Results tagged ‘ Angels ’

MLB 150: 150 Years of Tradition

Tradition, this is what comes to mind when one thinks about the 150th anniversary of Major League Baseball. 150 years, of America’s pastime; the oldest sport in existence in the United States. A sport that has made history, with names like Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, Sandy Koufax, Lou Gehrig, Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, and in time, Mike Trout. These names is what makes a sport standalone as part of the American fabric, it is the only sport in my opinion that one can be of average height and weight and with just pure talent still make an impact.

 

It is this anniversary that makes the season feel special for all the teams and fans of Major League Baseball. This is especially true for the Cincinnati Reds who celebrate their 150th anniversary as a franchise; as they were the first team founded during the creation of Major League Baseball.

 

Just as the season is a milestone for professional baseball, it also is a congruent milestone for the Halos since shortly before the start of the season the Angels signed Mike Trout to a long term contract, essentially, making him an Angel for life. Trout, has decided to follow the path of Tim Salmon and Lou Gehrig, remaining one uniform for his entire career.

 

Mike Trout has begun another stellar season by making a considerable contribution to the team once again. The team however, has been on a roller coaster ride since the beginning of the season starting the season one and six, then going seven and one in the span of eight games, and most recently they were swept by the Texas Rangers in this last series. The Halos are currently 8-10.

 

The Angels have fallen victim to more than their fair share of injuries, and this year is no exception. Injuries include Shohei Ohtani who is still recovering from Tommy John surgery. Justin Upton, Tyler Skaggs, and Andrew Heaney, or among the notable injuries thus far, this is not included Mike Trout, who was out for a few days with strained groin.

 

The starting rotation this year is far from stable, adding to the ups and downs of this metaphorical roller coaster. The Halos must stabilize their trajectory and travel on an even plain. How do they do that? There is one transaction that the Angels can make right now to improve the pitching staff, they can do so by signing Dallas Keuchel. Reports have surfaced that he is willing to sign a one-year deal. This perspective transaction has a potential of shifting the balance of power in the American League West. Dallas Keuchel is a former Houston Astro, as such, he is familiar Astros’ organization; such a contract signing, would help the Angels stabilize their rotation. In turn, allowing them to have more success on the field. What do they have to lose? The Angels must find a way to get off this roller coaster.

 

 

The 150th anniversary of Major League Baseball is a special milestone for the sport. It would be wonderful if the Angels could mark this milestone with a congruent milestone of their own, a World Series championship.

 

-ICE

Mike Trout Reinforces His Halo

The smoke has cleared, and the dust has settled. The apprehension of Mike Trout leaving the Angels in two years is no more. The biggest transaction of the off-season has been completed before even having the chance to become a free agent. I wanted to wait until the deal was official before I wrote this entry. It’s now official, Mike Trout has signed a 12-year, $426.5 million contract, for the sake of simplicity I’m going to round the number of to 430 million since that’s what the major media outlets have been reporting. The press conference will be on Sunday, March 24 at 3 PM. Pacific daylight Time.

 

I am ecstatic, the Angels have secured Mike Trout in Angels’ uniform for the rest of his career. The contract, is the largest contract ever signed in the history of North American sports. No one deserves this type of contract more than Trout. He plays the game the right way, and much like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, he speaks softly and carries a big stick.

 

Some sports pendants are questioning the contract, they argue that no matter what he does Trout can never live up to the contract; and still others, question the contract arguing that he is not marketable because he is not outspoken like other players, that’s not Mike Trout style, and I doubt it will ever be. As I mentioned in my previous entry, Mike Trout is a throwback to a classic baseball player. He doesn’t call much attention to himself and he quietly plays the game the right way, and I applaud the Angels for securing both his future and the future of the team. He is the best player of his generation, and if he can continue playing at the level that he’s currently playing that is, if he doesn’t get better which is a very scary proposition within itself for the rest of Major League Baseball, he may go down in history as the best player to ever play the game of baseball.

