Results tagged ‘ Arturo Moreno ’

Examining the Halo: the Past, the Present, and Future

This is the time of year when baseball executives and fans alike, become analysts of the game we all love. We examine our past, live in the present, and secure the future. We all become engineers, trying to create a well oiled and flawless machine. We mix and match parts, hoping to find the right combination that elevates the machine into a championship performer.

The Angels are trying to do Exactly that, the recent transactions involving Danny Espinosa, Cameron Maybin , Ben Revere, and Luis Valbuena. These new players will be introduced to the machine in the hopes of raising its championship aspirations. The Angels are trying to address the present, especially left field. I myself am not satisfied by any of these acquisitions. Left field is an ongoing problem that has persisted for at least the last three years. In my humble opinion, this issue would have been resolved with a free agent acquisition. Mark Trumbo, a home-grown talent that would’ve served the Angels well and left field; unfortunately, the mistakes of the past led to their current situation.

These mistakes include the contracts of Vernon Wells, Josh Hamilton, C. J. Wilson, who had multimillion dollar contracts and never lived up to their end of the deal. These multimillion dollar disasters have made the team become more cautious, leading them not to go after a guy like Trumbo who in my opinion solves the left-field issue. Unfortunately, Trumbo re-signed a three-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles.

Although the Angels are working on the present, the future, more specifically the Hall of Fame future looks bright. Vladimir Guerrero missed being inducted as a Hall of Famer by a relatively small margin. His chances of being welcomed to the Hall of Fame next year are very encouraging. When Arturo Moreno bought the team in 2003, he made a huge splash by immediately signing Guerrero who was of great benefit to the team. The Angels need to put themselves in a position to be the aggressive team it once was, bringing back the success of the past, securing the present, and ensuring the future of this beautiful franchise.

 

-ICE

The Essence of Halo Nature

Human nature is unpredictable; it is basic yet complex, logical yet chaotic, fascinating yet at times disappointing. It is this essence and the interplay between these opposing forces that spark various thoughts, ideas, and philosophies for many millennia. Human nature allows one to think about probabilities and possibilities; it gives one a choice; to think logically, or to think creatively.

Baseball is a thinking man’s game; there is not a more perfect narrator for human nature than baseball. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dual between the pitcher and batter, the managers, or the front office; human nature is the ever present variable. It determines the difference between indecisiveness and insecurity.

There is not a better example of the various aspects and complexities of human nature than the current off-season that the Angels are experiencing. The Angels clearly had roster needs, and the market was full of players that could have satisfied those needs, especially in Left Field, yet despite those clear needs the Angels decided to do nothing of impact. They are opting instead to platoon Craig Gentry and Daniel Nava.

The Halos had their choice of opting for Yoenis Céspedes, Jason Heyward, or Justin Upton; all of which, are premier Left Fielders; all they had to do was surpass the 189,000,000 dollar luxury tax, something that Angels’ owner Arturo Moreno, was not willing to do. Now the Angels find themselves in a situation where they are at the mercy of other teams in baseball, with a depleted farm system they do not have any real options in the minor leagues, and now must rely on trades to address any additional shortcomings.

However, in order to do so now they must give up a piece of the team in order to get something back, rather than just parting with contract money. Granted, free agents can be expensive and an organization can at times put themselves in the situation where they overpay a player for underperformance. On the other hand, in the Angels situation one would expect that they would learn from both the Vernon Wells and Josh Hamilton contractual catastrophes. In comparison, all three players mentioned above are relatively young, and are in their prime, and all three of them produced impressive offensive numbers this past season and show no signs of decline.

Are the Angels satisfied with another average or subpar season? How does the organization justify raising prices on season ticket holders and the average fan this coming season? The fan base was told in previous years that the organization wants to wait for a strong free agent market, how much stronger can the market get? Yes, this team can compete as is, but can they legitimately contend? It is my current belief that this team cannot contend as it’s currently constructed. If an organization doesn’t have a strong farm system, which the Angels do not, then the next logical course of action is to go after a free agent that fits a glaring need; something that the Angels did not do.

It seems that the organization is going in the opposite direction; the Halos traded Efren Navarro to the Baltimore Orioles for cash consideration. Navarro was a spark plug in the Halos locker room. He was a backup first baseman but he also played some left field which would have helped the Angels’ situation should Nava and/or Gentry not work out in left field.

