Tagged: Mike Scioscia

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! 

 

 

Numbers Game

I’m over it…last Wednesday’s hard-to-swallow “loss” to the Red Sox, that is.  I’ve no doubt that game was responsible for the ensuing migraine I suffered with for three days.  To all the Red Sox fans who so nobly pointed out that 1, bad calls happen in every game…sometimes they favor your team and sometimes they don’t, and 2, my boys gave up the game in the 6th inning, I must point out that if those calls in the 9th had gone the other way, I could’ve been saying the exact same thing to you (just substituting 7th for the 6th inning).  But I have no interest in reliving the game (or the headache) any further. 

     

Say what you want about Angels players.  Fans will always “dis”, talk smack and complain about players…whether they play on opposing teams or their own.  But when I hear derogatory comments about our “skipper” Mike Scioscia, I’m not going to keep quiet.  No one (or two or three) players can be credited with the success of the Angels in the past seven years.  The 2002 World Championship was won prior to Arte Moreno purchasing the team from Disney.  The turning point for the franchise undoubtedly came when Scioscia took over as manager.  He has the ability to make the most of a player’s talent, whether he’s a rookie or a seasoned veteran.  He has a gift for maintaining competitiveness, harmony and real sense of teamwork that is evident every time the Angels take the field.  He also if the most even-keeled manager I’ve ever seen.  I’m sometimes in awe of how he can keep his emotions in check even when total chaos is going on around him.    

           

Angels fans wonder how he manages to keep his composure and to be honest, sometimes we wish he’d have words with officials a little more often than he does.  But others disagree.  I’ve heard him called a “whiner”.  I recently read (and I honestly can’t remember where) that Scioscia has almost been ejected 16 times this season.  Almost been ejected??  How exactly is that conclusion reached?  Does the author of that statement have some kind of telepathic powers to read the minds of the umpires? 

                               

As for Scioscia making a remark to home plate umpire Rick Reed as they departed the field after Wednesday night’s game, I don’t care how professional or disciplined you are, I would have questioned Scioscia’s judgement had he NOT made a remark.  Sox fans would’ve expected at least that much from Terry Francona, I suspect, had the situation been reversed. 

                                

I can understand the animosity fans have for certain players.  I’m guilty of that myself (just a few…AJ Pierzynski, Jose Guillen, Vicente Padilla).  But why is it so difficult for fans to give other managers the respect they deserve?  Is it that hard to give credit where credit is due?  This hasn’t exactly been an easy season for the Angels.  They’ve overcome tremendous obstacles.  Without Mike Scioscia at the helm, lesser teams would have fallen apart and never been able to pull together and recover to claim first place in their division.  I don’t know how the rest of the season and the post-season will play out but I do know Scioscia is manager of the year material.  There’s no denying that.  I’m not saying Mike Scioscia is some kind of saint (no…he’s an angel…ha!) but he’s a class-act who has had a tremendous impact on the team and baseball in general.  Like I mentioned in an earlier post, we see Scioscia’s brand of small-ball being duplicated all over the league.  His influence is wide reaching, and rightly so.  He knows what he’s doing.  Period.

         New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi #27 takes pitcher Chien-Ming Wang #40 out of the game in the 5th inning against the Texas Rangers during their game on June 4, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Joe Girardi;Chien-Ming Wang    

Speaking of giving credit where credit’s due…Joe Girardi’s Yankees had a shaky start this season and trailed the Red Sox by 3 games at the All-Star break.  Of course, the “mack-daddy” lineup Girardi has to work with is even more evidence of a manager’s vital role in the success of a team.  You’d think a crew made up of the likes of A-Rod, Jeter, Tex, Swisher and Matsui would be able to win games just by merely taking the field.  But alas…it doesn’t always work that way, as the Yankees once again discovered in Anaheim Monday night. 