 

In addition to questioning the contract, detractors have questioned Mike Trout’s desire to stay with the Halos, arguing that the Angels are “generic” that it was going to stay in California the Dodgers, the Giants,and arguably the biggest brand in baseball, the Yankees would be better choices for his career. I would argue against the Angels being “a generic franchise”; yes, the Angels may not be a marquee franchise like those mentioned above, but this is where Trout wanted to be, and the team of course, wanted to keep them. Mike Trout is a highly intelligent person and player, it is my belief, he would have tested the free-agent market if you didn’t see something in the Angels franchise that pointed to his future ability to be successful with the team.

 

As a fan, I would like to thank Mike Trout for loving this team is much as a fan base does. I personally look forward to many wonderful and successful years to come, congratulations Mike Trout!

 

-ICE

Will Angel Stadium and Mike Trout Lose Their Halos?

 

When I was formulating this entry I knew from the beginning that it would be very personal for me to write, I debated for an entire week whether two separate the two issues that I wanted to talk about into two separate entries or write about them together. I quickly realized that the answer was obvious, the two issues that I want to discuss our intertwined and I can’t really talk about one issue without talking about the other; so writing about Angel Stadium and Mike Trout separately didn’t make much sense to me.

 

Sports’ have a way of uniting communities for the better with a singular identity between the franchise and the city in which the franchise resides in, it’s a special interdependency that gives both the team and the community and intertwined identity. Some examples of this are the San Francisco 49ers helping the city of San Francisco heal after the assassinations of its mayor and a supervisor in the 1970’s or the Boston Red Sox helping the city heal after the Boston Marathon bombing; sometimes the identity between a city and its franchise become so intertwined that it’s tough to differentiate or even imagine two separate entities.

 

An example of the latter is the case of the Angels and the city of Anaheim. The Angels moved to Anaheim in 1966. Creating a singular identity for Anaheim and the rest of  Orange County separate from the Los Angeles Dodgers and the city of Los Angeles. I was born and raised in Orange County, and grew up about three and half miles away from Angel Stadium. Yes, I absolutely love my Lakers but it is nice to have a team closer to home that we as a community don’t have to share with another city much less another County, I have similar feelings of allegiance towards the Anaheim Ducks.

 

Until recently the Angels had a lease with Angel Stadium until 2029 with a opt-out clause that was exercised by the franchise this past off-season. The Angels franchise and the city of Anaheim recently agreed to a short-term extension until the end of the 2020 season, in order to give the two sides time to discuss a possible extension that would be more amicable to both sides. During these talks between the two parties, The city of Long Beach has reached out to the Angels franchise about the possibility of moving the team and building a stadium in Long Beach.

 

As an Angels’ fan for over 30 years, I can see the appeal of moving to Long Beach, however, from a pragmatic, financial, and business standpoint it doesn’t make much sense to me, let’s assume the Angels do move to Long Beach. They would be in close proximity to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Angels would be in more direct competition with the Los Angeles Dodgers, I find it hard to believe that the Angels would be very successful in prying away fans from a well-established franchise such as a Dodgers. The relationship between the Dodgers and the city of Los Angeles is too entrenched for the Angels to have any measure of success.

 

It is for this same reason that I believe the Angels would be more successful staying in Anaheim. The Angels identity is Anaheim no matter how many name changes the Angels franchise decides to go through. Anaheim is far enough away from Los Angeles for the team to have its own distinct relationship with the city, additionally the location in Anaheim is situated such that the Stadium sits next to a Metrolink and  Amtrak train station that very easily brings people from all over Southern California without causing Stadium goers to think twice about traffic, while at the same time saving the fans that use the train Stadium parking fees. The Angels would be better off in my opinion taking advantage of the public transportation options surrounding the Stadium, including the Orange County bus system that facilitates the ability of fans to attend games. If the franchise goal is to draw more fans in, moving to Long Beach seems counterintuitive. I sincerely hope that the Angels franchise realizes how intertwined they are in the Orange County community, I highly doubt they can duplicate the loyal fan base if they move to the Los Angeles area. While I realize Angels’ ownership is always wanted to be in direct competition for the Los Angeles fan base, it’s important not to forget about the Orange County fan base; as the old adage goes, “if you stand too close to the fire, you’re going to get burned.” In my opinion, if the Angels do decide to move from Angel Stadium, this is going to monumentally backfire on the organization. I love the organization too much to not at the very least express my very personal opinion, I do not want to see Angel Stadium lose its Halo.

