Results tagged ‘ American League West ’
Stomper Versus the Rally Monkey: the Only Proper Way to Appreciate the Return and the Beauty of Baseball
140 days, United States Presidents’ traditionally get evaluated by the United States media in the first 100. days. A baby finishes its first trimester and is 18 days into his/hers second trimester. 20 weeks, that’s how long I’ve been personally affected by the corona virus pandemic; by now, I probably would have attended maybe 10 home games. This pandemic has changed life as we know it. Hopefully we can get back to some semblance of normality soon. However, we must all work together by wearing our masks and keeping proper distance from each other in order to end this soon.
For someone like myself, who loves sports and views them as a healthy barometer of our society it’s been especially hard. I have missed seeing the faces that I usually see when I go to the ballpark, friends, who complain about how the team that we love is not doing as well as the team should be given the talent that they have; friends, no matter how bad the team is doing their faith and their loyalty is unwavering. The same friends that swear every year that the team will find a way to not only make the playoffs, but also win the World Series.
Baseball, it is probably one of the most beautiful words in the English language, where my friends and I can cheer together as one, one voice, one mind, and one goal. The Angels are 1-2, I’m hoping for a series split tomorrow against the Oakland Athletics.
Rather than write an analytical post, today, I rather reflect on the beauty of baseball, and discuss some of my memories that help me appreciate how happy I am that the game I love is back. This 60 game Sprint, as the sports’ media has dubbed it, will have the spotlight as soon as I write my reflections of the first series.
I find it appropriate that the Angels have opened the first series of the abbreviated season against the Athletics in Oakland, as I have mentioned numerous times in previous posts before, the Athletics along with the Dodgers are the two teams that I love to hate, the Athletics as a division rival, and the Dodgers as the natural rival.
The Athletics and the Angels have a history, whose story cannot be told without first explaining what each team means to each other. Since 2002, both teams have mutually beaten each other by a difference of two runs or less 173 times; from 2002 to 2009 the Athletics or the Angels won the American League West championship, and again for a brief period between 2012 and 2014 with neither team claiming and American League West title since then. I myself had the pleasure of watching the Angels clinch a title on Oakland’s home-field both in 2004 and in 2005, Oakland is also where I met current Angels’ owner, Arturo Moreno. (Arte Moreno) I still remember the brief conversation that I had with him fondly. It is one of the highlights of my Angels’ fandom.
What makes Oakland so special? Well, I lived in the bay area for 12 years, and although I was seldom interested in Oakland Athletics baseball as a whole, I did try to make it whenever the Angels came in as the visiting team. The Oakland Coliseum is a part of Major League Baseball history, up until 2019 it was the last shared facility between Major League Baseball and the National Football League, before the Oakland Raiders moved to Las Vegas after the 2019 season.
Who can forget Roy Steele, the Athletics public address announcer since 1968, as a visiting fan I loved to hear his voice, when he would announce the Angels lineup it would be a very somber, matter-of-fact tone, almost as if he had a disdain for announcing any visiting team. In contrast to the deep cheerful voice that he would use in announcing the Athletics. He was one of the great voices of baseball. Roy Steele, was to the Oakland Athletics and the West Coast what Bob Sheppard was to the New York Yankees and the East Coast. Great voices that probably could be imitated but never duplicated. I’ve heard many derogatory terms when referring to the Oakland Coliseum from other people, in reality the Oakland Coliseum is one of the crown jewels of baseball and in my humble opinion, if people can’t see that, then they don’t understand what the Oakland Coliseum and its history means to baseball.
This is what makes the Angels/Athletics rivalry so special therefore this is why it was especially important for Major League Baseball to start the season with such pageantry and tradition between the last remaining founding members of the American League West. This is what makes baseball so beautiful and so important to help us through this pandemic. If only for a moment, this rivalry helps both fan bases appreciate the beauty of the game that we all love.
For those that don’t know, red is my favorite color independent from the Angels, to me it represents the color of passion, dedication, focus, and love. Red is very versatile, it makes its presence known, it can’t be ignored, and can’t be overlooked.
