June 2012

Successful “Giant” Steps Lead the Angels to Round Two of the Freeway Series

It’s that time again; round two of the Freeway Series begins tomorrow night. The Angels successfully took two out of three games from the San Francisco Giants and they continue to demonstrate that they are the team that every Angels’ fan was hoping to get in the beginning of April. Now all that needs to happen is to patiently wait until the Texas Rangers cool off.

I woke up this morning to the most gorgeous and beautiful Dodgers’ fan in the world talking trash on Facebook. Her fanaticism for the Dodgers goes back to Fernando mania when her grandfather used to take her to Dodger Stadium to watch their beloved team play.

To me, the Angels versus Dodgers rivalry is very special. You see, the collective history of both teams has always been interconnected. When the Angels joined Major League Baseball in 1961 the Angels played at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles .(not to be confused with Wrigley Field home of the Chicago Cubs) one year later the Angels moved into Dodgers Stadium and would continue to share this Stadium until Angel Stadium was built and opened in 1966.

The animosity between these two teams has become more apparent in recent years since the Angels have become successful. The Angels were no longer “the little brother” to the Dodgers, this was evident in 2003; when the Dodgers believed that signing Vladimir Guerrero was all but a formality for the boys in blue will need to have the Angels come out of nowhere to sign him before the Dodgers could finalize or negotiate any sort of deal. There are Dodgers’ fans to this day that still believe that the Dodgers were “cheated” and that Guerrero belonged in blue.

For me personally, there’s rivalry is also very special, most of my extended family grew up in East Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. We agree on basketball we are all big a fans of the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles and the surrounding area doesn’t have a football team to speak of just yet, so we don’t really agree or disagree on a football team. But when it comes to baseball, we are in definite disagreement, I grew up about 3 miles away from Angel Stadium so to me, the Angels are truly a “home” team. I feel an attachment to the Angels, as I feel I must respectfully hate the Dodgers because of their intertwined history with the Angels. Besides, it makes very interesting conversations when my family and my extended family visit each other, the Angels versus Dodgers rivalry is a topic that never gets boring; especially when both teams are playing well.

Yes indeed, it is that time again. That time of year where the Goodyear blimp that flies over Angel Stadium doesn’t see red or blue, it sees more a blurred shade of purple; and at least for Southern California that 30 mile stretch of Interstate 5 that separates Anaheim from Los Angeles becomes the center of the baseball universe, for the set of six games that we affectionately call “The Freeway Series.”

-ICE

The Angels Must Take a “Giant” Steps and Continue in the Right Direction

Let me begin by stating the obvious, the Angels are four games behind the Rangers and currently in first place in the American League West. Tonight, interleague play continues as we face the San Francisco Giants in a three-game series which is a rematch of the 2002 World Series. Yes, it’s hard to believe but indeed it has been a decade since these two teams faced each other. I’ve been told by a reliable source that the Angels plan some sort of celebration commemorating the 10th anniversary of the World Series championship sometime this season.

What not my be so obvious is what is happening to the Angels are the team. The Halos continued their dominance of inter-league play with a record of 8-4 this season with six more inter-league games to go. The Angels are not playing poorly, the fact remains that Texas hasn’t cooled off enough For the Angels to catch up. It’s a long season, and the Rangers will cool off; it’s just a matter of the Halos staying within striking distance in order to be with overtake the Rangers when that happens.

The Angels cut a nine game lead down to four, this is the divisional dogfight everyone was expecting between these two teams. The Angels must continue their dominance of inter-league play with both the Giants and the Dodgers so by the end of inter-league play hopefully at minimum we are only one or two games behind Texas if not tied for the division lead. The “Giant” step starts tonight and hopefully the combination is and Angels win and they Rangers loss.

-ICE

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, No, It’s a Halo Over Round One of the Freeway Series

“You can put a halo over this one!” That was the beautiful yet familiar call by our beloved Angels’ radio play-by-play announcer Terry Smith, and was he ever right; the Angels took two out of three from the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in round one of the Freeway Series. All three games were decided in the very late innings by two very competitive and proud teams.

Dodger Stadium was rocking in Los Angeles as I’m sure Angel Stadium will be rocking in Anaheim later this month. One can argue that there are six games a year for both teams that are neutral site games since regardless of where they play the crowd in attendance seems to be split evenly among the two teams. “Let’s go Dodgers!” Was being drowned out by “Let’s Go Angels!” And vice versa the entire series and expect nothing less when the Dodgers visit Angel Stadium later this month.

Why not dream it? A Freeway Series in the World Series later this year or in the near future. Think about it, why not? There’s already been a Subway Series between the New York Mets and the New York Yankees and a Bay Bridge Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics. So why not add a Freeway Series to that list?

