Results tagged ‘ National League ’

29 Halos in 29 Ballparks

A child who likes baseball often dreams about hitting a grand slam home run in game seven of the World Series to give their favorite team a come from behind victory, and/or pitching a perfect game to secure their place in baseball history. Yes, a child dreams; as we reach adulthood those same dreams evolve, perhaps we may not get an at-bat or ever touch the pitching mound, but we want to be in the stands watching our favorite team winning game seven of the World Series.

I hope that one day I am able to witness the Angels win the World Series live at the ballpark, but until that happens, I have decided to put a more attainable yet challenging goal in front of me. This goal may take a few years to complete, but it’s something I would like to do within my lifetime.

I was fortunate to go to college in the Bay Area, for a young man who grew up in Orange County, it was quite a fulfilling experience. While in school, I got a little homesick from time to time, I really looked forward to every time the Angels had a road trip to the Oakland Coliseum, I attended as many games as I could, watching the Angels play on the road was like bringing a little piece of home to the Bay Area.

The child within me started to dream, wondering what it would be like to see the Angels play at the old Yankee Stadium, unfortunately they tore down the original Yankee Stadium before I could see the Angels play there. It was at that moment, that I got the idea to leave 29 Halos in 29 ballparks.

Originally, this was something that was on my proverbial “bucket list” something that is very personal. However, upon further examination, I decided to include this blog to chronicle my journey. I may or may not complete this during my lifetime, but I will do my best to try and share it with all of you. Taking in a game at the National League ballparks will be more difficult since the Angels don’t visit all the National League teams every year.

I have already left two metaphorical Halos in my seat, the first one of course, at the Oakland Coliseum, and one last night at Dodger Stadium. I will chronicle each one, in a separate entry, describing the unique environment of every game, every team, and every Stadium.

I look forward to sharing my experience with you, the Oakland entry will be a little dated since it’s been a few years since my last visit. The first two entries, will be forthcoming. I hope all of you will find this journey as enjoyable as I will. Two down, 27 to go.

-ICE

The Duality of Baseball

Baseball is a game of duels, there is a dual between pitchers, it can also exist between pitcher and batter, as well as between base men and base runners. There also exist a certain duality within the game.

The Angels are experiencing such duality, Albert Pujols hit his 500th career home run in Washington DC against the Nationals. The number 500 appears again as the Angels are trying to get back to a .500 record, a threshold they haven’t been able to accomplish since the opening day of 2013. Which is simply astonishing given the talent on this team. The team cannot get all three facets of the game to work at the same time. When the offense is on fire, the pitching cannot hold leads; this problem is manifested by the performances of the bullpen, a unit that can’t seem to get it together. The positive? The Angels lead Major League Baseball in Home Runs with 36 more than any other team in both leagues. Yet somehow they haven’t been able to translate the positives into wins.

The future is not bleak for this team, the ingredients are there, Josh Hamilton will eventually be back and give both Albert Pujols and Mike Trout much-needed protection. In contrast to recent years the Angels now have relatively healthy players to complete the original winning formula that was conceived. Once they resolve their bullpen issues they should have a winning record, and eventually I am hopeful that the many dualities that I’m currently observing become one distinct singularity, which manifests itself as a World Series Championship at the end of the season.

-ICE

Get Your Red on

“Get Your Red on” this is a slogan to the marketing campaign that the Angels have embarked on in the 2014 season. I like it a lot. No, it’s not because red is my favorite color since I was a kid, although to me that’s icing on the cake. Overall it’s a very smart marketing strategy especially when juxtaposed against the “Think Blue” campaign employed by the cross-town rival the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Perhaps the campaign is appropriate, until last night the Angels were a perfect 6-0 when wearing the red alternate uniform until their first loss last night in that uniform against the Oakland Athletics. The Angels have slightly changed their uniform, a change that I must say I like a lot. The Halos will wear red shoes and red belt during their home games this season at least when wearing the red uniform. I hope they include this change for road games as well. I believe that it adds to the team’s identity much like the blue shoes add to the identity of the Dodgers or the white shoes that add to the identity of the Athletics respectively.

The Angels may have lost last night, however I really enjoyed the excitement brought on by last night’s game between these two American League West rivals there something about this rivalry that cannot be duplicated with the rest of the teams in the American League West. Maybe it’s the proximity between the two cities, maybe it’s the fact that these are the two California American League franchises, or maybe it’s the best explanation of all, these two teams captured 10 of the last 12 American League West titles.

Perhaps the rivalry was magnified by the fact that Albert Pujols hit his 496 career home run, a shot that went into the beautiful night sky. The green and gold elephant seems to bring out the best in the Angels and vice versa.

These two teams also share another commonality, they are known as the “other” team in the region. They live in the shadow of their bigger more famous brother, the Dodgers and the Giants respectively. Yet, it seems that their little brother steals the spotlight and has had success more often than their older, cockier sibling. Our National League counterparts cannot say that they’ve traded shots with each other 10 of the last 12 years. They may be known as a bigger rivalry, but their rivalry hasn’t been as competitive over the years. I have a healthy hatred for Oakland, in other words, I love to hate them. It’s not the same if both teams are not at the top of their game. The best part? The baseball season is young and the Rally Monkey and Stomper have a lot of sparring yet to do.