Over the last couple of series, the color red is very meaningful for the Halos. The red of this Saint Louis Cardinals who showed their red particularly to Albert Pujols their love for Albert was evident in three-game series in Saint Louis, as an Angels’ fan, I appreciate passionate fans such as Redbird fans.
The Angels also are metaphorically seeing red as in having to play seven games in two of the last remaining stadiums with artificial turf, Tampa Bay, (St. Petersburg) and Toronto, Ontario Canada home of the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays respectively; and last but certainly not least red brooms as in the sweep of both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds.
I postulated in my previous entry that the Angels have time to turn things around and that it had to start with a statement to the best team in baseball record wise, the Los Angeles Dodgers; indeed they did. The Halos went on to win their next seven of nine games, they went on the three-game losing streak and then swept the Cincinnati Reds. As of right now, officially halfway through the season through 81 games the Angels sit 41-40, although the situation is not ideal, considering all the injuries they continue to deal with this year they are still well within striking distance of the American League wildcard.
They start a four-game series today with their chief American League rival, the Oakland Athletics, the Angels must unequivocally improve their record within the division to make this season is successful one. They must become metaphorically speaking red-hot, in order to tinge the playoffs with Angels’ red.
Red, an unequivocally beautiful color, representing passion, focus, and love. The Angels must have the passion and focus to improve this season, and love for the game to be successful.
One of the most majestic images in baseball is the baseball field itself, the luscious green grass making its presence known to all that take their time to breathe in its beauty; the intoxicating spell that casts upon its observers enchanting them and leaving them wanting more. The grass whose edges tease the infield dirt as if the grass was a forbidden lover that the dirt was not allowed to touch in public for fear of not exposing their torrid love affair. The seats surrounding the two lovers, gather in a convention as if they were gods waiting decree their verdict upon the lovers, this is what goes on in every baseball stadium, when the stadium is empty and it’s in its most natural state, this is baseball nature.
This is all about to change however, as a blue wave invades the peaceful serenity of Angel Stadium, the levers hide in horror as their natural state dissipates for nine innings, perhaps more and is replaced by a ruckus blue invasion force that threatens their most sacred inner peace. Luckily they have red defenders that seek to quell the assault on their way of life.
This is the essence of the Freeway Series, this is what makes the Angels Dodgers rivalry unique and beautiful. A little more than 30 miles separate the two cities and a little more than 28 miles separate the two stadiums. Proximity makes all the difference because it adds certain elements to the rivalry that the Dodgers and Giants rivalry will never have.
The Dodgers have the best record in all of baseball at the moment, while the Angels are 30-34; various injuries to Justin Upton, and Andrelton Simmons as well as injuries to various members of the pitching staff have slowed their progress.
The Angels are 14-21 against the American League West, they at 13.5 games back out of first place, in four games out of the second wildcard spot. There is still plenty of time to turn things around, however it must start tonight.
I believe that beating the best team in baseball would give them a much-needed boost of morale, not only because it Dodgers currently hold the best record in baseball, but because of the rivalry, a small contribution of giving the Dodgers two losses would give the Angels the energy to turn things around.
When Angel fans fill the seats tonight, they must do their best to defend home-field advantage, they must protect the two star crossed lovers so they can continue their forbidden love affair uninterrupted; by doing so, they add to the beauty and the legend that is baseball as it has been for the last 150 years.
One of the wonderful things about being a diehard Angels’ fan for more than 30 years is that one learns to appreciate the good times and the bad; from winning the World Series in 2002 to finish a magical season that started 6-14, two finishing 41 1/2 games out the first place in the American League West in 2001. One win away their American League championship in 1986 after reading the series 3 games to 1, who can forget the infamous one-game tiebreaker game for the American League West championship in 1995 after the Angels had an 11 game division lead on August 3 with one month to go.
All these highs and lows has helped me appreciate when the Angels are doing well, I often mention to my fellow baseball fans that I don’t understand why the modern fan base (those who became fans because of the 2002 World Series championship) are so hard on this team; is it because they never experienced the dark times? Or is it simply easier to follow a team when it’s on top? From 2002 until the end of the 2009 season the Angels have experienced success relative to their history of being such lovable losers.