Indecisiveness is when one is presented with various feasible options and one cannot decide which option to go with. insecurity is when one is presented with the only clear option and one does not take action up on it. It is my strong belief that the Angels are very insecure as an organization.

In the past few seasons they have failed to balance short-term success with long-term sustainability. A shortcoming that they must address in the immediate future, the Angels’ fan base is getting restless, impatient, and annoyed. We have every right to be, the face of the franchise, Mike Trout has been through three General Managers since he was called to the major leagues. This shows tremendous instability as an organization.

Human nature is a fascinating a variable, it is a mental chess game within oneself; for Angels’ fans when our love for baseball is brought into the equation, human nature transitions to a fascinating metamorphosis, it becomes Halo nature. It is this Halo nature that drives our passion, love, and that times critique of this team. Halo nature allows for indecisiveness, but not insecurity. This organization needs to find out what the essence of Halo nature means to them.

-ICE

Who Needs a Yule Log, When One Has a Hot Stove

I am back wearing my Christmas halo, my microphone broke since my last post, and it’s taken me a while to find a compatible microphone for my voice recognition software. It’s good to put the metaphorical pen to paper again; or in this case microphone to word processor.

Regrettably it’s been a few months so there’s a lot to cover, it’s the holiday season, and because time is limited; for this entry I’m just going to cover the highlights of the off-season that stood out to me. I will expand on the rest of the activity that I don’t cover in this entry at a later date.

On November 12, 2015, the Angels acquired shortstop Andrelton Simmons and catcher Jose Briceno in a trade for fan favorite, Erick Aybar, promising young pitcher Sean Newcomb along with another pitcher Christopher Ellis. Yes, Simmons can be considered a young phenom, the way he flashes the baseball glove is eye-catching, definitely highlight reel material. However, I worry that his handling of the baseball bat isn’t up to par. Simmons may have a longer contract then Erick Aybar, but Erick is a solid defender in his own right, he is more patient than Simmons, he is a clutch switch hitter, and is less likely to pop the ball up in a crucial situation; something that Simmons is prone to do.

The price paid for the acquisition of Simmons is a little steep for my taste, not only did we lose Erick Aybar but the Angels also lost Sean Newcomb. Newcomb is a promising young pitcher, so much in fact that Angels’ fans were wondering whether he was ready to join the pitching staff at the major-league level late last season, although he was not ready, he was very close; and with the Angels’ farm system being as thin as it is in my opinion the trade hurts the Angels more than it helps. While I agree that minor-league prospects don’t always pan out, the Angels need Newcomb, not only because as the old saying goes “you can never have enough pitching”, but also because the Angels pitching staff is on shaky ground as it is, and to count on Weaver or Wilson to carry the pitching staff is simply not realistic anymore, thus, magnifying the need for Newcomb.

The Angels are not only in trouble for what they have done, but they are also in murky waters for what they haven’t done. Earlier this week, Angels’ owner Arturo Moreno was quoted in the local paper stating that it was unlikely that the Angels would pursue a big name free agent outfielder. I have a few issues with that, first the big question is what is this team going to do in left field? The Angels haven’t had a solid left field presence since Garret Anderson. Shall I go down the list? First, on the list is Hideki Matsui, who joined the team when he was well past his prime. Vernon Wells, big contract, little to no results. Josh Hamilton, more of the same the only difference is that the Halos are still paying for him to play for the division rival Texas Rangers. Yes I know I neglected to mention Bobby Abreu; this is due to the simple reason that I feel that unlike the players previously mentioned Bobby did contribute substantially to the Angels and shouldn’t be lumped with the aforementioned group of players.

Second, the Angels need to come up with a long-term strategic plan, cross the luxury tax threshold and responsibly sign a big-name free agent like Yoenis Céspedes to plug the gaping hole in left field, or hold on to promising prospects like Newcomb and forgo players like Simmons. It’s impossible to have it both ways.

The Angels complicated matters further by trading away another promising pitcher to the Washington Nationals. Trevor Gott for Yunel Escobar, who is not a very impressive third baseman defensively, he is a natural shortstop. Here again the Angels are giving up a young hard throwing right-hander, for a questionable third baseman. The Halos in my opinion would be better off re-signing David Freese to a contract in order to resolve the issue at third base.

