Tagged: Red Sox

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! 

 

 

Oh, October!

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

               tie.gif picture by lafmyers

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

   

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

    

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

               

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

 

Baseball…good to the last drop!  

 

 

The Boys of Bummer?

No, I’m not going to give my Angels a merciless tongue lashing.  I’m not going to dissect their lackluster performances in both of their losses to the Yankees either.  I will, instead, point out the single bright-shining event of the last few days.  The Angels gained a half game on the Rangers and their magic number is now 4. 

                               

And how did this happen?  My Angels had a day off.  Oh, and Oakland beat the pants off the Rangers, 12-3.  How else could it have happened?  My Angels have lost some steam and frankly, I’m baffled by it.

                       

The addition of Scott Kazmir to the starting rotation has done much to reinforce a slightly shaky starting rotation.  We’ve seen the bullpen find their groove with Jason Bulger, Kevin Jepsen, Darren Oliver and Matt Palmer providing solid relief.  They’ve continued to hit, though perhaps not on the grand scale we saw last month.  But most of the starting line-up continues to maintain batting averages hovering around the .300 mark.  They did out-hit the Yankees in the last two games but they’ve not been hitting in the clutch.  On Wednesday, the Angels went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position!  It’s as if all of the “post-season preview” talk that surrounded their games with both the Yankees and the Red Sox, had a terrible effect on my Angels.  I certainly don’t have any medical experience (I do have a nifty box of Sponge Bob band-aids) but I’ve made my own diagnosis.

       

My Angels are suffering from a case of “post-season jitters” also known as the “championship chokes”.  We’ve seen the symptoms before: sudden lack of confidence, uncharacteristic sloppy base running, sudden onset of unexplained errors.  We know this is not typical of our usually sharp and on-the-ball (literally) Angels but it is an ailment we’ve seen in post-seasons past.  Maybe this bug has struck early this season?  And maybe, just maybe, it will run its course over the next week and be out of their system by the time the real play-offs start.  Wouldn’t that be perfect?

                                            

I want my Angels to show up in October brimming with confidence, bringing their A game and being the superstars I know they are.  I want bats blazing, lightning fast speed on the base pads and defensive plays being executed with the surgical precision that takes our breath away a second time when the re-play rolls. 

                                         

Let’s face it.  2002 was magical…from start to miraculous finish.  It cannot and will not ever be duplicated.  But I don’t know a single Angels fan who hasn’t had a “feeling” about this season.  There’s no denying it would be an amazing story of tragedy to triumph.  I’m not saying the Angels should win the World Series because Nick Adenhart died.  But I sure would love to see them win it for Nick.  That would be a story.  And my favorite stories all have happy endings. 

 

Baseball…make someone happy.

 

 

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.

 

 

Halo Hell

It doesn’t happen often, but after tonight’s game I am at a total loss for words.  Really.  What is there to say?

To homeplate umpire Rick Reed and the rest of his crooked crew, I have just one question:  What exactly was tonight all about? 

 

Was it this?

                   

 

Or this?                            

      bribe.jpg image by DilligafJKT

 

 

Has the world gone mad?!?

     redsoxyankees.jpg image by make_it_stop

 

That’s it.  That’s all I’ve got.  Besides, it’s hard to type when you’re crying.  Oh…just one more thing.  Can someone please tell me what, given the remaining AL schedules, needs to happen for the Red Sox to be eliminated from the playoffs?  My head hurts too much to figure it out.  Bitter?  You betcha!!!

 

Baseball…WTF???  (Okay, so I made that slogan up on my own.  Can you blame me?)

 

 

Sympathy Pains

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

                  

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

                   survivor.jpg picture by lafmyers

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

            

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

             

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

                  

                   

(That one was a toss up.)

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

                             

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

                                       

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

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

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

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

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

      They OWN the Yankees.  Need I say more?

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

                  

 

Baseball…it keeps going and going and going…!

 

 

The Heat Is On

While the summer may be winding down, the race to the play-offs is definitely heating up.  It’s been over a week since I’ve had a chance to praise/criticize/brag about/plead with my Angels but I’ve not missed a minute of all the action. 

                             

The Angels started off their road trip on a high note last Monday as they shut out the Mariners and scored 10 runs.  Thankfully, my week got very busy after that.  Step-son-in-law’s birthday, a couple of days with my niece before she headed back to school, got a tattoo, family BBQ, work…having lots going on definitely helped to ease the sting of the Angels’ second and third games in Seattle.  I was unable to watch those games live and was more than happy to fast-forward through them, then quickly delete them from the DVR. 

          

Tuesday was awful.  The Angels’ loss to the Mariners, combined with the Rangers winning both games of their double-header, had the Angels losing 1.5 games in the standings in a single day.  And Wednesday wasn’t any better as Scott Kazmir’s great Angels’ debut was squandered when his teammates provided absolutely ZERO run support.  Not exactly a warm welcome.

                                 welcome-to-the-family.gif image by dazzlejunction

Luckily, things improved when the Angels got to Kansas City.  They managed to win the first game on only 3 hits and took the second game in extra innings.  By Sunday, my boys were looking much better, hitting and dazzling us with 4 perfectly synchronized double-plays. 

                  

Monday, Monday…can’t trust that day.  I was ready for the sweep.  Me, the couch and the remote for live, uninterrupted viewing of the game…on a paid day off!  What’s better than that?  Oh wait…I know this one…A WIN?!?!  No such luck.  Instead it was 3 errors and 12 left on base. 