      New York Yankees starting pitcher Andy Pettitte sits in the dugout in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif., Monday, Sept. 21, 2009. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Andy Pettitte had a pretty decent 6 inning outing for the Yankees.  Joe Saunders had a better 8 and 1/3 inning go of it and reluctantly left the mound with one out in the 9th.  The Yankees scored their only 2 runs on solo homers by A-Rod and Matsui.  Kendry Morales had his solo HR as a pinch hitter in the 7th.  The Angels’ 4 other runs would come from the usual piecing together of a few hits (Vladdy had 2 RBIs) and a Rob Quinlan walk.  While the Yankees were finally able to conquer the Red Sox this season, I don’t anticipate the same thing happening against my Angels.  The Yankees came into town needing just one win to clinch their playoff spot.  Their best bet of that happening is with a Rangers’ loss because, well…they’re playing the Angels… in Anaheim!  And we all know how that story usually ends.

     

So, we know that the Yankees’ magic number is 1.  And now, the Angels’ is 6.  Any combination of Angels’ wins and Rangers’ losses will secure a spot for my boys in the post-season.  Considering this is the Angels’ last home stand before the end of the season, It would be nice if they could clinch at home.  Then again, if they have to duke it out right up to the end and possibly carry some momentum into October, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.  Clinching early and having some “resting” time hasn’t always worked out for the Angels.

    

 

I’d much rather see them stay on their toes.

 

                       

          

Baseball…vitalizes body and mind.

 

 

Tough Love

I guess some people just can’t take a compliment.  I wouldn’t exactly say I was “gushing” in my last post, but I couldn’t help but point out how well my Angels had been playing…”had” being the operative word.  I mentioned their awesome defense, fantastic .300+ batting averages, how cute Figgy, Izturis and Aybar are as they speed around the bases.  Maybe I went too far. 

                              

They dropped their last game in Cleveland and their first game, Friday night, in Toronto.  I continue to be baffled by the fact that the Angels can take on a team like the Yankees and inflict grievous injury but then come thisclose to getting shut-out by the Jays.  A couple of doubles in the 7th inning finally put them on the board but then they had to go and score 3 in the 9th, getting me all hopeful and excited.  Mike Napoli’s 3 run homer couldn’t possibly go to waste, could it?  With 2 outs, Howie Kendrick hit a solid double to the wall in left.  The tying run was on and Bobby Abreu, given the night off, comes in to pinch hit.  With 81 RBIs, he’d have been my choice too.  He grounded to first and that was it.  Close but no…

                        

There’s no point in giving Sean O’Sullivan and his 1 inning outing a hard time.  He left some pitches hovering over the plate and the Jays made the most of it.  We’re expecting an awful lot of these rookies.  Some nights they deliver, some nights they don’t.  Mike Scioscia wisely brought Matt Palmer in when O’Sullivan couldn’t get an out in the 2nd.  Palmer gave up the only other run (a Vernon Wells solo HR) and just one additional hit.  Jose Arredondo followed with 3 solid innings…1 hit and 5 K’s.  His performance was very reminiscent of the dependable relief he provided in ’08. 

   

At least the damage was minimized by the Rangers’ Friday night loss to the Rays.  I don’t doubt the Angels will do all they need to secure their western division win, but I certainly won’t mind if the Rangers contribute to the cause. 

                       

Saturday’s game starts at 10:00 AM here on the west coast.  To me, especially on the weekend, that’s the crack of dawn.  I may as well pull an all-nighter to be up and awake for it.  I’ll do whatever I have to.  After losing two in a row, my Angels need me cheering them on.  I may have to be a little bit stingy with my praise in the future.  It seems to have the opposite effect on them.  Sure…like I could ever stop singing the praises of my amazing Angels. 

                                             roflmao2.gif picture by lafmyers

 

Baseball…something to smile about.