I would stop short of saying that the Halos’ hot stove is burning hot, it’s more like lukewarm. However it can definitely get considerably hotter. All that needs to be done is for ownership and the front office have to decide which direction they want to go, and commit to going in that direction. For a team that has drawn 3,000,000 fans for more than a decade, the very least Angels’ fans deserve is a clear commitment from ownership and the front office whenever direction they decide to go.

Merry Christmas, and happy holidays and a happy new year!

-ICE

29 Halos in 29 Ballparks: Oaktown Power, Halo Number One, The Oakland Coliseum

The beauty of baseball is indescribable. It is often referred to as “the thinking man’s game”. Each ballpark has its own unique feel, traditions, character, and environment, a unique aura that is not shared with any other ballpark in the major leagues. In an earlier entry, I stated that I would leave 29 Halos in 29 ballparks, is only fitting that I start with the Oakland Coliseum.

The Oakland Coliseum was the first ballpark that I had the opportunity to visit outside of Angel Stadium. It is a very unique ballpark, the last remaining ballpark in Major League Baseball that still is a shared facility with the NFL. I was very lucky to live near a ballpark in the Angels’ division during my college years. I tried to go to the Coliseum every time the Angels visited the Athletics. For the very first time and only time so far, I went to a game that the Angels weren’t participating, in that venue, the Athletics hosted the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Oakland Coliseum itself, is very accessible. The BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) subway train has a station right outside the ballpark. It’s really nice to arrive without having to worry about paying for parking. Upon arriving at the station, one can already feel the green and gold soul that resides within the unique confines of that ballpark.

Upon entering the gates, one gets emerged in the pageantry of the ballpark whether it’s the sound of the bats during batting practice, and/or the drummers warming up in the left-field bleachers. The drummers are just regular fans that one day brought their drums into the ballpark and have been there ever since, supporting the team they love.

The ballpark itself is very accommodating; it is one of the few ballparks that I know of, where a wheelchair using patron can sit in the first level on the field. (As a result of a successful lawsuit by fans) and were one can sit with their companion for half of the regular price. I used to sit there all the time, in section 115 row 20, seats 20 and 21. I still have fond memories of the Oakland A’s’ Usher, Rodney, who would give me a hard time, but was also very fond of conversation. From what I understand, he is still there.

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The Oakland A’s fans are very passionate. As every baseball fan should be. I distinctly remember for the Angels’ games people would walk in with rally monkeys at the end of the stick hanging from a noose. The beautiful women of Oakland would walk into the ballpark wearing devil horns, and the kids would shout At the top of their lungs, “let’s go Oakland!”

As an Angels’ fan I was very lucky and spoiled to have the experience that I had in that beautiful ballpark. I was able to see the Angels clinch the American League West championship in two consecutive years, 2004 and 2005. In 2005, I met the Angels current owner, Arturo Moreno the very night the Angels clinched the division title. A fond memory that I still carry with me today.

Arturo Moreno and Isaac Lopez

Eight years have passed since I left the Bay Area, however I still hold the Oakland Coliseum very close to my heart. I hope that I will one day be back to once again partake in the beauty of Oaktown Power.

-ICE

The True Test of an Angels’ Fan: My Personal Tribute to My Fellow Fans

What is the test of a true Angels’ fan? Well, it begins by waiting and making sure all the bandwagon fans have jumped ship, the second step is to figure out ways to cope with the drought of four years of not making a playoff appearance. Today is my birthday, and as a birthday present to myself I’m not going to concentrate this entry on analytics; rather, I’m going to focus on something that deserves all the credit in the world, yet rarely gets any recognition at all, the Angels’ fan base.

For the past 10 years from 2003 to this past season in 2013 Angels’ fans have flocked to Angel Stadium, in this time span more than 3,000,000 fans per season have shown up in the ballpark. That is simply astonishing, some Dodgers’ fans stated on social networks that the Angels in their opinion do not have as strong of a fan base as the Dodgers, to them, I say, the statistics say otherwise; have the Dodgers drawn over 3,000,000 fans a season over the last 10 years? I highly doubt it. The sustained loyalty of our fan base cannot be easily matched. With such loyal and dedicated fans how could one even think about leaving Anaheim?