Now it seems that since 2009 the Angels have been plagued with bites from the injury bug in the past, players such as Tyler Skaggs, Garrett Richards, and Matt Shoemaker, don’t seem to be all healthy at the same time, which has really hindered the potential of this team. All three starting pitchers have dealt with long-term injuries at one point or another. This team is very talented on paper but the injury bug has not allowed them to flourish as a team.
The Halos at one point in the season had a Major League Baseball leading 24 players on the disabled list at the same time, no team, regardless of how much talent they may have can recover from that very easily. Although the Angels have gotten some players back slowly others replace them on the list such as Albert Pujols will likely miss the rest of the season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. It seems like the injury bug loves take a bite out of the halo.
Shohei Ohtani, the young phenom two-way player was originally supposed to be shut down on the pitching side for the rest of the season to allow his grade 2 elbow sprain to heal, the Angels 18 games back of the division leading Houston Astros. There is no reason to risk aggravating his injury any further since the Angels have really nothing to play for being this far back this late in the season. The wildcard at this point seems out of the question as well. The Angels organization, should be taking this time to develop young players that they brought up during the September call ups, and setting the foundation for a better season next year. Shohei Ohtani clearly lost his velocity towards the end of his outing last night. It perplexes me why the Angels would risk making a bad injury situation even worse; granted, Shohei Ohtani may have wanted his opportunity at history since after he is outing this night he is the first major-league baseball player since Babe Ruth in 1919 to pitch 50 innings and hit 15 home runs. “Showtime” has marked his patient history there is no reason to risk his future and that of the organization’s any further.
As a diehard Angels’ fan for over 30 years I have seen my fair share of peaks and valleys with this team, I am a strong believer that the Angels should take the time to regroup and heal, this is not the time for rest decisions, is not the time to allow the injury bug to take one more bite out of the halo.
Today is the Independence Day of the United States, it is very fitting, because fireworks are often used to express this independence. The Angels must use today as a personification of an example of what they must become in order to save their season.
The Halos have fallen victim to the dirty dozen, they are 12 1/2 games behind the division leading Houston Astros in the American League West. After losing to the Seattle Mariners yesterday. The Angels must explode, just like the fireworks that will light up the sky today throughout the United States. Including today’s game the Angels have 11 of their next 19 games against the division, with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox sandwiched in between. If the Halos are to have any postseason aspirations they must make their presence known in these next 19 games.
It’s going to be quite a challenge however, the Angels have recently led Major League Baseball with the amount of players on the disabled list with 15; similar to recent years, the Angels endured more than their fair share of injuries.
My hope is that the can at least take 15 of the 19 upcoming games in order for them to have shimmer of hope of making the postseason. It has yet to be seen if they are able to do that. We will just have to wait and see.
Opening Day brings the promise to every franchise in Major League Baseball, every franchise and their fan base, they believe in the promise of a World Series championship; as the season progresses the optimism evolves into realism and with each game that passes fans are able to see the progression or regression of their favorite team.
The Angels are 6-2, in their first eight games, are undefeated at home and are in first place in the American League West. I know it’s early, however in the last few seasons the Angels were notorious for starting off slow in April. This is clearly not the case this year, the Halos have already pulled off two tremendous comebacks one against the Seattle Mariners and last night against the Texas Rangers.
What is the difference? The difference is the Angels finally addressed the roster problems of the last few years, second base and left field, leading to a strengthening in team defense and offense, which are both spectacular, their base running has also improved more specifically their ability to go from first to third base with not much effort; starting pitching and the bullpen however, although not terrible; are still a little suspect. The most important ingredient of all is that they are having fun. Something I haven’t seen in the last few seasons.
As a fan it is very exciting to watch his team play they’ve demonstrated an uncanny ability to come back and win. I believe that’s a product of how much fun they’re having, and just playing the game without reservation.
There’s an excitement in Anaheim around his team that I haven’t seen in years, aside from the diehard Angels’ fans like me who are always excited. The fans support this year is making it very hard for visiting teams to come in to The Big A and win. That’s the way it should be, the Halo should always shine bright over Anaheim.