 

 

Taming the Tribe

From Baltimore to Cleveland, the Angels are showing no sign of slowing down.  Tuesday night was the first game of three with the Indians and as I had hoped, rookie Trevor Bell got his first win.  Bell went 5 and 1/3 and although he gave up 9 hits, not a one made it over the wall and he was backed up by some great Angels defense.  The double-plays have been spectacular.  Sheer poetry in motion.

ballet.jpg picture by lafmyers

Of course, the Angels offense hasn’t been too shabby.  Every Angel in the lineup was an owner of a .300 batting average or better.  And what continues to impress me is the patience every player is showing at the plate.  Erick Aybar went 2 for 4 but he drew 2 walks.  Chone Figgins went 1 for 3 and he also drew 2 walks.  Who cares how they get to first base as long as they get there.  Just ask former Angel David Eckstein who, during his tenure with the Angels, developed quite the reputation for taking one for the team.  And the Angels must be at the top of the stats for getting to first on a bunt.  Aybar, Figgins and Izturis could always keep busy in the off-season by running relay races.  These guys are just plain fast.

                        

Any team would be lucky to have 1/3 of that kind of speed on the bases.  To top it off, they are excellent fielders and they can hit.  We’ll just call them our triple-triple threat.  And they’re just so darned cute!  They always look like they’re having the time of their lives.  Why not?  They are.  I can only imagine it’s like someone paying me a couple million to scrapbook for 8 months a year.  Shheessh.  If only.  You can bet your sweet bippie (although I have no idea what a bippie is) I’d be smiling the entire time, even if placed on the DL with a paper cut. 

                         

Wednesday night’s game had to have left the Indians shaking their heads.  Jeremy Sowers made the start for Cleveland and gave up only 4 hits to the Angels in 6 and 2/3 innings.  Indians relievers Chris Perez and Jess Todd threw shut-out baseball.  How could manager Eric Wedge ask for more?  Well, he’d probably ask for the win but, amazingly, that wasn’t to be.  Let’s just say Jered Weaver’s haircut was on fire.

      

Weaver threw his second career shut-out.  After the game, he was quick to give credit to catcher Mike Napoli and the rest of his teammates.  And it was a team effort with the Angels defense making incredible plays.  The only Angels runs came in the 5th inning when they combined a walk by Napoli, a double by Kendry Morales and a single by Howie Kendrick to score two.  Aybar beat a bunt to first, Figgy had a sac fly that moved Kendrick to 3rd and Bobby Abreu’s groundout scored the third run.  No one, and I mean no one, manufactures runs like the Angels.  They say imitation is the highest form of flattery so it doesn’t surprise me to see more and more teams attempting to play the Angels brand of baseball. 

                                 

It’s no secret Mike Scioscia has had a huge impact on the Angels as a team but it’s become more and more apparent that he has also made an impression on many other teams in the MLB.  Get ’em on, get ’em over, get ’em in.  It’s a pretty basic concept but in the wake of the whole Sammy Sosa / Mark McGuire whoopla, teams began relying on the long ball to win games.  Think of how many teams rely on their DH to clear the bags and win games?  A DH who never takes the field with a glove?  Prior to Vladimir Guerrero’s injuries, Scioscia routinely rotated players into the DH spot to more or less give them a bit of a rest for the night.  What other team in play-off contention does that?  Don’t forget, the Angels are the only team without a grandslam this season.  Who cares?  Because the Angels don’t depend on home runs to win games, for Angels fans they are icing on the cake.  Sweet, beautiful icing.

                     

And superb pitching like we saw Wednesday from Jered Weaver must be the sprinkles.  Oh, so what famous sibling do I think Weaver resembles now that he’s chopped his locks off?  London loverboy, Prince Harry.  If you’ve seen Weaver with his hat off, you know I nailed this one.

                               

Weaver’s our Prince of the Pitching Mound.  6.5 games up on Texas?  All is well in the Kingdom of Halos.

 

Baseball…the sport of kings.

 

 

Rays…A Drop of Golden Sun

My Angels completed their sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays today and it put me in such a chipper mood I thought I’d walk home from work.

