What makes baseball the national pastime? Perhaps it’s its history that spans for more than a century? Maybe it’s the crack of the bat and the slap of leather against a ball? Might it be the vendors yelling at the top of their lungs? Or better yet is it the roar of the crowd?
To me, it’s the colorful characters that the game provides. Whether it be Babe Ruth pointing in the direction of a future home run, or Ozzie Smith performing standing back flips in the infield. The memory of a hobbling Kirk Gibson pumping his fist as he is rounding the bases during a home run at the 1988 World Series. It is indeed these colorful characters that make the game great.
At least for Angels’ fans Fernando Rodney added a memory that will live in the stories we tell to future Angels’ fans. Sunday’s game started like any other game, division rivals training runs in and battling for supremacy. That was until the eighth inning when Fernando Rodney shot and imaginary arrow at the Angels’ bench. Shooting arrows is somewhat of a trademark for Rodney, however he usually shoots them into the air after he has saved a game. Rodney’s actions galvanized the Angels into producing their 30th come from behind win, which leads all of Major League Baseball this season. This arrow is especially poignant since Rodney himself is a former Angel.
It can be argued that the symbolism of the arrow is the event that was the catalyst for yet another comeback win, it is quite the contrary, in reality it is the chemistry of this team has built this season with a mix of veterans, young veterans, and young eager players that are groomed through the minor-league system.
Fernando Rodney’s antics only added color to an exciting game, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that’s just the way he is, however I think is antics were not malicious and definitely added flavor to this budding rivalry. Although I think Rodney’s actions had more to do with his personality and his personal history with the Angels, and not the Seattle Mariners rising as a division contender just yet. The cast of colorful characters is what makes this game great. One thing is for sure, Fernando Rodney is no Robin Hood. He is arrows were not as potent as he thought.
Jackie Robinson, Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, and now one can add Mike Trout to this impressive list. All the players listed above were game changers not only for the respective teams but for baseball as a whole. Mike Trout’s resume includes: The American League Rookie of the Year, two-time American League Most Valuable Player runner-up, and three-time American League All-Star in only his third year in baseball. His newest accomplishment is most valuable player of the All-Star game. Quite an impressive career thus far for a player who is only 22 years old; given all his accolades, it is equally as impressive that his ego hasn’t stockpiled concurrently with his accomplishments. Trout’s attitude is refreshing.
I know I am a little late on posting my reaction regarding the All-Star break, especially given the fact that an Angels’ player was involved so heavily in the festivities. However, I wanted to wait until the much rumored pending transaction would materialize; it did, Houston Street is now part of the Halos’ bullpen. The acquisition of Street solidifies the bullpen, the team’s glaring weakness and biggest question mark in recent years.
Ladies and gentlemen, get ready for a dog fight for the right to claim the American League West championship. This is reminiscent of the battles the Angels and A’s have had in years past. These teams are not only competing in the division, but they are competing with transactions; matching each other punch for punch akin to a boxing match that neither competitor wants to lose.
Both teams are building team chemistry quite successfully. It’s no coincidence that these two teams have the two best records in baseball. I truly believe the Angels have the edge however, they lead all of baseball in runs scored, they strengthened a weakness called the bullpen, with the acquisition of Houston Street. The Angels now have options whether it’s Houston Street, Jason Grilli or Joe Smith they now have weapons in the bullpen. However there is one greatest advantage above all other advantages, his name is, Mike Trout.
The Halo is on fire, indeed glowing beautifully. The Angels find themselves 3 1/2 games back of the Oakland Athletics; however, that’s not the story. The Angels have stayed pretty close to the A’s throughout the season. The story lies in how they have kept up with them.
The Angels have the second-best record in all of Major League Baseball, second only to the team they are chasing. They do have the best home record in all of Major League Baseball with an impressive 32-15 record, this record includes three home sweeps and an 11 game home winning streak, along with 27 come from behind wins. It is extraordinary how they’ve been able to keep up with the A’s and not be able to overtake them yet.
Part of their success is attributed to Garrett Richards who possesses a 10-2 record and a 2.71 Earned Run Average in 18 starts for the Angels. It’s amazing how someone can be this good and still not make it to this year’s All-Star game, for that matter it’s amazing that a team can be this good and only have two representatives so far in The Midsummer Classic.
The sports networks often cite the American League East as a class of baseball. It is actually the American League West. The top two records in all of baseball reside in the American League West. It may be the West Coast bias, it may be that the American League East just happens to have two of the most storied franchises in baseball in the Yankees and the Red Sox. That certainly isn’t the case this year, and once the Texas Rangers recover from this year’s injury plagued season, the AL West may continue its dominance over baseball next year.
Yes, the dog fights of the summer are here. Pull out your popcorn, it should be a good division race between the Angels and Athletics. Can the monkey keep the rally going and blaze past Stomper? I truly believe that the Halos will. As baseball fans, let’s sit back and take in all the sights and sounds of the best division in all of baseball.