-ICE

The Symphony of “The Numbers Game”

It’s that time of year again, the time of year where numbers begin to matter; magic numbers, numbers in the standings, and the numbers that will result in the upcoming All-Star game that will determine which league gets home field advantage in the 2013 World Series.

Numbers have favored the Angels for the last three series. The Angels took two out of three from the team with the second best record in the National League, the St. Louis Cardinals and also took two out of three from the team with the best record in the American League, the Boston Red Sox, the Halos were able to leave Chicago with a two-game split against the Cubs. The Angels are currently only nine games back in the American League West making the numbers exponentially important.

It’s a given that the Angels must do well in their own division if they have any shot at making the playoffs this year. They must take the next two games against the Mariners in order to build momentum heading into the All-Star break. The Angels will be cutting it a little too close for comfort. They must come out of the All-Star break in full camouflage with war paint on their collective faces. All games are important, but the next stretch of games is especially critical to the Halos’ success. After the All-Star break, they have back-to-back series with the Oakland A’s and the Texas Rangers with the Minnesota Twins sandwiched in between. There are 13 games left with each respective team, the Angels have hit a proverbial straightaway, this team must take advantage and do the damage themselves so they don’t have to rely on other teams. The numbers now matter, the time is now.

13 games against each team, nine games back. The Angels cannot wait until the magic number surfaces before they become conscious of their situation. Numbers, numbers, numbers this is what makes baseball in particular so beautiful. A symphony where The flow of the game is the melody and the numbers are the harmony, thereby creating a musical symphony called “the numbers game.” This symphony needs a halo.

-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

Seven Is Definitely Not Heaven (2012): The Sleeping Giant

It feels like déjà vu all over again, sometime in 2010 I wrote a blog entry entitled “Seven Is Definitely Not Heaven.” At the time that I wrote the entry the Angels were seven games back of the Texas Rangers. Since history has repeated itself, and the Angels are 7 1/2 back of the Rangers once again I felt that reusing the title was appropriate.

The key difference is that when the Angels have struggled, it’s been easy for bandwagon and diehard Angels’ fans alike to call for the Angels to make transactions for talented players. Now we have those talented players, and we are still struggling. Angels’ fans are very frustrated. As am I; however, most true diehard fans like myself are willing to have the patience for this team to come together. Bandwagon fans are calling “Angel Talk” screaming, yelling, ranting, and throwing tantrums at Terry Smith as if he had control of the roster or if he had a say on how to make the Angels better.

Hello? Does anybody remember the Angels in the 1980s? Or 2001 when the Angels finished roughly 41 games out of first place? I am frankly tired of these bandwagon fans complaining about how bad the Angels are, Albert Pujols is getting used to a new league, he came from the National League remember that; it’s going to take time to get used to how a whole new slew of American League pitchers pitch in certain situations.

What the Angels need is an infusion of energy. I agree with Terry Smith maybe it’s time to call up Mike Trout to take the place of a slumping Peter Bourjos in the outfield both players possess similar speed hence the Angels would not be losing anything defensively and in turn infuse the lineup where the player in Trout that has a better average this season, he is hitting over. 400 and he may be just what the Angels need to turn things around.

In addition maybe switching the rotation would help infuse the pitching staff with the energy that they need to turn things around as well. If Santana and Wilson flip their spots in the rotation it would give the Angels a one, two, three knockout punch with Weaver, Haren, Wilson, and Santana; perhaps even bring in Garrett Richards to replace Jerome Williams in the rotation.

The Angels have the talent, they just need to figure out who goes where and get a chess pieces in place. It’s only a matter of time before the sleeping giant awakens.

-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

Reflections and Recollections of The 2010 Major League Baseball All-Star Game Celebration

What can I say, the 2010 Major League Baseball All-Star Game weekend was quite memorable. I got kissed by two Australian beauties, the 2010 Major League Baseball FanFest was amazing, this was quite possibly one of the most enjoyable few days in my lifetime.

Let me first start off with the 2010 Major League Baseball All-Star Game I’m not going to discuss it too much because I believe it is an exhibition game, as such it should be enjoyed rather than analyzed. The National League defeated the American League for the first time since 1996, with a score of 3-1. I honestly thought the American League was going to make a comeback, but it was not to be. Oh well, the American League will just have to start another winning streak, 20 games maybe?

The 2010 Major League Baseball All-Star FanFest was held at The Anaheim Convention Center it was simply spectacular, it left me addicted and wanting more; so much so that I am seriously considering attending next year’s FanFest in Phoenix Arizona. FanFest gave me a greater appreciation for the game, and it also gave me a deeper understanding about what the great game of baseball is all about. It was my honor and privilege to be able to attend.

While at the event a good friend of mine who is also an Angels’ fan, and I, had the opportunity to call what is perhaps the greatest moment in Angels’ history the final play of game seven in the 2002 World Series. I was charged with a play by play duties and my friend provided excellent color commentary, it was extremely fun.

This was the second greatest event in the history of Angels baseball next to winning the World Series, there was no such thing as FanFest in 1989 and 1967 this event has broadened a baseball fans’ experience and intensified our enjoyment. I hope that we are lucky enough to host yet another All-Star Celebration in my lifetime. These past few days have been mind blowing for both the Angels’ franchise and their fans. Oh, and receiving kisses from extremely gorgeous Australian young ladies wasn’t too bad either.

-ICE

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