Monday, October 31, 2005
He arrives at this conclusion by demonstrating why the other teams won't win. It's a valid course of argument to take, but it is also easy to refute because the conclusion rests on such a vast number of points and lesser conclusions. Sort of like proving that one person comitted a crime by arguing that I didn't do it, and you didn't do it, and Aunt Sally didn't do it.
But the whole point of off-season prognosticating is to construct weak arguments and watch others topple them. So this is just a a first step.
Friday, October 28, 2005
And those of us who follow baseball have had a stay of execution of sorts, because it has been said that an outfielder on an AL playoff team tested positive for steroids.
Someone I've never heard of but supposedly would be in a position to know something has said it's a name people will care about.
One would think that would rule out Jeff, since the list of people who would care about his name is short, predominently female, and I could generate most of it from people who have e-mailed me in the past year.
And while I am not going to go so far as to talk about it, I will confess that late in the season I came to realize that Jeff's season-to-season stats pattern would be consistent with what you'd expect to see in someone that was doing something in previous years that they were not doing this year. [Of course, that something is hitting and especially hitting home runs, and Mr. Finley is the poster child for that type of thing]
But Jeff's wife gave birth to a child in the last few years, which isn't a neon "not guilty" sign, but it pretty darn close.
And I personally don't think that Jeff would do that. As a second-generation, second-string guy I'd expect a more fanatical devotion to whatever honor exists in a professional sport. And he seems too nice and happy. Of course I'm a dumb fangirl, what the hell do I know?
But since I've got all the folks linking to me and winking and giggling I felt I should go on the record as having noted the evidence.
Who do I think it is? I have no idea. But I really hope it isn't someone from the White Sox, because that would just be deeply sucky for the sport and the city and everyone.
The time when my ears stop ringing from stadium anthems and halo stix, and the part of my brain that has been bypassed for a number of months starts giving me a hard time.
Another season has passed and hysteria has once again gripped and released me. This week brought with it the arrival of the "magical box of promotional crap." This is a pre-purchased shipment of every giveaway from Angel Stadium. Because who doesn't need a fridge magnet of the 2005 season after the season is over? And those Steve Finley t-shirts just become more cherished with the passage of time, don't they? I'd say it wasn't worth it at all except that the "back to school binder" promotion [featuring Jeff] was only available to kiddies at the stadium and now I have one of my very own.
But now we have this box of Angels crap. To add to our closet of Angels crap. In our room of Angels crap.
We have an Angels crap problem.
It was just after the World Series in 2002 I think, when I realized that our entire office room had been taken over by thunderstix. Keith had attended every game where they'd been given out, and had kept every pair, sometimes more than one pair per game, and there they sat. An artifact, a pile of artifacts. I'm all about keeping crap, but can't one pair of thunderstix stand for the entire collection? Keith agreed, the mountain of orange [for the originals were a hue that could only be called red if you had never seen true red before] disappeared and I thought that was all.
But we have shirts and jerseys and signed balls and framed pictures and enough hats to outfit the entire 40-man roster.
What have we done? Where does this come from? What do we think we are going to do with it?
I spent *years* as a serious Buffy fan and came away with a poster, a few collectibles and a short stack of scripts and magazines. Why has my brief time as an Angels fan resulted in such a huge amount of crap that I don't feel we can get rid of? I think somewhere we have the ticket stubs from each and every game.
I once knew people who had a "Laker room", painted purple and yellow, outfitted with the tacky crap that only fans cherish. I was always slightly embarassed for these people. Perhaps my time as a scifi fan having tought me that obsessions were to be closeted, not incorporated into a decorating scheme. But I don't think even a whole room would solve our problem.
Where does this crap come from? And how can I stop?
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
News about the moves [If Byrd is re-signed, happiness, if Figgins is overpaid, not so much happiness]
JeffWatch [Many Jeff fans have already e-mailed me and the bottom line is, we aren't holding our breath, but it could still happen, and we are all in it together]
Baseball Book Reviews [ We here at WJD have made it through a short stack of Baseball-related books and we aim to review them so you can be spared the pain that some of them cause.]
We also have high-hopes of completing an ambitious re-design of the site [we can't be expected to compete with the guys at Pearly, but I hope to look a little less like something a color-blind cat coded]. And launching a guide to spring training, plus a few other things.
Monday, October 17, 2005
I really hope we keep him. He was one of our most consistent starters, and by the end of the season I happen to think he was our #2 guy, leaving big John as #3. He was the only off-season Stoneman move to still look good the morning after when the beer goggles wore off.
I hate to see him beating himself up after pitching so well last night.
"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more."
We had one more shot. So we put on our battle gear and our game faces, carried with us whatever magical totems we could muster, and did all we could with the only weapons allowed to us-- our thunderstix and our voices.
Winning the series was only an outside possibility, but winning the game seemed do-able. Failing that, playing like we were capable of seemed a sort of vindication. I wanted to make a last stand, and do it with style and pride. I also knew that each and every additional game we could last in the post-season was one more game that Jeff would suit up as a Halo. And I wanted that.
I will forever carry with me a piece of real anger over the officiating in this series. I suspect it may be the start of what turns me into a cantankerous woman.
For the first 5 innings, our old friend hope was in the building. It was like old times, and was a glorious thing to see.