 

Perpetually intertwined with Angel Stadium and the Angels franchise is the future of Mike Trout, how will the Angel Stadium negotiations or a potential move affect Mike Trout’s desire to stay? There is no question that the Angels need to put better pieces around Mike Trout especially pitching both in the bullpen and in the starting rotation. In order for them to do this, they must be able to successfully put fans in the seats, something that is extremely difficult to do given that they would have to draw from the same local fan base that the Dodgers do, which would hamper the Angels ability to successfully draw fans, from a dwindling fan pool; in turn, this scenario brings us back to the Stadium situation, if this happens, Mike Trout is as good as gone. Trout, is a throwback to an old time baseball player, he is a baseball purist, and although money is important to him it is not as important as being successful at winning championships. The Angels must find a way to contend, not just compete in order to convince Trout to stay. It’s going to take much more than just beating Bryce Harper’s 13 year, over a quarter of $1 billion contract to convince Trout that he belongs in an Angels’ uniform for the rest of his career. The team must show its willingness and ability to contend and be close to winning every year that he is involved with the team.

 

I highly doubt the Mike Trout cares about is state-of-the-art Stadium or how many fans the Angels can possibly pry away from the Dodgers, however these two items are intertwined and it won’t mean much if he Stays or goes if the Angels don’t figure out a way to contend and win. It won’t matter if the Stadium is state-of-the-art if no one’s around to watch Mike Trout and the rest of the team play.

 

The Angels are definitely in a conundrum and face the very real possibility that both Angel Stadium and Mike Trout will lose their Halos. It is my very sincere and deep love for this team that makes me hope neither of these two situations happen.

 

-ICE

Are the Angels Preparing a Winter Wonderland or Preparing for the Brunt of Bitter Old Man Winter?

The holiday season invokes different emotional reactions from different people, some people think about spending time with loved ones, others think about the family gatherings, the food, the games; while still others think of the lights the holiday decorations and the overall spirit of the season.

 

Baseball fans however, have an added bonus during the holiday season, the Major League Baseball winter meetings. The winter meetings can only be described one way, opening a holiday gift early. This is the time a year select front office personnel from all 30 teams get together in one place and discuss anything pertaining to the upcoming season; primarily free-agent signings and trades. Some teams going to these meanings with the intent of making a splash, while others stay relatively quiet.

 

This is the case of the Angels this year, unlike years past, they haven’t made an eye-opening transaction during this year’s winter meetings, on the contrary, I believe this year has much more uncertainty than years past. The Halos lost Garrett Richards to free agency. Richards signed a contract with the San Diego Padres, Shohei Ohtani is recovering from off-season Tommy John surgery and is unable to pitch this upcoming year, although he will be in the batters’ box this upcoming season. Parker Bridwell, a once promising Angels’ pitcher is no longer available because he was claimed off waivers by the New York Yankees. Injuries combined with these transactions make the Angels’ starting rotation questionable at best.

 

The Halos number one priority should be starting pitching, and/or pitching in general. This position is there Achilles’ heel as of late. They’ve had more of their fair share of pitching woes and it doesn’t seem that this year will get any better.

 

If that wasn’t enough, the Angels need help in the infield, they had Ian Kinsler’s veteran presence in the infield. I believe they gave up on Kinsler too early, alternatively, keeping Kinsler would have helped the Angels at the very least determine whether he deserved a longer-term contract to shore up the infield. His absence now not only leaves question marks in the infield for next season but it also creates a huge hole that the Angels need to fill; combined with the team’s pitching needs, I don’t see how they can possibly fill all these holes and expect to not only compete, but contend. Something they must do if they want to keep Mike Trout happy and in an Angels’ uniform in the long-term, especially for a team that does not want to go over Major League Baseball’s luxury tax.

