Tagged: John Lackey

Keeping The Faith!

“Welcome back to the postseason, Halos, that most celebrated
of achieved
destinations, where tradition dictates you’ll soon
be squished in the manner of a grape beneath the dancing
feet of Jonathan Papelbon.”

                                              — Jeff Miller, OC Register

Ummmm, I don’t think so.  Not even close.  The only “grapes” involved in the Angels’ sweep of the Red Sox were the kind used to make this:

          

But let’s start at the beginning.  Thursday flew by as I tackled a mountain of paperwork at the office, canceled my subscription to the OC Register and spoke with the editor’s secretary.  She provided me some phone numbers for the mucky-mucks in the sports department but I was unable to reach any of them on their direct lines.  Gee, I wonder if they were out at the Big A with their complementary press passes?  By the time I got home, I was fired up and ready for a good game.  With all the talk about the “one-two” punch of Jon Lester and Josh Beckett, I was praying John Lackey would have his best stuff.  Did he ever.  It was a great pitchers duel that continued into the 5th inning and we were all holding our breaths, wondering who would blink first.  Lester did.  Erick Aybar led off the bottom of the 5th with a double, Chone Figgins bunted him over to 3rd and Mr. Patience, Bobby Abreu, skillfully drew his third walk of the game.  Then it happened…my Torii Hunter blasted one up, up and over the centerfield wall! 

                         ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 08:  Torii Hunter #48 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim reacts to hitting a three-run home run as catcher Victor Martinez #41 of the Boston Red Sox look on in the fifth inning of Game One of the ALDS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Angel Stadium on October 8, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

It was a thing of beauty, but given the Red Sox ability to throw runs up on the board in later innings, I said a quick prayer for insurance runs.  Kendry Morales delivered in the 7th with an RBI and one more run came in on a bad throw by Jason Bay.  After giving up only 4 hits, Big John Lackey left the mound after 7 & 1/3 to thunderous applause.  Darren Oliver was superb, finishing the game without allowing a single base runner.  Fantastic!  I had hoped and prayed for a win and got just that.  To top it all off…it was a shut-out!  Sweet. 

                             

As you can imagine, I was itching to update my blog after Thursday night’s win.  After attempting for nearly 2 hours to access MLB Blogs, I gave up and hoped I’d have some time at work on Friday to send out congratulations to my boys and revel in the victory a little.  It didn’t happen as, once again, it was a busy day, cut short by my early departure to get to the Big A for all the action of Game 2.  Since I’d gone into work wearing my World Series Champs t-shirt, jersey, hat and lucky postseason red underwear, I only needed to feed the birds, grab my hubby and get on the road.  There was no traffic at all on the 5 freeway and we were in the stadium by 5 PM.  I couldn’t help but shake my head at the number of “fans” who were attempting to enter the ball park with ALCS tickets!!  I use the term “fans” lightly as true baseball fans undoubtedly know the difference between ALCS and ALDS.  One unfortunate woman had bought Game 2…Game 2 at Fenway!  Jeez!! 

                               

We headed to our seats which were in a very lively terrace section on the right field side.  I told my husband I needed to eat some dinner quickly because I knew I would not be able to eat once the game started.  This was not a typical fun night at the ball park.  My nerves were kicking in big time and at no time would I be taking my eyes off the field.  I inhaled my sandwich and nervously waited.  They showed the new pre-game video montage again and again I became emotional.  Okay, that’s an understatement.  I began sobbing and didn’t think I’d stop.  The whole Nick Adenhart thing just hit so close to home.  I was missing my Dad.  This was my first postseason game without him.  My husband was helpless to comfort me so he just handed me those stiff, scratchy stadium napkins and let me have my cry.  Jered Weaver took the mound and wrote “N.A.” in the dirt of the mound with his finger and I let loose one last sob, then got myself together.  I grabbed my thundersticks and began cheering with all my might.  I’ll spare you the pitch-by-pitch recap.  The Red Sox scored first in the top of the 4th but the Angels responded quickly with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning.  The Angels broke the tie in the bottom of the 7th with Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis leading the charge.  Josh Beckett was done with 4 earned runs, his “punch” never materializing.  Jered Weaver pitched his heart out, allowing only one run on 2 hits.  He matched Lackey’s 7 & 1/3 innings and received a well-deserved standing O when he left the field.weaver2-1.jpg picture by lafmyers

Darren Oliver, Kevin Jepsen and Brian Fuentes provided solid relief and once again, it was an amazing game!  The crowd roared with every strike, every out, every Angels’ hit and every Angels’ run.  We were on our feet nearly the entire game.  As we departed the Big A, the crowd was chanting “Sweep, sweep, sweep!” so loudly, they were probably heard in Huntington Beach.  I didn’t join in.  I couldn’t.  You know how superstitious I am.  And that night, my superstitions got the best of me as I decided NOT to blog.  I hadn’t blogged after Thursday’s game and they won on Friday.  So, if I didn’t blog after Friday’s game, well, I just felt it would bode better for Sunday’s game.  But Sunday would be at Fenway.  Fenway.  I decided to remain hopefully, cautiously, optimistic.

