Results tagged ‘ Twins ’

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

 

 

 

A Perfect Storm of Circumstances Creates Franchise Defining Moments for the Angels Organization

 

There are specific moments in the history of a sports franchise that defines the direction and the legacy of the franchise decides to pursue. The moment one of sports’ fan can look back and say “that was the moment that changed everything for this franchise.” Good or bad, those moments are cherished and learned from.

 

The Halos have encountered two such moments; the first, Albert Pujols joined the 600 home run club. He hit the 600th home run of his career on Saturday, June 3, 2017 against the Minnesota Twins, off of former Angel, Ervin Santana. It was a historical home run for the reason previously stated. However, it was also history making since “the Machine” is the first player in Major League Baseball history to hit number 600 as a grand slam home run. He is also the first foreign-born player (the Dominican Republic) to join this exclusive club. For me, it was personally special because he hit it on what we call in Mexico my Santo (my saint day) a day of St. Isaac according to the Mexican calendar. Albert definitely deserves his place in history as a future Hall of Famer, although it would be nice for the Angels’ fan base to see him win a few rings with the Halos.

 

Albert Pujols is of course not the only superstar the Angels have; they also have Mike Trout, a young and very talented player. Mike Trout is out with an injury for the first time in his career. He will be out of the lineup 6 to 8 weeks from the time of his injury. I believe however, this is a mixed blessing for the Angels that the organization must take advantage of and learned from. The Angels franchise has been spoiled the last few years, they benefit from the talents of this young phenom. Since this is Trout’s first time on the disabled list since being called up to the major leagues, this provides a unique opportunity for the Angels to see what the game would be like without Trout if he were ever lost to free agency. Hopefully this little preview will underscore the importance of building around the face of the franchise.

 

If the Angels don’t learn from this mixed blessing, this may be the defining moment that determines the future direction of this wonderful franchise; The moment, which an Angels’ fan looks back and says, “that was the moment that changed everything for this franchise.”

 

-ICE

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

 

A Perfect Sweep, Not so Perfect Team

I think the World Cup has everybody distracted, at least that’s my case; but now I’m back and ready to talk about baseball again. The Angels are coming off a perfect home stand with a sweep of the Rangers and a sweep of the Twins. The Angels themselves have been far from perfect. They have lost nine games when leading in the seventh inning or later, as well as 12 blown saves this season so far.

The Angels traded Ernesto Frieri to the Pirates for Jason Grilli in order to try to address the bullpen issues. I myself wasn’t ready to give up on Ernesto, yes he has been responsible for some of the blown saves this season, however, he still seem to do well if he pitched as middle reliever with less pressure he seemed to perform better. I haven’t seen Jason pitch so I can’t comment on him just yet. But I’m sure either way I will reflect on him when the time is appropriate.

Ernesto is no worse than Francisco Rodriguez was when he was a closer. Both men are unpredictable and both men seem to do better as middle relievers. The Halos Would have been better served to wait a little bit more for Ernesto to come around just as they did for Rodriguez a few years ago.

The Angels might not be perfect just yet, however they have been getting better with the passage of each game. They may have some flaws, but the positives cannot be overlooked. They have an identical record to the Oakland A’s of 7-3 over the last 10 games, and are currently only 4 1/2 back. If they can to shore up the bullpen issues, they will be just fine.

-ICE

Stomper Is Ahead of the Rally Monkey on the Score Cards

Baseball is a lot like boxing, the longer a fight goes, the later rounds become exponentially important. The American League West division race is much like a boxing match, especially the second half of the season where less than half the games are left. I mentioned in a previous entry a strong start coming out of the All-Star break would be especially important for the Angels. I said that numbers now matter.

The Angels started off strong by taking two of three from the Oakland A’s, the Halos needed to sweep the A’s in Anaheim and in Oakland in my opinion, in order to make any sort of meaningful progress in the division race. After losing ground by dropping the last game of the series against the A’s at Angel Stadium, then the Angels dropped two out of three against the Minnesota Twins. To add to the problem, the Angels have lost two out of four in the current series against Oakland at the Oakland Coliseum. The best they can hope for is a series split by winning tomorrow’s game.

Yes, baseball can be like a boxing match at times, it is quite possible that the Angels will receive a knockout blow by possibly losing Albert Pujols for the rest of the season due to his ongoing condition of plantar fasciitis. He left Oakland and returned to Southern California in order for doctors to run more tests, dare I say it doesn’t look good. He may have to go on the Disabled List for the rest of the season.

I can’t help but question the thought process that led to the poor handling of the situation. The team knew that this injury would be an ongoing problem; they should have rested number five, early during the start of the season. I realize he is a competitor, but I also realize that the Angels have invested a lot of money into his contract for him only to be able to play at half strength. The Angels knew that they would meet him late in the stretch run, and I question why they didn’t act accordingly. Now because of what I consider to be a poor decision, the team and their fan base are suffering the consequences.

I do realize that the Angels have their share of injuries, mainly Jason Vargas, however Albert is a big part of the Angels’ future plans and the team is not acting like it. I take solace in that history can repeat itself. The Halos must ironically take a page out of last year’s Oakland A’s playbook. If I recall, the Oakland A’s were in a similar position this time last year and won the division championship. At the very least the Angels must concentrate on winning one of the two wild-card spots and make a playoff push that way. They did that in 2002, and we all know what resulted. The Angels have the championship pedigree, but like any true champion they must come back in the later rounds and when the fight.

