Baseball is a game of duels, there is a dual between pitchers, it can also exist between pitcher and batter, as well as between base men and base runners. There also exist a certain duality within the game.
The Angels are experiencing such duality, Albert Pujols hit his 500th career home run in Washington DC against the Nationals. The number 500 appears again as the Angels are trying to get back to a .500 record, a threshold they haven’t been able to accomplish since the opening day of 2013. Which is simply astonishing given the talent on this team. The team cannot get all three facets of the game to work at the same time. When the offense is on fire, the pitching cannot hold leads; this problem is manifested by the performances of the bullpen, a unit that can’t seem to get it together. The positive? The Angels lead Major League Baseball in Home Runs with 36 more than any other team in both leagues. Yet somehow they haven’t been able to translate the positives into wins.
The future is not bleak for this team, the ingredients are there, Josh Hamilton will eventually be back and give both Albert Pujols and Mike Trout much-needed protection. In contrast to recent years the Angels now have relatively healthy players to complete the original winning formula that was conceived. Once they resolve their bullpen issues they should have a winning record, and eventually I am hopeful that the many dualities that I’m currently observing become one distinct singularity, which manifests itself as a World Series Championship at the end of the season.
“Get Your Red on” this is a slogan to the marketing campaign that the Angels have embarked on in the 2014 season. I like it a lot. No, it’s not because red is my favorite color since I was a kid, although to me that’s icing on the cake. Overall it’s a very smart marketing strategy especially when juxtaposed against the “Think Blue” campaign employed by the cross-town rival the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Perhaps the campaign is appropriate, until last night the Angels were a perfect 6-0 when wearing the red alternate uniform until their first loss last night in that uniform against the Oakland Athletics. The Angels have slightly changed their uniform, a change that I must say I like a lot. The Halos will wear red shoes and red belt during their home games this season at least when wearing the red uniform. I hope they include this change for road games as well. I believe that it adds to the team’s identity much like the blue shoes add to the identity of the Dodgers or the white shoes that add to the identity of the Athletics respectively.
The Angels may have lost last night, however I really enjoyed the excitement brought on by last night’s game between these two American League West rivals there something about this rivalry that cannot be duplicated with the rest of the teams in the American League West. Maybe it’s the proximity between the two cities, maybe it’s the fact that these are the two California American League franchises, or maybe it’s the best explanation of all, these two teams captured 10 of the last 12 American League West titles.
Perhaps the rivalry was magnified by the fact that Albert Pujols hit his 496 career home run, a shot that went into the beautiful night sky. The green and gold elephant seems to bring out the best in the Angels and vice versa.
These two teams also share another commonality, they are known as the “other” team in the region. They live in the shadow of their bigger more famous brother, the Dodgers and the Giants respectively. Yet, it seems that their little brother steals the spotlight and has had success more often than their older, cockier sibling. Our National League counterparts cannot say that they’ve traded shots with each other 10 of the last 12 years. They may be known as a bigger rivalry, but their rivalry hasn’t been as competitive over the years. I have a healthy hatred for Oakland, in other words, I love to hate them. It’s not the same if both teams are not at the top of their game. The best part? The baseball season is young and the Rally Monkey and Stomper have a lot of sparring yet to do.
It is the beginning of the 2014 baseball season, and I must say I’m pretty optimistic about the Angels chances this year. Yes the club is 3-5, however to paraphrase my good friend Roger Lodge; it’s still early. I don’t know that be claimed in late April to early May but for now, I think that’s the proper way to look at things.
Josh Hamilton is swinging the bat at nearly. 500 it’s very difficult to do much better, this is the Josh Hamilton the team was expecting when he signed that multiyear contract; he went down with an injury yesterday to his thumb but I’m hoping it’s a minor injury and his time away from the diamond is minimal.
Albert Pujols’ bat is starting to warm up, he hit a two-run home run yesterday, his first of the season. The question is, is the old Albert Pujols back? Maybe, he is getting older, while I don’t expect him to put up the ridiculous numbers he did in St. Louis I do expect him to have a solid year, although if he wants to revert to the Albert Pujols that was with the Cardinals I am not going to complain. Let’s not forget about Mr. Freeze (David Friese) who hit his first homer of the season as well, if the offense can live up to its potential and expectations, we Angels’ fans are in for a pretty exciting season.
I don’t have any delusions of grandeur because I know this team has a double edge sword associated with it. This season as always will come down to pitching, both the starting rotation and bullpen. The Angels were swept by the Mariners, simply because of both starting pitching and the bullpen. With the starting pitching was solid, the bullpen was shaky at best, and vice versa. As any true baseball fan knows, the key to having a successful season is the pitching. I haven’t made up my mind how I feel about Hector Santiago yet, Tyler Skaggs has potential, we have yet to see if the grind of the season will get to him.