Results tagged ‘ Stolen Bases ’

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

 

 

 

Like Mike, If I Could Be Like Mike

In all sports there are athletes, and there are phenoms, a phenom is that special player that takes his or her respective sport by storm and immediately makes an impact. Mike Trout is indeed a phenom. On April 17, 2015 Trout became the youngest player in Major League Baseball history to reach 100 home runs in 100 stolen bases. I am reminded of a song in an advertisement back in 1991 by Gatorade, a commercial that featured Michael Jordan shortly after the Chicago Bulls beat my Lakers; as the Chicago Bulls captured their first ever NBA title. The jingle went something like this:

“Sometimes I dream
That he is me
You’ve got to see that’s how I dream to be
I dream I move, I dream I groove
Like Mike
If I could Be Like Mike”

Mike Trout could be considered by many, as this generations’ “Mike” this young 23-year-old has brought excitement to the Halos’ franchise. Children of my generation idolized Michael Jordan, I imagine that young baseball players idolize Mike Trout.

After taking two of three from the Mariners, being swept by the Royals, and taking two of three from the Rangers; the Angels are positioning themselves to take two of three from the Astros with a win tomorrow. Garrett Richards makes his return to the Angels’ starting rotation after suffering a season-ending ankle injury last year. I am anxiously awaiting his return especially after a shaky start by Weaver and Wilson. Aside from the sweep by the Kansas City Royals the Angels have started this season well. Hopefully the addition of Richards can greatly improve this team.

As the Halos make their way home after tomorrow’s game, I can’t help but wonder what other milestones and achievements will Angels’ fans be witness to, this season?

-ICE

“Houston, We Have a Problem”

After a sweep of the Seattle Mariners and the Kansas City Royals as part of an eight-game win streak, and when it all seemed to finally becoming together, the cruel hand of reality Has once again grounded this underachieving Angels team.

They were swept by the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in the first half of the Freeway series, when the scenery switched back to Angel Stadium for the second half of the Freeway series; the Angels swept the Dodgers thereby increasing their domination over the Dodgers at Angel Stadium to 13-6 the best home record against any one team in all of Major League Baseball since the inception of inter-league play in the regular-season. After that, they were swept by the Astros, and then split the two-game series versus the Cubs, resulting in a 3-5 home stand.

How does one make it to the World Series? The formula is pretty simple, win home series, try to win at least half of the road series, and finally and I believe most importantly, defeat the teams in your own division. Unfortunately the Angels have not been able to use this formula to their advantage despite the plethora of talent on this roster.

The series’ that the Halos have been able to win has been minimal, and their division record has not been very good. This has especially been the case with the Houston Astros, the Angels are 3-6 this season against the Astros. When the Astros joined the American League West in the beginning of this year as part of Major League Baseball realignment, the powerhouses in the division principally the Angels, the Athletics, and the Rangers were widely expected to feast on the Astros in order to bolster their overall record and improve their chances of making the postseason. Two of the three teams mentioned have taken advantage of this circumstance and for reasons I cannot explain, the Angels are not one of those teams.

The Halos have the talent, but Mike Scioscia in my opinion refuses to explore new options other than what he believes to be the road to victory. At this point of the season if the formula does not work Mr. Scioscia, then you must change it!

Here are a few suggestions, move Mike Trout to the leadoff spot, put Josh Hamilton second so he can see more fastballs with Albert Pujols hitting behind him. Similar to the way Torii Hunter was used last year, this strategy increased Hunter’s production, so much so that the Detroit Tigers are utilizing him in the same manner.

The second step, is to take advantage of base running pressure, one can do this by putting Peter Bourjos (when he comes off the disabled list) or J. B. Schuck and Erick Aybar in the eight and nine hole respectively; that way the Halos have speed on the bases so when the lineup turns over, the power hitters can take advantage of the opposing pitchers being off balance. In effect playing what Scioscia was so successful at one time, small ball. The Angels’ speedsters must be allowed to take calculated risks and steel more bases than they currently are. The worse that could happen is they lose the game, but aren’t they already doing that? So they have nothing to lose except keeping the opposing team off balance.

