October 29, 2009

You can't teach an old dog new tricks

So this will most likely be the last season we will have seen Vladimir Guerrero in an Angels uniform. Well, good luck Vlad, I hardly knew you.


I know, I know - Vlad will eventually go into the Hall of Fame. His 2004 MVP season was amazing. He basically carried the Angels during the final two weeks of the season and right into the play-offs that year. He’s had some great years. He even did a solid job this post season. Fans wearing his jersey with his name and number dominate Angels stadium.

I get it. Statistically, he’s been great (for the most part), but again, I hardly knew him. All I know of Vlad is what I’ve heard through broadcaster Jose Mota, who usually translates interviews for him. That’s it. You don’t see Vlad on Sports Center doing interviews. You don’t hear him on the radio with Jim Rome. We rarely even see a quote in the paper from him. It’s as if he doesn’t exist outside of the box score. All we get is what we see on the field.

Now, I know that’s good enough for some fans, but it’s never been enough for me. Some of us want to feel connected to our players. Vlad could have had a love affair with Angel fans, but he never put forth the effort.

I’ve seen him at Spring Training. I’ve seen him walk past fans without so much as a wave or even a smile. Nothing. I’ve seen him ignore the autograph requests of little kids wearing his jersey. And I’m not just talking about once or twice over six years. I’m talking about him consistently ignoring us; as in all of the time, year after year.

I know I’m being unreasonable. I guess a little public interaction is too much to ask of a guy who made $15 million this year.

Maybe he was afraid someone would pick his pocket. Maybe he’s shy. I don’t know.

He’s always been a notorious bad ball hitter. His strike zone (as Rex Hudler puts it), is from “his toes to his nose.” He never met a pitch he didn’t like. I’ve seen him swing at balls that bounced in front of the plate. Yeah, he’s hit a couple of those, but he’s missed a ton more. As he has gotten older, his approach to hitting hasn’t changed and it has taken its toll. I believe I read this past season he swung at more pitches than ever before and the results weren’t what they used to be. Vlad never made the effort to develop any semblance of plate discipline. He never managed to learn a little bit of English either. I’m just saying, just a little bit could have gone a long ways.

Vlad is an island. He could have had the world in his hands. I know he’s still popular, but I don’t think he’s beloved. Tim Salmon was beloved. Torii Hunter is beloved. These guys understand that this game is nothing without the people who come to watch them play. The day Torii Hunter left Minnesota he left a huge void in his wake. Minnesota loved him and for good reason. He comes to the ball park with a smile. He talks with fans. He signs autographs. He goes beyond anything I’ve even seen when it comes to connecting with fans. Heck, he even blogs. On the field, he’s a human highlight film. I know he’s not likely to be a Hall of Fame candidate, but make no mistake about it - Torii Hunter is The Man.

Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune summed up Hunter best when he wrote "Torii Hunter's departure creates more than a void in the Twins lineup -- it creates a void in Minnesota sports." Click on the Star Tribune link to read the whole piece - which was written shortly after Hunter signed in Anaheim.

You can't help but admire players like Hunter or any player who at least makes the effort to connect with the fans on some level.

When the Angels clinched the American League West title behind Ervin Santana’s complete game shut out against the Rangers, Ervin stood on the field and thanked the fans for their support -- in his own words and in his own voice. He expressed himself openly and honestly. I felt the sincerity of his words. It was truly a special moment. Stuff like that goes a long way to connecting with his fans.

When Bobby Abreu speaks, we experience his personality. His charisma lights up an entire stadium. We know how much he loves it in Anaheim. He’s told us. He doesn’t need Jose Mota to explain it to us. Bobby Abreu simply rocks.

I’m not saying Vlad is bad person. I believe he’s very charitable. I’m betting he’s done nice things for people that would bring tears to my eyes. I know he’s done a lot of his homeland and even made a big contribution to the victims of Katrina.

And as I said earlier, his statistics are tremendous. They’re even Hall of Fame caliber. The Angels would most likely not have won five Western Division titles in six years without him.

Vlad is now a free agent. He wants to stay in Anaheim because he’s comfortable here (we know this because he was actually quoted in the papers). His mom is also comfortable here and that’s important to him. Funny, I really don’t care. I might be more sympathetic to his wishes had he stepped out of his comfort zone and let the fans get to know him. In fact, maybe something was lost in the translation of his comments. Maybe what he really said was how he was committed to winning and wants desperately to win a World Series for this organization. Comfortable or complacent?