                                  

2:00 AM, Sunday morning and I couldn’t sleep.  I scrolled through the recordings on the DVR, looking for something that would perhaps lull me to sleep.  Instead, I watched the Angels’ rally, held after their last regular season home game…again.  I listened to Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu fire up the crowd.  Jered Weaver described how honored he was to receive the first Nick Adenhart pitching award.  I watched the fans cheering the players as they piled aboard a bus bound for John Wayne Airport.  Then I fell asleep and dreamed of another Angels’ victory.

  sleep.jpg picture by lafmyers

Let me just say, baseball can do for me what football will never do: get my butt up at 9:00 AM on a Sunday.  Here in So Cal, it was overcast and gloomy.  I turned the game on and saw a bright, sunny day at Fenway.  I wondered who the sun was shining for.  Scott Kazmir was good, not great, but at least he kept the Red Sox from running away with it.  The Red Sox had a big 3 run inning in the 3rd and Kendry Morales cut the lead with a solo HR in the top of the 4th.  The Sox scored 2 more in the bottom of the 4th and were all smiles in the dugout with a 5-1 lead.  The crowd at Fenway seemed to finally perk up as well.  The Angels scored one more in the 6th which hardly phased the Red Sox or their fans.  But the Angels got their attention in the 8th when Bobby Abreu had a lead-off double and Red Sox reliever Billy Wagner walked Vlad Guerrero.  Tony Francona decided he’d make the call to the bullpen.  Well, I don’t think he used the phone.  I think he just talks to Papelbon in his head, like some people talk to God.  Honestly, I expected Papelbon to make an entrance like this:

        

 

Or maybe like this:

 

                   

But no, he took the mound like a regular guy and promptly gave up a two-run single to Juan Rivera.  What?!?  This was interesting.  But only for a moment as Reggie Willits, pinch running for Rivera, was quickly picked off to end the inning.  The Red Sox then added a run in the bottom of the 8th and again sent Papelbon out to secure the final 3 outs of the game and what they expected would be a 6-4 win.  Or not.  The first two outs came fairly easy but the 2009 Angels never say die.  Aybar singled up the middle, then took 2nd base, uncontested.  Chone Figgins managed a walk of his own, bringing Abreu to the plate.  When Abreu smacked the Green Monster with a solid double and Aybar came around to score, I was cheering and waving my rally monkey.  And when they walked my Torii Hunter and loaded the bases, I yelled, “Make ’em pay, Vladdy!  Make ’em pay!” Vladdy drove Papelbon’s first pitch right up the middle and dropped it right in front of Jacoby Ellsbury.  Now I was screaming!!!  Figgins scored the tying run and Abreu hustled in for the go-ahead.  This was unbelievable!  For the first time this entire season, I didn’t panic when Brian Fuentes took the mound.  I knew what had just happened would not be in vain.  I knew the unimagineable was about to happen.  This would be a sweep!  Fuentes did what Papelbon couldn’t and shut down the side, 1-2-3. 

  bigfinish.jpg picture by lafmyers

It was a half hour before I felt confident that none of my neighbors had called 911 to report my screams of joy which could totally have been mistaken for the blood-curdling sort.  It was hard to do much of anything the rest of the day.  I realized I’d spent the previous four days a wound-up bundle of nerves.  Now it was time to exhale.  Oh, and watch every second of news coverage I could find.  The idiots at TBS immediately cut away at the end of the game to show a re-run of “Seinfeld”.  Not even a moment of locker room champagne dousings.  Somehow I find it hard to believe they would’ve done that had the Red Sox just completed a sweep in the ALCS.  I guess my guys will continue to be the Rodney Dangerfield of the MLB…no respect, I tell ya.  Whatever.  We’re used to the unfair coverage and the lack of respect.  Just think how stupid the local reporters look now.  They all predicted a sweep…by the Red Sox.  That’s okay.  Everyone can keep dissing my guys, but the fans will always keep the faith.  We know how bad our Angels want this.  And we know what they’re playing for.

  torii1.jpg picture by lafmyers

 

Angels Baseball…Fan Strong!

 

 

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! 

 

 

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. 

 

 

Good Morning Baltimore

I have to admit I did not watch Friday night’s game.  I, like most Americans, was glued to CNN watching that breaking news story that gripped the nation.