The Angels signed a lease with the city of Anaheim through the 2029 season however, the Angels can option out after the 2016 season; leaving more questions than answers.
Rumors over the last couple of years have hinted at just that, the Angels leaving Anaheim for greener pastors in the City Of Industry, where the Angels would get a new stadium on the same plot of land that was one of the proposed sites for a new NFL stadium designed to bring football back to the Los Angeles area, this bid was the eventual loser to the winning bid submitted by AEG to construct Farmers Field.

Luckily for Angels’ fans this doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. The Angels organization is currently in negotiations with the city of Anaheim to keep the team at Angel Stadium, one of the major points of negotiation is dropping the “of Anaheim” from the team name. This is something that the city of Anaheim seems to be amenable to; a complete about-face from just a few years ago.

The mind boggling question is why would the Angels owner consider moving the team? He has a very strong foundation in Orange County, 3,000,000 fans a season over the last 10 years is no small feat. If indeed he were to move the team, he would be risking a severe attendance drop by directly competing with the Dodgers. In my opinion, a lot of Angels’ fans would be left with a bad impression of the team, an impression of abandonment that frankly wouldn’t sit well with the majority of the fans in Orange County.

Still, we flock to the ballpark like a swarm of kids flocking to an ice cream truck on a sweltering hot day. Why would Arturo Moreno take the risk of moving the team to a city where frankly they’re not wanted? Gene Autry knew this, that’s why he moved the team from Los Angeles to Anaheim in the mid-1960s. In Orange County, this team is unequivocally loved. That is indeed why I will always have respect for a strong, unshakable, diehard fan base that I’m proud to say I’m a part of, so yes, four years have gone by without a playoff appearance and although that hurts it doesn’t hurt as much as the possibility of this team leaving Anaheim. This is why Angels’ fans are in the middle of an exam testing their strength, perseverance, and loyalty, a test that I know we will pass with flying colors. This is why I decided to write this tribute because although this team did not make a playoff appearance, we remain strong, now, and forever.

-ICE

The Halo is Burnt Out For the Rest of This Season

18.5 games back in the division and 16 games back out of the wild-card race. Barring some sort of miracle it safe to say that the Angels season is over. Yes they may be still mathematically able to make the playoffs, but to expect three teams to falter in the division and a plethora of teams to falter in the wild-card race is unrealistic. It is improbable, but not impossible.

I could feasibly sit here and write a novel sized entry describing in detail what went wrong this year, but I don’t think my readers would have time for that, nor do I have the energy to speak into the microphone for that long. I took some time to concisely think about the factors that led up to such a disastrous season and it came down to two things, bad personnel decisions and bad contracts. My loyal readers already know that given the choice, I much rather see the Angels be eliminated from contention in early September rather than mid to late July. That is unfortunately what happened this year.

Bad Personnel Decisions

The Angels’ General Manager did a horrendous job in putting this team together this year. Our pitching staff as a whole is in shambles; with the exception of Weaver, Wilson, and Vargas no one else on the pitching staff has preformed consistently. Signing Joe Blanton to a contract magnified the Angels’ General Manager’s poor decision-making. In my opinion, Joe Blanton didn’t add much intimidation factor to this pitching staff. That was my feeling when the Angels gave Blanton a contract, and his performance this season simply proved my point.

The Albert Pujols injury situation was handled very poorly by the Angels organization. I realize that Albert is a competitor; however it’s the Angels’ responsibility to step in and do what was in the best interest of the organization if they had put Albert Pujols on the Disabled List in the beginning of the season. Perhaps we would now have him available for a late postseason run, but as the old saying goes, hindsight is 20/20; however it would be impossible to argue that the Angels could not foresee the situation as a possible scenario. They should have done what they could to avoid this scenario from developing.

Bad Contracts

Ryan Madson, the Angels gave him $3 million for him to sit and do nothing. I questioned his contract from the very beginning. I personally would be very hesitant to sign a player coming off Tommy John surgery. He ended up not playing one inning for the Angels this season which ultimately led to his unconditional release. In other words, the organization paid a player $3 million to be a spectator. I wonder if the Angels’ organization would be willing to give me a 3 million dollar contract for just one season, I wouldn’t be able to play a single inning either, but at least the team can rest assured that my love for them is unconditional.