Somewhere around the 7th and 8th innings, I seriously thought I was going to throw up.
By the 9th I had come around to a sad resignation. And I held onto my tears, content that the sky was weeping for me.
The post-season is unforgiving, and we just couldn't hold it together for another second. No one was hitting. Our starting pitching came in somewhere between slightly shaky and completely shaky. And the bullpen was over-used, tired, and done for. Figgins, Vlad, Finley... I showed up for each game of the post-season, I wish you could have done the same. Mike, I read a disturbing thing the other day, I read that you were creating the line-up that you thought would put the best defense on the field. I don't know much, but even I know that in baseball, you make defensive sacrifices in order to get the offense that you need. So I'm not real sure what to think of you. And to Bill and Arte, if during the 2006 season, we are once again barely in first place, and not a well-rounded totally together team, and you don't make some sort of move/trade/whatever, then I'll be left assuming you want us to be the Atlanta of the West. And that sucks. Because if we had a totally crap year, then at least we could hope to get better seats in the next season ticket holder sprint.
By tomorrow, most of my sadness will be gone. I grew up in Illinois, in corn and cow country and spent more time in Chicago during and after college than I've yet to clock here. No matter how many hundreds of Angel games I go to, I'll always have a part of me that is pulling for Chicago.
Now I am freed from that dissonance. And I'll be rooting for the Sox all the way. I hope you win it all, as you should. Go Sox!! "Onward you Chicagoans and teach them how to war!"
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Time to start countin' 'em down. Only one hundred and sixty nine days until the Angels begin anew against the Mariners in Seattle on Monday, April 3. I can hardly wait.
What will transpire between now an then, one can only guess, nay - hope. Right now, the Angels already have $68,250,000 committed to ten players. Arte has publicly stated he's willing to increase next year's payroll if the right opportunities present themselves. Let's just hope Stoneman puts on his thinking cap before he completes any trades or deals and hope we don't end up with the 2006 version of Finley and Yan. This was the second - of what should be many consecutive years of playoff appearances for the team. We just need a few more pieces to avoid becoming the Atlanta Braves of the West.
The Halos provided us with another season's worth of great memories, and the ALCS umpires provided us with a lifetime worth of hypothetical debate. Although the end wasn't pretty, it was a damn fun ride and I can't thank the team enough. Although opening day is one hundred and sixty-nine days away, pitchers and catchers report to spring training in about one hundred and twenty days. I think I can make it until then...
Three days ago, the Angels Ticket Exchange had less than one hundred seats available for today's game. After Friday's loss, that number increased to over three hundred. This morning displayed over eight hundred, and as of a couple of minutes ago - there are well over nine hundred seats available at the exchange. (The Angels Ticket Exchange allows season-seat holders to sell their playoff seats to the public up to three times face-value. Regular season seats can be sold up to five times face.)
People who are attempting to sell ticket on eBay are even facing tougher times due to the decreased demand. Many of tonight's tickets are being sold for below face - and most auctions are ending with zero bids.
If you don't have 'em yet, now is the time - as it's definitely a buyer's market. The upside is the person sitting next to you is more likely to be a true Angel fan - your Angels. And the downside...well, the worst that could be said is that you supported your team. The picture above was taken in the top half of the eighth inning last night. I hope I don't witness the same today.
Win or lose, it has been a great season, and we've all had a good time. It doesn't seem right that it should end this way, with empty seats and fans motivated only by success.
So when the Halos take the field and David Courtney says over the loudspeaker, "Ladies and gentlemen, here are your Angels!" I hope to see you there!
Desperation has begun to set into Mike Scioscia's mind. - From this morning's LA Times:
With Steve Finley's poor performance during the season followed by an even worse performance during the playoffs, the Angels have considered benching him and moving Garret Anderson to center field.
Scioscia said he had considered moving Anderson to center, as well as moving Chone Figgins there and playing Robb Quinlan every day at third base, before deciding to stick with what he considered the Angels' best defensive lineup.
Garret's laissez faire policy on balls hit his way in left field is bad enough - can you imagine him in centerfield in their most important game of the year? Didn't Mike learn his lesson from Anderson's previous failed experiment in center? This could be a disastrous day in the outfield if this possibility comes to fruition...
Yesterday's game was forgettable, and s soon as Esteban Yan (the white flag) entered the game, the Angel faithful headed for the exits in mass. After Santana gave up six runs(five earned), Yan added insult to injury and showed why he was left off the ALDS roster by giving up two more.
The little boys in blue blew a few more calls today, but what else is new? The Angels aren't making it close like game 2, so how can we be as outraged?
It has been brought to my attention (by our friends in Chicago) that the Angel hitters are doing two things - nothing and sh*t. - If only I could paste that e-mail in the Angel clubhouse above every player's locker. (I only wish I could retort with something positive about our team's play yesterday...but I've got nothing to work with.)
Tonight, we will see what kind of players this team is truly comprised of. The start time is 5:15, so be sure to check back here around ten o'clock for pictures of tonight's Angel victory.
Since everyone else is sucking ass-- and by everyone I especially mean Figgins and Finley-- I suggest a line-up that uses all the other folks. Any regular who stays in the line-up should hit in a different spot. Have Josh Paul as the DH. Play Q and Kotch and anyone else that we can round up.
