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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 Angels Have a “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going on”

 I purposely haven’t written about the shakeup in the Angels’ organization because I wanted to wait until some actionable maneuvers were made. Now that there are reports of the direction that the Angels want to go as an organization, I feel more comfortable writing down my thoughts on the subject. For this entry I want to focus specifically on the resignation of Tony Reagins and the changes in the General Manager position.

According to multiple news reports the Angels are set to interview Kim Ng. Ng, is a former Assistant General Manager with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Metropolitans. If hired by the Angels she would be the first female General Manager in any major sports franchise in the United States. I strongly believe however, that the sports media is making a bigger deal of this event than it actually is. Would I love if the Angels were to hire her from a social standpoint? Sure, I would love for my beloved team to go down in history as not only having the first person of color as an owner in all of Major League Baseball but also the first female General Manager as well. The Angels would definitely go down in history as true trailblazers in professional sports.

As a fan I look at the situation from a more pragmatic point of view. Ideally I would like someone who would better fit what the Angels’ organization needs. ESPN’s Angels beat writer Mark Saxon argues that the Angels need to hire Ng because she is fiscally conservative and will keep the team from making a bad financial decision that may set them back for years and I would add to that may be several decades. However, I personally don’t think that the Angels need a fiscal conservative as General Manager, what they really need is someone who is able to make smart decisions in order to improve the team and not necessarily save the team money.

I believe the Angels would be better served with someone with a bit more tangible experience someone like a Billy Beane; someone with a proven history, a body of work, not someone who has potential like Ng who I am sure would make a great General Manager for a team that fits her mold and that she fits with the team as well. In my opinion,  the Angels are just not the right team for her talents right now. The Angels have made poor contract decisions as of late, highlighted by the questionable contract acquisition of Vernon Wells and the way they handled the contract of Gary Matthews Junior. That does not in my view equate to the need for the team to be fiscally conservative.

The Angels have also made a few more key changes in the front office, truth be told, I don’t know if all these changes help the team make the playoffs next year, but one thing is unequivocally true the team is in need of change, I’m glad that the organization has been able to recognize that change is needed.

-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

Major League Baseball’s Christmas Is Finally Here

It appears that the Angels are finally coming around, taking two out of three from the Mariners and the first game yesterday against the New York Mets. The Rangers are finally starting to lose, giving the Halos an opportunity to capitalize on this reversal of fortune.

 

Joel Piñeiro received his 100th win of his career, one of many positive milestones that are happening for the Angels. The offense is finally beginning to at least warm up, and Vernon Wells is beginning to grow comfortable in an Angels’ uniform.

 

Inter-league play has always been kind to the Angels. They have the best overall record amongst all the teams in Major league baseball in inter-league play, and yesterday’s performance against the New York Mets was not the exception. After three games against the New York Mets, they go on to play the Florida Marlins in Miami, the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, they come home to host the Washington Nationals, and finish inter-league play against the Dodgers at Angel Stadium.

 

Over the years I have stated that inter-league play is my favorite time of year of the Major League Baseball calendar, and I must say that continues to be the case. It has a special flair, flavor, atmosphere, that cannot be matched, even with the proposed realignment being talked about in baseball circles, I don’t believe that inter-league play will lose its flair one bit. Remember regardless of how many times the American League faces the National League; the results of inter-league play doesn’t have a direct effect on how each league shapes up at the end of the season other than an indirect effect by virtue of the win-loss record, Major League Baseball doesn’t factor in head-to-head match-ups between each respective league when it comes to playoff positioning.

 

Inter-league play is a fun way to measure how a prospective team from each league measures up against another team, a World Series preview, what would happen if the Angels were ever to meet the Dodgers in a World Series featuring the Freeway Series?

 

Inter-league play is one of my favorite things to write, about lucky for me the Angels flourish in inter-league play; hopefully during this wonderful part of the season the Angels can take advantage of a clear strength, to overtake the Texas Rangers and ultimately win the American League West Championship.

 

-ICE

One Angels’ Ace in Search of 29 Other “Lost Souls”

For those of you that are familiar with my MLB blogs in the past, you may remember my list of “lost souls”, which was a creative and fun way to refer to those that were not necessarily Angels’ fans but were just as diehard for their respective teams as I am about the Angels. For those of you that may remember my past blogs I haven’t been able to logon to this site in a little under a year, now with the move to WordPress, I’m glad to say that that issue is resolved. However I lost my original list of lost souls. With the exception of the rays’ renegade and the original Washington Senators fan who represents the Texas Rangers, I am still looking for 28 other lost souls to be part of my main list. Especially since the MLB blogs main page doesn’t exist anymore; I would like these bloggers to be active, passionate fans who I can get my non-Angel information from. If you are interested please reply with your blog location the team you blog for, and a little information about yourself, I would look over your blog. And add you to my list.

 

Thank you,

-ICE

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