Who knows what really makes him tick? Face it; I know more about Steve Solis (the bullpen catcher) than I do Vlad. I’m sure for most fans; Vlad has given them all they ever wanted and needed. Well, I’m not just “most” fans.

Besides, Vlad is due to regress. Some would argue that we saw signs of this in 2009. He also aged two years this season (when we learned he was 34 and not 33). He will be at least 35 (who really knows?) when Opening Day rolls around in 2010. Even still, I know some fans want to see him resigned. Most of them have an emotional attachment to him. I’m just not one of them.

Angels broadcaster Terry Smith said on the radio (AM 830) that if Vlad is back in 2010 it will be because the Angels have gone to Plan “B” or even “C” or “D.” The writng is on the wall. I wish you well Vlad.

I’m just saying, Vlad – we hardly knew you and it’s really sad. The fans lost out and quite frankly, you lost out as well.

October 27, 2009

Random and not so random thoughts...

So… Vladimir Guerrero was actually quoted in the news media after the ALCS. How often does that happen (more on this in an upcoming blog)? According to Vlad, he wants to stay in Anaheim because his mom is very comfortable there. It’s too bad Mark Teixeira’s wife didn’t hang out with Vlad’s mom. Things might have turned out differently. I’m really not bitter… I’m just saying.

Speaking of women who wear the pants in their relationships, I have to ask; if Alex Rodriguez and Kate Hudson get married, will A-Rod change his name to Alex Hudson? I’m just asking. This would be his chance to ditch the whole A-Roid moniker, right? A-Hud anyone? If anyone needs a persona-make-over, it’s A-Fraud.

Then again, maybe it would be easier if Kate Hudson married either Orlando Hudson or Tim Hudson. Then no one would have to change their name. Or maybe she’d like to become Kate Hudson-Hudson. Hmmm. Wait, I’m not done. How about Kate Hudson marrying ex-Angel Mickey Rivers? She could change her name to Kate Hudson-River(s). Or how about Kate and Jason Bay… How does Kate Hudson-Bay sound? Before anyone tells me to go jump in a lake; relax, I’m done (but this might be a blog for the off season).

I know I’m late on this, but I have to comment on the whole “Shower Gate” with Manny Ramirez. I know some people were all over him for not staying in the dugout with his teammates and instead heading off for an early shower. Perhaps those folks were being a little harsh. Now, I don’t know for sure, but perhaps it was time for him to wash his hair. Can you imagine how long that would take? Can you really blame him for heading to the showers early? After all, that’s just Manny being all about Manny. Oh wait… that’s not how the saying goes now, is it? Perhaps the whole Mannywood campaign should be changed to Manny Would Not (as in NOT stand by his team).

About those Dodgers; word on the street is that the real reason the McCourts are divorcing is because Jamie would have rather had Juan Pierre in left field over Manny. Maybe she has a point. Should Dodger fans be hoping she’s the one who takes control of the team? Again, I’m just asking. On the other hand, this could be a ploy to expand the Dodger brand by getting extra media coverage on outlets like TMZ. This is better than any reality TV show out there. The McPeople’s McCourt anyone? Somebody get Judge Judy on the line. It appears the Dodgers ad campaign “This is my town” is about to be changed to “This is my team.”

Speaking of nasty relationships, I’d just like to state for the record ESPN fired Steve Phillips a year too late. Not only is he a scum bag for having an affair with a member of his staff, but he should have been fired last year when he picked the Seattle Mariners to win the American League West. Yes, the same Mariners who ended up losing 101 games in 2008. The guy clearly hasn’t got a clue.

By the way, I’m really tired of the Angels losing to teams who have players named A.J. on their roster. First there was A.J. Pierzynski of the White Sox in 2005. This year there was A.J. Burnett. If some team signs A.J. Foyt next year, I’m not watching and if the Angels end up playing the Diamondbacks in the World Series; beware, A.J. Hinch is their manager.

On a serious note, I have to wonder… if you are a Cleveland Indians fan, what are you going to be feeling when Cliff Lee and C.C. Sabathia face off in game one of the World Series (for those who might not know, both played in Cleveland a short time ago)? I feel for you Indian fans and that’s no joke.

One last thing, Michael Becker who writes a blog for the Press Enterprise breaks the news that Gary Matthews, Jr. won’t be back in 2010. Becker reports that Matthews will either be traded or released from his contract. We wish GMJ well.

Good luck Gary!