The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Yet for some reason in baseball, this is called good managing. Finley is not going to stop sucking. Figgins has been a high-strikeout, low OBP guy all year. The offense has been anemic all year, and since we lost D-Mac, it is only more so.
Good pitching is always going to beat a sucky offense and off pitching. Always.
Replay is looking like a pretty darn good idea right about now isn't it? I can't remember ever seeing such bad officiating. The theory was that the Angels would get all the calls during this series after "the call"-- looks like that isn't to be the case.
I don't have to pay $250 to watch a team suck. I can see that other places for a lot less money.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
There was the fan a few seats down from us in F129 who let his friend heckle Eddings via cellphone since he couldn't make it to the game. He turned his volume all the way up and held the phone toward for more than a few minutes. - And yes, you could hear him.
There was the fan one section over in F128 who, after every single out, stood up and mimicked Eddings' out/third strike/whatever signal.
Maya mentioned this also - not only did the woman in the row behind us bring the best sign, but after it was taken away by security in the second inning, she showed the neighboring fans her reserve sign but smartly saved it until the sixth through eighth innings - when it was again confiscated by stadium security.
And , of course, there was the fan who sat directly to my left. He cupped his mouth and heckled Eddings non-stop from beginning to end. Each and every inning. Others came and went, but he was the rock.
Hats off to each and every one of the fans last night. I remember when visiting Angel Stadium was like visiting a mausoleum. Not anymore. This year, the fans have shown they are paying attention and expect the best from everyone. Tonight's start time is listed as 4:30 - I can't wait to get there.
Lollygagers. ~ Bull Durham
What happened to that team I saw Monday night at Angel Stadium? The team I saw just four days ago was not the same team that took the field tonight.
Tonight's team looked lethargic in the outfield, infield, and at the plate. Balls rolled through the infield as Figgins and Cabrera stood idly by. Finley waited for balls to carom off the centerfield wall back to him instead of charging toward them. Anderson routinely let balls fall in front of him without putting forth any effort at catching them. Erstad illadvisedly attempted to ignite the team by stretching a double into a triple, and well..you know how that ended.
Without much action by our boys in red, much of our (the fans) attention was turned toward the boy in blue. (By the way, many thanks to the guys over at Pearly. Over a dozen of these double-sided beauties were distributed to grateful fans who did not have the opportunity to make their own.) For those who say Angel fans should get over it already:
- Yes, the call affected Wednesday's game, not today's.
- Yes, the White Sox won tonight's contest without any outside assistance.
- Yes, I know that ' call/non-call/call was only a part of the Angels' demise in game 2.
- But tonight was the first opportunity the Angels fans had to voice their opinions regarding his call/non-call/call. And he got everything he had coming - including his own website with this singular mission:
This site is standing up for America and for our god given right to play an extra inning when the score is tied and your pitcher strikes the hometeam out.Contrary to published reports, security was beefed up quite a bit around Doug. In addition to a stadium security officer and an Anaheim Police officer on the field with him at all times, between each inning, there were two to five additional security personnel stationed in the aisles keeping an eye out for anyone who may have been dared to do something or those who may have lost large sums of money on game 2.
Tomorrow evening, that team which played with conviction and confidence needs to show up. That team had Santana on the mound, and tomorrow's team will as well. By the way... Doug will be stationed along the left field foul line tomorrow. So if you didn't get an opportunity to let him know how you feel about his abilities and past performance today, be sure to let him know.
Friday, October 14, 2005
I was expecting the first few innings to be very Doug-centric. And they were. Josh got loud applause when he was introduced, and the umpires were booed. And then the game started, and the hazing began.
For the most part it was little-league stuff. "Hey Doug!" "Nice call Doug!" "You suck!" And then everytime he had to make some sort of call (and anytime there was an out made) everyone gave him a hard time and demonstrated how to do an out "Did you get that Doug?" "Did you see that was foul Doug?" Whenever people started to work blue, the crowd would sort of pull those folks back in "hey man, this is a family park." In between innings, a good portion of folks stood up, cupped their hands, and exercized their right to free speech. It was all fairly annoying, and sometimes quite loud, but I've seen opposing team trainers called worse things at Wrigley.
Now, after a few innings we probably would have been bored with this, except that we had nothing else to do. The team looked like, I don't know, not any team I follow. Maybe Kansas City. We didn't even have a baserunner. We had nothing. But we had Doug.
"Put yout hands on your hips Doug!"
"Do the macarena!" [I felt that given he already had his hands on his hips, we should have called for the Time Warp, but whatever]
"Dougie, Dougie. Hey, Doug! What can I pay you to call this one our way?"
"Don't look at me Doug, don't look, whatever you do don't look."
I was starting to get concerned that the taunting was not only diverting attention from the game, but that it was screwing with the energy of the stadium, sucking energy that is supposed to be going to the team. The energy and noise on Monday was just so amazing, and this was nothing like that. So I took it upon myself to try to at least shout at actual players.
"Come on Lackey"
To Garret : "Way to lollygag, it's not like it's the playoffs"
To Figgins: "hey, no-hit [we call Figgins "no-hit"] rise above your name"
To Finley: "You suck Finley." [After the out] "Yep, You still suck."