The Angels have a steep mountain to climb, I still hold out hope that they can do it. If they are indeed unsuccessful and don’t make the playoffs this year, I sincerely hope that the right changes are made, in order for this team to take advantage of the spectacular superstar talent they have on this roster. What solutions would you propose for this team?

-ICE

The Angels Use the Home Run Boom to Dodge the Broom

The Angels avoided the sweep by the Oakland Athletics with the Home Run ball. As unbelievable as it may seem the Angels are off to an even worse start than they were last year. Many, including myself didn’t believe that was possible. What’s wrong? It starts with the Angels’ pitching, both the starting rotation and bullpen. The Halos can’t hold a lead. Their team ERA is currently 4.91 this is the source of the Angels inability to succeed at this point of the season. Despite 19 runs scored in the series including seven Home Runs by the Angels’ offense.

Sure, the Angels have a plethora of players on the disabled list, but it’s not like this team hasn’t been competitive. The pitching staff at the very least should be able to take advantage of the offensive production and keep afloat during games. Hanson and Blanton have been especially disappointing.

Given the circumstances how do the Angels stay afloat? Well, aside from the fact that they need to get better pitching which is very difficult to do right now, since their farm system is relatively dry. I believe they can offset the pitching staff’s poor performance by increasing base-running pressure that historically has been the Angels’ trademark. Mike Trout needs to return to the lead-off spot, that will allow him to steal bases more often. the Angels can put pressure on the base paths, that in turn puts the opposing pitcher on his toes, consequently making it more likely for the pitcher to make a mistake thus, increasing the likelihood of pitching mistakes which the offense can then take advantage of in order to offset the pitching staff’s shortcomings; essentially temporarily creating defense by creating offensive production and pressure. The Angels are simply not taking advantage of their speed right now, which is unfortunate.

I’m sure Arturo Moreno is quite frustrated, I also share his frustration. The lone bright spot is Mark Trumbo who homered in all three games in the Oakland series and two of four games played against the Baltimore Orioles.

The Angels are waiting for their players to come off the disabled list, the question then becomes can the Angels contend once they are at full strength? Unless Josh Hamilton improves his overall performance and the Angels do something major to improve the overall pitching performance, given the way this team is currently constructed; the answer is unfortunately no.

The proof? The Angels have played 10 series so far, and only won 2; they are 2-8 in series this season. They swept the Detroit Tigers and won two out of three against the Houston Astros.

It is my hope that the Angels find themselves, compete and contend to their potential and ability, one thing remains true no, matter what happens; I will always be a diehard Angels’ fanatic. There will be brighter days ahead. Go Angels!

-ICE

Monkeys and Fish Are Part of the Angels’ Tradition and Legacy

As a fan, it is difficult if not near impossible to lose faith in one’s team. Such is the case for the Angels this year; with 10 games to play they find themselves only three games out of the American League Wild Card play in game due to the loss of the Oakland Athletics to the New York Yankees.

The Angels are contending until the end. The play of Jared Weaver, Zack Greinke, Albert Pujols, and Torii Hunter are influential factors in the success of the Halos. With the win yesterday the Angels secured themselves a winning season no matter the outcome; whether they make the postseason or not.

Monkeys and Fish have become part of the Angels’ tradition and legacy. Who can forget the influence of the Rally Monkey during the 2002 World Series run. The Angels led the major leagues in comeback wins. The Rally Monkey supplied Angels’ fans with energy, and the Angels team fed off the energy that ultimately helped them win the 2002 World Series. 2002 was also a memorable year for Tim Salmon, “Mr. Angel” or as Angels’ fans lovingly refer to him “The King Fish” the only Angel in team history to spend his entire career in Anaheim. The Angels success has been often predicated and associated with different species of fish.

