th and followed that up with a 3 runner in the 7th.  Vlady is making up for lost time.  His numbers suffered from all the time he spent on the DL.  I think those whispered rumors that he’d lost his mojo for good can definitely be put to rest.  Super Vlad will not go quietly into that good night.  Yippee!

         

The Angels roll into Cleveland on Tuesday for 3 games.  The Indians have won their last two but as long as the Angels offense stays hot everything should be fine.  I’d like to see rookie Trevor Bell get his first win.  His first game was a no decision.  Torii Hunter will be back in the line-up.  He’s playing every other day for a little while since he’s fresh off the DL. 

     

There’s certainly no need to rush things as we all want him to be 100%, along with every other player.  The Angels schedule will only get tougher in the next few weeks and the Rangers aren’t showing any signs of backing down.  The same can’t be said for a few other teams.  While every team is entitled to a slump, the Red Sox meltdown couldn’t have come at a better time for the Yankees.  It’s got to be so frustrating for Sox fans to watch their team falling from grace so swiftly as the Yankees charge forward.  Not pretty.

                            

And in the National League, Dodger fans, who have been riding the hot tamale train since the season started, could be starting to squirm just a little bit.  They no longer can claim the best record in baseball and have seen the Rockies chip away at their comfortable lead.  They are now just 4.5 games ahead of the Rockies.  Even my Angels have a better record than the Dodgers but here in Southern California you’d never know it.  The local media, which originates in Los Angeles, continues to ignore the Angels for the most part.  Whatever.  We’re used to it.  In the end, it doesn’t matter.  I’ll eat a Dodger dog if I’m wrong, but I’ve got a feeling the Dodger train is about to jump the tracks.

                           

 

Baseball…It’s the only game in town.

 

 

Weekend Woes

After a terrific come-from-behind win against the Dodgers on Friday night, I really thought the Angels would carry the momentum into Saturday and Sunday’s games.  I was wrong.  The Angels were undone by some pretty darn good Dodger pitching.  Saturday was the much anticipated brother vs. brother match-up between Jeff and Jered Weaver.

                                  

By the end of the 2nd inning, the Angels had 2 runs off of Jeff and Jered had breezed through the first 2/3 of the Dodgers’ lineup.  I mentioned to my husband that I felt bad for Jeff and if I was in Jered’s shoes, I might consider leaving a couple hanging over the plate so my brother wouldn’t be humiliated while I pitched another shut-out.

                            handmouth.jpg picture by lafmyers

Yeah, I know.  I can’t believe I said it either.  I take full responsibility for the loss and know the blame lies squarely on my shoulders.  Yes, we fans believe we yield that kind of power.  (Too bad I can’t win more than $2 on lotto.)  At least Mom and Dad Weaver ended up with a couple of nifty jerseys and memories of a moment in baseball history that could never have happened without them.

                              Gail and Dave Weaver

Sunday was another tough one.  The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw wasn’t exactly in the zone, but he managed to shut-out the Angels through 7.  He struck out 5 and walked 4 and the Angels helped him out by leaving a gazillion men on base.  (Okay, it was 12.)  Like Saturday, they scored 2 runs off of Jonathan Broxton in the 9th, but came up short in the 3-5 loss. 

                          

I will say this, Juan Pierre has been able to do for the Dodgers what Jason Bay has done for the Red Sox…make people say, “Manny Who?”  He may not be the home run hitter Manny is (he’s also not on any PEDs that we know of), but if there’s one thing he has that Manny doesn’t, clearly it’s speed.  Not only does he fly around the bases, he runs down balls in left field that Manny couldn’t get to in a Porsche.  What he lacks in long balls, he makes up for in stolen bases and defense.  I’m not surprised he and Chone Figgins are close friends.  They’re very similar…scrappy and speedy.  It’ll be a real shame if Pierre ends up warming the bench when Mighty (cough, cough) Manny makes his glorious (choke, choke) return.