But what can any of us do when the team's pitching is sketchy, the hitting non-existant, and the opposing team's pitching is on? We can taunt the umpire. And be annoyed with security for taking people's signs.
But now I get my nice quiet section back, and you guys over in Left can have some fun.
Oh, and Jeff PH for Juan in the DH spot. He made contact, but like everyone else, hit the ball at someone. Those Sox did some kind of wicked thorough scouting on all our hitters.
I guess it's healthy to channel your anger into a hobby or constructive activity.
Edited to add:
Also, I just realized that the Josh Paul Drinking Game (which I made up for fun last August) is now poised to sweep the nation, and has, in a sense, already swept the nation.
The original JPDG rules were: (and I don't like to drink, so the idea was that people would reverse the rules if they liked to drink)
If Josh Paul actually catches and maintains control of a pitched baseball, drink
If Josh gets a hit, drink
If Josh throws out someone trying to steal, chug
If Josh participates in a successful play at the plate, chug
He still sticks to the story that he thought the ball was in the dirt, but admits that there was confusion and he was the source of it. This was all I was looking for. If he'd been clear that he was calling the ball in the dirt, Josh would have tagged him. OR if everything had progressed exactly as it did, but without Eddings making the "out" fist pump, then Escobar or Erstad, or Josh himself would have had a clue that the play was not complete and had at least a fighting chance of getting the ball to first [Escobar was right there].
But Eddings criticized himself for not being more emphatic in signaling that the ball was in the dirt. After the pitch, he made a hand motion to his right before pumping his fist, which most observers thought was his sign that Pierzynski was out.
"The only thing I'm down on myself is I should have sold it either way," Eddings said. "I should have either said, 'No catch,' or, if I did have a catch, that he was out. Which I never said: 'He's out.' "
Eddings reiterated that he pumped his fist after every strike and said it was his mechanism for calling strikes. He said he would change his style and would likely just put his hand to the side to indicate a strike and eliminate the potential for confusion.
And now I have to confess that I don't have it in me to carry more than a twinge of anger around over this. The team is going to move on. The party line is going to be "we've got a game 3 to win." I'm going to have to watch fans do to this man. And I'm thinking it isn't going to be pretty. And that the more I see, the more I won't want to be associated with that. The party line is looking pretty good right now.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
I'm not sure that it should have, since I contend that it isn't about catching or not catching the ball "cleanly", but about the confusion over whether the batter had been called out. A confusion which should not exist in an organized sport that is over 100 years old. I mean come on! Can we possibly figure out a foolproof way to know that an out has been recorded? It seems basic, it seems like something that might have come up at some point in the last 50 years, if not the last 100. I'll bet they don't have this problem in cricket. I've spent the better part of a day watching people wave their fists about in slightly differing ways and in lots of circumstances, and I'm more confused than ever. The best new point was one made on PTI where Wilbon (Go U, NU!) and Lebatard were baffled as to why a rule that is supposed to apply when a ball is not in the control of the catcher was applied here. The argument being that it was not in keeping with "the spirit" of the rule.
I've watched with great interest as instant replay has come into being in a lot of sports of late. Always there is the fear that the "game will be slowed down" layered on top of every institution's and human being's gut-level fear of change.
It so happens that ESPN devoted an entire show (I think it was Outside the Lines) to instant replay in college football just this week. A show that I watched, surprisingly. And a show that was very very interesting. This practice began last year in the Big 10 where they literally use Tivo, and was quietly adopted in most other conferences this year. The ESPN crew followed the replay team in (I think) the SEC, where they use a more sophisticated system than Tivo, one that makes all camera angles instantly available. The most interesting part of the program was this: the calls are constantly being reviewed, not just when there is a game pause to review the play. Every single play is reviewed by the replay team, usually so quickly that there is no need to pause game play. In fact, they have taken to implementing PR replay time-outs. Stopping the game when they don't need to, their conclusive review of the play already having transpired, simply to mollify to the coaches and fans and let them know that yes, someone is watching, someone is making triple-sure that the call was correct.
Let's revist that last point. Fans and coaches want the game stopped, they want to know that the decisions have been made with all the available information. They want this so badly that games are being stopped for play review when no such stoppage is required to review the call. The replay crew feels they have to do it for PR reasons.
I don't think there is any sport with an established instant-replay protocol where people would give it up now. Although the NFL people are probably looking at the College model with some degree of envy.
Old-time baseball people don't want replay because so much of the sport has always been judgement, and the honing of that judgement over time is what creates umpires. It's like having replay would be step one down the path to replacing all the human umpires with large robots that make all calls. And we've all seen enough scifi movies to know that a world controlled in any way by robots or AI, where any sort of power is handed over to them, is a world where eventually humans either die or are enslaved. [Jaron Lanier once gave a brilliant presentation where he pointed out that we need never fear that computers will replace or overtake humans, because they'd forever need humans around to reboot them. The Blue Screen of Death and sucky software makes us invaluble!]
And let's face it, botched calls tend to even out in the grand scheme of things. You get the call one night, you don't the next. And a lot of the time, in your mind, the one call that you got seems much more important than the ones you didn't. I think this is because the calls that you get lead to actual conclusions and even wins, whereas the ones that you don't get lead only to imagined, possible conclusions and wins. So when someone asks you about instant replay, in the back of your mind is that call that went your way when it probably wouldn't have if reviewed, and you've linked that to a real win.