Josh Hamilton, for those of you that read my earlier entries, you know that I’m not a big fan of the Hamilton contract, $125 million over five years is a lot of money I had several concerns, my chief concern was his inability to handle a big market pressure situation, he is nowhere near the player the Angels expected to get, but the organization cannot say that they didn’t see this possibility developing. I publicly stated that this exact situation was a possibility, and I’m not a General Manager or a professional baseball scout.

A better business decision in both cases would have been to offer an incentive based contract given each player’s respective history. This type of contract would have protected the Angels’ long-term interest; unfortunately this wasn’t done in either case.

To exacerbate this matter even further, it has yet to be seen how these bad contract decisions affect the Angels ability to re-sign Mike Trout and lock him up to a long-term contract. If anybody deserves this type of money it is Trout, who in my humble opinion is the current and future face of the franchise much like Tim Salmon was in the 1990s and the early 2000s.

What is Mr. Moreno going to do? Obviously things cannot remain status quo; he has invested a lot of money in the long-term success of this team. I am sure he is very frustrated, I’m sure he knows that the Angels’ fan base is also very frustrated.

-ICE

Related Articles: http://angels.mlblogs.com/2012/12/13/josh-hamilton-trades-in-his-cowboy-hat-for-a-halo
http://angels.mlblogs.com/2013/05/09/keep-the-trum-bombs-coming
http://angels.mlblogs.com/2013/07/31/trying-to-fix-a-dim-halo
http://angels.mlblogs.com/2013/05/05/the-angels-use-the-home-run-boom-to-dodge-the-broom
http://angels.mlblogs.com/2012/12/12/zack-greinke-has-gone-from-being-anakin-skywalker-to-darth-vader
http://angels.mlblogs.com/2013/02/13/i-dont-want-peanuts-or-crackerjacks-give-me-the-baseball-glove-and-the-baseball-bat
http://angels.mlblogs.com/2012/12/07/youre-a-mean-one-mr-grinch

The Angels Versus Dodgers Off-Season Rivalry Away from the Baseball Diamond

What is unique about the Major League Baseball off-season is it gives baseball fans like me time to reflect, time to think about things one would not normally think about, all the little nuances, that one doesn’t think about during the season; most of all, it makes one realize how beautiful the game of baseball truly is.

What makes this game so beautiful? The rivalries; Yankees versus Red Sox, The Subway Series, The Bay Bridge Series, and perhaps the most important of them all, The Freeway Series.

The Angels versus Dodgers rivalry goes beyond the baseball diamond, it has permeated into the respective fan bases in ways never seen before. The Angels as well as the Dodgers have been battling for fans from the same fan pool for years, but now it seems it has come to a head.

When Angels owner Arturo Moreno bought the team from the Walt Disney Company in 2003, the savvy Moreno strategically change the name of the organization from the “Anaheim Angels” to the ” Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim”. The leasing agreement with Angel Stadium states that the word “Anaheim” must be included in the team name. Moreno changed the name to the Los Angeles Angels in order to broaden the market appeal of the team into the Los Angeles market. This strategy seems to be working since the Angels have been able to draw over 3 million fans a season the last five years and counting.

Since the time that Magic Johnson and his ownership group bought the Los Angeles Dodgers the rivalry between these two franchises has intensified. This past off-season the Los Angeles Dodgers made a splash by signing Zack Greinke, which accomplished two things; one, it gave the Dodgers a quality pitcher while at the same time it took him away from the Angels. Perhaps in response to such a headline grabbing maneuver, the Angels responded by giving Josh Hamilton is spotlight stealing contract of his own.

For people like me, who are Angels’ fans for over 30 years, we’ve seen this before, between the Angels and their natural rival. However I must say the rivalry has intensified since both Moreno and Johnson a acquired their respective teams. I believe that what makes these two owners unique is that they both realize how important the marketing aspect is, aside from putting a winning product on the field. In essence, that is the reason behind the Angels’ name change.

