Results tagged ‘ Red Sox ’

I’m Not Back in Black, It’s Red Instead

I’m usually very active in the off-season, during spring training, leading up to the regular-season. However you haven’t heard from me since January of this year. The motherboard on my laptop went out yet again; I was fed up with the same component breaking down again, it turned out that it was going to be nearly a $350 repair; so instead of forking over the $350 I decided on the advice of my brother to construct an aftermarket computer. First, I want to thank him for building it for me, now if the computer breaks down I only have to replace a component for a desktop, which makes it much cheaper to repair, and thus my downtime will be limited, appropriately; I have dubbed the device “Ruby Red” since the computer is red. “Ruby” will hopefully last longer and I don’t have to repair her as much due to the aftermarket components. Yes, to paraphrase one of my favorite bands, AC/DC “I’m back!”

 

It’s a brand-new season, the Angels find themselves 12-14 in the beginning of May not including the game tonight that will be played in just a couple of hours. They are currently three games back of the first-place Texas Rangers. Teams typically use the month of April to tweak the roster, technique, and strategy. The baseball season begins in earnest in May.

 

What is my biggest concern for the Angels’ thus far? It still is left-field. Both Craig Gentry and Daniel Nava find themselves on the 15 day disabled list, essentially shattering Mike Scioscia’s platoon plans. The sample size on Shane Robinson is too small to really know if he will have a positive effect on the position. Daniel Nava is expected back sometime in early May, while Gentry isn’t expected back until mid June. It wouldn’t matter much anyway since Gentry’s batting average is only .147 in 34 at-bats over 14 games. In contrast, Nava has a batting average of .286 in 14 at-bats over eight games, again it is small sample size, however the sample size is large enough to understand that Craig Gentry should not be platooned with Nava. A platoon does not work in general in my opinion because it does not allow a player whomever it may be, to settle into their respective position.

 

I’m still perplexed as to why the Angels did not re-sign David Murphy, who is an above average left fielder. In my opinion he was a better option for the Angels. Murphy is not a marquee name but he would be a nice stopgap in the left-field position. After being released by the Red Sox during spring training, he was a free-agent until April 14 when he signed a minor-league deal with the Minnesota Twins. Murphy subsequently retired from baseball on April 25.

 

I’m maybe not back in Black, but it’s red instead; Angels’ red; now that the season has begun in earnest it’s going to be interesting to see what the Angels come up with to resolve the left-field situation.

 

-ICE

 

Songs of the Baseball Season

Baseball is full of tradition, from singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch to the Phillie Phanatic, and everything in between. New traditions are established: such as the Presidents’ race in Washington D. C. leaving the Nationals’ fans asking themselves, “when is Teddy Roosevelt going to win a race?”

Other teams such as the Angels are trying to build questionable traditions such as singing “Build me up Buttercup” by the Foundations during the seventh inning stretch, similar to the way the Boston Red Sox use to sing “Tessie” and now sing “Sweet Caroline”.

I have several quarrels with “Build Me up Buttercup”, first and foremost, the song is one of disillusionment, the singer is complaining about being let down by the girl that he is interested in. Although this is a catchy tune, I don’t believe this song is appropriate to fire up a crowd as big as 45,000 people. The Los Angeles Dodgers use “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey which seems appropriate for the moment.

However, “Build Me up Buttercup” is appropriate for how the Angels preformed this season. After a disastrous month of August, the Halos came roaring back in September, at one point they were victorious in seven games in a row. They ultimately fell short and were knocked out of postseason contention by the Texas Rangers, losing the game 9-2.

For many people the Angels’ season ended yesterday October 4. For me, the season ended in the top of the seventh inning in the game versus the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday, September 30th. Mike Scioscia made a questionable move, replacing second baseman Johnny Giavotella who was a principal reason why the Angels had a 5-3 lead at the time, mainly because of the home run; in favor of Taylor Featherston who committed a costly error by mishandling and dropping the ball; a play that would’ve been routine for Johnny G. Featherston’s error allowed the Oakland Athletics to extend the inning, and in the end win the game 8-7.

Mike Scioscia has made many questionable decisions this season; he underutilized David Murphy in the Texas Rangers series, his reason for doing so? Matchups, according to Scioscia Murphy did not provide the appropriate matchup for left-handed pitching; however Murphy had an extraordinary average against such pitching. As a former Ranger, David Murphy is familiar with that ballpark, if Murphy was in the lineup, perhaps this entry would be discussing the upcoming Wild-Card game or reflecting on back to back American League West division titles.

The seven-game win streak built a fan base up, and bad managerial decisions by Mike Scioscia let us down. This begs the question: “why do you build us up Buttercup, just to let us down?”

One thing is clear however, Mike Scioscia needs to refine his decision-making skills because he is the primary reason why the Halos lost September 30th, and by extension he is a primary reason why the Angels are not making a postseason run this year. Yes, the injury to Houston Street was a big as far as the closers role. However, the effect is minimal compared to bad managerial decisions which Mike Scioscia is clearly guilty of.

It was not all doom and gloom however, for the first time in Angels’ history two players hit for at least 40 home runs; Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. I’m sure that both players would be more than willing to trade in those accomplishments in exchange for a World Series ring.

The off-season has officially begun, the Angels have officially hired a new General Manager Billy Eppler the Assistant General Manager from the New York Yankees. I will expand on his hiring as well as reflect on all season activities and personnel changes in future entries.

Which team will I be supporting on the road to the World Series now that the Angels are out? This is probably the easiest answer of all, I wholeheartedly will be supporting the Chicago Cubs, not only would it be wonderful to see their over 100 year drought end, but I would also be supporting a connection to the Angels in Cubs Manager Joe Maddon, who is a former member of the Angels’ coaching staff.

The post season is upon us, as for the Angels’ fan base, we will have to wait yet another year to put on our postseason Halo.

-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

The Beautiful Glow of the Fire Lit Halo

The Halo is on fire, indeed glowing beautifully. The Angels find themselves 3 1/2 games back of the Oakland Athletics; however, that’s not the story. The Angels have stayed pretty close to the A’s throughout the season. The story lies in how they have kept up with them.

The Angels have the second-best record in all of Major League Baseball, second only to the team they are chasing. They do have the best home record in all of Major League Baseball with an impressive 32-15 record, this record includes three home sweeps and an 11 game home winning streak, along with 27 come from behind wins. It is extraordinary how they’ve been able to keep up with the A’s and not be able to overtake them yet.

Part of their success is attributed to Garrett Richards who possesses a 10-2 record and a 2.71 Earned Run Average in 18 starts for the Angels. It’s amazing how someone can be this good and still not make it to this year’s All-Star game, for that matter it’s amazing that a team can be this good and only have two representatives so far in The Midsummer Classic.

The sports networks often cite the American League East as a class of baseball. It is actually the American League West. The top two records in all of baseball reside in the American League West. It may be the West Coast bias, it may be that the American League East just happens to have two of the most storied franchises in baseball in the Yankees and the Red Sox. That certainly isn’t the case this year, and once the Texas Rangers recover from this year’s injury plagued season, the AL West may continue its dominance over baseball next year.

Yes, the dog fights of the summer are here. Pull out your popcorn, it should be a good division race between the Angels and Athletics. Can the monkey keep the rally going and blaze past Stomper? I truly believe that the Halos will. As baseball fans, let’s sit back and take in all the sights and sounds of the best division in all of baseball.

-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

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/

Rally Monkeys with Halos Are Swinging from Oak Trees, This Time With a Broom

How ironic, in my last entry I wrote about the Angels versus the Athletics and for this entry I will do the same thing. As I mentioned in my last entry, I went home to Southern California to take care of some family matters. As such, I was unable to write any entries when my home because I lack the technology necessary for example the voice recognition software in order for me to type at home. Now, in addition to my desktop I now have a laptop which will allow me to write entries from home whenever I go to see the Angels live. So the amount of time between entries whenever I go home should be minimized.

I think that not being able to write for a few weeks was a blessing in disguise. I went home to see the Angels play the Cleveland Indians; a game in which they lost. The Halos went on to lose the series against the Indians who took two out of three from the Angels. The Angels went on the road only to be swept by the Tampa Bay Rays, and lose two out of three games against the Tigers in Detroit. It was quite a free fall and I honestly thought that although they were not mathematically eliminated from postseason contention, I believed at that point that their poor play created a daunting task that they might not overcome. There were a lot of things on my mind at that point regarding my beloved team. I just could not write my thoughts down.