But at what point does it become stupid to eschew technology that is available to everyone except to the people in the stadium? I mean, the good old days of taking the team bus and carrying your luggage sure were grand, and perhaps the game lost something when everyone started chartering planes, but times change. Maybe we can go back to the slave-like days before the players' union, when many players had to work off-season jobs and were bought and traded like cattle with no hope of ever being in control of their own destiny.
I'd personally like to return to the days when the fans attending the games were respectful ladies and gentleman, but that isn't going to happen either. I'd also love it if a recreational sporting event didn't force me to participate in a religous ritual and sing a hymn in the middle of a game once a week, but that's an issue for another day.
There is no innocence to protect. There isn't even all that much purity. This is a multi-billion dollar industry. We ask the officials to do something incredibly difficult, and I am constantly amazed at how many tough, close calls they get right. I don't know how they do it, everything happens so fast, and so many things are a matter of inches and milliseconds. And I'm left to ponder the question: why should they have to? Why should they have to work so hard, and operate with such limited information? Why is it so rare that an official reverses his call or allows others on the crew to reverse it? What are we so afraid of, other than change?
People are still upset about the lights at Wrigley. They still bemoan the addition of the wildcard. The game is better for these developments. This year was a great case for the wildcard-- so many teams in contention for the playoffs right up to the last week.
But I know where they are coming from. I'd be devastated if they tore down Wrigley field, but my husband is right that it's a dump. And maybe they'd build something beautiful in it's place, and in a few years I'd have happy memories of "new Wrigley." But even calling Wrigley a dump seems like a betrayal of the game and all of it's history.
I'm not all "replay, replay rah rah rah!" But at some point isn't being stubborn just being stupid? I just watched footage of a game several years ago where an on-field official, who didn't get a good look at a fly-ball, and couldn't find anyone on his crew who could help him, took it upon himself to go to the nearest TV camera with a monitor and watch the footage they had. He initiated the only known case of baseball instant replay. Back in umpire-land, he was probably fined a huge amount of money and they also probably quickly wrote a rule that no one can do that ever again. But how happy was he to know that he ultimately made the right call, that he didn't have to guess, that help was available?
So remember [when you paraphrase, quote, or argue with me without my being present], I'm not banging the drum for instant replay. I'm just trying to put my finger on what could be so bad about it, because I don't think the argument about slowing down the game can withstand much scrutiny.
Since I have a certain wealth of knowledge about Josh Paul stored up in my head, this seems as a good a time as any to post it.
Josh was born and raised in Chicagoland. Mostly in the northern suburbs (born in Evanston, high school in Buffalo Grove). Despite the geography, which should have caused him to have cubbie blue blood, he grew up a Sox fan, only going to Sox games. This sox love was passed on by his father.
Josh in Sox
He went to Vanderbilt, where he was named a second team all-american. At Vanderbilt, Josh was friends with pitcher Mark Hindy. Hindy worked at the World Trade Center and was killed on September 11th, 2001. When baseball resumed following the tragedy, Josh was up with the White Sox and played in New York wearing #41 on his chest protector in honor of his friend-- he batted in the go-ahead RBIs. He also wrote an article for the Chicago Sun-Times (I think, it might have been a smaller local paper) about his friend and how the loss had changed him. He married his lovely wife, Kelly, in November of that year.
Josh spent close to 6 years in the White Sox organization, up and down, injured and fine, battling it out for a spot on the roster and a chance to live out his dream each day. He also served as the Player's Rep for the team (a job that would later be held by ex-Angel Scott Schoeneweis, and the short-lived nature of both player's Sox careers would reportedly make it tough to find a player willing to hold the position this year).
In mid-June 2003, after having been up again for a few weeks, Josh was designated for assignment and he elected for free agency. He signed with the Cubs minor-league AAA club in Iowa. He came up to Wrigley when the roster expanded on Sept 1 and batted .000 in 3 games with the Cubs. Then he came out west after being signed by the Angels. He is the only ex-Cub we carry. The Sox have zero Cubs. The Cub factor isn't supposed to effect anything other than the World Series though.
Last year, he was the only Angels player to go to arbitration on his contract. I've always thought he did it because he wanted to see what it was like so he would have that experience. He has also served as the Player rep, like he did in Chicago.
As the Angels 3rd catcher, he's been more than an ocassional player and pinch hitter. He's what Rex Hudler calls "a character guy", one of the people who keeps the atmosphere in the clubhouse light and helps bond the disparate sections of the team together. He's regarded as one of the smartest catchers out there, and is apparantly writing a book on pitch selection. Paul Byrd was so impressed by Josh during spring training, and the two worked together so well that Josh was the starting catcher during Byrd's first few Angels starts.
Carrying Josh on the roster is in many ways, I think, like carrying an extra coach. If he isn't on the team next year, or maybe the year after, don't be surprised if he joins the staff in another capacity. And he is one of those players who will be remembered more for what he does after he stops playing the game, than for what he did while he played. If he doesn't go the managing route, he'll be a heck of an announcer. Maybe he'll even do both a la Joe Torre. The Angels have been lucky to have Josh on their team team these last two seasons, and if our luck holds, we'll have him in the organization for years to come.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
My anger is matched only by my frustration that Josh didn't just tag him for the heck of it. Rex Hudler always says a pitch is "too close to take", and this was the embodiment of that in a different scenario. I have lots of love for Josh, and I hate to see him at the center of something like this.