As stated above there are many players who are influential in the Angels success this season. None more than Angels rookie Mike Trout who should easily win the American League Rookie of the Year, and depending on whether the Angels make the playoffs he should be in consideration for the American League Most Valuable Player award. The description as Trout as a phenom is very accurate, his phenomenal numbers include a .326 Batting Average, 28 Home Runs, 78 Runs Batted in, 46 Stolen Bases and a .395 On-Base Percentage. Phenomenal numbers by any stretch of the imagination, for a rookie or a veteran.

I sincerely hope the Angels re-sign veteran Torii Hunter regardless of the log jam in the Angels’ outfield. He is the heart and soul of this team, and deserves is a generally shot at a World Series championship. He is definitely interested in returning to the team; and I for one, would love to have him back. He has a career-high .305 Batting Average with 84 Runs Batted in, and he is also a great humanitarian and I am proud to have him as a member of the Angels. He is also one of my personal all-time persons.

With 10 games to play the Angels are in the thick of the postseason race, let’s hope my next post is one of us celebratory nature, rather than one that looks forward to the 2013 season.

-ICE

Basking in the Halo Heat: A Season of Surprises in the American League West

This season is starting to get interesting, the Angels took the rubber game from the Texas Rangers beating them from our 7-4. Both teams still have two face each other 10 more times this season so it should be interesting.

The Rangers starter this is hot. They seem to be on fire during the months of April and May but have since then cooled off. Especially Josh Hamilton other teams seem to have adjusted to his strengths. Yesterday the Angels pitching staff very rarely pitched to Hamilton inside, Hamilton’s aggressive swings did the rest.

The Angels on the other hand have gone in the opposite direction they still trail the Rangers by five games however everything seems to be clicking together especially the TNT boys (Trumbo and Trout) this explosion by the offense has a lot to do with the detonation of TNT.

Here are some of the effects that the detonation of TNT has had on the Angels:

Bringing the Halo Heat

6-14 Angels’ record before Mike Trout was called up on April 28.

46-30 Angels’ record since April 28, the second-best record in baseball during that span.

.352 Trout’s batting average, best in the American League.

.622 Mark Trumbo’s slugging percentage, best in the AL.

.404 Trout’s on-base percentage, third in the AL.

26 Home runs hit by Trumbo, fourth- most in the AL.

30 Stolen bases for Trout, most in the AL. He’s only been caught three times.

The numbers may be dated by a day or two, but one gets the idea. The pitching is still a little suspect, but it’s my hope as well as I think it is a hope of every Angels’ fan that are pitching problems can be somewhat resolved by a trade before the trading deadline July 31.

I am thoroughly impressed by the Oakland Athletics who somehow have seemed to get themselves back in the American League West race they currently sit in third place only a half-game behind the Angels, Billy Beane still has some magic left in that hat of his; “Money Ball” indeed, Stomper should be proud.

Ladies and gentlemen, it seems that the Elephant has joined the Angel and the Ranger in staking its claim to the American League West crown, the dogfights of summer have truly begun.

-ICE

6-14, World Series déjà vu from 2002?

There is not a lot to say tonight, the Angels lost again. The Angels now have an identical record as they did in 2002 when they won the World Series. With a couple of key differences, they have much more talent than they did in 2002 mainly Albert Pujols, Torii Hunter, and Mark Trumbo among others.

Heads are starting to roll; Bobby Abreu was released by the Angels today, and Mike Trout was called up to take his place. The 38-year-old two-time All-Star had been relegated to part-time duty and was batting .208 in 24 at-bats. He is a lifetime .293 hitter with 2,389 hits, 557 doubles, 284 home runs, 1,330 RBI and 393 stolen bases. He has played for Houston, Philadelphia, the Yankees and the Angels.

With a call up of Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos seems to be the odd man out. As I mentioned in my previous entry, with Trout the Angels don’t lose anything defensively; and they gain a better bat. If Trout bats lead-off in the position it might be the spark that Angels need to turn their season around.

-ICE

%d bloggers like this: