Results tagged ‘ Freeway Series ’

From the Freeway to the Freak

I know I am a little late with this entry, but there is no point in writing about baseball if one does not enjoy life; that is what I’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks. I’ve enjoyed myself spending time with my family. However, I haven’t forgotten my loyal readers.

 

First, a few comments about the Freeway Series, I really enjoy inter-league play; especially the Angels/Dodgers rivalry. Natural rivals always bring out the best in teams in my opinion, and this year was no exception. This year, it was a four-game home at home series starting in Los Angeles and ending in Anaheim. The Angels took three out of four games. It’s always fun to hear the Stadium Buzz no matter which team is up to bat. The environment can not be duplicated, when these two teams play it always feels like a World Series game. Hopefully I am able to witness an Angels-Dodgers World Series in my lifetime. My only wish is that Major League Baseball would schedule the Freeway Series as a six-game series; 3 home games for each team that are played on consecutive weekends. That way, people like me who really enjoy the series can go watch all six games with less difficulty. This year, all four games were during the week making it difficult for people like me to travel between Los Angeles and Anaheim. The very special highlight of this year’s Freeway Series is meeting a beautiful, lovely, and interesting young lady; Angela, she is an example of the beautiful nuances and wonderful surprises that baseball brings.

 

Join me while I take the Freeway Series off ramp as I transition from the freeway to the freak, Tim Lincecum signed a one-year deal with the Angels on May 20th. The contract includes incentives. I am optimistic about this contract. Yes it’s a risk; Lincecum is coming off hip surgery. However, at this point with three members of the Halos’ starting rotation on the 60 day disabled list, the only bad risk is no risk; especially if this team is going to contend in any fashion, this team is too talented not to contend.

 

If this team expects to contend, they must be able to correct an alarming statistic, the Angels are 0-16 this year when their lead is two runs or less. This is especially important when games are close and games carry a bit more weight later on in the year.

 

The journey of baseball is a special one it can take you up and down freeways, across Bay Bridges, and even allows you to ride the subway. Baseball is a wonderful vehicle that allows one to explore the nuances and wonderful surprises in life.

 

-ICE

Update: May 29, 2016; after the completion of yesterday’s game the Angels are now 0-17 when the lead is two runs or less.

The Angels Are Caught in a Playground of Nightmares

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.

 

The Seesaw

 

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.

 

-ICE

The Angels Are Singing The Dodger Blues

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.

-ICE

Real Red Versus True Blue: A Beautiful Rivalry

“Good morning, it’s a beautiful morning! It’s that time of the year where for the next four games blue skies turn red and the only thing visible from the Sun is its Corona, also referred to as its Halo. There’s nothing more beautiful in baseball than the Freeway Series, the series where both teams remain true to their colors . The Angels will win and remain red hot, while the Dodgers lose and always remain blue.”

 

This was a status update/poem I posted on my personal Facebook page yesterday morning. The natural rivalry between the Angels and the Dodgers is special. I can sit here and write about the Angels 5-0 victory over the Dodgers last night or the interesting interactions between Albert Pujols and Yasiel Puig; however I will save that for the end of the Freeway Series, especially since I will be there for the last two games of this year’s home at home series at Angel Stadium. I will have a lot of game specific things to talk about once the series is over.

 

I have previously posted about the various aspects of this series; the history, the fan bases, the marketing, and the rivalry itself. Yesterday it dawned on me, what about the  identity crisis that exists for both sides? Specifically the different perspectives that exist over the use of the name “Los Angeles”?

 

It’s no secret that the name change from the “Anaheim Angels” to the ” Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim” was purely a marketing strategy, to directly compete with the Dodgers, some fans like myself are okay with the name change because after all the original name was the Los Angeles Angels. Although I myself prefer the California Angels just because that’s how they were referred to when I was growing up. Other Angels’ fans hate the name change arguing that Anaheim is not even in Los Angeles County and thus the Angels should not carry the name. It’s about the only thing that all Dodgers’ fans and some Angels’ fans agree on.

 

One would conclude that this is a fight over the name, and who has the right to use it, although that may be partially true. It’s really a fight about independence and identity. The Angels and Dodgers once shared Dodger Stadium before the Angels moved to Angel Stadium. Both teams never really liked sharing the Los Angeles spotlight, one team seeks to reclaim the city of its birth, while the other forges its identity from its success in its adopted city that it now calls home.

 

Looking at the rivalry from Orange County’s perspective the issues here are a little different, the city of Anaheim and Orange County adopted this team as its own, upon the Angels move to Angel Stadium, this is our team and Orange County residents don’t like necessarily to share their team with Los Angeles, forging their own identity; arguing that the Dodgers are an import from Brooklyn and are not the area’s real team. Dodgers’ fans counter by arguing that they are the true Los Angeles area team, stemming from the team moving to Los Angeles in 1958 versus the Angels joining Major League Baseball three years later. Dodgers’ fans completely negate the Angels existence prior to 1961, while it’s true that the Angels did not join Major League Baseball until 1961 the team existed prior to joining the major leagues in the Pacific Coast League, which predates the Dodgers move to Los Angeles.