                   

The Angels are headed home and will face the Mariners again.  Their schedule for these final 26 games of the regular season is tough.  Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox…all critical games.  The Angels have not played their best ball against the teams in their own division and they have 7 more games with the Rangers, who I’m sure will be hoping to make their move and surge ahead in the final two weeks.  We’re getting quality starts and seeing fantastic defense.  It’s time for the Angels’ bats to heat up again and make it happen.  Fasten your seatbelts, baseball fans.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride!

 

Baseball…catch the wave!  (But don’t DO the wave…it’s a rally killer!!!!!)

 

 

It Was Just My Imagination

And yes, it totally ran away with me.  Curses, voodoo, black magic spells?  Turns out they were only in my head.  Not only did the Angels beat the White Sox Thursday, Big Daddy Vlady had a home run as did Jeff Mathis, Bobby Abreu and Erick Aybar.  With 9 runs on 11 hits, my thoughts are decidedly less dark and foreboding than they were yesterday. 

         

I don’t regret yesterday’s post nor do I think I spoke too soon.  What I do in everyday life, because I’m a professional worrier, is to imagine the worst possible outcome in a situation.  I visualize in vivid detail the entire scenario and by doing so, am able to completely avert disaster.  Don’t laugh.  My “worry method” works. 

        

It’s what keeps my planes in the air,

 

        

my cruise ships afloat,

 

      

and water pipes from bursting and flooding my house when I’m on vacation.  And obviously, it’s what keeps my Angels from being swept by the White Sox.  Since I wanted my Angels to come home on the heels of victory to face the Rangers this weekend, I couldn’t waste any time turning things around for them.  What better way than to envision the possibility that someone had put a curse on the team that could potentially keep them out of the World Series for a hundred years?  Believe me, worrying about a White Sox sweep would not have been enough.  Go big or go home.  It worked, didn’t it?

     Jeff Mathis, Howie Kendrick

Jeff Mathis came into Thursday’s game hitting .197 and batting 9th in the order when he hit his 2 run shot in the 2nd, which only proves I’m even more powerful than I thought I was.  I’ve decided, however, to give my overactive imagination the weekend off.  While it would be very nice to completely dominate the Rangers,

                       dominatrix_2-1.jpg image by Spoookygirl

I don’t know that it’s necessary to be 7.5 games up on them by the end of the weekend.  The Angels have proven, once again this season, that adversity isn’t such a bad thing.  They’ve seen more than their share and have come roaring back and played their best ball.  This is one of the reasons I don’t get more upset with bad calls.  More often than not, when a bad call is made that robs them of an out or a run, it ends up being the tide-turner that makes all the difference in a game.  Usually…must I type AJ Pierzynski’s name yet again?  Fine, but I pick the picture. 

            ajp.jpg picture by lafmyers

Pierzynski’s equally offensive manager, Ozzie Guillen, showed his sensitive side when he emerged from the dugout in the 5th inning Thursday, to complain to umpires about the delay of game as batter Howie Kendrick and pitcher John Danks stepped out of the batter’s box and off of the mound while stadium personnel rendered help to a young fan in the stands who had been hit by Kendrick’s flying bat.  I’ll bet Pierzynski and Guillen get together after games to kick dogs and take candy from babies.

                        

Ervin Santana may not have had one of his best starts, but he sure kept his cool and got himself out of big trouble in the 3rd after he loaded the bases by walking Gordon Beckham, giving up a hit to Jim Thome and nailing Paul Konerko with a pitch.  His nerves may have gotten the better of him for a moment as he walked in a run, but he rebounded by striking out Jayson Nix (looking) who earlier hit a 3 run homer off him in the 2nd and getting Chris Getz to tap one right back to him.  The White Sox were unable to score again except for Dewayne Wise’s solo shot in the 9th off of Kevin Jepsen.  Jason Bulger delivered another 2 innings of solid relief and continues to see his ERA drop. 

                 

Bobby Abreu’s home run was his 250th of his career.  Abreu’s addition to the Angels has been tremendous not only for his stats, which earned him the title of American League Player of the Month for July, but also for his shining example of plate discipline that seems to be rubbing off on his teammates.  We are seeing the Angels burn through pitches and draw walks like never before.  No doubt the Angels’ offense is benefitting by following in Abreu’s footsteps. 

     Bobby Abreu

With his HR Thursday, Abreu became only the 6th player in MLB history to combine 250 homers with 2000 hits, 1000 runs scored, 1000 RBIs and 300 stolen bases.  Those are amazing numbers and yet another reason Angels fans are finding it so easy to forget (and forgive) that he was ever a Yankee.

                                     

And speaking of Yankees…it’s time to wrap this up so I can go read some Yankees and Red Sox blogs.  In the first of their four game series, the Yankees proved to the Red Sox that they are not the same team the Sox faced in this season’s previous match-ups.  The Yankees beat the Red Sox 13-6 and almost immediately, blogs everywhere were being updated with the usual rivalry rhetoric that never fails to entertain.  I’m ready to sit back and enjoy the fireworks that make me love to be a baseball fan.

 

Baseball…for people who share a taste for excitement. 

 

 

Weekend Woes

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

                                  

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

                            handmouth.jpg picture by lafmyers

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

                              Gail and Dave Weaver

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

                          

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

                     

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

 

Baseball…it’s all the power you need.