The Angels have had an interesting season thus far; there are instances when it’s the best of times, yet there are other instances when it’s the worst of times. The Angels have been decimated by injuries at the absolute worst time. A few examples are C. J. Cron, who went down right when his bat was warming up, or Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney both of whom are essential to the Halos’ success. Yet another example is the missing contribution of C. J. Wilson who was unable to throw a single pitch this season because of injury. With three-fifths of the starting rotation out of commission it’s surprising that the Angels have been able to function much less stay together as a team. At one point this season they were down 19 ½ games in their division with little hope of recovery.
In contrast, shortly before the All-Star break the Angels somehow managed to slowly bring it together with contributions of the now injured C.J. Cron. At one point they were able to string together 34 runs over four games before losing the pre All-Star break finale.
Since the All-Star break the Halos have come roaring back. They have yet to lose a game post All-Star break. They swept the division leading Texas Rangers and now move on to face the Houston Astros and continue this hopeful remarkable comeback. The Halos are now 11.5 games back begging the question if they will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline.
It is no secret that the Angels don’t have much of a farm system which necessitates them to be sellers in order to rebuild such a devastated system. If this is indeed the case who would be on the trading block? Matt Shoemaker, who so far has had the best season of anyone in the rotation. Hector Santiago, who is arguably the heart and soul of the pitching staff. He plays the game with an unmatched passion which I like to call “Controlled Chaos.” What impact will Tyler Skaggs have on this team when he is ready to come back from injury? How will the injury to Nick Tropeano impact the rotation?
In contrast would the Halos have the heart to take apart a team that appears to be chemically coming together with an unmatched chemistry that was far delayed? Will they be able to find some way to improve this team and still have enough pieces to exchange? There is an old baseball adage that states you have to give up something to get something. Who will the Angels give up that would both have minimal impact on the team and still get someone of value back in order to help this team succeed?
If the Angels find a way to reconcile this conflicting enigma I believe they have enough to create a solid base to build on for next year, if not, by some miracle make up the division deficit and attempt to contend this season.
The answer lies in resolving the contradicting tales of these two Halos and finding a conclusion to this developing novel which has the potential to become a classic masterpiece of a season. How will the tale end? On one side will this be a reflection on a successful season? Or a tale of how a string of injuries derailed this cast of characters? How long will this novel be? Are we reaching the final pages? Or are there many pages yet to be written? My sincere hope is that it is the latter.
It is Friday, July 1, 2016, we are a little more than a week away from the All-Star break and a little more than the month away from the trade deadline; to say that the Halos are in trouble this season is a monumental understatement. They played a chess game of baseball and were unequivocally decimated.
In the previous entry I alluded to the fact that the Angels had a 13 game stretch against sub .500 teams within the American League West. I used the game of chess as a metaphor to describe the Halos perfect opportunity to strike, or at the very least put themselves in the position to attempt a strike within the division. Unfortunately for the Angels, they did exactly what they could not do. They went from 12 and a half games back in the beginning of the 13 game stretch to 18 1/2 games back by the end. The Angels’ record, 3-10; they wasted this golden opportunity.
There is an infinite list of problems with this team this particular season. Most Angels’ fans are going to point to the desolate condition of the starting rotation. While that may be true, there is a statistic that jumps out.
If one goes back to the beginning of the season and my rough calculations are correct, the Halos have a record of 5-31 when leading a game by three runs or less. Yes the starting rotation is in shambles however, the offense isn’t responding very well when they’re needed the most.
The long list of injuries to various players is also pointed as a determining factor for this team’s performance this season. I’m not quite sure that if this team was 100% healthy they would do much better. The problem is much bigger than just the injuries, it’s the management.
In January of 2009 Mike Scioscia signed a 10 year contract extension through 2018. He has been the manager since the 2000 season in a span of 16 years so far he has only brought one World Series championship to this franchise. (2002) Yes, he does have the highest winning percentage of any manager in Angels’ history. However, winning percentages are rarely remembered, what is remembered is championships. Mike Scioscia has not been handed average players during his tenure. These players include Vladimir Guerrero, Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Torii Hunter, just to name a few. In reality, he hasn’t found a way to win.
In my eyes, Mike Scioscia has become a bit complacent, he gets paid whether the Angels win or lose. There are numerous examples of the manager making the wrong decision, at the wrong time; for example, earlier this season, just as Matt Shoemaker began his uplifting turnaround, Mike Scioscia took out Shoemaker during a game when he was pitching very well, Mike Scioscia then proceeds to turn it over to the bullpen that in turn loses the game for Shoemaker.
