Results tagged ‘ Major League Baseball ’

“We’re Nasty”: a Halo No-Hitter from Heaven

“We’re nasty”, apparently that was Tyler Skaggs’ favorite phrase. The Halos were indeed “nasty” last night by combining for a no-hitter. I mentioned in my previous entry that my brother and I had tickets for last night’s game, together we were able to partake in history something that we will share the rest of our lives.

I find it appropriate that I’m writing this entry on what would’ve been Tyler Skaggs 28th birthday. This may sound cliché, but there was something different about last night. My brother hit traffic on his way home from work and we were not able to leave to the stadium as early as we normally do, so we missed all the pre-game tributes that the Angels’ organization had planned for Skaggs; as such, we were both unaware of everything that was going on at first. The Angels decided to wear the alternate red jersey which Skaggs was fond of, the Angels organization was granted special permission by Major League Baseball to wear Tyler Skaggs’ complete jersey, with both his last name and jersey number. It showed a touching tribute of unity amongst the team. After all, they did lose an individual whom the entire team considered a family member and they certainly acted that way both on and off the field. The first inning finally concluded and the Angels were ahead 7-0 on their way to a complete rout of the Seattle Mariners which ended 13-0, both scores coincidentally reflect his birthday, 7/13 as Mike Trout pointed out in an interview.

 

As a closing tribute to Skaggs the entire team left their number 45 jerseys on the pitcher’s mound at the conclusion of the game, much like fans had left their tributes such as posters, baseball caps, flowers, and candles on the pitcher’s mound of the field replica located just in front of the home plate gate at Angel Stadium.

 

As a fan, the atmosphere was electric, the roar of the crowd, the strength, passion, and dedication that was evident in each of the players’ mannerisms. The fusion of these different factors made it very special; it felt much more electric than a playoff game. For the first time in a long time all these factors were mixed together into one entity, and energy that if I attempt to describe with words, no matter how eloquent, I simply wouldn’t do it justice. Let me suffice to say that I am ecstatic that I was able to share that type of experience with my brother.

 

While I agree that the 11th no-hitter in the Angels’ franchise history is very special, it was the circumstances surrounding the no-hitter that made the experience unique, and will never be duplicated again. As I mentioned before, I have supported this team for over 30 years, and yesterday’s moment was one of the most bittersweet and memorable moments I will cherish for the rest of my life. I am only one of the 43,140 Angels’ fans at Angel Stadium that will share this experience together for the rest of our collective lives. Yes, “we’re nasty” and that nastiness was showcased in the Halo no-hitter from heaven. Rest in paradise, Tyler Skaggs 45.

 

-ICE

MLB 150: 150 Years of Tradition

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

-ICE

Mike Trout Reinforces His Halo

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

-ICE

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

-ICE

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

 

Today is the Independence Day of the United States, it is very fitting, because fireworks are often used to express this independence. The Angels must use today as a personification of an example of what they must become in order to save their season.

 

The Halos have fallen victim to the dirty dozen, they are 12 1/2 games behind the division leading Houston Astros in the American League West. After losing to the Seattle Mariners yesterday. The Angels must explode, just like the fireworks that will light up the sky today throughout the United States. Including today’s game the Angels have 11 of their next 19 games against the division, with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox sandwiched in between. If the Halos are to have any postseason aspirations they must make their presence known in these next 19 games.

 

It’s going to be quite a challenge however, the Angels have recently led Major League Baseball with the amount of players on the disabled list with 15; similar to recent years, the Angels endured more than their fair share of injuries.

 

My hope is that the can at least take 15 of the 19 upcoming games in order for them to have shimmer of hope of making the postseason. It has yet to be seen if they are able to do that. We will just have to wait and see.

 

-ICE

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

-ICE

 

A Halo in the Hall

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

-ICE

It Is Almost “Sho-Time” in Anaheim

Southern California in the Los Angeles area in particular is very familiar with “Showtime”, whether it’s the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s or the Showtime that Hollywood brings to the movie theater. However, a different type of “Sho-time” is coming to Angel Stadium this upcoming baseball season.

 

Shohei Ohtani, often referred to as the Japanese “Babe Ruth” because of his natural ability to be both an excellent pitcher and an excellent hitter has agreed to become part of Major League Baseball as a member of the Angels. His formal introduction is today Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 3 PM Pacific time. I personally don’t know much about him except for would’ve heard in the media. That’s why I have decided to make this a two-part entry; this current entry before the press conference, and an entity after the press conference.

 

I was in bed when I heard the news late last night, based on what I’ve read and heard, he throws the baseball year, at, or above 100 miles per hour, he has an above average bat, and the speed to first base rivals that of Mike Trout. If all of this is true, then the Angels have an interesting puzzle on their hands. How would they accommodate this man’s natural ability to play on both the offensive and defensive side? One of the solutions proposed is a six man pitching rotation that would allow him to get adequate rest.

 

This is an interesting situation, although to reach absolutely honest toward interesting does not encapsulate and under represents the intrigue of the situation. I will try to have my post press conference reaction up as quickly as possible, until then, let’s sit back and enjoy this ride together.

 

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

 

-ICE

The Gold Coin We Call Baseball

The off-season is upon us, in the game of baseball the winter can be just as exciting as the regular season. There are many exciting aspects about the off-season, the hot stove, where free agents and franchises look to come together mutually to fill vacancies; and the winter meetings, where franchises seek to make a noteworthy splash in the market. Am I disappointed? Yes, but I can’t say that I’m upset over the Angels’ performance this past season, every team’s goal is to make it to the World Series however, in the end, as always one team stands and 29 others go home.

