Results tagged ‘ Tyler Skaggs ’

“We’re Nasty”: a Halo No-Hitter from Heaven

“We’re nasty”, apparently that was Tyler Skaggs’ favorite phrase. The Halos were indeed “nasty” last night by combining for a no-hitter. I mentioned in my previous entry that my brother and I had tickets for last night’s game, together we were able to partake in history something that we will share the rest of our lives.

I find it appropriate that I’m writing this entry on what would’ve been Tyler Skaggs 28th birthday. This may sound cliché, but there was something different about last night. My brother hit traffic on his way home from work and we were not able to leave to the stadium as early as we normally do, so we missed all the pre-game tributes that the Angels’ organization had planned for Skaggs; as such, we were both unaware of everything that was going on at first. The Angels decided to wear the alternate red jersey which Skaggs was fond of, the Angels organization was granted special permission by Major League Baseball to wear Tyler Skaggs’ complete jersey, with both his last name and jersey number. It showed a touching tribute of unity amongst the team. After all, they did lose an individual whom the entire team considered a family member and they certainly acted that way both on and off the field. The first inning finally concluded and the Angels were ahead 7-0 on their way to a complete rout of the Seattle Mariners which ended 13-0, both scores coincidentally reflect his birthday, 7/13 as Mike Trout pointed out in an interview.

 

As a closing tribute to Skaggs the entire team left their number 45 jerseys on the pitcher’s mound at the conclusion of the game, much like fans had left their tributes such as posters, baseball caps, flowers, and candles on the pitcher’s mound of the field replica located just in front of the home plate gate at Angel Stadium.

 

As a fan, the atmosphere was electric, the roar of the crowd, the strength, passion, and dedication that was evident in each of the players’ mannerisms. The fusion of these different factors made it very special; it felt much more electric than a playoff game. For the first time in a long time all these factors were mixed together into one entity, and energy that if I attempt to describe with words, no matter how eloquent, I simply wouldn’t do it justice. Let me suffice to say that I am ecstatic that I was able to share that type of experience with my brother.

 

While I agree that the 11th no-hitter in the Angels’ franchise history is very special, it was the circumstances surrounding the no-hitter that made the experience unique, and will never be duplicated again. As I mentioned before, I have supported this team for over 30 years, and yesterday’s moment was one of the most bittersweet and memorable moments I will cherish for the rest of my life. I am only one of the 43,140 Angels’ fans at Angel Stadium that will share this experience together for the rest of our collective lives. Yes, “we’re nasty” and that nastiness was showcased in the Halo no-hitter from heaven. Rest in paradise, Tyler Skaggs 45.

 

-ICE

Calling All the Angels

I have supported the Angels as a fan for over 30 years. I had the privilege to grow up in the shadow of Angel Stadium. In that time, I have seen the organization go through its ups and downs both on and off the field. Unfortunately, this has also included tragic events for the organization, including the passing of Nick Adenhart and now, Tyler Skaggs.

His passing yesterday of course was sudden and unexpected. At first, I thought it was a cruel joke. I was poring over statistics on the Angels’ Facebook page and verifying the Angels’ lineup for Sunday in preparation for an unrelated entry when the Angels statement on his passing was posted. Since I thought it was a hack at first, I went to cross-reference the news through other sources. There was nothing on the Angels’ official page, nothing on ESPN, and no other references posted the news. Deep inside, I was holding out hope that it was a hacker. Unfortunately, that possible alternative was dispelled from my mind about 10 minutes later when the news started spreading. I am heartbroken. It’s only a few months later after the 10th anniversary of Nick Adenhart’s passing.

Tyler Skaggs was on his way to being the ace of the rotation. The Angels have not had a solid ace since Jered Weaver was in his prime. Skaggs was drafted by the Angels in 2009, the same year of Adenhart’s passing. He worked his way through the minor leagues, and he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks before Skaggs could make is major league debut with the Angels for Dan Haren. He was traded back to the Angels a few years later as a result of the multiple contract debacles of Josh Hamilton, C. J. Wilson, and Vernon Wells. Skaggs rejoined the Angels when he was exchanged for Mark Trumbo.

My brother and I have tickets for the first game when the Halos come back home to Angel Stadium after this current road trip. As part of the Angels pregame rituals, they show a video of Angels’ history with the song “Calling All the Angels” and introduce their starting lineup with the song “Spirit in the Sky.” For the rest of the season and beyond both songs will have a different meaning for the organization, the players, and the Angels’ fans just like they did 10 years ago.

Tyler Skaggs was a phenomenal athlete, however, sometimes we forget that they are people first. Baseball players are just people playing a children’s game. Today, I want to honor Tyler Skaggs the person rather the athlete. Tyler, rest in paradise.