 

Yes, it may be marketing, but the marketing is based on the history of this beautiful rivalry. The irony is that both sides refuse to recognize the arguments of the opposing side, and they each want to decide  how the other side identifies itself in relation to the name “Los Angeles” the beauty is that what both sides fail to realize is that their collective histories are intertwined and the history of one, cannot be described without relation to the other. Hence, creating a beautiful binary relationship between these two teams. A beautiful complex complementary history.

 

It’s more than the Freeway Series, it’s more than the battle between interleague natural rivals, it even more than the battle to define how the name “Los Angeles” is used. It goes beyond a battle for supremacy, a battle between red and blue or bragging rights, it’s a beautiful story, that can only be told through a game called baseball.

 

-ICE

“Houston, We Have a Problem”

After a sweep of the Seattle Mariners and the Kansas City Royals as part of an eight-game win streak, and when it all seemed to finally becoming together, the cruel hand of reality Has once again grounded this underachieving Angels team.

They were swept by the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in the first half of the Freeway series, when the scenery switched back to Angel Stadium for the second half of the Freeway series; the Angels swept the Dodgers thereby increasing their domination over the Dodgers at Angel Stadium to 13-6 the best home record against any one team in all of Major League Baseball since the inception of inter-league play in the regular-season. After that, they were swept by the Astros, and then split the two-game series versus the Cubs, resulting in a 3-5 home stand.

How does one make it to the World Series? The formula is pretty simple, win home series, try to win at least half of the road series, and finally and I believe most importantly, defeat the teams in your own division. Unfortunately the Angels have not been able to use this formula to their advantage despite the plethora of talent on this roster.

The series’ that the Halos have been able to win has been minimal, and their division record has not been very good. This has especially been the case with the Houston Astros, the Angels are 3-6 this season against the Astros. When the Astros joined the American League West in the beginning of this year as part of Major League Baseball realignment, the powerhouses in the division principally the Angels, the Athletics, and the Rangers were widely expected to feast on the Astros in order to bolster their overall record and improve their chances of making the postseason. Two of the three teams mentioned have taken advantage of this circumstance and for reasons I cannot explain, the Angels are not one of those teams.

The Halos have the talent, but Mike Scioscia in my opinion refuses to explore new options other than what he believes to be the road to victory. At this point of the season if the formula does not work Mr. Scioscia, then you must change it!

Here are a few suggestions, move Mike Trout to the leadoff spot, put Josh Hamilton second so he can see more fastballs with Albert Pujols hitting behind him. Similar to the way Torii Hunter was used last year, this strategy increased Hunter’s production, so much so that the Detroit Tigers are utilizing him in the same manner.

The second step, is to take advantage of base running pressure, one can do this by putting Peter Bourjos (when he comes off the disabled list) or J. B. Schuck and Erick Aybar in the eight and nine hole respectively; that way the Halos have speed on the bases so when the lineup turns over, the power hitters can take advantage of the opposing pitchers being off balance. In effect playing what Scioscia was so successful at one time, small ball. The Angels’ speedsters must be allowed to take calculated risks and steel more bases than they currently are. The worse that could happen is they lose the game, but aren’t they already doing that? So they have nothing to lose except keeping the opposing team off balance.

The Angels have a steep mountain to climb, I still hold out hope that they can do it. If they are indeed unsuccessful and don’t make the playoffs this year, I sincerely hope that the right changes are made, in order for this team to take advantage of the spectacular superstar talent they have on this roster. What solutions would you propose for this team?

-ICE

The Angels Took Poseidon’s Trident and Replaced It with a Broom

Here is a recipe, collect the Seattle Mariners, mix them together with the Kansas City Royals, add a sweep of both teams; what do you get? The Greek God Poseidon with a broom instead of a trident. It feels so much better to write when the Angels are doing well than vice versa. The Halos enjoyed an eight-game winning streak along with a sweep of two teams. During the streak, they outscored their opponents 59-20, and Mike Trout hit for the cycle on May 21, 2013; the youngest player to do so in American League history.

I mentioned in my last entry that the Angels needed to win both series, with the way that they were playing at that time I did not anticipate a sweep by any stretch of the imagination. This is definitely a step in the right direction, the question becomes, are the Angels back on the winning track? I believe so, granted they lost to the Dodgers 8-7 yesterday, and are currently losing to the Dodgers 3-0 as I am writing this. This is however to be expected, one cannot expect the Angels to win every game, as long as they sustain and continue to improve their current productivity.