Mike Scioscia’s obsession with using Cam Bedrosian out of the bullpen has cost the Angels a number of winnable games. Cam does not seem to be ready for the big lights of the major leagues; yet Mike Scioscia insists on using him in clearly the wrong situations. It is the introduction of this relief pitcher that causes the first domino to fall in a losing effort.
In my humble opinion Mike Scioscia also causes a negative effect on the franchise, again, this is due to the length of his contract; his complacency, and the amount of power he holds within the organization. Billy Eppler is a good general manager; I take nothing away from him. However, there was no need to replace Jerry DiPoto, the current Seattle Mariners’ General Manager and the former Angels’ General Manager. Jerry was forced to resign due to alleged disagreements in philosophy with Mike Scioscia. The result? The Mariners are 10 games better in the standings than the Angels are this season.
The Angels virtually have no pieces to trade at the trade deadline. How will this team get better? The injuries will heal, aside from some needs, this team is very talented. Where do the Angels go from here? They have no flexibility. They are losing the chess game of baseball very badly. In this chess game, do the Angels face a check or checkmate? Only time will tell.
As a baseball fan, one expects to see their favorite team go through ups and downs, peaks and valleys. During the season a team must learn to pace themselves; in essence they must play the chess game that is baseball, put the chess pieces in the right position in order for a team to attack when the moment is right.
The Angels find themselves in this exact metaphorical scenario described above, they are currently 12 1/2 games out of first place in the American League West, fourth in the division, with 10 players on the disabled list with various injuries. The Halo is tarnished and the wings are tattered. The situation may look bleak to outsiders, yet this may be the perfect time to position the test pieces for an attack.
Starting tonight the Halos play their next 13 games against division rivals, which involves two teams that are sub .500 the Oakland A’s and the Houston Astros. This may be the perfect time for the team to strike as there are high hopes that the contribution of the newest Angel, Tim Lincecum, will give this team a much needed lift in the pitching rotation with three-fifths of the starting rotation on the 60-day disabled list with long-term injuries. Tyler Skaggs who was expected back within the near future has hit a snag in his rehabilitation forcing the Halos to find other more creative options.
It is well-known among baseball’s purest that the key to a successful team is pitching, something that the Angels clearly do not have at this moment. It is looking highly unlikely that C.J. Wilson will be able to make a meaningful impact this season due to the setbacks that he has had; based on the fact that this is the final year of his multi-million dollar contract it is very doubtful that he will have a meaningful impact for the Halos.
Can this team stay consistent for this 13 game stretch? It all depends if this team can come together at the right moments. It is not time yet to worry about the division leader, the Texas Rangers, since they have been on fire and look unstoppable at the moment; but, they too will fall into a valley that may allow the Halos to gain some ground. If the Angels can use this 13 game stretch to their advantage, we may have an interesting division race after the All-Star break, but in order to do so, the Halos must shine again and their wings must heal if all this is to come to fruition.
There are numerous clichés that one can use to refer to this baseball season for the Angels; a recurring one for the Halos is, “baseball is a marathon, not a sprint.” Unfortunately this is nothing new for the Angels. They have started off slow in previous years. The Halos as of yesterday, are in third place in the American League West. However, this time around the Angels find themselves temporarily trapped in the playground of nightmares.
This first piece of spine tingling playground equipment is the seesaw, the Angels swept the defending World Series Champions Kansas City Royals; in a previous home stand, the Angels were swept one entire home series, by losing six straight against the Tampa Bay Rays and St. Louis Cardinals. In only to rebound after falling victim to the home sweep, they swept the then first place Seattle Mariners in Seattle. The Angels continued their way up by defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-6 yesterday in the first game of the home at home Freeway Series. Hopefully the seesaw will stop soon, however, only time will tell.
The Injury Carousel
This second skin curdling piece of equipment is the worst of the two. The Angels as of this morning have seven players on the disabled list, with outfielder Daniel Nava expected to be the eighth player to join the list very soon. Three of the seven are part of the starting rotation and all three are on the 60 day disabled list. The Angels’ closer, Houston Street is also part of this list. The Halos are definitely riding the carousel of tears.