 

Okay, not really.  But I was singing in the car the whole way.  Does that count?  It was a great series for many different reasons.  I’ll start with the obvious…we won all three games.  Monday night was a back and forth battle as each team took turns scoring all the way until the 7th inning when Vladimir Guerrero hit his second homer of the night. 

    

It was no ordinary homerun…it was Vlady’s 400th and as it turned out, was the game winner.  How cool is that?  Big Daddy Vlady is back!

Monday’s game may have been all about the offense, but Tuesday night’s game was a rubber match.  Ervin Santana went toe-to-toe with David Price but the Angels eventually got to Price whereas the Rays were left lifeless by Santana. 

                             

He threw a complete game giving up only 3 hits in the 6-0 shutout.  5 of the Angels’ 6 RBIs came courtesy of Jeff Mathis and Reggie Willits, hitting in the #8 and #9 spots.  Mathis came inches from having the Angels’ first grand slam of the season.  He and Willits were perfect in the clutch but truly the night belonged to Santana.  Ervin the All-Star is back!

Wednesday’s game marked the MLB debut of right-hander Trevor Bell.  The 22 year-old was impressive through 5 and 1/3.  The Angels were down 4-2 when Mike Scioscia pulled him but had Scioscia known what the Angels bats had in store for the second half of the game, I suspect he would’ve let Bell stick around. 

                              

In the bottom of the 6th, Gary Matthews, Jr. connected for a 3 run shot that literally got the ball rolling.  That was followed up with Howie Kendrick’s own 3 run homer in the bottom of the 7th, which turned out to be a 5 run inning.  Angels’ relievers allowed a combined 3 hits, 1 a solo HR to Pat Burrell given up by Jose Arredondo, who has rejoined the team after doing a little time in triple A.  With a final score of 10-5, it was just one of those games that was a blast to watch.  It had something for everyone, great pitching, great hitting, a few stolen bases and a couple of long balls thrown in for good measure.  And once again, we got to watch a rookie make it to the big time.  I always get a kick out of that.

                      kick.jpg picture by lafmyers

The Angels are traveling to Baltimore Thursday and on Friday they play the first of 20 consecutive games without a day off.  They are currently sitting 5 games ahead of the Rangers but I’d hardly call that a comfy cushion.  I’m just glad they’ve been playing well on the road as they meet up with the Orioles, Indians and Blue Jays during this next road trip.  I’m also loving the way each game is a sweet surprise as far who’s contributing the big hits.    And my Torii Hunter is expected to be ready for Saturday’s game.  I ask you, Angels fans…does it get any better???

                                                

 

Baseball…Play.  Laugh.  Grow.

 

 

There’s No Place Like Home

Sometimes all it takes is a good talking to.  After Thursday night’s miserable 11-1 loss to the Rays, Mike Scioscia had a locker room “discussion” with his team.  What I would’ve given to have been a fly on that wall because whatever he said, obviously worked.  I almost didn’t recognize the team that took the field Friday night, back home at the Big A. 

  extreme.jpg picture by lafmyers

Who were these super-studs and what had they done with my loveable but bumbling band of baseball boys?  These new and improved Angels were hitting, scoring runs and not making base running or any other kind of errors.  I cannot tell you how refreshing it was to see them playing like the superior team I know they are.  And I don’t think I need to tell you how happy I was to see Matt Palmer take the mound for his first start since May 30th. 

                                  

Woohoo!  But I’m not at all happy to hear that Kelvim Escobar is experiencing pain in his shoulder that will prevent him from starting.  At least it looks like he’ll be available for relief pitching and he may be just what the bullpen needs.  He definitely came in handy in the same capacity back in the ’05 season.  Skeptics who think Matt Palmer’s success has been a fluke, will get to see their theory tested.  Palmer was indeed tested Friday night, and although he gave up 4 runs on 10 hits, his teammates did their share for a change and came through with plenty of runs, upping his record to 6-0.  Sweeeeeeet. 

