Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chronicling Irrational Superstition

Recently, my wife and I had noticed that since being in attendance for Jered Weaver's No Hitter, we had not actually watched the Angels win a game.  Any time we attended a game or watched it on television, the Angels would lose, any game we missed (for one reason or another) the Angels would win, without fail since May 2nd.  So we put this to the ultimate test... we stopped watching the Angels.

Day 1 - After losing to the Athletics the previous day, not only was watching our team depressing (they were on a 3 game losing streak against San Diego and Oakland... brutal), but we had noticed the track record of our watching the games over the last month.  So we agreed that until the Angels reached .500, we wouldn't watch another game this season.  Result: Angels win, 5-0 (Oakland).

Day 2 - Well, those were some nice results on day one.  But this study is going to take further testing until we get some solid results.  Result: Angels win, 3-1 (Oakland).

Day 3 - Hey, this team is playing cohesive baseball, Albert Pujols has hit some home runs... Mike Trout continues to be the most exciting young player in baseball... well, this test is starting to sting as the team is finally becoming watchable, but hey, its pretty clear now that they are winning because we aren't watching.  Result: Angels win, 3-0 (Seattle).

Day 4 - Ok, We now really want to watch this team play baseball... we are fixing the rules... When they finally lose, we can watch them again... that was put to the test almost immediately, when the Mariners were winning for most of the game on Friday night... you know, before the great comeback the Angels made in the 9th.  Result: Angels win, 6-4 (Seattle).

Day 5 - Now the 3-day weekend has set in... surely they will lose at some point so we can watch the game on Memorial Day, right?  Well, not today.  Pujols homers in his 3rd straight game, plus Alberto Callaspo hits a pinch-hit grand slam.  That was probably fun to watch.  Oh Well.  Result: Angels win, 5-3 (Seattle).

Day 6 - Ok, the Sunday day game... right before a plane ride back to Anaheim to face the Yankees on Memorial Day.  There is no way they win this game, right?  Well, Morales and Trumbo had other plans.  It wasn't as exciting as the last couple games, but they have just swept 4 games in Seattle.  Result: Angels win, 4-2 (Seattle).

Day 7 - So, I can't watch the game on Memorial Day? Fine. I've got to catch up on Mad Men anyway.  I like our chances tonight with Weaver on the mound.  But it is the Yankees, and you never know with them in town.  My Mother is a lifetime Yankees devotee, and so I got some text updates during the game.  The early 3-0 lead, Weaver leaving the game with a bad back... oh boy... this is where the wheels fall off our season.  My experiment has taken a deadly turn for the worse.  Well, 13 runs later, it's tied up 8-8 in the bottom of the 9th for Trumbo.  He hits the walkoff bomb and the Angels have won 7 in a row, reached .500 and have begun to pull away from the bottom of the pack in the AL West.  Sure, we are still 6.5 back of the Rangers, but only 2.5 back of the second Wild Card spot (new to the league this year).  This is getting silly.  Result: Angels win, 9-8 (New York Yankees).

So, here we are, Day 8 of our experiment, and we have both agreed that even though the Angels have reached .500, we can't watch this club until they finally lose and break this winning streak.  So, I don't really know what I'm rooting for most... the streak to continue (and my odd superstition continues to work), or for the streak to end so I can finally watch this team play baseball.  Because they are finally playing like the team we thought they were when it was assembled in December of last year.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Trout Begins Takeover of OC

It was only a matter of time before this kid took over the southland.  He already has more home runs than Pujols, more steals than Bourjos, and a higher average than anyone on the team (if he qualified, he'd be tied for the 5th highest average in the majors).

Since joining the team on April 28th, Mike Trout has helped the Angels to a 12-10 record.  It might not sound like much (and before the weekend collapse in San Diego, it was a far more impressive 12-8), but when you consider how this team started B.T.* (6-14, tied for the worst start in franchise history), its quite an improvement.

What really counts is that he is playing at his best when this team needs him the most.  The Angels are still 18-24, and after the rough weekend, are back in the cellar in the AL West.  This week could prove fruitful, as the next 7 games are against the A's and Mariners... so this could be the perfect opportunity to flirt with .500 before the Yankees come into town.


I told you guys about Amarista... it was a mistake to let him go, even though Ernesto Frieri is a great arm for our bullpen, Ammy is going to be that little Mr. Everything for the Padres.  He almost single-handedly beat us on Saturday, then continued to play tough on Sunday.  I'd much rather have him coming off the bench than Macier Izturis.  I like Izzy as much as the next guy, but his production has almost fallen off the map the last couple seasons.


* - B.T. = Before Trout.  B.T. and A.T. (After Trout) are how Angels Nation will be referring to the stages of the 2012 Angels campaign.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

I Wish You Would Step Back From That Ledge, My Friends...

Let me preface this post by saying that yes, no one loves bitching about my beloved Halos more than me.  I have been calling for Mickey Hatcher's head for the better part of two seasons now... and I simply don't like Erick Aybar, but the stuff I've been seeing on Twitter and message boards recently is making me sad to be an Angels fan.

On twitter after tonight's loss against a good Blue Jays team, there is actually momentum behind firing Mike Scioscia... you know its not a good sign when the only guy to bring our team ANY playoff success is trying to be made out to be some sacrificial lamb.  Like if we fire Mike and bring in some unemployed schmuck, he is going to turn this ship around and take us to the postseason.  Get real people, Terry Francona isn't going to do anything but hasten our trip to mediocrity.  He took maybe the best on-paper team of all time, the 2011 Red Sox... got them off to a 0-7 start, then back into contention, only to lose their playoff spot on the final game of the season after an epic collapse gave the Rays a chance.  Yeah, he is who I want leading an already struggling club.

Mike is a two-time Manager of the Year (2002, 2009) and has more than 1000 victories as our manager, and has taken us to the playoffs 6 times... DOUBLE what ALL previous Angels' Managers combined had gotten before him in nearly 40 years.  I think the man knows what he is doing, and I trust him to take us back there, even if its with a team that looks almost nothing like the one we have on the field.

The other person that people are rallying against is our new slugger, and future Hall of Famer, Albert Pujols.  Yes, I will admit that he is having, by far, the worst 5 week span of his career.  And yes, I'll also concede that the immediate future isn't looking good.  But to think that a career .328 hitter (in St. Louis) isn't going to turn it around and raise his average back above the Mendoza line is ridiculous.  I can sit here and make a ton of excuses, but the real problem isn't so cut and dry, otherwise Albert would have figured it out by now.  He is just in a slump, and nothing is going to get him out of it better than letting him go out there and get his AB's in every day.  Maybe give him a day off this weekend, but there is no need to consider benching the all-star, or cutting his playing time in any way.

So, you are sitting there, probably still unable to get your Angels gear off fast enough, yelling at your computer screen, saying "Well then, smart-ass, who do we blame for our 10-17 start?!".

The answer is simple: No one.  It's 27 games... we have 135 left to play.  If we finish the season playing .600 baseball (this team is more than good enough to play at that level), we finish the season with 91 wins.  With the two wild-cards, and the additional win here and there, this club should easily find itself in the playoffs, at which point anything can happen.

Here at Angels Nation, we aren't going to be hitting any kind of panic button until we find ourselves under .500 after July 1st.  When that happens, I'll be glad to write each and every one of you an apology, and I'll get out my "Fire Mike" signs.