                     

Have you had enough of interleague play yet?  Oh well.  There’re two more rounds and the Angels will host the Colorado Rockies tonight, then travel to the Arizona Diamondbacks for the weekend.  The usually dominant American League has seen a bit more competition this year as we witnessed some unexpected upsets.  The Nationals and the Marlins each took 2 from the Yankees, Houston got 2 on the Twins, the Braves swiped 1 from the Red Sox and the Giants helped the Angels gain ground in the west by taking 2 from the Rangers.  Yes, for a few brief, shining hours yesterday, the Angels were tied for first place.  Maybe Mike Scioscia can have another “discussion” with the team before the game tonight.  I want to see my new and improved Angels back on the field.  And I’d like to see Matt Palmer get win #7.

 

Baseball…it’s all the power you need.

 

 

Dodger Blues

The standings don’t always tell the story.  While there’s no denying the Dodgers have a good thing going, the Angels have kicked it into high gear.  Best thing to do?  Step aside. 

                  

When Joe Saunders faltered, the Dodgers were on the board first with a run coming by way of a walk.  Heck, who wouldn’t like to have a run handed to them?  It’s all good, but the Angels prefer to score their runs the old-fashioned way…with a bat.  The Dodgers scored 3 more runs, including a homerun by James Loney.  Both Saunders and the Dodgers’ Chad Billingsley gave up 4 runs on 6 hits before they were pulled in the 6th, respectable outings but neither would see a decision.  Juan Rivera would settle that when he went deep off of Guillermo Mota in the 8th. 

     Juan Rivera, Dino Ebel

Angels fans, who I suspect had grown tired of the “Let’s go Dodgers!” cheers coming from the Dodger fans who had infiltrated the Big A, were so appreciative of Rivera’s, they insisted on a curtain call.  It was a great moment in an overall fantastic game. 

The only downside? 

             rorymark2.jpg picture by lafmyers

No Rex and Steve.  I was bitterly disappointed as I was sure they’d be taking over for this homestand.  What happened to taking turns?  And when Rory and Mark had AM 830’s Roger Lodge join them in the booth for the 5th inning, I thought my head would explode.  The ridiculous chatter these three had going on was worse than a rally-killing wave as the Dodgers scored 2 runs while we learned that Lodge played basketball at Whittier College, had an appearance on “General Hospital”, thinks the Dodgers are a really good team, is happy about the Lakers’ championship and has lots of opinions on who should be USC’s new basketball coach.  Give me a freaking break!!

                   

I will be sending a fax to the Angels front office because it’s only June and I honestly can’t take much more of this.  We fans have already been through the torture that we’ll call April.  Why, when the Angels are playing so well, can’t we have some of Rex and Steve’s enthusiasm to go along with it?  Rory and Mark were more excited over Casey Blake’s foul ball catch than Rivera’s homer.  And I’m pretty sure they replayed Blake’s catch more than Juan’s HR.  Ugh.

                               

Okay, don’t forget Saturday’s “Battle of the Brothers” as former teammates, Jered and Jeff Weaver, go head-to-head.  In an interview, Mom Weaver said she wants a shut-out on both sides through the 7th, then let the relievers duke it out.  Spoken like a decidedly neutral party! 

 

Baseball…for fast, fast, fast relief.

 

 

Pinch Me!

When I saw Tim Lincecum take the mound for the Giants in Wednesday’s 3rd and final game with the Angels, I must admit I was a bit intrigued.  I’d heard his name and knew he was the National League’s Cy Young Award winner last season.  But my first thought was, he looked less like John Lackey or CC Sabathia and more like a 4th Jonas Brother (with a haircut and the right pair of skinny jeans). 

                    jonasbros.jpg picture by lafmyers

I grabbed my laptop and did a quick ESPN player search.  It took me all of 6.5 seconds to read over his stats, not that they’re not interesting, he just hasn’t exactly been around for very long.  He breaks into the majors in 2007 and wins the Cy Young the next year??  By the way, he just turned 25 on Monday.  I sat there and watched him pitch the 1st inning and was very impressed with his powerful delivery.  This game would not be a walk in the AT&T Park for the Angels. 

             park.jpg picture by lafmyers

Sure enough, Lincecum was able to keep the newly explosive Angels’ bats awkwardly quiet.  But Matt Palmer was able to do the same with the Giants and at the end of 6 innings, each pitcher had given up only 4 hits.  The difference was, the Giants had managed to put together 2 runs, the Angels, only 1.  When Palmer gave up a lead-off home run in the 7th, it was time for the relievers to give the Angels a chance to make a comeback.   