It was really frustrating not to be one who express myself at that point about this team, but like I said, I think it was a blessing in disguise. Since then the Halos took the three-game series against the Mariners, swept the A’s in Oakland and came back home to sweep the Tigers. After all this, the Angels find themselves only six games behind the Texas Rangers for that division lead and one game out of the American League Wild Card. With a big series starting tonight against the A’s in Anaheim and a big series against the Rangers at home with three games against the Royals in Kansas City sandwiched in between these two big series.

If the Angels can only continue their sweeping ways against Oakland and the Rangers and take two out of three from the Royals the Angels could quite possibly being the mix for the American League West division title again. I am well aware that this is a tall order for the Angels but they have demonstrated especially with their play as of late, that they are quite capable of being the team the Angels’ fan base expected them to be. The Rally Monkey must be wide awake with his broom in hand and continue his sweeping ways in order to help the Angels into the postseason.

-ICE

Yu Darvish, Don’t Be Blinded by Albert Pujols’ Shiny New Halo

Let the gamesmanship begin, the Angels and the Texas Rangers started the game of one upmanship during the off-season. The Texas Rangers made it to the World Series two years in a row as the American League representative. The Angels responded by signing Albert Pujols to a 10 year contract, then delivering a crippling blow to the Texas Rangers by swiping their ace C. J. Wilson. The Rangers countered by bidding, winning, and singing Japanese phenom Yu Darvish, and now both teams are playing poker; neither team wanting to give away the hand that they strategically have. Both Wilson and Darvish were scheduled to face off during today’s spring training game. Alas, we will have to wait until the regular season and see the skills of the phenom from the land of the rising Sun, compete against the Halo.

Can it be a Rangers are just a little bit nervous in regards to the power of Pujols and the damage he can do in a hitters park like Rangers Ballpark in Arlington? Are they afraid that Albert Pujols will somehow tarnish Darvish? I think it’s neither, the Rangers are very wisely saving their aces until the games count, they want to win this poker game so they won’t keep their collective poker face on the table for as long as they can. The American League West will come down to a wild West style shootout. Where I believe the Halo war is from the ashes, and once again claim was rightfully theirs; the American League West Championship.

I don’t believe this sparring match will end in the regular season. Don’t be surprised if the American League wild card comes out of the American League West. I don’t believe the Rangers will go away that easy. But then again, neither will the Angels. I strongly believe that the American League West in the American League East are the two strongest divisions in baseball right now, and I don’t think one should pencil in the Yankees or the Red Sox or for that matter the Rangers just yet. The Angels will have a lot to say about how the postseason turns out before this is over. And when we look back at the 2012 season, at least for the Angels and Rangers the games began well before opening day, they began during spring training March 2012.

-ICE

The Royals, King Pujols and Prince Fielder Cause a Shift of Power between the American League and the National League

Here we are, it is late January and this upcoming baseball season has proven to be one of the most exciting and anticipated seasons in recent memory. I recently moved from Southern California to Northern California, I will be here at least for the next year. I went from living 3.5 miles away from Angel Stadium a 10 minute ride, to living 412 miles away in the state capitol. Needless to say I’m going to miss going to the ballpark in the next year, with the exception of going to games when I visit my parents. To top it off, just when the Angels signed Albert Pujols; what luck. As the old saying goes, “you can take the boy out of his home, but you can’t take home out of the boy.” So I think MLB TV and I along with game day audio stream and I will become the very best of friends over the next year. Thank you God for giving Al Gore the ingenuity to invent the Internet! Just kidding, you know I love you, Mr. Vice President.

For those of you who read my previous entry you know have already talked about the impact of Albert Pujols of green dual contract with the Angels, But even more significant Prince Fielder not singing with the Texas Rangers. I know what you’re thinking, and before your imagination runs away with you; let me clarify I would have loved if Prince Fielder came to an agreement with the Rangers. I’m a strong believer in competition, that move would’ve solidified the American League West as the Premier division in all baseball, even surpassing the American League East; the Yankees and the Red Sox would’ve had a run for their money. I do believe however, acquisition of Prince Fielder to the Rangers would’ve given the Rangers a clear advantage over the Angels. Why? Simply because the ballpark at Arlington is a hitters park therefore, given the Prince a real power advantage since he would’ve worked with the shorter field than Pujols in his home park, at Angel Stadium. I know my fellow blogger Steve; will probably have a lot to say on the subject.