                

               map.jpg picture by lafmyers

 

Scientists Confirm New “Bermuda Triangle”

Wichita, Kansas (AP) – Scientists from MIT have confirmed the existence of a new “Bermuda Triangle”.  In response to disappearing aircraft, small watercraft and a number of farm tractors, scientists raced to the rural town of Fall River, outside of Wichita, to investigate the mysterious occurrences.  “We detected the presence of some type of magnetic force field that is approximately two hundred miles wide,” Professor Stewart Bradley reported during a press conference Friday afternoon.  Kent Hardy, an official with the FAA also provided more information regarding the rumor that a plane, believed to be transporting the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim from Orange County to Baltimore, had disappeared from radar Thursday evening only to suddenly reappear one hour later and landing without further incident in Baltimore.  “Although exact details are not available, I can confirm that the plane disappeared from radar at approximately 8:00 PM, eastern time.  We were able to reestablish contact one hour later although the crew reported nothing unusual had happened.”  While scientists are insisting some kind of atmospheric phenomenon is responsible, Fall River residents are reporting the sighting of a large, unidentified flying object, circular in shape with bright colored lights.  “I was bringing Paris and Nicole, my two dairy cows, into the barn when all of a sudden I saw this huge thing in the sky that looked like a ginormous  Frisbee and that thing just sucked up that big old airplane!” Tucker “Tadpole” Johnston, Jr. claimed.  Officials met the plane and interviewed all crew and passengers but no one recalled anything out of the ordinary happening during the flight.  “Everything was normal,” Angels third baseman Chone Figgins told reporters.  “We were singing 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall like we always do to pass the time and then we all took a nap.  But my belly button hurts.”

                            

Now, I’m not saying this could have anything to do with the Angels losing Friday night to the Orioles 6-16, but at least now it makes sense.  How else do you explain Jered Weaver giving up 6 runs in the first inning?  The O’s scoring 7 runs in the 7th?  It’s aliens, I tell you.  Aliens.

                 

By Saturday, the Angels were able to shake off any residual effects of the alien probing and were in top form, especially Big John Lackey who gave up one run in 7 rock-solid innings.  The Orioles sent rookie Brian Matusz to the mound.  Four of his five innings were shut-outs, but the Angels were able to score all 5 of their runs in the 3rd.  Orioles relievers only gave up one hit in the last 3 and 1/3 innings.  But the damage had been done.  Lackey had his 99th career win, Brian Fuentes had his 33rd save of the season.

              

Sunday’s game was just plain crazy.  I may as well start with the bottom of the 9th because that’s when Brian Fuentes blew the save and allowed the Orioles to tie it, 8-8.  The Angels loaded the bases in the 11th and 12th innings and couldn’t score a run.  Finally in the 13th, my Torii Hunter provided the go-ahead RBI but that was just the beginning of a 9 run inning (tied a MLB record, by the way) that had the Angels ultimately winning the marathon game, 17-8.  As the Angels were having their run-fest, my mom called.  Again, she was asking why the game wasn’t over when the Angels scored the first run of the inning in “overtime”.  I think I have no choice but to get a Powerpoint presentation together for her.  That’s okay.  I was just impressed she was watching.  And we were both impressed with the Angels. 

 

Baseball…Kid tested.  Mother approved.

 

 

Call Me Crazy

The Angels poor showing against the Rangers in their three game series this weekend was definitely disappointing but it was hardly anything to go nuts about.

                tv.jpg picture by lafmyers

Friday night, Joe Saunders gave up 5 runs before being “rescued” from the mound after only 1 & 2/3 innings.  He’s been placed on the 15 day DL which probably should have happened weeks ago.  We all know what Saunders is capable of when he’s 100% and he deserves the chance to get back to 100%.  With Matt Palmer available to make a few starts in the meantime, Saunders should take all the time he needs to be in top form for the home stretch in September, not to mention the post-season.  Angels relievers did not have their best stuff and although it looked like a comeback was in the making when Maicer Izturis hit a 3 run homer in a 4-run 7th inning, the Angels came up short in the 11-6 loss.                            

                            

I knew well in advance that I would not be watching Saturday afternoon’s game live.  I set the DVR before hubby and I made the 1 & 1/2 hour trek up to the high desert for a BBQ with his family.  While my family is all too aware of my “addiction”, his family thinks I’m perfectly normal and I intended to keep it that way.  I’d simply watch the game when I got home and my secret would be safe.  At least that was the plan. 