                             

At the top of the 8th, my ALL-STAR Torii Hunter stepped into the batter’s box.  What?  My Torii was supposed to be recovering from Monday night’s collision with the center field wall.  He wasn’t expected to play again until Friday night and here he was pinch hitting.  I just knew he’s get a hit, and he did.  Next at bat?  Another pinch hitter, another hit!  This time it was Big Daddy Vlady Guerrero who has had to sit out much of the recent slugfests during interleague play.  Chone Figgins, Erick Aybar and Juan Rivera all came through and when the 8th was over, the Angels were up 4-3 and Lincecum was on the hook for his first loss since April 12th.  We just had to get through the 9th.  Piece of cake, right?  I don’t know.  Why don’t we ask Brian Fuentes?

                               

When Fuentes had the first batter in a 3-0 count, I had no choice but to hit “pause”.  In each of their 5 previous wins, the Angels had scored first.  That wasn’t the case in this game so they were poised for a great come-from-behind win and I just couldn’t bear to see it blown.  After 5 minutes, I hit “play” and then quickly hit “fast forward”.  If it was going to be bad, seeing it (and hearing it) in real-time would only make it more excruciating.  But this is what I saw:

            high5.jpg picture by lafmyers

Suddenly “hump” day turned into “jump (for joy)” day and I was in Halo Heaven. Once again, I grabbed the laptop and clicked on the standings.  There it was…1.5 games behind Texas.  Sure, it was only a matter of hours before it said 2 again, but those few hours were the best of my week so far.  The Angels can enjoy a well-deserved day off tomorrow before they face the Dodgers again.  I am particularly looking forward to Saturday’s match-up between the Weaver Brothers.  Seriously, how do you make an interleague freeway series just a little more interesting?

                        

                          

 

Baseball…where family comes first.

 

 

Rookie-rama!

Don’t you just love irony?  I sure do.  Tuesday night was “Irish Night” at the Giants’ AT&T Park.  And was it ever.  Rookie Sean O’Sullivan made his major league debut as the Angels’ starter and turned out to be their pot of gold. 

                   rainbow.jpg picture by lafmyers

O’Sullivan had a shut-out working into the 7th inning when he finally gave up the only run the Giants would see.  Luck had nothing to do with it as he struck out 5 and walked just one batter.  The Giants could not figure him out and took advantage of a wild pitch to get a runner in scoring position.  O’Sullivan is only 21 years old and I certainly wouldn’t have blamed him if he’d had some debut jitters, but he was too cool for school as he made pitch after pitch.  Then, just to make it a little more interesting, he got his first major league hit when he slammed a bullet right at Giant’s 3rd baseman, Rich Aurilia, who couldn’t get his glove on it.  He also had a chance to round the bases and score a run, just like John Lackey on Monday night, when Maicer Izturis followed up with his first home run of the season.  Another night full of firsts!

                                

Someone found Mike Napoli’s “ON” switch.  Napoli’s recent struggles at the plate were erased from our memories with one swing of the bat as he unleashed a 3 run homer deep into the stands, just one of his 4 for 5 hits.  It looks like Mike’s got his mojo back and his timing couldn’t be better with my ALL-STAR Torii Hunter missing from the line-up.  My Torii body-slammed the centerfield wall Monday night, going after a line drive hit by Bengie Molina.  Remember my motto, “Once an Angel, always an Angel…except for Jose Guillen”?  I forgive you, Bengie.  I know you didn’t mean to hurt my Torii.  Thankfully, my Torii’s only injury was a couple of bruised ribs. 