October 25, 2009

Life isn't always fair

It wasn’t supposed to end this way, but sometimes life just isn’t fair. Sometimes in real life, the good guys don’t win. Sometimes good people have bad things happen to them and in the worse case scenario a young man, full of promise loses his life through no fault of his own. Unfortunately, that’s life.

The Yankees are going to the World Series and the Angels aren’t. The Yankees simply played better baseball than the Angels and even Mike Scioscia acknowledged that.

Losing hurts. It sucks to no end and when the sting of a loss is still fresh it’s hard to focus on anything other than the pain. There’s no sense in pointing fingers or casting blame because none of that changes anything and quite frankly it doesn’t make me feel any better.

This team overcame horrific circumstances to make a run at a title. The fact that they came as far as they did is a testament to their courage and their determination. It’s hard to do anything with a heavy heart, let alone compete on the biggest stage in the world. I am proud of the Angels and for the manner in which they conducted themselves all year long.

I have no idea what the future holds and I don’t even really want to think about it right now. All I know is another season has ended. The hours, days and months have all suddenly come to an abrupt halt. Our hearts are broken and we are extremely disappointed, but come spring, we’ll risk everything once again and take the plunge back into another season of tears and cheers that is better known as major league baseball.

Cheryl and I want to thank the 514 Fanatics who remained positive and hopeful throughout the season. You know who you are. We cherish your friendships and loved sharing the adventure that is baseball with each of you. We can’t wait to be with all of the Fanatics again in 2010.

To those of you who have taken the time to read this blog, thank you for humoring me and for reading about the ramblings of this die hard Angels fan. Some of you have had kind words to say and I sincerely appreciate your sentiments. In case you’re wondering, I will continue to blog in the off season because I still have much to say. It just won’t be nearly as often.

Although I am extremely disappointed, I find comfort is knowing that God is good. I was reminded today by Roger Beard, who is the retired pastor of Parkcrest Christian Church that each of us is a masterpiece, created by God. Yes, even Alex Rodriguez. I know God wants me to love even those who wear the pinstripes. That’s a lot to ask of me right now, and the best I can do is to tip my cap to them. I’m sorry, that’s as good as I can do today, but I promise to work on doing all that He commands in the days to come. Thankfully, God is always patient with me.

You know, today wasn’t the worst day in my life and in some ways it was a terrific day. Roger retired from Parkcrest last year and Cheryl and I have missed him tremendously. Today he was invited back to Parkcrest to teach, just like he used to. It was great to see him again and no matter what else happened today, I knew this day couldn’t be all bad.

This whole entire week has been one big adventure. It started with a terrific win for the Angels on Monday and an even more amazing rollercoaster of a win on Thursday. Sandwiched in between was a humbling loss, oh so painful to watch. On Friday I had to say a few words about the passing of a colleague. I could barely make it through that one. I then followed that up by accepting a service award for a professional organization I belong to. Minutes before all of that, Cheryl had a flat that ended up shredding the tire of our car on the way to the luncheon where I would be speaking; thankfully, she arrived safely and just in time. You could say my emotions have been through the ringer this week. I’m exhausted both mentally and physically.

It’s time to get back to work and to life away from baseball. Spring will be here before we know it and I can’t wait.

In closing today’s blog, I want to tip my hat once again to the Yankees – you earned your way to the World Series. That being said, I really want to wish the Phillies the best of luck. Go Philly!

Great Expectations

And so the waiting continues. I don’t like it much, but like so many things in life, it’s one more thing that’s out of my control. The game won’t get here soon enough, but at least we have a game.

Even though the rain thing was a bummer, there is a silver lining. When this series goes to 7 games, John Lackey could get the call on three days rest. Mike Scioscia probably isn’t thinking that far ahead, but I can. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be perfectly fine with Weaver getting the nod. Either way, the Angels will have a true competitor on the mound.

I want this in the worst way. I know there are more important things going on in the world today and yet winning still matters. The Angels stand for something. They’re about teamwork and a group of guys who are like a family, who have had to deal with real life issues and all the things that go with that. They're out to complete a goal and have remained focused on that goal, despite adversity, despite life itself.

We don’t know how the story will unfold today. We don’t know who might become a hero. We could end up talking about tonight’s game for years to come or we could end up wanting to forget about it. The anticipation is tremendous.

What is it about us fans that make us want to beat the Yankees so much? For me, it’s about making sure a self-centered turd like Alex Rodriguez never gets to experience what it means to be a champion. It’s about the stereotypical, arrogant Yankee fan who think that when his/her team wins, it some how makes them better than anyone else. It’s because when I look at the Yankees I see a team that plays without honor. I see mercenaries that are hired to complete a task and are there because they are receiving top dollar for their services. It’s about an organization that has tried to find a short cut to a title by simply buying whoever they want. It’s about an organization that thinks they’re bigger than the game itself.

The Yankees need to be knocked out in the worst way and the Angels are just the team to do it. I believe they’re up to the challenge. The stage is set for an incredible show. It couldn’t be more dramatic.

The media loves the Yankees, but we know the Angels are actually the better story. I want the Yankees to be irrelevant, a mere footnote in the 2009 season. The Angels are a team that is all about hope. They're all about getting up every time someone knocks them down. Sometimes they lift each other up, sometimes it's us fans that give them an emotional lift by being loud at games. This season they've found a multitude of ways to keep pushing forward.

Vic, a 514 Fanatic recently ran into a down trodden Rex Hudler after an Angels loss and told him “Angels shine brightest when it’s darkest.” Rex said, “I like that.” I do too.

Hollywood couldn’t write a better script. They’d never cast this group of players into their real-life roles.

Let’s expect the incredible and believe in miraculous. Let's Go Angels.

October 24, 2009

Waiting is the hardest part

It’s 1:45 p.m. and I can’t wait for the game to start. I’m anxious. I’m excited. I really want the Angels to win. I always want them to win, but this year is different. It really is. It’s about overcoming Boston. It’s about beating the Evil Empire and even though it may have been over-stated, it’s about Nick Adenhart. It’s as if winning it all would some how bring some closure to the Adenhart tragedy.

We may be seeing Vlad, Figgy, Lackey, Oliver and Abreu for the last time. It’s not something I want to think about. I just want them to win the whole thing. Whatever happens after that happens. But this team, this group of individuals need to complete the story. We need a happy ending. After all, we all love happy endings.

I love this team’s chances.

I have supreme confidence in Joe Saunders; however, I am not confident in the weather. It’s making me crazy. I’d just like to know if this thing is going to be played today. I hate waiting. I hate not knowing. Heck, sometimes I even listen to the radio when the game is on TV because TV is delayed by seven seconds and I can know what happens before I see it.

I hope they get this game in and that the weather isn't a factor.

If you are so inclined, you can follow the weather updates on Twitter. I just checked the twitter web page and the latest update says the gates are opening on time at 5 p.m. Eastern. That’s a good sign, I think. We’ll see.

This is torture.

We’ll be leaving to meet some 514 Fanatics at a local restaurant in a couple hours. Here’s believing that we will be celebrating later tonight.

Go Angels!


Game postponed until Sunday!

October 23, 2009

Start Spreading The News!

Last night the Angels took the best punches the Yankees could throw and at the end of the day, they counter punched and threw some big bombs of their own and stood victorious. Any other team would have probably folded, but as we all know, this bunch is not like any other team.

I don’t normally do much analysis of the games in this blog. It’s not that I don’t have opinions or agree with everything the Angels do; I just figure there are plenty of other people out there doing that kind of stuff. My goal for this blog is to bring you something that’s hopefully unique and somewhat entertaining.

Never-the-less… I just have to say that for the record, I would have left John Lackey in the game with the bases loaded to face Mark Teixeira. In my heart of hearts, I wanted to win or lose with Lackey on the mound. I can only imagine how hard it was for Scioscia to walk out to the mound to take the ball from a warrior like Lackey. My heart ached for Lackey because I felt like he wanted this game in the worst way. John is not afraid and I absolutely love that about him.

I also would have left Jered Weaver in the game to close things out. When he came in the game and wrote N.A. in the dirt, I had to gulp and fight back a tear. If Lackey wasn’t going to finish this thing, I wanted Weaver to carry the torch.

Well, what do I know? It doesn’t really matter and all I need to know is that the Angels are still in this thing...

And how about the offensive play of Jeff Mathis all series? So many different players have stepped up every game. I was talking to a colleague (his name is Joe and he’s a Dodger fan, but I try not to hold it against him) at work last week and he was telling me about a conversation he had with a buddy of his about the difference between baseball and the NBA. In the NBA you pretty much know who’s going to take the last shot… be it Kobe or Lebron James or whoever. Basketball teams pretty much get to dictate that stuff. Even in the NFL, you can put the ball in the hands of whoever you want. In baseball, it all depends on how the roster turns over. You never know who’s going to be at bat in a key situation and anyone can be a hero. Everyone is going to get roughly the same amount of at-bats. I love this about baseball.

Today is John Lackey’s birthday. John just got a great present. It might not have come wrapped the way he wanted it, but I doubt he’s complaining much now.

Tim McCarver just celebrated a birthday. He said one of the things he wanted for his birthday was a seven game series. I do believe he’s going to get his wish; after all, guess who’s taking the mound Saturday? Joe Saunders. You know Cheryl and I love that. I have to say, I like the Angels chances in that one.

Last night was all about demonstrating the resolve that is within this team. It was about Tim Salmon throwing out the first pitch and Brian Fuentes making the last one. It was about Juan Rivera coming up with a big hit, just when I was about ready to give up on him. It was about telling the Yankees, “not in our house.”

I love this team. I genuinely like all the players on this team. Every last one of them. It’s not often you can say that about a team. I really wasn’t a K-Rod fan. Not because he made me nervous, but because I hated all of his on-the-mound antics. Speaking of antics, Joba hasn’t much to get excited about in his last two outings. I don’t know if I could stand watching him act as if he was going through a difficult bowel movement again.

Other observations… it was a beautiful sight to see so many Yankees taking the walk of shame back to their dug out after looking at strike three. When the game ended, I closed my eyes and faced the heavens with my arms reaching into the sky. When I opened them, I didn’t see any Yankee fans. It was a beautiful thing. "New York, New York" wasn’t playing in any of cars leaving the stadium and only the people that actually know how to drive (Californians) were headed home.

I only wish I could have heard John Sterling, the obnoxious Yankee broadcaster screaming… "the Yankees lose, the Yankees lose, Thaaaaaaaaaa YANKEES LOSE!" I’ll take Rory Markus screaming “Just another Halo Victory” instead any time.

A tip of the hat goes to 514 Fanatic Kim, who sits next to Cheryl for many of the games. When Kim goes to the potty, the Angels score. This has been going on for years. It really works quite a bit. It’s to the point where I think Arte Moreno should give her, her own private bathroom. On the door, there should be a sign saying “Home of the Rally Bladder.” Guess who was in the bathroom when the Angels scored the three runs to take back the lead? You got it. Now, if you ever hear people chanting, “Go Kim Go” – you’ll know what that’s all about. In fact, if you want to bring her cold drinks all game long, just stop by Row F and pass it down to her. Heck, even when she’s not at the game, people will call her when the Angels are at bat to see if she’s doing her duty.

Oh the things we do to help our team.

On to New York. Good luck Angels, we’ll keep the light on for you while you’re gone. You can’t miss it; it’s on top of the Big A in the parking lot.

October 21, 2009

It's on

ALCS Game 5 Check List

√ Game Tickets
√ Angels Foundation Wrist Band.
√ Food. No NY cheesecake
√ Drink. Hatorade. Yeah, you heard right
√ Radio tuned to Terry and Rory
√ Fitted Angels Hat – easily converted into a rally cap
√ John Lackey Shirt (for James)
√ Torii Hunter Shirt (for Cheryl)
√ Game Face. It’s On!
√ Never Give Up Attitude
√ Rally Monkey. You better believe it

Disneyland is often referred to as “the happiest place on earth.” Well… tomorrow night Angels Stadium shall be dubbed “the loudest place on earth.” Here’s to Angel fans coming together for THE biggest game of the year (so far). It’s win or go home time and we’re not ready to say good-bye to the boys in red.

This team has come too far and overcome way too much to stop now. It’s time to call New York and say “guess who’s coming to dinner this weekend?” That’s right – better hide the children, it’s going to get ugly. The Angels will be heading back the Big Apple after taking care of business tomorrow night. Alfredo Griffin said it and I believe it. Time to tell the Yankees, “Not in our house! You’re not welcome here!” Take your Frank Sinatra CD’s and go back to the Bronx. Go polish off your statues and plaques in monument park and talk about the good old days when you didn’t have to fear the rally monkey because he wasn’t even born yet.

Let’s get ready to rumble. It’s time to throw down. We don’t want the Yankees representing the American League. Red is in and pinstripes are as out of style as Donald Trump’s hairdo. Time for you to take some time off, watch some old Billy Crystal movies and start complaining about the Knicks.

Your money can’t save you because the Angels are going to own you. By Sunday night you’re going to wonder what happened. You’re going to realize a bazillion dollar payroll doesn’t buy you what it used to. Don’t worry we’ll give you a sack of oranges as a parting gift. If you’re really lucky we’ll throw in some avocados. Go see if Bobby Flay can make you some comfort food.

It’s N.Y.Y. baby and that doesn’t stand for the NY Yankees. It stands for Not Your Year!

