Results tagged ‘ Yankees ’

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

 

 

 

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 Flickering Halo

It is often said that baseball is a marathon, not a sprint; others say, you can’t win it in April, but you can lose it in April. One describes patience, while the other describes focus and urgency. I believe, that there is a balance between the two perspectives, however patience can only be afforded during the first month and a half of the season in order not to rely on other teams collapsing the second half of the season and thus, a given team is able to control their own playoff destiny.

Through 58 games, the Angels are 29-29 an even .500, with the 59th game in progress. They are 4 1/2 games back of the surprising Houston Astros, in the American League West, Houston is a team that seems to be leaving orbit and coming back to earth, the Astros have lost six straight.

The Halo is flickering, sometimes it is very bright, as evident by a sweep of the Detroit Tigers at Angel Stadium, and sometimes the Halo is completely dark, as the Angels were swept by the Yankees in New York. The Halos also lost two out of three games to The Tampa Bay Rays. The series with the Rays was sandwiched in between the two appearances of the broom.

Why is a team that is so talented on paper only .500? Some site the lack of production from the offense since all but two of the combined 32 home runs between Albert Pujols and Mike Trout have been solo home runs.

While that is absolutely true, I would point to something else, if one juxtaposes the runs scored versus runs allowed, one sees the issue. So far this season, coming into today’s game, the Angels as a team have scored 233 runs; the Angels pitching staff as a whole has allowed 232 runs this includes unearned runs. This is a net difference of only +1 run. To me, this explains a lot, the Angels don’t need to add another bat they simply need to shore up their pitching and defense. It doesn’t really matter if this team can average 25 runs a game if the opponent can score 26. A big bat wouldn’t make much of a difference.

What can be done? Barring a major successful blockbuster trade, not much can be done. However, the Angels do have Andrew Heaney in the farm system, he is currently in AAA with the Salt Lake City Bees. He has a 6-2 record with a 4.39 Earned Run Average, he might not be ready for the majors just yet, but he is an option to improve the pitching staff.

There are 102 games left in the season, including the game in progress, and while that is true that baseball is a marathon, the Angels need to get themselves within striking distance of leadership of the division very soon.

-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 Angels No Longer Have a Need for Wishing Wells

The Angels no longer have a need for wishing wells, as in wishing that Vernon Wells improves. Wells was sent to the New York Yankees today. In exchange, the Angels received two low-level prospects in 21-year-old outfielder Exicardo Cayones (.228 with 15 RBIs in Class A last year) and 24-year-old lefty Kramer Sneed (0-7 with a 5.37 ERA).

The Yankees will pay $13.9 million dollars of the $42 million dollars owed to Wells over the next two years. That may not seem like much given the size of the contract however, if one takes a moment to think about it the Angels now have $13.9 million dollars to spend on a player that will produce, at this point, preferably a pitcher; additionally this now opens up a roster spot for someone who is better equipped to help the Angels. Additionally, the two minor leaguers/prospects will help replenish the Halos’ farm system.

I wish Vernon Wells well in his future endeavors, sometimes a change of scenery can help a player return to form. The dimensions at Yankee Stadium should help improve his offensive production especially to right-field. Thank you Yankees, for the two prospects and the $13.9 million dollar gift.

-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/

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

The Big White Elephant in the Room

The Tampa Bay Rays took two out of three from the Angels this past weekend. I’m not going to include any statistics or try to explain away why the Angels lost, except for maybe one statistic that jumps out. The Angels have gone the last 22 innings without scoring a run. Despite a good outing by Zack Greinke in his Angels’ debut.

The dog fights of summer have really begun, this was supposed to be a two team race between the Angels and the Rangers. After the Angels signed then free agent Albert Pujols, the Rangers responded by signing Yu Darvish. The chest game between these two teams has gone on since this past off-season, with the Rangers coming off of two straight World Series appearances and being one strike away from winning the championship. The Rangers are doing everything they can to get back to the World Series, while the Angels are trying to reclaim the American League West as their own; much like he did last decade training titles with the Oakland Athletics. The Angels are also trying to make it back to the World Series on their 10th anniversary since claiming the 2002 World Series Championship.

The Oakland Athletics, all I can say is wow! Somehow they have managed to slip into second place ahead of the Angels by a half-game. They’ve only lost four games in the month of July, including a sweep of the New York Yankees in recent weeks. They have unexpectedly become relevant in the American League West. Can they keep it up? Who knows, the Angels are used to the battles with the A’s and the Rangers are used to the battles with the Angels; can the Rangers really handle fending off two teams? While the Angels are used to dealing with both the Athletics and the Rangers. So it is my belief that the Angels would have the upper hand in this scenario.

Tomorrow the Angels begin a big four-game series with the Rangers in Arlington, I wonder who Athletics’ fans will be pulling for in the upcoming series? On the one hand, they wouldn’t want the arch-rival Angels to get ahead of them in the standings given our history, but then again, they can ill afford the Rangers pulling away any further in the division lead. This should be very, very interesting.

For years now the American League West hasn’t gotten the respect it deserves, whether one calls it East Coast biased, or otherwise I guess the West Coast games are on too late for the sportswriters and they need their sleep since most of the time they are too busy covering the East Coast teams.

The situation has become very exciting, the Athletics have made it exciting for baseball fans outside this division to want to pay attention. For fans like me who have followed this division for as long as I can remember, it’s just another day at the ballpark. Long live the beauty of baseball!

-ICE

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, No, It’s a Halo Over Round One of the Freeway Series

“You can put a halo over this one!” That was the beautiful yet familiar call by our beloved Angels’ radio play-by-play announcer Terry Smith, and was he ever right; the Angels took two out of three from the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in round one of the Freeway Series. All three games were decided in the very late innings by two very competitive and proud teams.

Dodger Stadium was rocking in Los Angeles as I’m sure Angel Stadium will be rocking in Anaheim later this month. One can argue that there are six games a year for both teams that are neutral site games since regardless of where they play the crowd in attendance seems to be split evenly among the two teams. “Let’s go Dodgers!” Was being drowned out by “Let’s Go Angels!” And vice versa the entire series and expect nothing less when the Dodgers visit Angel Stadium later this month.

Why not dream it? A Freeway Series in the World Series later this year or in the near future. Think about it, why not? There’s already been a Subway Series between the New York Mets and the New York Yankees and a Bay Bridge Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics. So why not add a Freeway Series to that list?

The Dodgers are rejuvenated since Magic Johnson purchased them earlier this year. The Dodgers’ fan base has also been re-energized and a face-off between Jared Weaver and Clayton Kershaw would be epic. This past series was just a little taste of what these two teams who do this area in a World Series. Most of my family lives in East Los Angeles so it only natural that they are Dodgers’ fans, I along with my siblings grew up not too far from Anaheim so it’s only natural that we grew up Angels’ fans. You can imagine what family visits are like, especially during baseball season.

Interleague play is great, but the Freeway Series magnifies it into unimaginable levels. The Dodgers forget about their little brother sometimes, but I think the Angels have long since outgrown out of big brothers shadow and now it is the Dodgers who try to match us. Go Angels!

-ICE

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