I'd love it if in the next game every Angel batter trotted over to first whenever they felt like it. Pop-out? Head on over to first. Strike-out? I thought they were just giving away first to anyone who showed up?
We were not robbed of the game, we gave that up all on our own with errors, quiet bats and a certain dullness to our play.
But we were robbed of the opportunity to pull it out. But now we come home to our house, with our pissed off fans, and our anger. And I say bring it. Bring it. Now we are in this. Now this is freaking personal. It might just be the best thing that could have happened.
As best I can tell (the crew chief was in RF tonight, indicating that the officials are rotating from home to the RF foul line) , the reigning assclown will be on the RF foul line on Friday. This is right in front of us, the officials have been maybe 20 feet away the previous playoff games. This is going to be interesting. I won't throw anything, but other suggestions are welcome.
Edited to add: The best breakdown of the bloody call is over at Chronicles. Read it. This has definitely illuminated a certain gray area in baseball officiating. How is a catcher to know that the ump believes that a ball is in the dirt? I've had to have the "the 3rd strike isn't an automatic out if the ball is in the dirt" thing explained to me a number of times, but never did I think to ask "how does anyone know it is in the dirt?" thinking, as a neophyte tends to do, that the "in -the-dirtness" of a ball should be self-evident.
Vintage Base Ball Leagues
Especially the New York Gothams
All of those errant pitches, foul tips, and other regular and post-season wear-and-tear has apparently taken it's toll on Bengie. B-Mo will DH tonight and protect Vlad in the fourth slot while his brother will call the signs to Wash and bat eighth.
What this means is that Rivera, (who is batting .500 vs. Buehrle), will be riding the pine tonight. Garret will be in his regular spot in left and will bat fifth.
Hopefully, this is nothing more than a simple case of Mike resting his star catcher. Bengie has a .333 average vs. Buehrle and is seeing the ball well lately, so he should provide Vlad with the protection he so desperately needs. J-Mo is 0-2 vs. the Sox starter, but who knows who will step up and be tonight's hero.
There is a lot of "I'm just going to take it one game at a time" and "I just hope I can help the ball club". It isn't exactly hard-hitting, but it is interesting.
His latest is here.
Previous ones are here (ALDS game 5) , here (ALDS game 4), here (ALDS game 3, his start), here (ALDS game 2), and here (ALDS game 1). I think that is all of them.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Finally! We can put to rest all of those "Well, Scioscia is 0-5 in post-season game ones" references.
With Bartolo off of the ALCS roster, the Angel starters need to get the job done to ensure Colon's roster replacement never takes the mound. Byrd stepped up and pitched the Angels to a game one victory. There are pitchers who throw and there are those who pitch. Byrd and his old-timey wind-up falls into the latter category. That ability is why he was signed in the previous off-season, and that's exactly why he should be re-signed during this off-season.
Tomorrow, another free agent will toe the slab for the Halos (hopefully). The southpaw hasn't pitched in quite a while, so hopefully, the extended rest won't hamper his ability to pitch. Like Bernie Williams, every appearance may be his last, but he needs to pitch deep into the game to give the bullpen a little rest. Of the Angels 168 games thus far, Shields has appeared in nearly half of those (83), including 7 of the last 8. Frankie has been in 6 of the last 8. And Escobar needed minor medical attention a few nights ago after an outing in New York.
Wash will be opposing Buehrle, so he'll have a slightly different defense than tonight. Quinlan will be to his right at third and Figgins behind him in center. Mike gave Vlad the night off (defensively) and Rivera looked so good in the outfield, even the no-talent assclown Fox announcers took notice. Let's hope Mike saw what everyone else saw and decides to rest Garret defensively to keep Juan in the outfield.
Like the mayors of the two cities, Los Angeles-based Watching Jeff DaVanon has agreed to a friendly wager with a couple of Chicagoland friends. I shudder to think what may happen if the rally monkey falls into the hands of those in the city by the lake.
Good night...and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. (And we mean that in the non-death way.)
I am told that Kevin Gregg, aka "the white flag" is being touted as the probable game 2 starter.
This is what I posted about Kevin back in July:
Kevin Gregg is a Big Flag
While I am, by nature, a stay-to-the-last-drop and where-the-heck-are-these-people-going? sort of fan, there is one point in a game when my instinct is to flee. That point arrives whenever the Halos send in Kevin Gregg. Gregg is not a man, he is not a pitcher, he's a big white flag of surrender. He's a required mechanism for delivering a ball to the general direction of the plate and thereby, eventually, painfully, ending a game.While Gregg was in the minors, working on looking a little less like a big white flag and a little more like the madly promising pitcher of early 2004, the flag position was covered by Esteban Yan, who doesn't really deserve to be the flag, but is a little too inconsistent to be anything else.