I had the opportunity to go to the mall today, I walked into a store called “Sports Treasures,” at The Block of Orange, a store that I frequent a lot when I’m home, (one which I highly recommend should you be in the Orange, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Orange County area) I walk in, and on the rack, I see this:
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Here is exactly what I’m talking about, they Los Angeles Dodgers have taken a direct shot at the marketing campaign of the Angels. The Dodgers must realize how successful the Angels’ campaign is, they are trying to put their own Dodgers’ spin on an existing Angels campaign, in order to counteract the success of the Angels strategy.

It’s little things like this that make me long for the start of the regular season. This brazen move by the Dodgers’ marketing department shows me that they recognize as do the Angels, the potential of how deep and intense this rivalry can become. As an Angels’ fan, at first it made me cringe, then it made me laugh, and lastly, it made me realize how deep roots can grow and how beautiful this game can be; even if we are about two months away from the first ball being thrown on the field in 2013.

-ICE

Related Articles: http://angels.mlblogs.com/2012/12/13/josh-hamilton-trades-in-his-cowboy-hat-for-a-halo/

Will Four Aces and a Wild Card Red Bird Turned Red Angel, Give the Halos the Winning Hand into the World Series?

I am still trying to process everything that has gone on the last 24 hours, the Texas Rangers must have really left a bad taste in our collective mouths for the Angels’ organization to react this way. I guess seeing someone in your division represent the American League in the World Series two years in a row can do that to a team.

Since the big-splash signings of Vladimir Guerrero, Bartolo Colon and Kelvim Escobar before 2004,  Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, John Lackey, Chone Figgins and Paul Konerko and in trade talks for Roy Halladay and Miguel Cabrera; free agents, Carl Crawford, and Cliff Lee.one would think this would be a list of all stars, but they have all been failed acquisitions by the Angels.

Now they have signed both Albert Pujols and C. J. Wilson to long-term contracts essentially changing landscape of not only of the American League West, but of the entire American League. My little brother knocked on my bedroom door this morning and said, “did you hear the news?” Half asleep, I thought he was talking about Wilson. He goes on to say “I think they overpaid, but we have him for 10 years.” Slowly waking up, I thought to myself, “CJ Wilson for 10 years? I only remember the Angels offering five.” Then it dawned on me that he wasn’t talking about CJ Wilson at all, he was talking about Albert Pujols.

 

For those of you that have read my blog on a regular basis, you know I have brought this up as a possibility since the beginning of last year, but I myself didn’t believe that this was actually a possibility especially after the spectacular rise of Mark Trumbo, but truth be told it makes sense both from a team perspective and a business perspective as well.

 

For the last two years, the Texas Rangers have dominated the American League West, with the Angels coming in at a close second, this is a team that was used to trading division titles with the Oakland Athletics. We’ve always had a good team, but never a team that could compete with the American League East, the Yankees, the Rays and the Red Sox, particularly. We needed to make an impact move that would help the team get past the Rangers while at the same time help us compete with the rest of the power divisions in baseball such as the aforementioned American League East.

 

From a business standpoint, it also makes a lot of sense the Angels have always competed with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the Los Angeles area market, with the Dodgers in the middle of an ownership transition this was the perfect opportunity for Angels owner, Arturo Moreno to take advantage of this opportunity. What better way than to ink the best player in all of baseball of the modern era?

 

People are concerned about the length of Albert’s contract, but one of the advantages of Albert Pujols coming over to the American League is towards the back of his contract the Angels can now use them as a designated hitter. Extending his offensive influence on this team.



One has to wonder, what the Angels are now capable of doing, with a rotation that is arguably now one of the best in all of baseball with Jared Weaver, Dan Haren, C. J. Wilson and Ervin Santana. Offensively, we have the guy the heart and soul the offense Torii Hunter, Mark Trumbo, Mike Trout, and hopefully a resurgence from Vernon Wells. We would definitely be a team with a lot of depth, yet limited flexibility.

 

I am also concerned for the accessibility of Angels tickets to the average fan given this shocking news, next year will be my 30th anniversary as a loyal Angels’ fan and I just hope that tickets can still stay somewhat affordable so that future generations can enjoy the game of baseball just as I have over the years. For me it’s no longer a “Winter Wonderland” it now has become “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”.

