Results tagged ‘ Ace of the Pitching Rotation ’

Calling All the Angels

I have supported the Angels as a fan for over 30 years. I had the privilege to grow up in the shadow of Angel Stadium. In that time, I have seen the organization go through its ups and downs both on and off the field. Unfortunately, this has also included tragic events for the organization, including the passing of Nick Adenhart and now, Tyler Skaggs.

His passing yesterday of course was sudden and unexpected. At first, I thought it was a cruel joke. I was poring over statistics on the Angels’ Facebook page and verifying the Angels’ lineup for Sunday in preparation for an unrelated entry when the Angels statement on his passing was posted. Since I thought it was a hack at first, I went to cross-reference the news through other sources. There was nothing on the Angels’ official page, nothing on ESPN, and no other references posted the news. Deep inside, I was holding out hope that it was a hacker. Unfortunately, that possible alternative was dispelled from my mind about 10 minutes later when the news started spreading. I am heartbroken. It’s only a few months later after the 10th anniversary of Nick Adenhart’s passing.

Tyler Skaggs was on his way to being the ace of the rotation. The Angels have not had a solid ace since Jered Weaver was in his prime. Skaggs was drafted by the Angels in 2009, the same year of Adenhart’s passing. He worked his way through the minor leagues, and he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks before Skaggs could make is major league debut with the Angels for Dan Haren. He was traded back to the Angels a few years later as a result of the multiple contract debacles of Josh Hamilton, C. J. Wilson, and Vernon Wells. Skaggs rejoined the Angels when he was exchanged for Mark Trumbo.

My brother and I have tickets for the first game when the Halos come back home to Angel Stadium after this current road trip. As part of the Angels pregame rituals, they show a video of Angels’ history with the song “Calling All the Angels” and introduce their starting lineup with the song “Spirit in the Sky.” For the rest of the season and beyond both songs will have a different meaning for the organization, the players, and the Angels’ fans just like they did 10 years ago.

Tyler Skaggs was a phenomenal athlete, however, sometimes we forget that they are people first. Baseball players are just people playing a children’s game. Today, I want to honor Tyler Skaggs the person rather the athlete. Tyler, rest in paradise.

-ICE

Yu Darvish, Don’t Be Blinded by Albert Pujols’ Shiny New Halo

Let the gamesmanship begin, the Angels and the Texas Rangers started the game of one upmanship during the off-season. The Texas Rangers made it to the World Series two years in a row as the American League representative. The Angels responded by signing Albert Pujols to a 10 year contract, then delivering a crippling blow to the Texas Rangers by swiping their ace C. J. Wilson. The Rangers countered by bidding, winning, and singing Japanese phenom Yu Darvish, and now both teams are playing poker; neither team wanting to give away the hand that they strategically have. Both Wilson and Darvish were scheduled to face off during today’s spring training game. Alas, we will have to wait until the regular season and see the skills of the phenom from the land of the rising Sun, compete against the Halo.

Can it be a Rangers are just a little bit nervous in regards to the power of Pujols and the damage he can do in a hitters park like Rangers Ballpark in Arlington? Are they afraid that Albert Pujols will somehow tarnish Darvish? I think it’s neither, the Rangers are very wisely saving their aces until the games count, they want to win this poker game so they won’t keep their collective poker face on the table for as long as they can. The American League West will come down to a wild West style shootout. Where I believe the Halo war is from the ashes, and once again claim was rightfully theirs; the American League West Championship.

I don’t believe this sparring match will end in the regular season. Don’t be surprised if the American League wild card comes out of the American League West. I don’t believe the Rangers will go away that easy. But then again, neither will the Angels. I strongly believe that the American League West in the American League East are the two strongest divisions in baseball right now, and I don’t think one should pencil in the Yankees or the Red Sox or for that matter the Rangers just yet. The Angels will have a lot to say about how the postseason turns out before this is over. And when we look back at the 2012 season, at least for the Angels and Rangers the games began well before opening day, they began during spring training March 2012.

