Don’t you just love irony? I sure do. Tuesday night was “Irish Night” at the Giants’ AT&T Park. And was it ever. Rookie Sean O’Sullivan made his major league debut as the Angels’ starter and turned out to be their pot of gold.
O’Sullivan had a shut-out working into the 7th inning when he finally gave up the only run the Giants would see. Luck had nothing to do with it as he struck out 5 and walked just one batter. The Giants could not figure him out and took advantage of a wild pitch to get a runner in scoring position. O’Sullivan is only 21 years old and I certainly wouldn’t have blamed him if he’d had some debut jitters, but he was too cool for school as he made pitch after pitch. Then, just to make it a little more interesting, he got his first major league hit when he slammed a bullet right at Giant’s 3rd baseman, Rich Aurilia, who couldn’t get his glove on it. He also had a chance to round the bases and score a run, just like John Lackey on Monday night, when Maicer Izturis followed up with his first home run of the season. Another night full of firsts!
Someone found Mike Napoli’s “ON” switch. Napoli’s recent struggles at the plate were erased from our memories with one swing of the bat as he unleashed a 3 run homer deep into the stands, just one of his 4 for 5 hits. It looks like Mike’s got his mojo back and his timing couldn’t be better with my ALL-STAR Torii Hunter missing from the line-up. My Torii body-slammed the centerfield wall Monday night, going after a line drive hit by Bengie Molina. Remember my motto, “Once an Angel, always an Angel…except for Jose Guillen”? I forgive you, Bengie. I know you didn’t mean to hurt my Torii. Thankfully, my Torii’s only injury was a couple of bruised ribs.
I say thankfully, because the sound of my Torii’s body impacting the wall could be heard all the way in the broadcast booth. I cringed every time they replayed it and I’m so glad he wasn’t hurt more seriously. He’s expected to be back on the field Friday as the Angels start another freeway series with the Dodgers. I’ll say it again…if my Torii Hunter isn’t the starting centerfielder in the All-Star Game it will only prove there is NO justice in this world! Count ’em, folks.
So, things are good in Halo-land right now. The Angels are riding their longest win streak of the season (again, do your own math…I’m not gonna jinx it), yet another rookie on the mound gave us much to cheer about and Matt Palmer will have another start Wednesday afternoon backed up by a bunch of guys who have rediscovered their long-ball swings. What could I possibly have to b*tch about???
I do read (some) message boards so I know the debate rages on: Rex Hudler & Steve Physioc vs. Rory & Mark. My vote rests squarely with Rex and Steve. I’ve heard Rex called a “shameless cheerleader”. I’ve been called the same thing and I hardly consider it an insult. He’s also been accused of “dumbing down” the game. Then call me stupid because I actually learn a thing or two from him and Steve. Not all fans who watch Angels games can spout stats or have any experience actually playing the game themselves. Heck, I’m happy when I get an AFLAC Trivia Question right! And let’s not forget the many young fans who enjoy watching the games. Few former pro athletes are as self-deprecating as Rex and I find it refreshing. He and Steve have genuine enthusiasm that comes from being true-red Angels fans and I like it. I don’t have much of a beef with Mark. I respect his experience and his resume in the majors and it certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s easy on the eyes. But Mark needs to understand that I will never find myself in the position to throw a slider, split-finger, sinker or curveball and to be completely honest, I can’t distinguish between the zillions of pitches he describes. I know only two: ball and strike. I sometimes find my eyes glassing over as he offers TMI for each pitch. Now, Rory? That guy knows how to push my buttons and he’s been doing it a lot lately. Did anyone else notice how he seemed to be getting excited Monday night as the Giants chipped away at an Angels’ 8 run lead? He says the wrong thing at the wrong time. Tonight it was, “The Giants haven’t had a base runner in scoring position yet.” The words were not even completely out of his mouth as a Giant hit second base. Talk about a jinx? With Rory, it’s not “if you build it, they will come”, it’s “if he says it, it will happen”. So, Rory, do me a favor, before you speak, ask yourself, “WWFD?” (What would fans do?) Please. Don’t make me pull out the duct tape.
Baseball…can you hear me now?
The Bad: I’ll start with the bad just to get it out of the way. The Angels took a beating Wednesday night in the first of two with the red hot Blue Jays. Rookie Anthony Ortega struggled to get four outs before being replaced by another rookie, Rafael Rodriguez, who served up a three run homer to Vernon Wells. Roy Halladay kept the Angels bats quiet but at least it wasn’t a shut-out. With a final score of 13-1, there’s no denying it was pretty ugly.
The Good: Definitely tonight’s second game with the Blue Jays. Jered Weaver pitched a complete game, his first in the majors! He threw 103 pitches, 73 of them strikes. He gave up only 3 hits with the lone Jays run coming from an Aaron Hill homer. While the Jays may have held a batting clinic in last night’s game, tonight Weaver’s stellar performance showed the Angels’ bullpen precisely how to get the job done. He was poetry in motion and had some nice offensive support from his team. It was 80’s night at the Big A which added some light-hearted fun to the action. Announcer Rex Hudler channeling Billy Idol, the players’ faces super-imposed on 80’s CD covers up on the big scoreboard and retro uniforms put everyone in a good mood. I’m just glad we all could enjoy a flashback to the 80’s and a big Angels win!