                                 

Everything was going just fine.  We were all gathered on the large back patio enjoying the sun, pool and company.  Honestly, I was having such a good time I hadn’t even thought about the game.  Then I went into the house to help Mr. Lucky assemble the salad we had brought.  I walked into the kitchen and then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw it…a flash of red and  crisp white uniforms against a backdrop of green, green grass.  “Hey honey, I put the game on for you,” my hubby announced sweetly.  “Why did you do that?” I asked, my voice quivering.  “I thought you could just catch the score once in a while.”  And an alcoholic can have a sip of wine.  A shopaholic can just walk the mall.  I should’ve shut it off.  I know that now.  As I tossed the salad, I kept glancing over at the TV.  Top of the 3rd, (toss, toss) no score, (toss, toss) Jered Weaver looks good, (toss, toss). 

                         

I had to get out of there, go back outside and rejoin the party.  And I did. I was doing just fine, out of sight, out of mind, right?  A little while later, my brother-in-law came out of the house, carrying a large tray of mushroom burgers destined for the BBQ, when he announced, to no one in particular, “The game’s tied.”  My pulse quickened and I heard myself say, “What’s the score?”  It was barely a whisper and he didn’t hear me so I let it go, did a little of that yoga breathing to slow my heart rate down and resumed my conversation with my sister-in-law.  We were sitting at a table under a large umbrella, a safe distance from the house, family room and TV.  I had no way of knowing disaster was looming.

       caution.jpg picture by lafmyers

The patio door opened and out stepped my nephew’s doll of a new wife.  “Hey, a guy in a red suit just hit a ball over a wall.”  I didn’t mean to do it.  It was honestly an involuntary reflex but what followed seemed to all happen in slow motion.  I jumped up from the table sending my ice-filled cup of Fresca into the air and down the front of me, the metal patio chair flew backward, hitting the cement and startling my other nephew’s large dog who jumped backward, knocking my BBQ-ing brother-in-law off balance and right into the pool, followed by the burger he had been in the process of flipping.  As I stood there, dripping in refreshing grapefruit diet soda, all eyes on me, I meekly smiled and said, “I’ll eat that one.”

  

Needless to say, the drive home was long…and quiet.  I broke the awkward silence by asking my hubby why he turned the game on in the first place when I had promised to be good and wait to watch it at home.  “I was trying to be nice,” he explained.  “Yeah, but you know I have a problem, ” I whined.  “At least the kids had fun diving for the burger…and your brother’s cell phone.”  He didn’t respond. 

                       

Oh well.  What mattered was the Angels won and Jered Weaver had a terrific game, matching his 11 strike-outs from his previous start.  Of course, my hubby’s family probably won’t have me back up until sometime after October.  Okay, so now they know I’m a little bit crazy when it comes to my Angels but I’m pretty sure they still like me way better than his first wife.

                          

I suppose Sunday’s game was my real penance.  I don’t know what the worst part of the 0-7 loss to the Rangers was.  It was the first shut-out for the Angels since May 20th and an uncharacteristic 3 error game.  Those errors proved mighty costly too.  Derek Holland pitched a complete game and had a no hitter going into the 6th.  The Angels would ultimately muster only 3 hits.  Sadly, John Lackey’s 6 & 1/3 innings and 8 strike-outs garnered him a loss.  While I’m still confident the Angels will prevail in the west, their 3-9 record against Texas so far this season is definitely frustrating.  But Lackey himself put it in perspective for me.  “They can beat us 18 times and if we play 19 games better against everyone else, it doesn’t matter.”  He’s got a point.  Still, with 2 more series against Texas in September, I’d love to see the Angels turn the tables on the Rangers much the way the Yankees were able to against the Red Sox this weekend.  Sometime it’s an issue of pride.

Baseball…have it your way.

 

 

Down In Chi-Town

I have very little sentimental attachment to hardly any of the cities that are home to other American League teams.  Sure, Seattle is one of hubby’s and my favorite places to visit and New York is one of my favorite places to visit (without my hubby), but Kansas City, Cleveland, Baltimore, Arlington and Oakland are merely cities I’ve passed through on my way to somewhere else.  I once spent six hours in Boston when my cruise ship stopped there on the way to Nova Scotia.  Detroit, Tampa Bay or Minneapolis?  Never been.  Toronto?  What’s that all “a-boot”?  And then there’s Chicago.  Ah…Chicago.  What memories. 

          lincolnparkzoo.jpg picture by lafmyers 

 

                                 

 

            

Yes, this Angels fan was born and partially raised in Chicago.  And while the Cubs are my #2 team (a distant #2), I hate the White Sox.  Why?  Well, that’s mostly because I am very good at holding a grudge.