-ICE

Are the Angels and Rangers Becoming the Yankees and the Red Sox of the American League West?

This blog has truly become my sanctuary when talking about the Angels. I tend to write about this team’s successes, shortcomings, and my own personal reflections as a fan. It’s these types of entries that I enjoy writing about the most. They help me personally explore my own relationship to this team that always will have a special place in my heart.

The Angels have always had a special and ongoing rivalry with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who we locals call their Freeway series; referring to Interstate 5 which separates Anaheim and Los Angeles. All we have to do is travel north on Interstate 5 and 35 minutes later you’re there. (Barring any traffic, which almost never happens; traffic is a way of life here) in the American League West, the Angels have had an ongoing rivalry with the Oakland Athletics. For almost a decade the Halos and Elephants have exchanged American League West Championships, culminating in 2002 when the A’s won a major league record 20 games in a row and finished their season winning in American League West title; only to have the Angels capture the American League Wild-Card which eventually led them to win the 2002 World Series. Personally, the Athletics are the team that I will always love to hate a little bit more than the Rangers simply because of my time spent in the Bay Area during my college years as well as a trading of division titles during that decade.

This rivalry was temporarily put on hold however in 2010 and 2011 when the Texas Rangers won back-to-back American League West Championships. Both times they eventually reached the World Series themselves. This budding rivalry between these two teams have created an interesting dynamic in the American League West. As we are not battling solely during the season, but were now also battling during the off-season. As the Angels are trying to court CJ Wilson away from the Texas Rangers. This rivalry is starting to feel much more intense come not only because I over Wilson but also the various connections between our two franchises.

In addition to Wilson, I believe that genesis of this rivalry in my opinion began with the trade of Mike Napoli who eventually ended up with the Rangers. Any team that loses a excellent player to a division rival feels the pain, however this one stings a lot more because of the success that Napoli had in this past World Series. It’s interesting to see how this rivalry will develop in the future, especially if the Angels or able to pry CJ Wilson away from Texas. The Angels would be taking away the Ace of the Rangers. Which would probably leave a bad taste in Rangers’ fans collective mouth. For Angels’ fans, it would represent the ultimate coup and be a form of retribution for the loss of Mike Napoli to division rival.

Add to that a compounding factor, Rangers’ Executive Vice President, Nolan Ryan who is a very important part of Angels’ history. Many, myself included still consider him a valuable and vital part of the Angels family. He has never denied using dual career but the fact that he now is part owner of the Rangers, eats at your stomach.

It is these ongoing connections between these two franchises that makes this an important rivalry between these two teams. The fight over CJ Wilson personifies the evolution of what clearly has the potential to become a very intense rivalry between these two teams in the American League West. Whether it’s Wilson, Napoli or Ryan the Angels and Rangers have a bright and bitter rivalry to look forward to.

-ICE

The Freeway Series: More Than Simply a Battle for Interstate 5, a Battle to DefineTradition

In my last entry I referred to inter-league play as baseball’s Christmas, as fun as  inter-league play can be, nothing compares to the pageantry that is the Freeway Series.  I know I’m a little late in commenting about the Freeway Series especially since the Angels just swept the Washington Nationals; but on the other hand, this is the perfect time to comment since I can reflect on the first half of the series since I’m writing on the eve of the second half of the series. Writing during the midpoint facilitates the ability to juxtapose what went on against what to expect.

 

The Angels all-time record against the hated Dodgers is 48 to 35 favoring the Angels since their first meeting during the regular season on July 17, 1997 the inaugural year of inter-league play, to me, as an Angels’ fan, that is a beautiful number. Dodgers’ fans often boast that they are the better team just because they have five championships compared to the Angels one Ring. Although I would normally agree that a better team is defined by the of number rings they possess, in the Dodgers’ case, I must wholeheartedly disagree.

