Friday, June 4, 2010
What a Long, Strange Trip it's Been.
Since I stopped writing a few weeks ago, the Angels had been a .500 club, give a game or two here and there. But regardless of record, they always looked like the were a team that was struggling to stay in ballgames, even with below average clubs, like Seattle, St. Louis and the ChiSox. However, they began to turn their season around on the unlikeliest of events. When coming into home plate to celebrate a walk-off Grand Slam last Saturday against the M's, Kendry Morales landed funny coming down from a jump, breaking bones in his leg. He will be fine, but will be out, more than likely, for the rest of the season from surgery. Some doctors predicted a September return, but I doubt it.
Oddly enough, however, the Angels seems to use this to spark a remarkable run over the last 5 games. Turning around and hitting ANOTHER walk-off homer on Sunday, this time by the "Other Howard", who celebrated a little more conservatively. Then taking 3 of 4 in Kansas City, the first stop in yet another long Halo road trip.
Could it just be that the Angels got lucky, and played a really bad team? Its possible. But at the same time, they seemed to have a spark. Its hard to explain, but it almost seems like this team rallies around tragedy. I don't want to sound morbid in the least, here, but I honestly have my doubts that this team would have won the West last year if it wasn't for the tragic death of Nick Adenhart. This team, on paper, was just as good as last years team, especially when you figure in that they were getting all five starting pitchers for the whole season. But they started off slow, and it seemed like whenever we got close to the Rangers, something fell apart and they lost 2 or 3 in a row.
However, when Morales broke his leg, the team came out Sunday with seemingly a renewed vigor. They kept that through the series win in Kansas City, and one can only hope it carries over to Seattle, in to Oakland, and then in an important weekend in Chavez Ravine against the Dodgers.
The Angels get a favorable match-up this weekend against the M's. Not only are they one of the worst hitting teams in the league, but they don't have to face either of the teams premier pitchers, Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee. I don't think a sweep is out of the question, but in a road series, if you can take 2 of 3, thats a great series.
Remember about a month ago, I was clamoring for Fuentes to lose his job to Rodney, well, I changed my mind. I still want Fuentes to lose his just, but now to Francisco Rodriguez. No, not the one we let walk in Free Agency two years ago, whose only suitable replacement was clearly a copy of himself. Rodriguez, or "F-Rod" as he will now be lovingly referred to as, has been simply dominant in his last few appearances, and looks like he is already a clutch pitcher. I say, give the job to him now, before Fuentes pitches out of too many more wins, like he tried to do now. If he doesn't get the job done, I was wrong (wouldn't be the first time), and you can throw Failtes back into the closing role.
In a special extended version of "Around the League", I have a ton to talk about.
- By now, most of you have seen the blown call that cost the Tigers Armando Gallaragga a perfect game on Wednesday. Jim Joyce, who has the greatest 'stache in the history of umpires, blew the call, calling a clearly out runner safe. Well, Armando, Joyce, the Tigers and their fans all surprised me in how good they were about it. In a day and age where sports stars get into the stands to punch fans (Oh Ron Artest, how far you have come), Allegedly rape more than one woman (Really, Big Ben, you didn't learn the first time?), and their fans aren't much better, its refreshing to see all parties involved in this situation handling it so well. I think everyone, except for Bud Selig, is willing to admit that Armando Gallaragga threw the 21st perfect game in major league history. Thats good enough for me.
- Vladimir Guererro hit himself in the face with a batted ball off the batting cage durning batting practice before Wednesdays game against the White Sox. That's some black and blue justice for any Ranger fans making fun of Morales...
- Everyone SHOULD be voting for the 2010 All-Star Game right now. I don't really care whom you vote for, as long as its not Alex Rodriguez or Mark Teixeira. Just 'Cause.
- Also, the Angels All-Star 5k and Fun-Run, of which the proceeds benefit cancer research, still have spots available for sign up. Here is a link, for those of you without Google: All-Star Game Charity 5k and Fun Run
- Ken Griffey, Jr was probably the greatest player that anyone under the age of 30 has ever seen play live. He retired Wednesday. As a member of the Seattle Mariners, he was one of the hottest prospects/young players that anyone has ever seen. He took baseball by storm, and with good reason. He was a pure hitter, with some great speed, and an amazing glove. He had maybe the prettiest swing in baseball, and was charismatic like none other. He had athletic clothing lines, video games, breakfast cereal and many other endorsements. He WAS 1990's baseball. He was impossible to hate, even though he played for the Angels biggest rival, and almost as impossible not to love. Also, in an era where just about everyone was caught with or accused of using steroids, he was the one slugger was never mentioned, by anyone. After stints in Cincinatti and Chicago, Griffey returned to Seattle last year for one last hoorah. After getting off to the slowest start of his career, he knew his body (which since leaving Seattle in 2000, was always letting him down) couldn't take much more, and he decided to quit baseball on his own terms. When Griffey retired, the last part of my childhood that I attached to baseball was gone. He should, and will be, a first ballot hall-of-famer, and will go down as the greatest Seattle Mariner of all time. Baseball already misses you, Ken.