-ICE

Related Articles: http://angels.mlblogs.com/2013/07/13/the-symphony-of-the-numbers-game
http://angels.mlblogs.com/2013/04/12/stomper-mercilessly-stomps-out-the-rally-monkey-then-swept-him-away
http://www.latimes.com/sports/sportsnow/la-sp-sn-angels-albert-pujols-aggravates-foot-injury-20130727,0,612262.story

Update: Albert Pujols will likely miss the rest of the 2013 season

http://www.latimes.com/sports/baseball/mlb/angels/la-sp-0729-angels-athletics-20130729,0,4351670.story

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 Are Starting to Create a Buzz Just As I Acquire My Bee Wings

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My trip home is sadly coming to an end, I head back To the State capitol tomorrow morning. I was able to catch two games while I was home, against the new arrivals to the American League West, the Houston Astros; and the forever hated rival the Oakland Athletics. After a sweep by the A’s, they lost the series against the Twins in Minnesota (there is one more game to be played in Minnesota since the last game of the series was postponed) the Angels came home to take two out of three from the Houston Astros and unbelievably sweept the Detroit Tigers.

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Yoenis Céspedes preparing for a plate appearance.

Yoenis Céspedes preparing for a plate appearance.

Albert Pujols in his batting stance at Home Plate.

Albert Pujols in his batting stance at Home Plate.

The Angels are on quite a turnaround, they outscored the Tigers 22-4 in the three-game series. I’m especially impressed by the youngsters; relief pitcher Michael Roth who was promoted from Double-A affiliate the Arkansas Travelers directly to the major league squad; he is holding his own quite well. Luis Jimenez who was promoted from Triple-A Bees and is doing quite well at third base, and last but certainly not least; Mike Trout hit his first career grand slam on Saturday afternoon in the 10-0 shellacking of Detroit Tigers.

Leaving home for me is bittersweet, first and foremost I miss my family tremendously, and it is always hard to be away from home especially during baseball season. Unlike when I lived in the Bay Area when I could see the Angels every time they played the Oakland Athletics, Sacramento does not have a major league team. Sacramento is the home of the Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland A’s; the Sacramento River Cats. I hope that I’m able to catch a few games when they play the Salt Lake City Bees that way, I am at least able to see future Angels play the game that I love.

Tonight begins a “Texas sized” series against the Texas Rangers, it is my hope that the Angels are able to continue their winning ways and slowly but surely climb into the upper echelons of the American League West.

It is my sincere hope that the Angels turn it around, so the next time I come home, which will be soon; I’m able to enjoy the sweet nectar that is brought when the Angels play to their potential, and “light up the Halo!”

-ICE

The Sleeping Giant with a Halo Has Awoken

Ladies and gentlemen, the giant silver back gorilla on the back of Albert Pujols has officially left the building! He hit his first Home Run today against the Toronto Blue Jays. This couldn’t have come at a better time, the Texas Rangers have started to hit what appears to be a natural slump. If Pujols can stay on track along with what the media is dubbing to be TNT (Trumbo and Trout) hitting for power the Angels should be just fine. Combine that with the acquisition of Ernesto Frieri who was acquired from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Alexi Amarista and Minor League right handed pitcher, the seven footer Donn Roach.

This is the sleeping giant that the Angels, its fan base, the franchise, and the baseball community was expecting. With the Texas Rangers losing today in a prospective win by the Angels (the game is still in progress with the Angels leading up to this point) the Angels can pull within 6 1/2 games of the Rangers by the end of the day.

The Angels have a road trip coming up against the struggling Minnesota Twins and “the showdown at sundown in Arlington” against the Rangers this upcoming weekend. This series is highlighted by a C. J. Wilson versus Yu Darvish who in twist of irony is facing a very pitcher that he replaced in the Texas rotation. If things go well for the Angels, slice this deficit significantly. The sleeping giant has awakened, the question now becomes can the giant stay awake long enough to win the World Series?

-ICE

Jared Weaver “Weaves” a No-Hitter

Yesterday morning I was formulating a blog entry that I was supposed to write before last night’s game. I was going to talk about mainly about the perceived turnaround that the Angels have been making, as well as a missed opportunity that I believe the Angels squandered with Jorge Cantú who chose to opt out of his contract because the Angels decided not to use him at the major league level.

However all that went out the window last night because Jared Weaver masterfully orchestrated a no-hitter! The first one at home since the combined no-hitter of Mike Witt and Mark Langston. It is also the second no-hitter in two consecutive years going back to last year when Ervin Santana produced a no-hitter against Cleveland last summer in Cleveland. This time the victim was the Minnesota Twins.

I believe that this one however in my eyes is much more special, for starters Jared Weaver is a local kid. He grew up a Dodgers’ fan went to a local university, he attended Long Beach State, he was also coached by his father during his formative Little League years so it was only fitting that his father, his mother, and his wife were present during this history making event. The no-hitter was in doubt to the very end, until the last fly ball of the ninth inning was caught by Torii Hunter to cement history. It’s a great time to be an Angels’ fan, we recently have hosted an All-Star game, celebrated our 50th anniversary, and now deservedly so we are celebrating a special player in Jared Weaver.

Congratulations to Jared Weaver, his friends and family, and the Angels fan base; together, we witnessed history, for those of you that missed it, I’ve included links to the videos provided courtesy of Major League Baseball and both my Facebook and Twitter feeds, enjoy! Go Angels!

-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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