                         

The Angels combined for 11 runs on 18…yes, 18…hits!  Everyone pitched in but notably, Bobby Abreu went 3 for 4 and Maicer Izturis, filling in for Howie Kendrick at 2nd base, went 4 for 4!  It did not come as a real shock when it was announced immediately after the game that Kendrick was being sent down to Salt Lake City.  Howie has not been himself lately.  Not only is he in the midst of the worst hitting slump of his career, we’ve seen him make some very uncharacteristic flubs, such as miscounting outs and sloppy base running.  I hope he can work these things out and rejoin the team, ready to make a run for the play-offs.  In the meantime, in light of his fantastic hitting Friday night, Izturis should be a great boost to the team’s offense. 

                                     

So, were the Angels able to keep it together and take two in a row?  And how.  One stat that has been “sluggishly” low for the Angels has been home runs, but Saturday night there were lots of fireworks in Anaheim as Kendry Morales had his second home run in two days, Jeff Mathis had a two-run shot, his first of the season and…dum, dum, dee, dum…

                                Torii Hunter

My ALL-STAR Torii Hunter not only went 3 for 4, all 3 were HOME RUNS!!!  It was incredible and the first time he’s ever had 3 in a game.  Not only does he knock them out of the park, he climbs the wall and steals them from the other guys.   Can someone please explain to me why this man is in 5th place in All-Star Game voting???  I don’t know of any outfielder who has been talked about as much on Sunday recap shows as my Torii.  If he doesn’t start the All-Star Game in center field it will be a crime, I tell you, a crime!

                               

Another star in Saturday’s game was Joe Saunders who pocketed win #7 after allowing only 1 run to the Padres in 8 and 1/3.  If not for a dropped 3rd strike and missed catch, he would’ve had his complete game.  But he sure looked good, striking out 5 and walking 1.  And the Angels defense had his back, turning 4 double-plays. 

                      

It’s been a great weekend thus far, just watching the Angels play the kind of ball we all know they’re capable of playing.  Coach Scioscia’s “lecture” should be on every players’ ipod so it’s handy should someone need a little refresher.  Practice only takes you so far.  Sometimes you need a different kind of “motivation”. 

                                            

 

Baseball…your potential, our passion. 

 

   

Tampa Bay Bust(ed)

Thursday night’s game with the Rays didn’t go very well.  Ervin Santana wasn’t able to put together a start that even came close to resembling his last start against Detroit.  But that’s okay.  He’ll get ’em next time.  Sadly, the Angels only had 4 hits tonight.  Maybe if they just practice extra hard tomorrow, they’ll do better against the Padres.  And the Angels’ relievers?  Well, it wasn’t their night either.  They can toss the ball around before the game tomorrow and work out the kinks.  Before taking the field, they can all gather together for a group hug and give a big, rousing “Go Angels!” cheer.

               grouphug.jpg picture by lafmyers

But what I hope most of all, is for Brian “The Man” Fuentes to have some really, really good games.  Oh, that Brian…what a guy!  You know, he just might be my very favorite Angel!

                           heartoutline.jpg picture by lafmyers

Okay, let me explain.  No, I’m not sick, drunk or taking any kind of medication that might impair my normally rational thinking.  It’s much worse.  I’ve been busted.  Yes, I’m ashamed to admit it but I’ve been caught with my hand in the cookie jar of “fair-weather fan-ness”.

                         

As I was watching the game tonight, I logged in to my blog.  I immediately noticed I’d had more traffic than usual.  I thought perhaps, with the new feature that makes blog suggestions at the end of an entry, new readers might have been directed to my blog.  Just in the last few days I know I’ve been introduced to many other blogs I had not previously stumbled upon because of this feature.   Wondering how other games were going, I pulled up the MLB.com main page to check the scores.  And then I saw it.  In the bottom left hand corner of the page…big, bold and in black and white…

“I don’t think Mike Scioscia read
my last post.  If he had, he might
have considered my idea of using
Matt Palmer as a reliever.”
—Hello Halos! 