Hopefully the Angels will find the way out of this playground of nightmares very soon. There is a rampant rumor that they are close to contractually soliciting the assistance of The Freak to assist them out of the playground. If they Halos do end up coming to terms with the former San Francisco Giants pitcher, Tim Lincecum, I will have a forthcoming reaction to this occurrence.
“The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” Is this true? Does an object fall harder from a greater vertical distance? Gravity is a constant, therefore, no matter if we’re talking about a feather or a bowling ball, they both fall at the same rate, perhaps the mass of the bowling ball makes a greater impact, but it doesn’t fall any harder than the feather.
After battling with the Houston Astros for most of the season and switching between first and second place in the American League West, the Angels now find themselves in third place as of today 5 1/2 games back of the Houston Astros. After a horrible August, the Halos survived, the offense has not produced as well as it should and the bullpen may be overstretched, however things are not always as they seem.
Yes, the Angels may have spiraled, and yes, the Angels are a far cry from the 17-3 run they made around the All-Star break; nevertheless, this isn’t a random occurrence. Two things happened which led to this sudden drop in the standings.
Mike Trout went down on July 30 when he hurt his wrist diving for a ball in the outfield, the wrist may be better, however his timing at the plate is off since the injury, he hasn’t been able to drive the ball on a consistent basis, it is because of this, that he hasn’t been able to play at the level that we are accustomed, nevertheless, until he can get to the point where he can dominate a game at any given time, the Angels are going to struggle.
David Freese went down on July 22 he was hit by a pitch, without Freese, there was no one to solidify the bottom part of the lineup, after Trout and Pujols. There was no real transition between the middle and bottom part of the lineup, add to that, Mike Scioscia’s unnecessary and reactionary revolving lineup. This clearly explains the Angels sudden drop in the standings.
We are in the latter stretch of the baseball season, by now, championship teams have their lineup set, and each player’s role defined in preparation for the September call ups; thus, making it easier for a team to plug-in the newly arrived players into their respective defined roles.
Unfortunately, this didn’t happen with the Halos this year. This is why the volatility of this team continues. Yes, the Angels are not mathematically out and there’s still plenty of time to catch the Houston Astros. And yes you can win the World Series being a Wild-Card team. The Angels proved that in 2002 by being the first team ever to win the World Series as a Wild-Card. Notwithstanding, the Angels need to define their collective identity, if they expect to make a deep run in the playoffs. They may slip into the postseason as a feather, however, they need to have the impact of a bowling ball.
How blue can you get? The Angels are asking their fans that very question, they are playing with that sweet, yet painful sting of the B.B. King classic.
After a hot start coming out of the All-Star break, the Halos handed over the American League West to the Houston Astros. The Angels have lost five straight, and eight of their last nine. To make matters worse, the Angels lost the first two games of the Freeway Series to the cross-town rival, Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Halos were playing well, both as a team and as individuals. Which is impressive, considering the turmoil that the Angels have gone through with the resignation of their General Manager. This team has shown resilience not only to stay afloat, but take over the American League West, couple that with individual success, specifically the success of Mike Trout, who became the first player in Major League Baseball history to be the most valuable player of an All-Star game in consecutive years.
The Angels didn’t make the big splash during the trade deadline that the fan base was accustomed to in recent years, however, they quietly made moves. The Halos sought to improve themselves and with the acquisitions of David Murphy from the Cleveland Indians, David DeJesus from the Tampa Bay Rays, and Shane Victorino from the Boston Red Sox. These three outfielders were brought aboard to try to negate the disappointing contribution this season by Matt Joyce.
The Angels are not playing as well as it may look, if one looks at the head-to-head record against all the division leaders in the American League, the Astros, the Royals, and the Yankees, the Halos have a record of 5-17 in the head-to-head match ups with the division leaders so far this season.
I will be attending my first Angels road game of the season tomorrow against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium for the first-half finale of the Freeway Series, I am really not interested in how much more blue the Angels can get, rather, I would like to think that tomorrow will be the genesis of the Angels returning to greatness and becoming red-hot again.