Results tagged ‘ Inter-League Play ’

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.

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

Texas: “The Lone Halo State”

Texas: “The Lone Star Halo State”

With the first series of the season over, the Angels had a less than stellar performance, only winning one of three games. Yes, it is the first series of the season. Yes, the Angels had the distinction of being the first team in Major League Baseball history (along with the Cincinnati Reds) to play an interleague series in the first series of the season. Yes, it was in a National League ballpark with National League rules. Yes, the first series does not make a season.

Now that all possible explanations for the Angels’ poor performance have been stated, here’s the truth; the Angels have the best record overall when it comes to interleague play. They were in a hitter friendly ballpark in Cincinnati. There is no reason why the Angels shouldn’t be hitting the cover off the ball, in the series the Angels fell victim to 36 strikeouts and they left 27 men on base. These were the determining factors that led to the Angels downfall. The bullpen on the other hand was pleasantly surprising. I was especially impressed by Mark Lowe who kept the Angels afloat in the 13 inning marathon opening-day, if the bullpen stays solid and the hitters can find their groove, the Angels should be alright this season.

The Angels go to a hitter friendly ballpark in Arlington for the next series, a showdown with the Texas Rangers. Another hitter friendly ballpark, under American League rules which means an extra hitter, with the incorporation of the DH, no more pinch-hitting for the pitcher which should alleviate the taxing of the bench.

I hope with these different variables, the variables that the Halos are accustomed to; they can get back to form. They cannot have 36 strikeouts and 27 men left on base and expect to survive against a talented team like the Texas Rangers. Arlington Texas is in “The Lone Star State”, now with the incorporation of the Houston Astros into the American League West, the Angels will be traveling to Texas twice as much from this point forward and they must dominate the Texas teams on the road. The Angels must make sure that Texas is known to the baseball world as, Texas: “The Lone Star Halo State.”

-ICE

Successful “Giant” Steps Lead the Angels to Round Two of the Freeway Series

It’s that time again; round two of the Freeway Series begins tomorrow night. The Angels successfully took two out of three games from the San Francisco Giants and they continue to demonstrate that they are the team that every Angels’ fan was hoping to get in the beginning of April. Now all that needs to happen is to patiently wait until the Texas Rangers cool off.

I woke up this morning to the most gorgeous and beautiful Dodgers’ fan in the world talking trash on Facebook. Her fanaticism for the Dodgers goes back to Fernando mania when her grandfather used to take her to Dodger Stadium to watch their beloved team play.

To me, the Angels versus Dodgers rivalry is very special. You see, the collective history of both teams has always been interconnected. When the Angels joined Major League Baseball in 1961 the Angels played at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles .(not to be confused with Wrigley Field home of the Chicago Cubs) one year later the Angels moved into Dodgers Stadium and would continue to share this Stadium until Angel Stadium was built and opened in 1966.

The animosity between these two teams has become more apparent in recent years since the Angels have become successful. The Angels were no longer “the little brother” to the Dodgers, this was evident in 2003; when the Dodgers believed that signing Vladimir Guerrero was all but a formality for the boys in blue will need to have the Angels come out of nowhere to sign him before the Dodgers could finalize or negotiate any sort of deal. There are Dodgers’ fans to this day that still believe that the Dodgers were “cheated” and that Guerrero belonged in blue.

For me personally, there’s rivalry is also very special, most of my extended family grew up in East Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. We agree on basketball we are all big a fans of the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles and the surrounding area doesn’t have a football team to speak of just yet, so we don’t really agree or disagree on a football team. But when it comes to baseball, we are in definite disagreement, I grew up about 3 miles away from Angel Stadium so to me, the Angels are truly a “home” team. I feel an attachment to the Angels, as I feel I must respectfully hate the Dodgers because of their intertwined history with the Angels. Besides, it makes very interesting conversations when my family and my extended family visit each other, the Angels versus Dodgers rivalry is a topic that never gets boring; especially when both teams are playing well.

Yes indeed, it is that time again. That time of year where the Goodyear blimp that flies over Angel Stadium doesn’t see red or blue, it sees more a blurred shade of purple; and at least for Southern California that 30 mile stretch of Interstate 5 that separates Anaheim from Los Angeles becomes the center of the baseball universe, for the set of six games that we affectionately call “The Freeway Series.”