-ICE

MLB 150: 150 Years of Tradition

Tradition, this is what comes to mind when one thinks about the 150th anniversary of Major League Baseball. 150 years, of America’s pastime; the oldest sport in existence in the United States. A sport that has made history, with names like Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, Sandy Koufax, Lou Gehrig, Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, and in time, Mike Trout. These names is what makes a sport standalone as part of the American fabric, it is the only sport in my opinion that one can be of average height and weight and with just pure talent still make an impact.

 

It is this anniversary that makes the season feel special for all the teams and fans of Major League Baseball. This is especially true for the Cincinnati Reds who celebrate their 150th anniversary as a franchise; as they were the first team founded during the creation of Major League Baseball.

 

Just as the season is a milestone for professional baseball, it also is a congruent milestone for the Halos since shortly before the start of the season the Angels signed Mike Trout to a long term contract, essentially, making him an Angel for life. Trout, has decided to follow the path of Tim Salmon and Lou Gehrig, remaining one uniform for his entire career.

 

Mike Trout has begun another stellar season by making a considerable contribution to the team once again. The team however, has been on a roller coaster ride since the beginning of the season starting the season one and six, then going seven and one in the span of eight games, and most recently they were swept by the Texas Rangers in this last series. The Halos are currently 8-10.

 

The Angels have fallen victim to more than their fair share of injuries, and this year is no exception. Injuries include Shohei Ohtani who is still recovering from Tommy John surgery. Justin Upton, Tyler Skaggs, and Andrew Heaney, or among the notable injuries thus far, this is not included Mike Trout, who was out for a few days with strained groin.

 

The starting rotation this year is far from stable, adding to the ups and downs of this metaphorical roller coaster. The Halos must stabilize their trajectory and travel on an even plain. How do they do that? There is one transaction that the Angels can make right now to improve the pitching staff, they can do so by signing Dallas Keuchel. Reports have surfaced that he is willing to sign a one-year deal. This perspective transaction has a potential of shifting the balance of power in the American League West. Dallas Keuchel is a former Houston Astro, as such, he is familiar Astros’ organization; such a contract signing, would help the Angels stabilize their rotation. In turn, allowing them to have more success on the field. What do they have to lose? The Angels must find a way to get off this roller coaster.

 

 

The 150th anniversary of Major League Baseball is a special milestone for the sport. It would be wonderful if the Angels could mark this milestone with a congruent milestone of their own, a World Series championship.

 

-ICE

The Injury Bug Is Feasting on the Halo

One of the wonderful things about being a diehard Angels’ fan for more than 30 years is that one learns to appreciate the good times and the bad; from winning the World Series in 2002 to finish a magical season that started 6-14, two finishing 41 1/2 games out the first place in the American League West in 2001. One win away their American League championship in 1986 after reading the series 3 games to 1, who can forget the infamous one-game tiebreaker game for the American League West championship in 1995 after the Angels had an 11 game division lead on August 3 with one month to go.

All these highs and lows has helped me appreciate when the Angels are doing well, I often mention to my fellow baseball fans that I don’t understand why the modern fan base (those who became fans because of the 2002 World Series championship) are so hard on this team; is it because they never experienced the dark times? Or is it simply easier to follow a team when it’s on top? From 2002 until the end of the 2009 season the Angels have experienced success relative to their history of being such lovable losers.

Now it seems that since 2009 the Angels have been plagued with bites from the injury bug in the past, players such as Tyler Skaggs, Garrett Richards, and Matt Shoemaker, don’t seem to be all healthy at the same time, which has really hindered the potential of this team. All three starting pitchers have dealt with long-term injuries at one point or another. This team is very talented on paper but the injury bug has not allowed them to flourish as a team.

The Halos at one point in the season had a Major League Baseball leading 24 players on the disabled list at the same time, no team, regardless of how much talent they may have can recover from that very easily. Although the Angels have gotten some players back slowly others replace them on the list such as Albert Pujols will likely miss the rest of the season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. It seems like the injury bug loves take a bite out of the halo.

Shohei Ohtani, the young phenom two-way player was originally supposed to be shut down on the pitching side for the rest of the season to allow his grade 2 elbow sprain to heal, the Angels 18 games back of the division leading Houston Astros. There is no reason to risk aggravating his injury any further since the Angels have really nothing to play for being this far back this late in the season. The wildcard at this point seems out of the question as well. The Angels organization, should be taking this time to develop young players that they brought up during the September call ups, and setting the foundation for a better season next year. Shohei Ohtani clearly lost his velocity towards the end of his outing last night. It perplexes me why the Angels would risk making a bad injury situation even worse; granted, Shohei Ohtani may have wanted his opportunity at history since after he is outing this night he is the first major-league baseball player since Babe Ruth in 1919 to pitch 50 innings and hit 15 home runs. “Showtime” has marked his patient history there is no reason to risk his future and that of the organization’s any further.