           Hunter

I say thankfully, because the sound of my Torii’s body impacting the wall could be heard all the way in the broadcast booth.  I cringed every time they replayed it and I’m so glad he wasn’t hurt more seriously.  He’s expected to be back on the field Friday as the Angels start another freeway series with the Dodgers.  I’ll say it again…if my Torii Hunter isn’t the starting centerfielder in the All-Star Game it will only prove there is NO justice in this world!  Count ’em, folks.

                toriigoldgloves.jpg picture by lafmyers

So, things are good in Halo-land right now.  The Angels are riding their longest win streak of the season (again, do your own math…I’m not gonna jinx it), yet another rookie on the mound gave us much to cheer about and Matt Palmer will have another start Wednesday afternoon backed up by a bunch of guys who have rediscovered their long-ball swings.  What could I possibly have to b*tch about???

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I do read (some) message boards so I know the debate rages on: Rex Hudler & Steve Physioc vs. Rory & Mark.  My vote rests squarely with Rex and Steve.  I’ve heard Rex called a “shameless cheerleader”.  I’ve been called the same thing and I hardly consider it an insult.  He’s also been accused of “dumbing down” the game.  Then call me stupid because I actually learn a thing or two from him and Steve.  Not all fans who watch Angels games can spout stats or have any experience actually playing the game themselves.  Heck, I’m happy when I get an AFLAC Trivia Question right!   And let’s not forget the many young fans who enjoy watching the games.  Few former pro athletes are as self-deprecating as Rex and I find it refreshing.  He and Steve have genuine enthusiasm that comes from being true-red Angels fans and I like it.  I don’t have much of a beef with Mark.  I respect his experience and his resume in the majors and it certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s easy on the eyes.  But Mark needs to understand that I will never find myself in the position to throw a slider, split-finger, sinker or curveball and to be completely honest, I can’t distinguish between the zillions of pitches he describes.  I know only two: ball and strike.  I sometimes find my eyes glassing over as he offers TMI for each pitch.  Now, Rory?  That guy knows how to push my buttons and he’s been doing it a lot lately.  Did anyone else notice how he seemed to be getting excited Monday night as the Giants chipped away at an Angels’ 8 run lead?  He says the wrong thing at the wrong time.  Tonight it was, “The Giants haven’t had a base runner in scoring position yet.”  The words were not even completely out of his mouth as a Giant hit second base.  Talk about a jinx?  With Rory, it’s not “if you build it, they will come”, it’s “if he says it, it will happen”.  So, Rory, do me a favor, before you speak, ask yourself, “WWFD?”  (What would fans do?)  Please.  Don’t make me pull out the duct tape.  

                          

 

Baseball…can you hear me now?  

 

 

Winners & Losers

I knew I wouldn’t be able to watch Saturday night’s Angels/Dodgers game so I set the DVR right before I left the house.  It has to be a very special occasion for me to miss a live game and since the BBQ/Poker Night/Memorial Day/Birthday Party was for moi, I felt obligated to attend.  (If I hadn’t my sister would’ve hurt me.)  I did, however, outline a couple of conditions:  1. The TV could be on but only for the Lakers/Nuggets game.  I knew if I was careful, I could later watch the playback of the Angels game without knowing who won even if this meant listening in the car to my husband’s favorite mix CD.  (Who has Sarah Brightman and Lady Ga-Ga on the same playlist?  My husband.)   2.  No one could force me to play Mexican Quarters again.  (I have notoriously bad hand-eye coordination.  Funny, but I have yet to get anyone to agree to a “Spelling Bee” type of drinking game…my only chance of emerging victorious and sober.)  