Baseball purist say that the National League is the league of real baseball, I don’t disagree however, I enjoy the designated hitter rule I’m okay with getting rid of that rule if and only if coaches decide to actually teach pitchers how to hit. I don’t honestly a pitcher bunt to advance the runner every time he comes up to bat. Let the pitcher hit, I do realize that it’s not worth risking an injury to a star pitcher just because he swung the bat wrong, hence that is why the designated hitter is such a beautiful position. It doesn’t give a pitcher a break it forces him to keep focus, while the same time it allows hitters to hit.

That’s why it is such an advantage for Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder to doing the American League; it essentially extends their respective careers, and only solidifies their Hall of Fame potential. It is a beautiful time to be a baseball fan, let’s get the season started!

-ICE

Will Four Aces and a Wild Card Red Bird Turned Red Angel, Give the Halos the Winning Hand into the World Series?

I am still trying to process everything that has gone on the last 24 hours, the Texas Rangers must have really left a bad taste in our collective mouths for the Angels’ organization to react this way. I guess seeing someone in your division represent the American League in the World Series two years in a row can do that to a team.

Since the big-splash signings of Vladimir Guerrero, Bartolo Colon and Kelvim Escobar before 2004,  Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, John Lackey, Chone Figgins and Paul Konerko and in trade talks for Roy Halladay and Miguel Cabrera; free agents, Carl Crawford, and Cliff Lee.one would think this would be a list of all stars, but they have all been failed acquisitions by the Angels.

Now they have signed both Albert Pujols and C. J. Wilson to long-term contracts essentially changing landscape of not only of the American League West, but of the entire American League. My little brother knocked on my bedroom door this morning and said, “did you hear the news?” Half asleep, I thought he was talking about Wilson. He goes on to say “I think they overpaid, but we have him for 10 years.” Slowly waking up, I thought to myself, “CJ Wilson for 10 years? I only remember the Angels offering five.” Then it dawned on me that he wasn’t talking about CJ Wilson at all, he was talking about Albert Pujols.

 

For those of you that have read my blog on a regular basis, you know I have brought this up as a possibility since the beginning of last year, but I myself didn’t believe that this was actually a possibility especially after the spectacular rise of Mark Trumbo, but truth be told it makes sense both from a team perspective and a business perspective as well.

 

For the last two years, the Texas Rangers have dominated the American League West, with the Angels coming in at a close second, this is a team that was used to trading division titles with the Oakland Athletics. We’ve always had a good team, but never a team that could compete with the American League East, the Yankees, the Rays and the Red Sox, particularly. We needed to make an impact move that would help the team get past the Rangers while at the same time help us compete with the rest of the power divisions in baseball such as the aforementioned American League East.

 

From a business standpoint, it also makes a lot of sense the Angels have always competed with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the Los Angeles area market, with the Dodgers in the middle of an ownership transition this was the perfect opportunity for Angels owner, Arturo Moreno to take advantage of this opportunity. What better way than to ink the best player in all of baseball of the modern era?

 

People are concerned about the length of Albert’s contract, but one of the advantages of Albert Pujols coming over to the American League is towards the back of his contract the Angels can now use them as a designated hitter. Extending his offensive influence on this team.



One has to wonder, what the Angels are now capable of doing, with a rotation that is arguably now one of the best in all of baseball with Jared Weaver, Dan Haren, C. J. Wilson and Ervin Santana. Offensively, we have the guy the heart and soul the offense Torii Hunter, Mark Trumbo, Mike Trout, and hopefully a resurgence from Vernon Wells. We would definitely be a team with a lot of depth, yet limited flexibility.

 

I am also concerned for the accessibility of Angels tickets to the average fan given this shocking news, next year will be my 30th anniversary as a loyal Angels’ fan and I just hope that tickets can still stay somewhat affordable so that future generations can enjoy the game of baseball just as I have over the years. For me it’s no longer a “Winter Wonderland” it now has become “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”.

 

-ICE

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