-ICE

The Angels Must Take a “Giant” Steps and Continue in the Right Direction

Let me begin by stating the obvious, the Angels are four games behind the Rangers and currently in first place in the American League West. Tonight, interleague play continues as we face the San Francisco Giants in a three-game series which is a rematch of the 2002 World Series. Yes, it’s hard to believe but indeed it has been a decade since these two teams faced each other. I’ve been told by a reliable source that the Angels plan some sort of celebration commemorating the 10th anniversary of the World Series championship sometime this season.

What not my be so obvious is what is happening to the Angels are the team. The Halos continued their dominance of inter-league play with a record of 8-4 this season with six more inter-league games to go. The Angels are not playing poorly, the fact remains that Texas hasn’t cooled off enough For the Angels to catch up. It’s a long season, and the Rangers will cool off; it’s just a matter of the Halos staying within striking distance in order to be with overtake the Rangers when that happens.

The Angels cut a nine game lead down to four, this is the divisional dogfight everyone was expecting between these two teams. The Angels must continue their dominance of inter-league play with both the Giants and the Dodgers so by the end of inter-league play hopefully at minimum we are only one or two games behind Texas if not tied for the division lead. The “Giant” step starts tonight and hopefully the combination is and Angels win and they Rangers loss.

-ICE

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, No, It’s a Halo Over Round One of the Freeway Series

“You can put a halo over this one!” That was the beautiful yet familiar call by our beloved Angels’ radio play-by-play announcer Terry Smith, and was he ever right; the Angels took two out of three from the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in round one of the Freeway Series. All three games were decided in the very late innings by two very competitive and proud teams.

Dodger Stadium was rocking in Los Angeles as I’m sure Angel Stadium will be rocking in Anaheim later this month. One can argue that there are six games a year for both teams that are neutral site games since regardless of where they play the crowd in attendance seems to be split evenly among the two teams. “Let’s go Dodgers!” Was being drowned out by “Let’s Go Angels!” And vice versa the entire series and expect nothing less when the Dodgers visit Angel Stadium later this month.

Why not dream it? A Freeway Series in the World Series later this year or in the near future. Think about it, why not? There’s already been a Subway Series between the New York Mets and the New York Yankees and a Bay Bridge Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics. So why not add a Freeway Series to that list?

The Dodgers are rejuvenated since Magic Johnson purchased them earlier this year. The Dodgers’ fan base has also been re-energized and a face-off between Jared Weaver and Clayton Kershaw would be epic. This past series was just a little taste of what these two teams who do this area in a World Series. Most of my family lives in East Los Angeles so it only natural that they are Dodgers’ fans, I along with my siblings grew up not too far from Anaheim so it’s only natural that we grew up Angels’ fans. You can imagine what family visits are like, especially during baseball season.

Interleague play is great, but the Freeway Series magnifies it into unimaginable levels. The Dodgers forget about their little brother sometimes, but I think the Angels have long since outgrown out of big brothers shadow and now it is the Dodgers who try to match us. Go Angels!

-ICE

The Halos Are Riding up and down Interstate 5 on a TNT Hunting Machine

What do you get when you combine “The Machine”, Trumbo, Trout “TNT”, and Hunter? You get a TNT hunting machine. That’s what I would call the awakening of the Angels’ offense. The Halos have been riding high on the combination of these players the Angels continued their dominance of interleague play by using this combined machine to hunt down the Los Angeles Dodgers yesterday, 3-2 pulling ahead because of smart baserunning by Mike Trout and a key hit courtesy of Albert Pujols. As a result the Angels are now only 2 1/2 games behind the Texas Rangers for first place in the American League West.

The aforementioned players have been key to the Angels’ success Mike Trout was involved in every aspect of the Angels’ ability to score yesterday whether it was his ability to drive in runs or whether he himself was on the base paths. He is an impact player on this team, add to that the combination of both the top and the middle of this lineup; and one has an unstoppable offensive combination when they are clicking on all cylinders.

The Dodgers had no answer for “Ernasty” who shut down the “Big Blue wrecking crew” in the bottom of the ninth inning to earn his fifth save as a member of the Angels. I absolutely love the Freeway Series and interleague play. I especially am enjoying it this year since this is the last year of true interleague play. When thinking of TNT (Trumbo and Trout) I can’t help but think of the line from “TNT” by one of my favorite bands AC/DC; “TNT I’m (the Angels are) a power load watch me (them) explode!”

-ICE

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