    SpellingBee.jpg picture by lafmyers

My conditions were met, dinner was great, the cards were going my way and I was blissfully unaware of what might be going on at Chavez Ravine until I received a text message.  It read, “Nooooooooo!!!  I assume u r watching the game and know what I’m talking about. 😦 ”  Sweet, sweet, Claire.  My niece is well aware of my devotion to my Angels and never would have guessed I wasn’t watching the game.  My husband immediately noticed the change in my demeanor but I did my best not to be a:

                 partypooper.gif picture by lafmyers

Back home at 2:00 AM, with my husband and the birds all tucked in, I grabbed the remote, took a deep breath and watched.  When I set the DVR, I had another one of my “feelings” and extended the timer just in case there were extra innings.  Good thinking.  With the game tied 4-4 at the end of the 9th, I grabbed my cell phone and looked at the time stamp on my niece’s text message. 9:46 PM.  That was during the 8th inning when the Dodgers tied it up.  Maybe this could have a happy ending after all?  If the game went 12 or 13 innings, she could’ve gone to bed, missed the Angels score the winning run(s) and wouldn’t have been able to send the second text message which would’ve said, “OMG!  They did it!  Yippppeeeee!!!!!!”, or something to that effect.  For a brief moment I was optimistic again. 

                            

So, what’s almost as bad as losing a game without giving up a hit (6/28/08)?  Walking in the winning run.  I questioned Mike Scioscia’s decision to bring Scot Shields back in the 9th after he was off in the 8th and gave up the tying run.  I also had to wonder why he stuck with Jose Arredondo in the 10th when he’d already given up 2 hits and a walk to load the bases.  Sometimes Scioscia’s brilliant (bringing in the extra infielder in the 9th), sometimes he’s not.  Oh well.  I climbed into bed just before the sun came up, the deciding game of the “Freeway Series” a mere 8 hours away.

      stadiumsunrise.jpg picture by lafmyers

While Matt Palmer may not have gotten win #6, he didn’t get loss #1.  He just didn’t have his usual finesse and the Dodgers touched him up for 4 runs (all in the 2nd) and were threatening more when he was pulled in the 5th.  Jason Bulger and Justin Speier held off those pesky Dodgers for a while but they got to Darren Oliver in the 8th, scoring 2 more runs to make it a one-run game. But when the Angels came roaring back to score 3 runs in the 9th, Dodger fans headed for the exits.  I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and attribute it to LA traffic rather than lack of faith in their own team. 

                               

One of the things I love about the Angels is the way they always seem to take turns at being the “hero” of the game.  One night, it’s a big home run by an unlikely source like Maicer Izturis, another night it’s Jeff Mathis laying down a perfect bunt for a suicide squeeze.  You just never know who will contribute the deciding hit or the game-saving defensive play.  So far this season, one player in particular has managed to outshine his teammates in both categories.

      Juan Rivera, Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter

Torii Hunter leads the team with 37 RBI’s but who’s to know how many RBI’s he’s prevented with his gravity-defying acrobatics out in centerfield.  He certainly didn’t disappoint today as he ran full-force into the wall to take an extra bag hit away from Matt Kemp.  As he lay on the ground, the wind knocked out of him, he lifted his gloved hand into the air to display the ball.  Understandably, it took a few moments for my Torii to get back on his feet.  Those were some scary moments.  I’d hate for my Torii to be hurt.  The Angels would suffer terribly if he had to spend any time on the DL.  Yes, the return of Vladimir Guerrero to the line-up tomorrow might be able to keep the offensive numbers up, but no one on the Angels roster (or any roster, in my opinion) could possibly make the plays my Torii makes in centerfield.  If, God forbid, my Torii ever went on the DL, the Angels shouldn’t even bother looking around the rest of the major leagues for a suitable replacement.  They’d be better off calling Cirque Du Soleil.

         cirquedusoleil.jpg picture by lafmyers

I know the weekend isn’t technically over, but here’s a quick rundown of the past three days:

Angels – won 2 games

Dodgers – won 1 game

American League – won 22 games

National League – won 20 games

Lucky Lori – won $11.50 (1 straight flush, 2 full houses)

 

Baseball…the art of performance.