 

It seems that the Halos are trying to do too much at the same time, this is a combination of bad contracts over the years with several players that have put them in this bind. How does one find the pieces they need to contend well still have enough money to sign the greatest player of this generation in Trout, long-term? This is a conundrum that the Angels face, a conundrum that won’t be easy to solve. I believe that in order to keep Trout and be contenders at the same time they must go over the luxury tax. The Halos are already asking a lot of the Angels’ fan base when it comes to paying to spend time at the ballpark, the least they can do is begin to show us that our investment of time and money is bearing fruit. The organization has two choices, create a winter wonderland or prepare for the brunt of bitter old man winter.

 

-ICE

The Injury Bug Is Feasting on the Halo

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.

-ICE

The Angels Must Be As Hot As Fireworks in Order to Save Their Season

 

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.

 

-ICE

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The intricacies of baseball can be so complicated and yet so simple. As simple as a round ball making contact with a round bat; or as complicated as pitching matchups, pitching changes, pinch hitters, shifts, and defensive changes. It is the intersection of all these factors that create the complicated beauty of baseball; or as I like to call it the good, the bad, and the ugly.

 

Let me start off with the good, through yesterday’s game, the Angels have outscored their opponents 69-43 through the first 11 games of the season. The Angels have yet to lose or split a series this season. As Shohei Otani has been simply spectacular, hitting three consecutive home runs in his first three consecutive home games in Major League Baseball record for a rookie. His pitching has been equally as spectacular, in this last outing alone he allowed only one hit with 12 strikeouts.

 

There isn’t much less talk about that is bad with the exception of the starting pitching. Excluding Shohei Otani the Angels pitching staff hasn’t gone very deep into games. Marquee players who need to produce such as Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun, and Albert Pujols have yet to produce to their full potential.

 

The ugly is that things that are not necessarily good or bad but can become bad, and as such the team needs to keep a watchful eye on developing circumstances, primary bullpen. The bullpen has been spectacular thus far, the bullpen combined with the offense are primarily responsible for the Halos excellent start. However if the starting rotation does not recover, they taxed bullpen may lead to problems as the season wears on.

 

The three phases of the game, pitching, (this includes the bullpen) batting, and defense need to combine together to have a successful season, the three parts of this baseball machine need to work together in order for survive and contend for 162 games plus any additional postseason games. Any breakdown in the machines efficiency can cause a breakdown in the complexities of how this machine works, leading to the creation of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

 

-ICE

 

Opening Day 2018 is a Week Away

The buzz of the crowd, the music playing in the loudspeakers in the stadium, feeling the spring wind swirling around, the art on the grass, the sound of the ball hitting a leather glove, the crack of the bat as it makes contact with the baseball, the scoreboard, and the beautiful site of The Big A. These are all the sights and sounds of opening day that a diehard Angels’ fan looks forward to every year.

 

We are officially a week away from opening day. The Halos’ off-season roster additions are showing a lot of promise, while others are adjusting to a new culture, and league. As a fan, I am excited as to what the new season may bring.

 

Shohei Otani is still adjusting to American baseball, he’s billed as a two-way player and in my opinion he shows promise in both aspects of his game. I strongly believe he can be a two-way player; however, he is having trouble adjusting to the American pitchers. With a few adjustments I believe his hitting ability will come with time. There are some arguments that he should start the season in the minor leagues, ordinarily I would agree, however, because he is a two-way player; his pitching is needed in the Angels’ rotation especially given the injury history of our pitching staff over the last few years. I am confident that Shohei Otani’s ability to pitch is needed much more than his hitting at this point, I like the addition of Ian Kinsler, his experience in the infield will be an asset to the Angels, giving the Angels lineup and the team a more potent punch.

 

Chris Carter is a non roster invitee at this point; I sincerely hope he makes the opening day roster. He’s hitting for an average of .306 in 36 at-bats versus Luis Valbuena who’s hitting for an average of .225 in 40 at bats this spring, there is no logical reason why Chris Carter should not be part of the opening day roster. I believe that Luis Valbuena should be the backup to Chris Carter especially since Albert Pujols will be playing more first base this year due to sharing the designated hitter position with Shohei Otani. Zack Cozart is a wonderful addition to the Angels’ offense he is hitting .342 this spring which is a refreshing update to the third base position.