Since then, Kevin has done very little to make me think of him as anything other than a white flag or, Ben "Mr. Goggles" Webber revisited. He's a nice enough guy, was downright charming at photo day. And I admit that his recent flirtation with facial hair has basically worked out both in terms of his looks and his stats. I admit that he has improved somewhat since growing the beard. But a white flag with facial hair is still a flag.
I can only say "please let Washburn feel better!" or something. Please won't someone save us from Kevin Gregg? Please?
Being southsiders, my friends are also looking for a friendly wager.
Monday, October 10, 2005
And everyone is all "relax, Colon is pitching"? Relax! He's been shaky. Shaky in his last 3 starts. Shaky the last month or so. The dude is currently shaky. This whole thing is shaky. What can you do, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes... it rains. You just put together the best team you can with the components available to you at any given time.
I fear that when all is said and done this whole series will amount to nothing more than the "Bengie Molina auditions for a fat multi-year contract" show. Oh well, it will still be better than last year, and that is all I wanted. I'm on record somewhere as only wanting that.
On the upside, if we can win this "best-of-one" series, and do it without Vlad contributing anything but unnecessary outs, then the team can only get better. And a team that isn't yet as good as it can be is a dangerous thing to take into the next round. (Even if it is the worst.thing.ever to have taken into this round)
Pay no attention to me and my doomsday scenarios. It's not like I know anything. I'll be at the game tomorrow, wearing my virgin division champs shirt (although maybe I should replace it with a shirt that has a better record? I mean, wearing an untested rookie shirt in the post-season seems risky), my hat (which is 1-0), and carrying my rally monkey (which has about a .500 record at home, we won't discuss the away record). [I edited out this last part yesterday, especially after my husband was all "weren't you saying something about wanting respect?" but I hate to disappoint everyone from www.deadspin.com who comes here looking for it. Besides, I think it is funny. And yes, I wore the lucky bra to the game]I might even try to find my lucky bra. Where did I put that? It seems a travesty to have a lucky bra and not have worn it in the post-season. Yes, I have a lucky bra. Shut up! You know what is stupid? Rally caps are stupid. My lucky bra is scientifically sound damnit! I'm going to stop now, seeing as how it is late and I just confessed to having a lucky bra.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Now is the time to focus on tomorrow's fifth and deciding game. Feel free to break out your cliche of choice. - It's a do or die situation Monday night. Colon should be well rested, but so should Mussina, since both are already in the Southland. - Moose never left, and Bartolo flew back Saturday in anticipation of his most important start in an Angel uniform.
Since Moose throws right, Finley will get the nod in center, and the starting lineup will probably be the same as today's. Scioscia didn't make a single lineup substitution tonight, while Torre's final lineup card had Rivera batting third....But I digress. - Look for Mike to use everyone in his arsenal tomorrow to affect a win.
Tomorrow is a chance to show the baseball world Yankee Stadium isn't the only place which gives the home team a definite advantage. Time to get everyone talking about the Big 'A' and that Angel Stadium mystique. Time to show everyone that the Yankees aren't the only perennial winner in the American league.
The Angels are for real - rally monkey et al.
So, tomorrow show your confidence - and wear your jersey, cap, red t-shirt, fly the flag, wave your monkey, bang your thunder sticks, clap your hands, and let everybody know.
The time is now. Make some noise!
Saturday, October 08, 2005
Around three years ago, I went to my very first game at Angel stadium. It was the last game of the season, "fan appreciation day." I was handed my first pair of thunderstix. I did my first Halo cheering. I don't remember much about the game. I don't remember who we played. I don't remember if we won the game. Some people sitting near us won free pizza, but that was it for excitement.
My husband hasn't missed a game since that one. I've been slower.
I went to one playoff game in 2002. It was fun, I secretly hoped that being a fan was like finding religion, it didn't matter how new your devotion was, only the depth of your passion. Because I was happy at that American League Championship game. As happy as I've been when teams I actually played on won things.
I spent the rest of the playoffs and World Series keeping track of the games, but not paying attention. I was doing a play about the Bronte family (it was not quite as boring as it sounds, but it was pretty boring) and I took to hanging my rally monkey from the rafters in the booth. My sad white monkey, unofficial, illegitimate, even though I bought him at the stadium. But he was purchased when they were selling any plush monkey they could get their hands on. I was happy the team won... but I had no part of it. It meant nothing to me, I even thought "of course." Can you imagine? I wasn't surprised. I grew up just outside of Chicago, fell asleep on hot summer nights listening to Cubs games on the radio, and wasn't surprised that a team I sort of liked won the World Series!
Last year about broke my heart. What good is going to the playoffs if you can't even make a showing? Why bother? It wasn't fun. I'd... ok, I'm going to say something radical... I'd rather not go to the playoffs at all if the team isn't going to look like they belong there.
Most of all, I sometimes wish I could go back to not really caring.
I watch these games, on TV or in the stadium, and I don't recognize myself. Who is this person screaming at Steve Finley? Who is this person holding her breath as Quinlan makes a throw to first? Who is this person who sometimes is so stressed over the game that she has to leave the room or avert her eyes? Because it isn't me. Or it wasn't. I like the good times. I like the celebrations and the cheering, I like those fantastic moments. But there is a word for people who only like those parts... and it's an ugly word. It's an easy tag to hang on people in this sun-soaked football-forsaken city that Kobe built. Fair-Weather fan. There, I said it.