Oh.my.gosh.  Instead of getting a kick out of having my blog mentioned on the main page of MLB.com, I am mortified.  Who the heck am I to second-guess Mike Scioscia?  Last time I checked, I had not played 12 years of professional baseball.  The only World Series ring I own is a replica giveaway from Opening Day 2003.  I manage an office, not a major league ball club.  But most importantly, I was sounding like the kind of fan I dislike the most:  the know-it-all fan who honestly believes they could do a better job of managing a team than the hugely qualified person who is currently doing it.  

                                       

Ironically, that isn’t who I am.  Not at all.  Anyone who knows me can vouch for that.  I am the first to defend my Angels to anyone and everyone.  I don’t like to hear anyone bad-mouth them, no matter how badly they’re playing.  If anything, I should be attending AAA meetings…Angels Apologists Anonymous.  I admit, it’s easy to get caught up in the emotion that comes with being a fan.  Lately, Angels fans have had to deal with frustration and disappointment instead of the joy and satisfaction we’ve grown accustomed to over the last 7 years or so.  

         

I need to reacquaint myself with supporting a team that’s not necessarily poised for a playoff appearance.  Lord knows, I’ve done it before and I can do it again…if I must.  I haven’t been over-the-top outrageous with my remarks, but a few more losses like these last two in Tampa Bay and I might’ve been headed down that dark and ominous path.  But I promise going forward, I will resume my role of devoted fan and cheerleader, because rain or shine, win or lose, I love these guys and I always will.  Nothing will change that.

What’s that?  Even Brian Fuentes?  Oh, him.  I’m trying, really I am.  I don’t know why we’re just not clicking.  I know I’ve been tough on him.  No, you’re right…his stats don’t warrant my nickname “The Closer Poser”.  Okay, I’ll stop calling him that.  Yes, I’ll give him another chance.  My motto?  Yeah, it’s “Once an Angel, always an Angel…except for Jose Guillen.”  That includes Mark Teixeira.  Nice while it lasted, huh?  Okay, Brian.  If you can hear me…I’m ready to make another go of it.  No more nicknames, no more “help wanted” ads for a new closer in the Orange County Register.  I’m willing to try if you are.  Please, Brian, send me a sign!

 

PS – Matt Palmer will START tonight’s game vs. the Padres!  Don’t worry, Mr. Scioscia. I know I had nothing to do with this!

Baseball…the power to take charge.

 

 

Dance With The (Devil) Rays

I don’t think Mike Scioscia read my last post.  If he had, he might have considered my idea of using Matt Palmer as a reliever.  As it stands, there isn’t a start anywhere on Palmer’s horizon.  While I’m not happy with this, I understand the reasons.  But we all know there are times when a starter is just not having a good day.  Maybe they don’t have their “stuff” or their head’s not in the game.  Sometimes it’s a physical issue.  I remember being at game 5 of the ALDS in 2005 when ace starter Bartolo Colon suddenly left the game in the top of the 2nd inning due to shoulder inflammation.  

                                                 

The collective gasp that went up from the sold-out crowd registered on the richter scale.  This was game 5…do or die…versus the Yankees!  When rookie Ervin Santana took over I told my dad, “If he somehow pulls this off, it’ll be the biggest story tomorrow.”  He did and it was. 

                                  

Now, I’m not comparing Wednesday night’s game to a deciding game of a play-off series, but when it was clear in the 2nd inning that Big John Lackey was having big trouble, I couldn’t help but think it was the perfect opportunity to bring Palmer in and see if he could turn things around.  It didn’t happen and Lackey gave up 5 runs.  When he gave up a home run to start the 3rd, I thought maybe NOW I’d see Palmer.  Nope.  When Lackey was finished after 5 (funny, but I would’ve swore he went 7…it felt like the torture lasted that long), he’d given up 9 runs.  The Angels didn’t score after the 4th and every time Joe Maddon came out to change pitchers, I was jealous.