 

-ICE

Some Connections Run Deep

This is going to be an interesting entry; I am so used to writing about the team that I absolutely love; so I’m not really a custom to writing about myself in the process. At least for this entry I’m going to have to do a little bit of both. You see, the reason I write is not for myself since I live, eat, and breathe Angels Baseball. There is no reason why I would write about facts that I already know, unless I was going to share them. I love writing because it keeps my mind sharp and improves my communication skills with every entry. It has been my philosophy that when one stops learning, one stops growing and that one never grow old until one stops learning. I guess writing for this blog keeps me young and the sense that it forces me to learn the facts, and it forces me to organize my thoughts and be able to express my love for this team to people that otherwise may not be exposed.

To that end, I decided to pitch myself for the Jumbo MLBlogs, mainly to increase my readership and motivate myself to keep writing about the team that I love. Why am I an Angels’ fan? The answer is pretty simple, I’ve been connected to the team since I was a small child, I remember watching the Angels since I was about four years old, at that age I did not know the intricacies of this beautiful game, for me, it was about watching somebody pitched the ball and see the other person hit the ball. Watching a ball making contact with the bat was the most exciting thing in the world, for a four-year-old, everything seems exciting; but there was something about hearing that crack of the bat that made it special. I remember passing Angel Stadium on the 57 freeway on our way back home from visiting my aunt who lived in Pomona. As I grew older I always dreamed about seeing a live game but because of my father’s work schedule, he was almost always working the second shift it was nearly impossible for me to go since most of the games were at night.

That changed however, when I was nine, I was selected the official ambassador for the United Cerebral Palsy Association. (UCP) part of my duties was to show up at various charity events, as part of my official duties, I was to be featured in A poster for the United Cerebral Palsy telethon, “Weekend with the Stars” at the time, and I didn’t really know what that meant. The UCP representative asked me who my favorite sports team was, and an late 1980s saying that my favorite team was the Angels was not a very popular for various reasons, one, the Angels were not very good back then. Two, it was the middle of Fernando mania so everybody liked the Dodgers. Three, it was also the middle of the Showtime era of the Los Angeles Lakers so the most popular answer would’ve probably been these two teams. Of course I was nine I had never seen Dodger Stadium or the Great Western Forum, so when I answered the California Angels the representative was taken back, she asked me, “wouldn’t you like to meet Magic Johnson?” I responded as confident as a nine-year-old boy could be, “not really”; they scrambled to make arrangements with the then California Angels.

Later that year my first experience at Angel Stadium was actually on the field in uniform, how many Angels’ fans can say that? I touched the field before I ever sat in the stands, and I also got to meet Hall of Famer Don Sutton. It was then that I felt an even stronger connection with the team, I had never been in a major league baseball ballpark, much less on the field. To this day this is one of my fondest childhood memories. When does someone become much more than a fan? For me, it was definitely on that day. While in college I had the honor of meeting the current Angels’ owner Arturo Moreno. The Angels are much more than just a Major League Baseball team to me. They are part of my childhood, and in a sense, forever part of my life.

Isaac López & Donald Howard Sutton 2

Arturo Moreno and  Isaac Lopez

Now on to business, it’s the second half of the season; many would argue including myself that this is when the real season begins. The Angels are only two games behind the Rangers in the American League West. Ervin Santana has just come off pitching a No-Hitter, the Halos lead the American League in team Earned Run Average, it’s a beautiful time of year, will be Angels make any moves before the July 31 deadline? I sincerely hope so, however they must stay away from the rental players, unless they can find someone who is truly interested in staying with the Angels long-term. It is my belief that after the smoke clears they will overtake Texas and win the American League West Championship. The Angels organization must be willing to solidify the team, not necessarily to deal with the Rangers; as I feel that the team we have now, if they are able to play to their potential, can beat Texas, I’m specifically talking about having the ability to beat the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, and the San Francisco Giants. Let it not forgotten that the Giants have made a splash by being able to acquire Carlos Beltrán from the New York Metropolitans.

Yes, indeed the season has now really begun season has begun, the sports dream of a young Angels’ fan has been fulfilled, and the expectations of the heavenly halo universe hang in the balance.
-Isaac “ICE” L. The Angels’ Ace

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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