                                 

And it just wouldn’t be a typical Angels / White Sox game if AJ Pierzynski didn’t do something to piss me off.  Did he really try to say Chone Figgins left 3rd base too early on a sac fly by Bobby Abreu in the 5th?!?  Figgy?  Base runner extraordinaire?  Are you kidding me?  Pierzynski is such a stinkin’ weasel.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

            backitup.jpg picture by lafmyers

Okay, it’s hardly worth mentioning the minor issues John Lackey had early on, considering all that went wrong for White Sox starter Jose Contreras.  The 3rd inning proved to be his undoing as he walked Erick Aybar and Gary Matthews, Jr. to start the inning.  Jeff Mathis’s sac bunt moved them to 2nd and 3rd and then Figgy took a walk and the bases were loaded.  A wild pitch scored Aybar and Bobby Abreu scored two more with the first Angel hit of the night.  When Vladimir Guerrero came to the plate in his first game back from the DL, Contreras was understandably irritated but his next pitch nearly sent Vlady back to the DL when it came dangerously close to Vlady’s left ear.  When Contreras walked Vlady, his night was was over.  Unfortunately, the night wasn’t over for the White Sox and reliever Kevin Jepsen gave up back-to-back hits to Jayson Nix and Scott Podsenik that gave the Sox the walk-off win and brought the Angels’ five game win-streak to a grinding halt. 

    

In a game that only yielded 5 Angel hits, the bright spot had to be John Lackey’s 8 solid innings.  He gave up 4 runs on only 5 hits and probably could’ve lasted longer than his 113 pitches.  We’ll see how rookie Sean O’Sullivan does Wednesday night against Gavin Floyd.  O’Sullivan pitched a no-hitter, giving up just one walk in the 7th, in AAA last week.  He locates a mean fastball and has real poise on the mound.  I just hope we’ll be seeing more of the run support we saw in Minnesota. 

   

I must mention that earlier today the legendary Hank Aaron remarked about the recent leak of players’ names on the infamous 2003 drug test list.  He believes the entire list of 104 players who tested positive for performance enhancing substances should be released.  I completely agree with him.  My opinion is, that by releasing all of the names, Major League Baseball and its fans, as a community, can deal with the issue and hopefully move on.  But I also believe that full disclosure of the list is owed to all of the baseball greats, past and present, who have watched their long-standing records shattered in this steroid era.  They deserve to know whether or not their records were broken legitimately or with a little chemical “help”.  I think it’s only fair to Mr. Aaron and others like him who played the game and set those records without the assistance of performance enhancers.  Come on, Mr. Selig.  We all deserve to know.  Do the right thing.

 

Baseball…we mean clean!   

 

 

Winning & Whining

Okay, so I whined a little yesterday.  I didn’t expect to elicit any sympathy from baseball fans who have gone from drivers’ license to AARP card without their team making a play-off appearance.  What it boils down to is, I sometimes wonder if I have any business being a baseball fan in the first place.  It’s not that I don’t have the stamina, dedication and loyalty it takes to support my Angels.  There’s no question there.  But what kind of sane person invites stress into their life? 

                         invitation2.jpg picture by lafmyers

I’ll tell you who…me and obviously anyone who’s reading this.  Wouldn’t it be easier to be a fan of something that doesn’t really matter much?  There’s got to be something out there that would provide loads of pleasure with minimal pain. 

              fish.jpg picture by lafmyers

I tried watching a sport fishing competition on TV with my husband.  Sure, it was kinda exciting but it was way too brutal for me.  I ended up feeling doubly guilty when I cooked up the salmon we caught in Alaska last year.  (On the grill with a little dill butter…deelish!)  And getting “skunked” is basically a shut-out on the high seas. 

       

I experimented with car racing.  I like cars and I like driving really (really) fast so this would be exciting, right?  I settled in to watch the Indy 500 with a cold Fresca and some salt and vinegar chips.  I dozed off during lap 37 and woke up during lap 162 with a chip in my hair.  When I did a little channel surfing and got stuck on an episode of “Hannah Montana”, I knew this was not the sport for me.  But if Helio Castroneves ever shows up on “Dancing With The Stars” again, I’ll be sure to tune in. 

     

I was running out of options so, because I’m a much bigger fan of animals than I am of humans, I watched the Westminster Kennel Dog Show.  Hmmm.  These dogs didn’t look like any dogs I’d ever seen in my neighborhood.  Not a cockapoo or labradoodle in the bunch.  No, these were more like the “Yankees” of dogs.  All pure-bred, perfect specimens with their snobby owners.  And the dogs didn’t look like they were having much fun.  No one threw a single Frisbee and the judges were disturbingly hands on.  Stranger danger, Spot.