The Dodgers are rejuvenated since Magic Johnson purchased them earlier this year. The Dodgers’ fan base has also been re-energized and a face-off between Jared Weaver and Clayton Kershaw would be epic. This past series was just a little taste of what these two teams who do this area in a World Series. Most of my family lives in East Los Angeles so it only natural that they are Dodgers’ fans, I along with my siblings grew up not too far from Anaheim so it’s only natural that we grew up Angels’ fans. You can imagine what family visits are like, especially during baseball season.

Interleague play is great, but the Freeway Series magnifies it into unimaginable levels. The Dodgers forget about their little brother sometimes, but I think the Angels have long since outgrown out of big brothers shadow and now it is the Dodgers who try to match us. Go Angels!

-ICE

The Halos Are Riding up and down Interstate 5 on a TNT Hunting Machine

What do you get when you combine “The Machine”, Trumbo, Trout “TNT”, and Hunter? You get a TNT hunting machine. That’s what I would call the awakening of the Angels’ offense. The Halos have been riding high on the combination of these players the Angels continued their dominance of interleague play by using this combined machine to hunt down the Los Angeles Dodgers yesterday, 3-2 pulling ahead because of smart baserunning by Mike Trout and a key hit courtesy of Albert Pujols. As a result the Angels are now only 2 1/2 games behind the Texas Rangers for first place in the American League West.

The aforementioned players have been key to the Angels’ success Mike Trout was involved in every aspect of the Angels’ ability to score yesterday whether it was his ability to drive in runs or whether he himself was on the base paths. He is an impact player on this team, add to that the combination of both the top and the middle of this lineup; and one has an unstoppable offensive combination when they are clicking on all cylinders.

The Dodgers had no answer for “Ernasty” who shut down the “Big Blue wrecking crew” in the bottom of the ninth inning to earn his fifth save as a member of the Angels. I absolutely love the Freeway Series and interleague play. I especially am enjoying it this year since this is the last year of true interleague play. When thinking of TNT (Trumbo and Trout) I can’t help but think of the line from “TNT” by one of my favorite bands AC/DC; “TNT I’m (the Angels are) a power load watch me (them) explode!”

-ICE

A Trip Back in Time to the Wild, Wild, West, Can “Yu” Handle It?

Let’s close our collective eyes for a moment and travel back in time to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the desk is settling into place as it cradles the infant evening and puts the sun to sleep with a lullaby eerily reminiscent to that of the theme from the good, the bad, and the ugly. A showdown is about to happen, between the misunderstood yet respected outlaws with a halo and the supposed law men who call themselves the Texas Rangers. Indeed it is the wild, wild, west. However, instead of gun belts imagine that it is A weapon called A pitcher’s arm throwing bullets or in this case, baseballs at nearly 100 miles per hour.

Now imagine both C. J. Wilson and Yu Darvish who are both noted gunslingers in their own right, adjusting the brim of their hat squinting their eyes both cautious yet conscious not to be the one to make the first mistake; if they do it could prove to be lethal for their entire team. As they concentrate on the task in hand; and nothing more, ignoring the wind’s tired whistle of loneliness and despair. They both know that a mistake could bring the roar of the thunder stick and a flash of lightning that sends one of these bullets out of the ballpark and can very well send their entire team to an early grave, with no one to mourn them. The inscription on the tombstone reading: “Here lies the Texas Rangers who were unable to defeat the young upstart outlaws called the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim who carried a halo and the blessing of God, because of this; the Rangers were unable to repeat as American League West Champions.”

This is the imagery that the beautiful game of baseball brings me, especially in the American League West during an important series or a postseason matchup. Both teams are immensely talented. The Angels are now only 4 1/2 games back of the Rangers, and I strongly believe that the showdown will continue until the last day of the season. That’s what makes these head-to-head matchups that much more important; not only for positioning in the standings, but also to get an upper hand on the psychological warfare that these two teams put each other through.

The American League West has always had an aura akin to that of the Wild West, whether it’s with the Rangers or the battles that the Angels had with the Oakland Athletics nearly a decade ago. Both the A’s and Angels seemed to trade punches, much like the Angels in the Rangers do now with the glaring difference that both the Angels and the Rangers have never had this much talent and firepower at their disposal at the exact same time. The Rangers seem to do it with cunning and experience, after all they have made two World Series appearances in a row, both losing efforts, yet coming as close as one can to winning without winning, being one strike away.

The Angels also have the experience but they have the added bonus of youth, the young guns that rowdy outlaws need in Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, and Ernesto Frieri or as I like to call him “Ernasty” because of the filthy pitches he can throw at times.

The smell of burnt leather and burnt wood is in the air, Angel Stadium will be the site of this latest showdown, when the smoke clears and the dust settles a halo will shine brightly and above any Texas Rangers ‘remnants that is left. Man, I love the Angels! I also love baseball! Enjoy the showdown in Anaheim.

-ICE

 

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