It seems wrong that my heart plunges when the fortunes of the Angels shift. I cannot stand the fact that there have been times when wetness appeared in my eyes as if there was something going on worth my tears. I've never been good with horror movies... I don't like the tension, the way that everything conspires to make you aware that at some moment something terrible is going to happen. The music starts going, and the blonde girl starts walking slowly, and you know that something is going to get her, your heart rate goes up, you sweat, your fight-or-flight kicks in on the girls behalf... and then BAM! Baseball is so much like a horror movie to me. At any moment... BAM! Some horrible set of circumstances and luck (or lack thereof) will come forth to break my heart, and the waiting is only stress. Stress that never ends.
But I would love another championship. One I could call mine, and feel like I had earned with hours of game-watching and road trips and genuine caring. I'd love to experience that victory. I'd love to deserve it.
I guess if I want that, I have to take the caring and the stress and the passion that makes me worthy of it.
But I still don't know what to do with this person I've become.
Little did I know when I went to that first game 3 years ago, little did I know that things would never be the same. That I'd be so changed. That my life, my marriage, my vacations, my everything would alter because of that game. I'd been to baseball games before, there was no reason for this one to be different.
On the upside, the general consensus seems to be that my husband is one of the luckiest men ever. I feel like I got the better end of the deal. I could have lost my husband, been a baseball widow. He got one more person to go to games with. I gained a 40-man roster and a shared passion with my husband. And a shared passion is like the holy grail in marriage.
"A hundred bucks says I can get us a rain-out for tomorrow." - Crash Davis
After yesterday's 11-7 loss, the Yankees have somehow managed to get a rain-out for today's game. Game four will now be played Sunday at 4:30 PDT, with the possible game five in Anaheim pushed back to Monday at a time yet to be determined.
Sure, my view may be a bit biased, but am I the only one who is tired of hearing about this alleged Yankee/Yankee Stadium mystique? Aren't they just another baseball team comprised of twenty-five mortal men that play in a stadium filled with people like you and me? This seems to be the best marketing gimmick I've ever heard of - and everybody seems to buy into it.
And this is a tough place to play. It can be intimidating because the fans are so loud and so passionate, but this team deals well with adversity and enjoys playing under pressure. - Paul ByrdSo New Yorkers are loud and there are a lot of them. That's it. That's the secret. Well, can't we create the same aura at Angel Stadium? Actually, the fans have been doing that - cheering and booing loudly because, (like the NY fans), they expect their team to win this year. So why haven't I heard about the Angel/Angel Stadium mystique?
Angel fans are beginning to have continued confidence in their team. Their team has been to the playoffs three times in the past four years and have won the divisional title in consecutive years. How many teams can match that record?
At both home playoff games this year, thunder sticks were distributed to every fan who passed through the turnstiles, but only half of the fans used them. And still, the roar of the crowd was deafening. The crowd knows their team can win and expects their team to do exactly that.
Confidence can be contagious, and that's a bandwagon I hope more people will jump on. I expect my team to win this year, and you should too!
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
That's what it will take to get this thing done. No worries - Big, Bad John is on the mound tomorrow and I like our chances. Colon didn't pitch poorly except for that first inning, which of course, was the difference in the game. Had our arthritic left-fielder gotten a better jump on Cano's well-struck ball in the first inning, the score would have been 1-2 instead of 4-2.
But alas, it was not to be. I thought I understood Scioscia's lineup rationale. - When there's a right-hander on the mound, Anderson in the outfield allows him to have Kotchman as DH. Um, okay, Anderson was in left and Rivera was the starting DH. - Wait, what? If Rivera and Anderson were both in the game, Rivera should have started in left with Anderson as DH - right? I can't wait to see what tomorrow's lineup will be.
I wore my #40 jersey to today's game hoping some of that Percival post-season mojo would rub off on Colon. - But to my surprise, that song started over the loudspeakers, and Percy took the mound to claim his mojo. It was the fastest first-pitch ceremony I have ever witnessed. He threw out the first pitch to his buddy Erstad, and just like that...he disappeared down the dugout steps.
First pitch tomorrow is @ 7:05 - and three out of four will turn into two out of three soon after...
Saturday, October 01, 2005
Two of this year's eight playoff slots have yet to be decided , and only one game remains in the regular season. Even the Angels' first round opponent has yet to be decided. (That's right, I said "first round.") All of this uncertainty is wreaking havoc on scheduling anything this week, but I still couldn't be happier. This weekend has been a dream come true. At least one Monday playoff game seems inevitable. So many games, so many different outcomes. - I could get carpal tunnel syndrome blogging about each scenario. And the actual playoffs haven't even begun yet!
Three rounds and three weeks of unadulterated pleasure. Sigh...So many games, so little free time...I only wish I had tickets to the Padres' playoff games in addition to my Angels tickets.
Although my wife is an Angels fan, (well, duh), even she cannot possibly stomach all of the baseball I am prepared to ingest in the coming weeks. It's October, my team is in the tournament of eight, I have tickets, multiple televisions at home, a television in my office, and a portable TV that bought in '02 (in order to watch the Angels while I sat in the bleachers at my younger brother's high school football games). I'm ready.
Let the games begin...