          

I guess I’ll just have to stick with Angels Baseball…all of it.  The ups and downs, the highs and lows, the wins AND the losses.  Yep, they’re stuck with me.  But while my whining was just a momentary rant, I’d like to bring up some previous whining that was neither momentary nor truly warranted. 

morales.jpg picture by lafmyers

Almost the entire month of April, “fans” were very vocal about not wanting Kendry Morales at first base.  They criticized his defense and his hitting.  The comparisons to Mark Teixeira were unfair and patience was almost non-existent for Morales who was beginning his first season as an everyday player.  Not only has he silenced his critics, Morales’s is a bargain with real All-Star potential.

Erick Aybar had nearly the same amount of criticism as Morales.  Angels fans clearly remember Orlando Cabrera’s clutch bat and outstanding plays at short stop.  No one really wanted to give Aybar a chance but we have watched him blossom into a well-rounded player who is totally capable of hitting in the clutch, stealing bases and launching incredible double-plays.  Another All-Star in the making, for sure.

Gary Matthews, Jr. has probably borne the brunt of critical “fans”.  While I can understand where some of the criticism stems from, Matthews expected to be a starting outfielder when he came to the Angels.  Sure, he had his share of struggles last season, but by all accounts, not many players worked harder than Matthews in the off-season or at spring training to re-establish himself as an everyday player.  I have little doubt Matthews can put up big numbers like he did in Texas, but without a lot of playing time, you just can’t expect miracles.  When (if) Vlady comes back, it will be as a DH and having Matthews to rotate in the outfield will be a benefit in the long run.  We’re already starting to see what he’s capable of doing given some regular at bats.  I wish him lots of luck.  I hardly consider him some kind of villain.  He’s a player with heart who just wants to play.

                         

Yes, the trade deadline is fast approaching, but to be honest, I don’t have a whole lot to say on the matter.  What’s the point?  What happens, happens and I certainly don’t have any say in it.  In my perfect world, everything falls into place for the Angels with their current staff and together they battle all the way to a championship.  I know that right now the starting rotation is out of sync but every one of those guys has the potential to get it together and pull off starts like John Lackey did today in the Angels’ win over the Indians.  (And super kudos to Howie Kendrick on his 5 RBI’s.  He’s been picked on too so I’m happy to see Howie getting his groove back.)  There isn’t a single player I’d want to be traded or I think needs to be traded, but I will say this, as much as I’d hate to see Robb Quinlan playing somewhere else, he deserves much more playing time than he gets with the Angels.  He should have an opportunity to contribute everything he can to a club and it’s just not happening for him in Anaheim.  He’s an underrated talented guy.  He can do so much more if given the chance.   

The Angels are off Thursday then they will take their 60-40 record to Minnesota for more action with the Twins.  Oh, those pesky Twins!

                            

 

Baseball…double the pleasure, double the fun.

 

 

A-OK in Oakland

Thursday night’s game, the first of four between the Angels and the A’s, came just in time.  After 99 hours without an Angels fix, I had assumed a fetal position on the couch and was having trouble operating the remote because my hands were shaking so badly.  My husband had tried pulling up old clips on the DVR (Garret Anderson’s 10 RBI game, Tim Salmon’s final at bat, etc.) but nothing was working and as the game began, my husband was on the phone with my mom and, although it’s all still a bit cloudy, I’m pretty sure I heard the word “intervention”. 

                           intervention.jpg intervention image by drewboy210

By the time Kendry Morales hit a two-run homer in the 2nd inning, I was sitting up, clear-eyed and relaxed.  What a great start to the second half of the season it was!  Ervin Santana was amazing in 8 full innings.  Granted, he’s got a terrific record against the Athletics, but something was different.  Could it be the mouth guard he was wearing when he took the mound? 

             

Is it possible that a little piece of plastic can make all the difference?  If it can, perhaps every Angels reliever should trade their cup for a mouth guard.  I say it couldn’t hurt to try.  (And every man reading this says it could hurt.  A lot.)

 

Well, maybe Joe Saunders could have borrowed Santana’s mouth guard on Friday night.  He wasn’t miserable, but he certainly wasn’t having a great night.  He gave up 5 runs into the 7th inning, walked 6 and only struck out 2 batters.  The Angels knocked Oakland starter Trevor Cahill out of the game in the 5th, but they weren’t able to get much of anything off of A’s relievers.  They were bested by the worst in the west.  Yuck.  At least the Twins took care of the Rangers.

                      twins.jpg picture by lafmyers

It looked as if the Angels were going to run away with Saturday’s game.  Chone Figgins started off the game with a home run, his second of the season.  The Angels’ bats came alive in the 3rd when they pounded A’s starter Vin Mazzaro for 6 runs.  But Jered Weaver wasn’t feeling good and it all caught up with him in the bottom of the 4th.  He was “nauseous and woozy” and gave the A’s a chance to close the gap when they scored 4 runs of their own.  But the Angels’ bullpen managed to keep a tight grip on the game and only allowed one additional run while the Angels scored 3 in the 7th.  The Angels won 11-6 and once again, the Twins beat the Rangers.