The Really Ugly
No surprises here. Another disappointing day for baseball, but seriously, did we not see this coming? He’s 37 years old, for pete’s sake! There’s no denying he’s talented with a bat. I’m pretty sure there isn’t a drug or hormone out there that gives you the ability to connect with the ball. But any 37 year old’s stats should be honorably declining. If they aren’t? Gee, wonder why? I’m not even going to go into the whole steroids and the MLB issue. From little league parks to Capitol Hill, it’s been discussed and will continue to be discussed. And Manny’s statement about a personal physician giving him something to take? We’ve heard this ridiculously lame excuse from other pro athletes and Olympians as well. I love having my intelligence insulted like this. Sure…the doctor said, “Take this, Manny. It’ll increase your testosterone production in a way that’s A-OK with the major league!” Yeah, that happened. But my biggest beef is the fraud that is being perpetuated by these players who sign multi-million dollar contracts. They are committing fraud on the teams that sign them, on their fellow players and on the fans. The way I see it, these two:
are no different than these two:
Or even these two:
Fraud is fraud any way you look at it. And it isn’t just about the player. Besides being a baseball fanatic, I am also a business woman. If I were to promote and sell a product that my client later discovers was artificially altered or enhanced, I’d be ultimately responsible. So why aren’t these agents, who are out there promoting and negotiating these obscenely huge contracts, held responsible? Why aren’t they required to know exactly what they are peddling? While I don’t believe the penalties for steroid and hormone use are nearly tough enough for the players, I’d sure like to see some repercussions for the super-agents who make their millions playing hardball with the teams and ultimately the fans. We know who to thank every time the prices go up on tickets, parking and Dodger dogs. When was the last time anyone ever said, “For the love of the game” with a straight face?
More importantly, I’m no lawyer, but why would any team ever sign a contract with one of these top dollar players and not have an exit clause for exactly this kind of situation? I could write the line for any ball club who needs it: Test positive for anything other than Flintstones vitamins, and you can pack your locker…game over. End of the line. The tribe has spoken.
We’re all aware of recent records that will forever be questioned. Joe Torre’s cap was sent to Cooperstown to mark the modern-day record set by the Dodgers just yesterday, for consecutive home wins to start a season. Will Cooperstown send it back? Will they add an asterisk? What does it mean that the Dodgers home win streak was snapped tonight as they blew a six run lead to the last place Nationals? Once again, we’ll never know. And taking female fertility drugs unless you truly, truly need them can be a tricky thing. There’s just no way to predict the outcome. THAT we do know.
I’m sure Manny knew the risks but obviously it was a chance he was willing to take. For money? Power? Prestige? Respect? Hmmmm. Respect…that’s something he didn’t have for the game or for those who love it.
Baseball…it’s the real thing. (Or is it?)
Last night confirms why I could never be a pro football fan. I mean, how many games are there in a regular NFL season? Like 10 or 12? (I know…it’s 16. Thank you, Wikipedia!) If the Angels were, say, the Bears, then they would’ve just blown 1/16 of their season. But instead, since we’re talking MLB, it’s 1/162…a fraction I can handle.
The Angels had their first run on the board by the end of the 1st inning. It looked like a good start and with another run in the 2nd, I was starting to get cocky. Then in Anaheim, the clouds rolled in, the temperature dropped 10 degrees and a light drizzle began to fall. My husband said the Athletics were now playing in their element. Ha ha. So, that’s it for the highlights. The Angels bullpen crumbled and the A’s helped themselves to 16 hits. Oh well. Onward and upward. Nick Adenhart takes the mound tonight and I sincerely hope he can overcome the nerves that helped him give up 5 runs in 2 innings in his first major league start last May that, coincidentally, was against the A’s. I always root for the rookie.
Since I really don’t care to discuss last night’s game any further, I thought I’d mention…
What I missed during the off-season: Angel games (duh), taking the carpool transition from the south 57 to the west 91 and seeing the halo on the Big A all lit up after just another Halo victory, laughing at the Dodger reps who came into my office trying to sell me ticket packages (hello…did the 5 foot by 3 foot Angels schedule on my wall or my vast collection of bobbleheads and post-season commemorative ball caps behind my desk not give you just a little hint of where my loyalty lies??), Rex Hudler and Steve Physioc’s perfect blend of casual banter, spot-on stats and heartfelt enthusiasm and my rally monkey. (I gently woke him from hibernation just before game time Monday. But I swear I saw him cover his eyes last night.)
What I did NOT miss during the off-season: Those horrible, mind-numbingly stupid Howard’s TV commercials. Seriously, couldn’t Howard’s have spent a couple more bucks in the advertising department and hired someone who could actually write?? Now, Mike Scioscia shouldn’t waste pen and paper on an Oscar acceptance speech anytime soon but he is totally a victim of his material. Those scripts could make DeNiro look like a dork.
Remember those great Angels commercials a few seasons back, like the one where Tim Salmon and the guys are in a restaurant ordering “ribbies”? Or when Garret Anderson is playing baseball with the neighborhood kids and smacks the ball out of the county and one of the kids starts crying ’cause it was his ball? Or my favorite…Troy Percival and the other pitchers in Spanish class? Hahaha. (Oh great. Jeff Miller is SO gonna call me a racist again.) Maybe the writer of those commercials is looking for work. Howard’s probably found their marketing company on a bus bench (no, not from an ad on a bus bench, literally ON a bus bench…and most likely holding a brown paper sack with a bottle inside). The whole purpose of a commercial is to influence potential customers so I suppose they are effective. They effectively made me go to Best Buy to get my 47-incher (still the new love of my life). From now on when a Howard’s commercial airs, I’ll just have to do what I used to do when Frankie would load the bases in the 9th. Leave the room.
Baseball…the gift that keeps on giving.