 

The Freeway series to me is primarily about the battle over Interstate 5 because the interstate defines California. Interstate 5 runs from Sacramento in the north to San Diego in the South, maybe even beyond (note to self: I must refresh my geography, remember to look it up on Google) Interstate 5 is the main artery that runs through California. California prides itself on tradition whether it’s the fact that California is the sixth largest economy in the world, (yes, California would be able to  function  as a small country on its own.) Or it’s wonderful whether, or even still defining its own moments in history, like landmark court cases and historical movements that often defines the course of history for the United States. Interstate 5 connects Anaheim to Los Angeles the two cities are only about 35 miles apart. The Freeway Series is about the battle for the heart and soul of Southern California. It’s about Orange County versus Los Angeles County, Universal Studios versus Disneyland, Santa Monica versus Huntington Beach, LAX versus John Wayne Airport, but most importantly it’s a battle to define tradition.

 

The Los Angeles Dodgers were originally the Brooklyn Dodgers who had a long standing rivalry with the New York Giants or now the San Francisco Giants. When both teams were imported to California, their rivalry was imported with them so that specific rivalry began in New York not Southern California. When those two teams get together they are simply rekindling something that they started in New York if one thinks about it there is nothing “California” about that rivalry. Throw the Angels into the mix however, in its quite a different breed of animal.

 

The Angels were founded in 1961 by a group of people interested in bringing an American League team to Southern California. they were a group led by country singer, “the singing cowboy” Gene Autry ; who owned a local Los Angeles radio station of the time. When he was approached by Major League Baseball who was interested in becoming Autry’s broadcast partner. Autry felt better suited to own a major league baseball team rather than just simply be broadcast partners with Major League Baseball, and the Los Angeles Angels were born; playing their first game at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles as a major league team on April 11, 1961.

 

The name “Angels” was derived from the nickname of the city of Los Angeles “the city of Angels.” Thereby establishing their native roots in Southern California and establishing a tradition that is not that of an imported team or imported reveries.

When the team moved to Anaheim for the 1963 baseball season they change their name to the “California Angels” not only establishing the roads in Los Angeles but expanding the roads 35 miles south by way of the Interstate 5 in Anaheim. California in major league baseball team to call its own. And that’s why I have such an affinity to the team like myself, the Angels regardless of the name they choose at any particular point in time for marketing purposes or otherwise, is a native Californian team. It has no ties or legacy to the East Coast, the team’s tradition was born and built in Southern California, not Brooklyn New York. I do not want to take anything away from the Brooklyn Dodgers, after all every single team in Major League Baseball has ties to the Brooklyn Dodgers by virtue of their retirement of Jackie Robinson’s number 42 in honor of his positive change in all of sports not just baseball.

The Freeway Series, is a very special time of the year for both the Angels and the Dodgers not only is it a battle for the right to claim the Southern California tradition as their own, but is a battle to establish themselves as the marquee team in the Los Angeles area.

 

Now that I have taken a look back at history just a little bit, I can’t help but wonder what the future holds for these two wonderful hated yet respected rivals, will the Dodgers promptly resolve the McCourt saga? I hope the Dodgers are able to attract an owner similar to Arturo Moreno and owner who understands the beauty of baseball, and most importantly respects such a beautiful rivalry as the Freeway series. Perhaps a Mark Cuban? Although I may hate the Dodgers, I have a healthy respect for them and they deserve better. I wish the franchise and their fans all the best.

 

As far as the future of the Angels, well, it’s the 50th anniversary of the franchise, and after a poor offensive start the bats are starting to warm up; especially Vernon Wells who has been on somewhat of a tear for the last few games. The Angels have spectacular pitching, and they just took two out of three from the Seattle Mariners, two out of three from the New York Mets, two out of three from the Florida Marlins, two out of three from the Dodgers and just swept the Washington Nationals. The battle between Jared Weaver and Clayton Kershaw the respective aces of each team should be an excellent match up on Saturday night. Overall the American League West championship is still a very real possibility for the Angels despite a poor start; the halos are only 1 1/2 games behind the Texas Rangers. As of now the golden Halo shines bright.

 

-ICE

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