                            

Nothing could have prepared me for Sunday’s game.  Okay, so that sounds a little dramatic.  But seriously, the Angels had been hitting up a storm, they were sending John Lackey to the mound, they were playing the last place team in the west AND Oakland’s starter was a 21 year old rookie with a 5-7 record.  Sounded like…

      

…a piece of cake, right?  Totally wrong.  Talk about a pitching duel.  Lackey gave up the first of only 3 hits in inning #1 but Brett Anderson had retired 20 consecutive Angels batters and had a perfect game going into the 7th.  Then, with 2 outs, Bobby Abreu hit a single that just made it by SS Orlando Cabrera.  The crowd was on their feet to give props to Anderson and his 6 & 2/3 innings of perfect baseball.  But at this point, Lackey had his own shut-out going and it’s pretty easy to figure out who I was rooting for.  Anderson, who ultimately gave up only 2 hits, was replaced by Andrew Bailey after 8 and Lackey completed 9.  There were nothing but zeros across the scoreboard going into the 10th. 

            

And then, Bailey sent a fastball over the middle of the plate that Bobby Abreu sent deep, deep, deep over the right field wall and finally, the Angels were on the board.  The A’s came up in the bottom of the 10th and Brian Fuentes appeared on the mound, hoping to secure a win for Lackey and pick up his 28th save.  And that’s exactly what he did.  I kept checking in on the Rangers/Twins game, hoping for another Twins win.  Unfortunately, after a few extra innings of their own, the Rangers managed to come back and beat the Twins. 

                         

(Sorry, but I figured I owed it to my male readers after a video clip of one of their own taking a fastball to his junk.)

The Angels head to Kansas City 3 games ahead of the Rangers and 4 ahead of the Mariners.  The Royals have lost some steam since we faced them back in April but it’s still nice to know Zack Greinke will not be popping up in the rotation.  I know that makes me feel a little better.  But Angels fans know, it’s the teams that aren’t playing well that seem to present the bigger challenge to the Angels and the Royals come to mind first in this scenario so we shall see.  It’s been great to see the team hold up nicely with Torii and Vlady out.  Brandon Wood, Robb Quinlan and Gary Matthews, Jr. are helping out and the playing time they’re getting will only increase their productivity.  I am buckled in for the second half of this wild ride!

Now, because I am the proudest Bird Mom you will ever meet, I must mention that in the midst of all this mind-blowingly great baseball, we had a couple very important birthdays at our house.  Sushi, our Goffin’s cockatoo, turned 6 on Friday and her brother, Sunny, our sun conure, turned 8 on Saturday.  Here’s some quick videos of my babies! 

Some day I will tell you all the story of that little red radio and how it won Game 6 of the 2002 World Series. It did, it really did!

 

Baseball…the only way to fly!

 

 

The Force Was With Us

On Friday, the Evil Empire may have entered the Big A like this:

     Darth Vader walking off the field after thowing out the first pitch

But on Sunday afternoon, they left like this:

                  

Being swept by my Angels didn’t exactly destroy the Yankees, but I’m sure it had to be frustrating.  Considering the Yankees had taken 2 of 3 (with game 4 postponed due to rain) in their first meeting with the Angels back at the end of April, the Yankees may have even felt a bit more confident coming into Anaheim this weekend.  Or maybe not.

JETER:  He is here.
GIRARDI:  What makes you think so?
  
JETER:  A tremor in the force.   
GIRARDI:  Surely he must be dead by now.
JETER:  Don’t underestimate the Rally Monkey.  Seriously, Joe.  Don’t. 

           darth.jpg picture by lafmyers

Since the Rally Monkey doesn’t appear unless the Angels are trailing in later innings, he had a relatively quiet weekend although TMZ did spot him tossing back a few cold ones in a cantina on Tatooine.  And he thought his disguise would fool the paparazzi.

                             

The Yankees’ pitching was the biggest issue of the series.  CC Sabathia fared better than Chamberlain or Pettitte did before him.  His only real trouble came in the 4th inning when the Angels were able to score 4 runs.  He lasted almost a full 7 innings and the Angels were only able to score 1 additional run.  True to form, the Yankees battled right up to the end, but could not take advantage of loaded bases or a Kendry Morales error.  And credit must be given to John Lackey for giving up only 2 runs in 7 spectacular innings against the most lethal bats in the AL. 