As a diehard Angels’ fan for over 30 years I have seen my fair share of peaks and valleys with this team, I am a strong believer that the Angels should take the time to regroup and heal, this is not the time for rest decisions, is not the time to allow the injury bug to take one more bite out of the halo.

-ICE

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

 

 

 

The Tale of Two Halos

The Angels have had an interesting season thus far; there are instances when it’s the best of times, yet there are other instances when it’s the worst of times. The Angels have been decimated by injuries at the absolute worst time. A few examples are C. J. Cron, who went down right when his bat was warming up, or Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney both of whom are essential to the Halos’ success. Yet another example is the missing contribution of C. J. Wilson who was unable to throw a single pitch this season because of injury. With three-fifths of the starting rotation out of commission it’s surprising that the Angels have been able to function much less stay together as a team. At one point this season they were down 19 ½ games in their division with little hope of recovery.

In contrast, shortly before the All-Star break the Angels somehow managed to slowly bring it together with contributions of the now injured C.J. Cron. At one point they were able to string together 34 runs over four games before losing the pre All-Star break finale.

Since the All-Star break the Halos have come roaring back. They have yet to lose a game post All-Star break. They swept the division leading Texas Rangers and now move on to face the Houston Astros and continue this hopeful remarkable comeback. The Halos are now 11.5 games back begging the question if they will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline.

It is no secret that the Angels don’t have much of a farm system which necessitates them to be sellers in order to rebuild such a devastated system. If this is indeed the case who would be on the trading block? Matt Shoemaker, who so far has had the best season of anyone in the rotation. Hector Santiago, who is arguably the heart and soul of the pitching staff. He plays the game with an unmatched passion which I like to call “Controlled Chaos.” What impact will Tyler Skaggs have on this team when he is ready to come back from injury? How will the injury to Nick Tropeano impact the rotation?

In contrast would the Halos have the heart to take apart a team that appears to be chemically coming together with an unmatched chemistry that was far delayed? Will they be able to find some way to improve this team and still have enough pieces to exchange? There is an old baseball adage that states you have to give up something to get something. Who will the Angels give up that would both have minimal impact on the team and still get someone of value back in order to help this team succeed?

If the Angels find a way to reconcile this conflicting enigma I believe they have enough to create a solid base to build on for next year, if not, by some miracle make up the division deficit and attempt to contend this season.

The answer lies in resolving the contradicting tales of these two Halos and finding a conclusion to this developing novel which has the potential to become a classic masterpiece of a season. How will the tale end? On one side will this be a reflection on a successful season? Or a tale of how a string of injuries derailed this cast of characters? How long will this novel be? Are we reaching the final pages? Or are there many pages yet to be written? My sincere hope is that it is the latter.

-ICE

Tarnished Halo, Tattered Wings

As a baseball fan, one expects to see their favorite team go through ups and downs, peaks and valleys. During the season a team must learn to pace themselves; in essence they must play the chess game that is baseball, put the chess pieces in the right position in order for a team to attack when the moment is right.

The Angels find themselves in this exact metaphorical scenario described above, they are currently 12 1/2 games out of first place in the American League West, fourth in the division, with 10 players on the disabled list with various injuries. The Halo is tarnished and the wings are tattered. The situation may look bleak to outsiders, yet this may be the perfect time to position the test pieces for an attack.

Starting tonight the Halos play their next 13 games against division rivals, which involves two teams that are sub .500 the Oakland A’s and the Houston Astros. This may be the perfect time for the team to strike as there are high hopes that the contribution of the newest Angel, Tim Lincecum, will give this team a much needed lift in the pitching rotation with three-fifths of the starting rotation on the 60-day disabled list with long-term injuries. Tyler Skaggs who was expected back within the near future has hit a snag in his rehabilitation forcing the Halos to find other more creative options.

It is well-known among baseball’s purest that the key to a successful team is pitching, something that the Angels clearly do not have at this moment. It is looking highly unlikely that C.J. Wilson will be able to make a meaningful impact this season due to the setbacks that he has had; based on the fact that this is the final year of his multi-million dollar contract it is very doubtful that he will have a meaningful impact for the Halos.

Can this team stay consistent for this 13 game stretch? It all depends if this team can come together at the right moments. It is not time yet to worry about the division leader, the Texas Rangers, since they have been on fire and look unstoppable at the moment; but, they too will fall into a valley that may allow the Halos to gain some ground. If the Angels can use this 13 game stretch to their advantage, we may have an interesting division race after the All-Star break, but in order to do so, the Halos must shine again and their wings must heal if all this is to come to fruition.

-ICE

It Is Time to Get OctobeRED!