 

All these new additions along with the sustained excellence of Mike Trout, Kole Calhoun, and Justin Upton among others, combined with the overall health of our pitching staff, with the addition of Shohei Otani, it should be an interesting season for this wonderful team. I’m truly looking forward to opening day against the Athletics in Oakland on March 29.

 

-ICE

A Halo in the Hall

When one plays sports in their youth they often dream of being heroes in the pivotal moments, hitting the winning home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to win the World Series, or scoring the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl, or hitting the game winning shot at the buzzer expires; these dreams are the driving force that is the foundation for a professional athletes success. Once a strong foundation is built, a select few professional athletes take it one step further; they become members of the Hall of Fame in their respective sport.

 

Vladimir Guerrero is one such athlete. His superior talents have facilitated his call to the hall. He has shared his talents with many teams, the Montréal Expos, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Texas Rangers, and the Baltimore Orioles. His best years as a player were split between the Expos and the Angels.

 

Vladimir Guerrero wants to enter the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame wearing and Angels cap. It is not surprising that he would like to do so, after all, he won his second Major League Baseball most valuable player award for the American League with the Angels, and He also won the same award for the National League with the Montréal Expos. It is my strong belief he picked to enter the hall with the Angels for two reasons, one, he was still in his prime when he joined the Angels in 2003. Two, he got his first taste of the Major League Baseball playoffs with the Angels, which is something he never got the opportunity to do with the Expos.

 

Guerrero would become the first, he would also be the first position player from the Dominican Republic and only the third player from this country to join the hall as a whole, along with making history for himself, he is also making history for the Angels’ organization; although there are players in the baseball Hall of Fame that played for the Angels, we don’t have any players in the Hall of Fame as Angels.. In a way, it’s appropriate that he is the first since “Big Daddy Vladdy” is endeared by the Angels’ organization and the fan base.

 

As a diehard fan, I am excited to bear witness to arguably the two most important moments in Angels’ history thus far, the 2002 World Series championship, and now the entry of the first Angels’ representative for the National Baseball Hall Of Fame. I am honored that both history making events happened during my lifetime; as these events contribute to the overall fabric of baseball history and lure.

 

There are currently 12 people with ties to the Angels’ organization in the national baseball Hall of Fame. Guerrero is number 13; the number 13 is traditionally associated as a bad luck charm. In most high-rise buildings there is not a 13th floor; Friday the 13th is a day of bad luck. However, for the Angels the number 13 represents a point of joy, on the 13th opportunity there will be a Halo in the hall.

 

-ICE

It Is “Sho-Time” in Anaheim

 

It is official, Shohei Ohtani, 23 has officially been introduced as part of the Angels organization. I must admit, he has my attention. The initial impression that jumps out at you is that he is very humble, as if he isn’t aware of his own star power. When asked why he picked the Angels over the other teams that were pursuing him he simply answered that he felt that something had clicked with the Angels’ organization.

 

It was very evident to me that the chemistry in the Halo clubhouse next year is going to be greatly improved, it is simply building on what appears to be an already great environment. When asked by one of the members of the media why he chose number 17 as opposed to number 11 which he wore in Japan; one would expect him to answer that he chose 17 because 11 was already retired. (Jim Fregosi) instead, he gave a humorous answer he said, that he wanted 27 but it was already taken. (Referring to Mike Trout’s number 27)

 

Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia made it crystal clear that Shohei Ohtani would indeed be present both on the pitching mound and the batter’s box. The first obvious question is, can the Japanese player adjust to major-league pitching? How successful it would he be? These are questions that only be answered during the baseball season, one which I’m clearly looking forward to.

 

-ICE

 

Related articles: https://angelsmlb.wordpress.com/2017/12/09/it-is-almost-sho-time-in-anaheim/

 

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