 

The Angels made a valiant effort at a playoff run; they fell out of contention after game 158 on September 27, 2017. As I have mentioned before I rather see this team fall out of contention late in the season and not well before the All-Star break.

 

If this team is healthy with a few additions the Halos can not only compete for a postseason spot but they can also contend. If things go well, they can possibly even make it to the World Series; First and foremost they have the best player in all of Major League Baseball today, Mike Trout, and Albert Pujols, when healthy, can still strike fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers. Justin Upton recently signed a contract extension, which gives the Angels a solid bat behind Trout and a permanent left fielder. When one adds the two Gold Gloves at shortstop and catcher for 2017 one has a pretty solid foundation.

 

With a strong foundation already established, the Angels could use a few upgrades on the roster, so far the speculation points to third baseman Mike Moustakas as the prime candidate to fulfill this need for the Angels. The former Kansas City Royal has power, and he might be just what the Angels need to get over the hump. However, for now this is pure speculation and all this of course is contingent on the Angels starting rotation and for that matter the pitching staff as a whole , staying healthy. As the Angels entire pitching staff was decimated and the starting rotation in particular was crippled this past season.

 

The off-season brings a lot of big hopes and dreams to every fan no matter which team one chooses to root for. It’s a reset button that every team looks forward to pressing, even the successful teams in the previous season. The off-season can be a two-sided coin it can bring joy and/or pain. It all depends how the coin we call the off-season lands.

 

-ICE

Does the Deck of Playoff Cards Have a Wildcard with a Halo?

A deck of playing cards comes with two jokers, often people do not use these jokers and they put them aside separating them from the deck. Traditionally the jokers are a pair of cards; they are considered the two traditional wild cards in the deck. Today, I will not discard them.

 

This metaphor is applicable to the game the baseball; just like in a deck of playing cards there are two wild cards. These wildcards are currently blank, including today’s game that is yet to be played; there are only a dozen games left for the Angels in this baseball season, and the race for the American League wild card is tight.

 

As of today, the face of each wild card read “the New York Yankees” and “the Minnesota Twins”. However, the Angels are only one game behind, due to the loss that the Twins suffered against the Yankees today, which means by the end of today if the Angels win, they will only be one half game out of the second wild-card with 11 games to go.

 

In order to determine if there is a Halo in the playoff deck, one must examine the four suits that the deck contains in order for their wild-card to be of any help towards the creation of a championship hand in this metaphorical game of cards. 12 cards (games) are yet to be dealt; with such a high number of cards left the creation of a winning hand is likely. However, equally as likely is that a losing hand which can be produced at  the end of the season.

 

The Heart

 

The heart is in my opinion the most important suit, the Halos produced more than 40 comeback wins so far this season, leading Major League Baseball they also led the majors in stolen bases prior to the Cameron Maybin trade. There is no question that this team has the talent and the heart to make sure that one of those blank wildcards reads “Angels”.

 

The Spade

 

Although there’s no question about this team’s heart, the spade has not been kind to the Angels. The Halos have survived virtually all year without a pitching staff. Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney, Matt Shoemaker, and Tyler Skaggs have been injured in some combination or another for the entire year. This is virtually our entire starting pitching staff. With the exception of Matt Shoemaker, the rest of the starting staff is back. However, due to length of time they were gone, they have been unable to be the starters that they really are. Although the Angels have been hit hard by the spade there are still enough cards in the deck to turn their fortunes around.

 

The Clover

 

When the team is hit this hard by the spade, you need a little luck brought forth by the Clover. The Angels’ patchwork and strategic positioning have allowed them to somehow stay in contention even with all the injuries to key positions. With 12 cards left, the Angels must make their own luck and take advantage of golden opportunities when they present themselves, something that they did not do yesterday when the Twins lost to the Yankees. The Angels did not close the gap, they lost yesterday’s game six with three due to bad game management by Mike Scioscia, in certain situations he left players in two along and took others out too early. This can not continue if the Angels are going to let the Clover do its magic.

 

The Diamond

 

The clover’s magic must work; the diamond suit in the deck must assure that. The diamond has been kind to the Angels. A diamond represents the value which the Angels have obtained the acquisitions of Justin Upton and Brandon Phillips, by acquiring these solid players, they Halos have strengthened their weak spots which will allow them to increase their chances of obtaining a winning hand, although I must admit I was very disappointed when Cameron Maybin was traded in order to make room for Justin Upton on the roster. I believe the Angels had a better option by letting go of Ben Revere instead of Cameron Maybin, slim as he is affectionately called; gave the Angels speed at the top of the lineup, it is the team’s ability to run the bases that renders opposing starting pitchers less effective; something that needs to happen to be successful in the playoffs.

 

It is the right combination of the four suits that will determine whether one of the wildcards will have a Halo on its face. It is an undeniable fact that wildcards always make card games or in this case the Major League Baseball playoffs more interesting. Baseball wildcards cannot be simply discarded like the jokers in the deck of cards. However, all the other card suits must combine for a wildcard to be effective. In the Angels case, there are 12 cards remaining in order to create a winning hand.

 

-ICE

 

 

 

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