                         

Why wasn’t Scioscia making a pitching change?!?  Heck, I might not have been upset to see Brian “The Closer Poser” Fuentes making an entrance.  It couldn’t possibly get any worse than it was?  Suddenly, a thought crossed my mind and I was gripped by fear.  What if Mike Scioscia thinks his own bullpen stinks so badly that even he doesn’t want to pick up the phone to bring in a reliever?

                                            

Was he okay with Lackey’s 9 runs because he was afraid if he brought in Bulger, Oliver or Speier the Rays might score twice that?  What does he know that we don’t know?  And now what???  Where do we turn for relief pitching?  Here?

      

 

Maybe here?

 

      

 

What about here?

 

        bouquettoss.jpg picture by lafmyers

Hey, don’t laugh.  I think the unique over-the-shoulder delivery could really throw batters.  And the single ones won’t want to make contact.  If Mike (Scioscia) and Mike (Butcher) don’t get the bullpen turned around, and fast, the Angels will continue to hover around the .500 mark all the way to the end of the season.  Sure, Monday morning quarterbacking is easy.  But they could always try my idea:

          

Oh, wait!  Speaking of quarterbacks…isn’t this guy available?  And doesn’t he have a pretty good arm?

                 

 

Baseball…legendary reliability.

 

 

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.

 

 

Angels & Demons

Ha!  Just kidding.  Seriously, Angels fans can easily name a handful of other ball clubs they consider much bigger rivals than the Dodgers, (Rangers, A’s, Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, etc.), but more on that tomorrow.  Friday night’s game was not pretty and I would describe the winning team as the lesser of two evils.  

                             

It just so happens that the winning team was my Angels (yay for me), but it’s not a win anyone’s going to write home about.  Even Chone Figgins, who turned out to be the star of the game, kinda owed his team that 2 RBI single in the 8th after a bit of botched base running in the 7th that kept him from turning his lead-off triple into the go-ahead run.  

     Russell Martin, Chone Figgins

He definitely redeemed himself.  No one else seemed to be able get a hit when it counted.  The Angels were 2 for 17 with runners in scoring position, the Dodgers 1 for 14.  Pitching decided this game and it was the Angels’ bullpen that managed to hold on until Figgie could bring the runs in.  Jered Weaver threw 101 pitches in 5 innings and Clayton Kershaw, 97.  It was all about the relievers after that…Speier, Oliver, Arredondo and Fuentes.  My Torii Hunter made another 2 incredible catches including this one at the wall:

                              Torii Hunter

As he said after the game, he may not have brought the hits but he definitely deprived a few unfortunate Dodgers of their own.  It was a long game and in the end it went our way.  I’d love to see some real run support for John Lackey tomorrow night.  Randy Wolf’s record (2-1) doesn’t really reflect how consistent he’s been lately, but his ERA does: 2.72.  Uh oh.  What’s that noise?  I think I hear the wheels turning!

                             

Yep…here it comes!  “Lori Logic”!!!  Six quality starts in a row?  Looks like Randy-man’s in trouble.  Poor thing.  The odds just aren’t with him.  But it sure looks good for Big John.  We have to count his first start because it was really, really bad so that definitely figures into the logic.  His second start?  It was against the Mariners and he gave up 5 runs in 5 innings.  Pretty stinky.  And there you have it!   Lackey’s got the odds in his pocket but I’ll say no more because, although I believe in my logic, I also believe in the jinx.  So ssshhhh.

                  

Oh, one quick question…after Erick Aybar failed to get the critical bunt down in the ALDS with Boston last year, don’t you think bunting practice should’ve been at the TOP of his “to do” list in spring training??  

   

He failed miserably in two attempts tonight.  Even the normally calm, cool and collected Mike Scioscia, had a hard time hiding his disappointment.  When Aybar returned to the dugout after his second misfire, Scioscia turned his back and walked away.  (I think he was counting to 10.) 

                         

 

Somebody’s in trouble.  Hey, I think I just figure out who gets to clean up all of these:

 

                     

 

Baseball…eat, spit, be happy.