                                  han.jpg picture by lafmyers

The Yankees combined for 31 hits in the series and were still swept.  That has to hurt.  But it’s got to make the Angels feel better after their ugly series with the Rangers.  The Angels had a total of 37 hits but were able to outscore the Yankees in the series, 29-18.  That significant difference was a combination of great base running and solid defense.  The Angels were also able to make the absolute most of errors made by the Yankees.  And with a team like the Yankees, if they’re going to hand you additional outs, you must capitalize or take a loss because they’re going to hit and they’re going to hit homers.  That’s pretty much a given.  Luckily, Mark Teixeira gave his former teammates minimal trouble this weekend. 

                

Tex didn’t have his usual big-gun bat going on and for that, I am most grateful.  I thought the chorus of boos that greeted him at every plate appearance was silly.  He & A-Rod dealt with the boos like this:

                      fans.jpg picture by lafmyers

Mark’s not a bad guy.  He’s just not a west coast guy and that’s okay.  For the most part, we all knew that.  I appreciate what he did for us last year and I wish him the best.  (Except in the post-season.  Kinda like his last post-season.)

                leia.jpg picture by lafmyers

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend for Angels fans and a real bummer for Yankees fans.  After Sunday’s game, Jane Heller (Confessions of a She-Fan) was overheard saying, “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.  Damn those freakin’ Halos.”

At least once in a while, a member of the Evil Empire will recognize the “evil” of their ways and decide it’s time to play for the good guys. 

                            

The force is strong with this one. 

 

 

Baseball…pleasing people the world over.

 

 

The Shame Game

So far this season it seems as if the Angels’ most effective motivator has been shame.  They don’t just regroup or bounce back from a narrow loss to play well.  No, they have to be absolutely smeared and humiliated by an opposing team to get their heads back on straight and then, miraculously, they embark on a really good run.  I sure hope this is the pattern.  If so, we can expect great things from the Angels in the upcoming series with the Yankees, because I don’t know what else you could call these last two games against Texas other than shameful. 

     shame.jpg picture by lafmyers

Tuesday night’s game started out innocently enough.  John Lackey was pitching great into the 5th inning.  He had 2 outs, no one on base and the Angels were winning, 2-0.  Then it completely fell apart.  (You can’t tell me the “wave” had nothing to do with it.  Stupid wave.)  The 3 run home run Lackey gave up to Andruw Jones wasn’t as disturbing as the effect it seemed to have on him.  It really messed with his head and he wasn’t able to recover.

              head.jpg picture by lafmyers

The Rangers scored 6 runs before Jason Bulger could get the last out of the inning.  The Angels combined for 11 hits, but were down 4 runs in the 9th.  Juan Rivera made a valiant effort, hitting his second HR of the night in the 9th, but it was a solo shot.  The worst moment of the game had to be when Vladimir Guerrero left the field, limping from a strained muscle behind his knee…his good knee! 

                

Why???  With my ALL-STAR Torii Hunter already out of the line-up with a thigh injury, the Angels will be lacking some serious power at the plate.  The pressure will be on Juan Rivera, Kendry Morales and Bobby Abreu to provide some long balls, although as Jeff Mathis proved Monday night, with the Angels you never know where the key hits will come from.  I think Gary Matthews, Jr. will contribute as well, but he’ll need some more at bats to get going again.  In the meantime, maybe he can just keep stealing home.

          

Wednesday night, in the final game of the series with the Rangers, Santana was anything but smooth.  Like I said, I still have my doubts as to whether he’s 100% or not.  He seemed to have the velocity, but the Rangers took total advantage of his lack of command.  Leading the charge was Andruw Jones, who enjoyed a 3 HR night.  Yes, the same Mr. Jones who warmed the Dodgers’ bench for half of last season and posted a .158 batting average for the year.  He matched his total HR number from last season in this one game…3.  Hmmm.  I don’t know what he’s eating these days, but I’ll have what he’s having.

            

Joining in the Home Run Derby preview were Marlon Byrd and Taylor Teagarden who hit his first HR of the season.  I will not be joining in the cries to send Ervin Santana back down to triple A.  Provided he is indeed completely healthy, he will need a few more starts to get his rhythm back.  I’d rather see that happen now than in September.  We’ve seen him work out of a funk and turn back into the ace starter he’s capable of being.  The same goes for Lackey.  Do the Angels have to maintain an 8-10 game lead in the west to be considered successful?  Is it fair to expect that?  Have we forgotten that the Angels were the wild card when they won the World Series in 2002? 

                          

We’ve seen what happens when they have a comfortable lead in September and start “phoning it in” until the end of the regular season.  They were not rested and ready for the play-offs last year at all.  They were disjointed and lackadaisical.  Clutching and clawing for first place may work much better for the Angels in the long run.  Taking a look at the standings, it appears there will be a whole lot of clutching and clawing going on everywhere.  And that’s what makes a great season.   

 

Baseball…something special in the air.