They have an eight-game home stand coming up. They continue the Freeway Series with the Dodgers, then the Astros, and finally the Cubs. By my estimation, if the way they are playing at the moment continues, they should do pretty well during this stretch, optimistically all three facets are coming together, the hitting, the pitching including the bullpen, and their defensive play. This is the kind of talent that everyone around Major League Baseball knew they had, the question becomes can they sustain their current level of play? That has yet to be seen, but for now I am simply enjoying their current success. Go Angels!

-ICE
Related Articles: http://angels.mlblogs.com/2013/05/20/ar-wars-red-matter-and-blue-anti-matter-collide

Star Wars: Red Matter and Blue Anti-Matter Collide

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Photograph Credit: http://www.MLBshop.com

VS.

Photograph Credit: HTTP://www.MLBshop.com

Photograph Credit: http://www.MLBshop.com

There is one enormous drawback to the baseball realignment that occurred this year. The elimination of two Freeway Series games that both Angels’ fans and Dodgers’ fans look forward to every year. What makes this year so special? This is indeed a type of Star Wars in the sense that both teams have a roster full of “stars” whether it is Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, Jered Weaver, C. J. Wilson, Josh Hamilton, or Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Adrián González, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier.

I am not overlooking the Seattle Mariners by any means, after all, they are a division rival, and one must not forget about the Kansas City Royals However. it’s a given that the Angels must take those series’, so there really is nothing to talk about.

May 27-May 30, 2013 that is the length of this year’s war between the crosstown rivals, it is shorter than usual this year, however the intensity still there. It is my believe that the Angels versus Dodgers game atmosphere is unmatched because of the teams'” proximity to each other and the intertwined histories.

What makes this year unique is that neither team is doing very well record wise, and if they expect to get back on track, both teams need the series very badly, this year especially there is an element of pride attached to a series that wasn’t there before with such intensity. Throw the records at the window, the atmosphere this year should be especially electric.

It would be too easy to talk about lineup changes that the Angels need to make to improve, or the fact that they need to improve their pitching; or that they are a miserable 4-13 in series this year. This is the Angels versus the Dodgers, oil and water, matter and anti-matter the combustible elements in each respective ballpark during this period is unmatched. This is the place where the red Star and the blue Star collide to create a massive black hole, nothing survives, this is indeed war; this is Star Wars! I for one will be making the trip and I hope to catch at the very least one of the two games played at Angel Stadium. Let the yearly war for the Southern California section of Interstate 5 begin!

-ICE

Look at the Pretty, Shiny Red Diamond

It is finally Opening Day! The day that every baseball fan awaits with excitement and anticipation of the season that has yet to be. I am no exception. As of noon tomorrow Pacific daylight Time I will be unavailable to the rest of the known world for about four hours, why? I will be entranced by the sheer beauty that is the baseball diamond, the crown jewel of all jewels; the only jewel that outshines all others.

The opening Day roster, the players who have received their major league Halo include: Pitcher Mark Lowe, Infielder Brendan Harris, and outfielder J. B. Shuck. Luis Jimenez, David Carpenter, John Hester, and Kole Calhoun have all been sent to the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate the Salt Lake City Bees, Ryan Madson and Andrew Taylor have been added to the 15 Day Disabled List, retroactive to March 22.

Coming out of spring training, this team still has one glaring concern; the starting pitching. Jason Vargas gave Up seven runs to the Dodgers in the middle game of the preseason Freeway Series. If the Angels do not remedy this soon, it’s going to be a long season for the Angels and their fan base. As I mentioned before, it doesn’t do any good for a team to have a potent offense if the pitching staff can’t hold any leads. The games are for real now, the meaningless exhibition season is gone; this is where it all begins. If the Angels don’t get a good start out of the gate it doesn’t matter how well they do the rest of the season, if they create too much of a deficit; it is very easily going to be a repeat showing of last season.

With that said, to me Opening Day represents optimism; and as such, I’m not going to focus on things this team needs to fix. Rather, I’m going to continue to enjoy the beautiful hypnotic enchantment that is provided by the beauty of the baseball diamond.

-ICE

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/

The Angels Are Reaching for the Stars

Once again I find myself apologizing for the short hiatus, life happens. I wish I could eat, drink, and breathe baseball every day if I could only be so lucky.

First and foremost, and let’s make a quick comment regarding the Freeway Series the Angels took four out of six games for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and head into the All-Star break 10 games over .500.

Mark Trumbo is hitting with the media has dubbed “Trumbombs” with regularity. His performance in tonight’s Home Run Derby could be a sign of things to come. The Angels sent four All-Stars to the 2012 Major League Baseball All-Star Game Jared Weaver, Mark Trumbo, Mike Trout, C. J. Wilson and were very close to sending a fifth, Angels’ closer Ernesto Frieri.

The second half of the season should be fun, the Angels are only four games behind the Texas Rangers at the All-Star break. They show no signs of letting up. It should be a lot of fun. Go Angels!

-ICE

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