The hunt for a red October is here, the Angels are making their postseason push, Their 96 wins are the best in baseball. Halo dreams are running rampant amongst the fans, dreams that this team will win and bring their second World Series title to Anaheim.

Not all the dreams came to, however, the Halos must run the table in order to break the franchise record for wins. At this point, that is a minor accomplishment compared to what’s currently at stake. Now that the Angels have won the American League championship, they can shift their attention from the Oakland Athletics to the Baltimore Orioles with the goal of clinching home-field advantage throughout the postseason, the magic number is down to four, if the Angels can indeed accomplish this goal, the entire postseason including the World Series by virtue of the American League winning the 2014 All-Star game runs through Anaheim; as long as the Angels can stay alive in the playoffs.

There is some concern however, with the injuries to Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs and the shortcomings of C. J. Wilson, the Angels are shorthanded and will have to rely on a strong bullpen to make a deep push this postseason. It can be done, if one recalls the 2002 World Series team the Angels did not have a stellar starting rotation to speak of, they relied on the bullpen; and that’s what is going to happen again this year.

The time has come to focus, celebrate, relax, and prepare; it is time to get OctobeRED! Go Angels!

-ICE

Stomper Was Ahead Early, However the Rally Monkey Is Winning the Championship Rounds

There is simply nothing like the battle between the Angels and the A’s, the battle between California’s two American League franchises and founding members of the American League West. The A’s have an 8-6 season series lead, however the Angels are three games ahead in the American League West.

Before yesterday’s victory over the A’s the Angels had 80 wins, the first team to 80 wins this season, which is a perfect complement to the best record in baseball. At that point of their eightieth win the Halos were only one game behind the 2008 team and which had 81 wins in the same time span. The 2008 team netted 100 wins, the best record in franchise history.

A furious division battle does not come without its casualties, both Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs are out for the season. For the Athletics, Coco Crisp went down with an apparent neck injury last night while trying to rob a home run. The Angels being the classy organization that they are, did not initiate the home run fireworks that are customary as a result of the opponent’s injury.

I can not underscore the importance of creating distance now during this four-game series with only two more off days the entire season, the Angels need to create as much distance as possible in order to create a cushion to fall back on should things become even more interesting. This season is much different than the 2002 season which was the last time these two teams directly competed against each other for a postseason berth. The new wild card format allows the creation of a sudden death game which would be unfortunate should one of these two teams find themselves on the losing end, thereby magnifying the importance of winning the division.

With 16 of the 19 season meetings between these two foes in the history books, a gets more interesting every passing game, these two teams are the class of the division and the class of baseball. I may have a strong dislike for Oakland, but I wouldn’t want to be battling with any other team in baseball. My hatred is a result of the respect I have for the Oakland Athletics organization and their fans. May the best team win, hopefully the team wears red.

-ICE

An Extraordinary Win, An Extraordinary Loss

Following sports is like riding a roller coaster, a fan experiences indescribable highs and unbearable lows. This is the beauty and the curse of sports, the promise of what can be, and disappointment of what could have been. This is especially true in baseball, the excitement of a pennant race is like no other feeling that any other sport can produce.

The team with the best record in baseball, the Angels, increased their lead on the Oakland Athletics to 1 1/2 games. The Halos’ record now stands at 75-50, the promise is alive and well however it took a major blow today, with the loss of Garrett Richards. He suffered a left knee injury during the second inning of today’s game. Richards had to be carted off the field in a stretcher; and although the exact extent of his knee injury is not known as of yet, it is speculated that he will miss the remainder of the season.

Richards was in the middle of producing a spectacular season, his pitching performances were being talked about among the best in baseball, He was making a very strong case for the Cy Young Award in the American League. He was one of the most pleasant surprises of the entire season. Hopefully Richards can completely recover from his injury and return to display the dominance that he was showing the season in the future.

The loss of Richards further diminished an already thin starting rotation, Skaggs is already out with an elbow injury and won’t return until the 2016 season due to Tommy John surgery. C. J. Wilson is also struggling since his return from injury. It will be interesting to see where the Angels go from here.

Pitching does win championships, believe it or not, I do see some silver lining in all this chaos. Yes, the loss of Richards is devastating, there is no doubt about that. However Richards only has an impact on the game once every five days, it’s time for the offense to be the run producing machine that we all know it can be, as well as it is time for the rest of the pitching staff whether they are in the majors or the minors to step up. Now that we have a stronger bullpen compared to the past bullpens that the Angels have had in recent years, I really do not think that’s an unreasonable expectation. The September call ups are crucial to resolving this unexpected situation. This could have been much worse, we could have lost a position player that impacts the game every day.

The Angels have the best record in baseball, they are atop of the American League West, they Halos are being called upon to prove that none of these regular season accolades matter, they must rise above the adversity and the unfortunate situation and prove that they actually have the heart of a champion.

-ICE

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