Let’s do this.

Remembering Guen

One of the great things about sport is that it often reveals the character of the athletes involved. Time after time this season, the Angels have shown tremendous fortitude and heart. They’ve tried to overcome the loss of their teammate – Nick Adenhart and now find themselves on a national stage playing for something more than just a victory.

Monday’s come- from-behind Angels win against the Yankees was one for the ages. It was incredible. It was the latest chapter in an inspiring story of hope and in many ways reminds me of the courageous story of Guen Molloy.

Who, might you ask is Guen Molloy?

On April 12, 2009 (Easter) Guen passed away after a brave battle with ovarian cancer. Unfortunately, her story did not have a happy ending.

Guen was a colleague; more importantly she was also a mother, a wife, and a daughter. She left behind her husband Dave and her daughter “Libby” who just turned two in September.

Why bring this up now?

As I was riding the train to work Tuesday morning, I kept thinking about the Angels ability to overcome adversity and triumph in the face of incredible odds stacked against them. I thought about how a nation was able to witness their determination to succeed (of course, all of this was before Tuesday night’s debacle).

I was also thinking about Guen.

The reason Guen was on my mind is because I’ve been asked to say a few words about her passing at a conference for a professional organization I belong to this coming Friday. The organization will be honoring Guen’s memory by naming their conference scholarship award after her. The scholarship is a terrific tribute to Guen, who was also a member of this group.

As I road the train Tuesday morning I kept thinking about the play-offs and about Guen. I was excited about the games ahead, but I also needed to focus on Friday. My head felt like it was spinning with thoughts about both. What will I say this Friday? How do I put my arms around it all? What about these Angels? Does baseball and Guen some how tie together? How do I put it all into perspective?

And then it hit me.

Heroes don't always appear in the lime light; sometimes they fly under the public radar and never receive the accolades they deserve. Unfortunately, there are times when heroes actually die and those who carry on in the midst of their loss end up becoming heroes themselves. Life doesn't stop for anyone and people have to move forward.

As I thought about this some more, I found myself drawing perspective from the Angels' experience.

When Nick Adenhart passed away – the media was all over the Angels club house. When Angels' manager Mike Scioscia was interviewed, he said, “The perspective is that it was never about us, about how we’re dealing with it. When a tragedy like that happens, it’s very simple to see that it’s not about us losing a friend or a teammate. It’s about the Adenhart family losing a son. . . .

“That’s the perspective that we have. We played all year with a heavy heart, and we’ll continue to play with a heavy heart. But we need to understand that it’s not about us; it’s about their family. We’re here to support their family, and that’s what we have to do,” he said.

Those words have provided me with some direction.

On Friday, I will try some how, some way to show support for Guen’s family; to honor her memory and applaud Dave for his courage and determination.

Deaths are often tragic. Those impacted by it often give us encouragement when it should be the other way around.

Dave continues to carry on without his best friend while doing his best to raise their daughter. Dave is truly a hero. Even though he’s not going to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated or be applauded in front of a stadium full of adoring fans – he (like Guen) is truly an inspiration.

Dave is working on projects to raise awareness about ovarian cancer and is working to keep the memory of Guen alive in our hearts.

One such project is called Operation: Guennie Blue. This is a new ovarian cancer awareness campaign that is being developed. Its purpose is to promote ovarian cancer testing, and to provide moral support and shared experiences to families who are going through their own struggle with ovarian cancer and for those who will encounter it in the future.

There is also a book being written. It will tell the story of Guen and Dave's journey through their struggle with this horrific disease. I understand it is a true story of courage, hope, faith, determination and love.

Inspiration comes in many forms. We often expect it to come by way of something like a baseball game; we don’t always see it coming in our day to day lives. I’m sure Guen and Dave never set out to be heroes and yet – they are. You may not have known Guen, but you may know someone just like her and her husband. Every day people do incredible things; only their stage is their home or a hospital room or some place away from public view. It is up to us to make sure they're recognized, honored and supported.

It's easy to stand and applaud for a team that's just done something special on the playing field. It should be even easier for us to stand and applaud those who do the miraculous in every day life. Every-day-heroes don't do things for applause, but we should cheer them on just the same.

Sport is best when it imitates life. In both there is struggle. Hopefully, there is also joy. At times there will be conflict and sometimes there is victory. There are also times when we also have to face defeat and then move on. Life happens. We just need to remember to embrace it one pitch at a time; one day at a time.

To read more about Guen Molloy’s story – please visit the Guen Molloy web site.

October 20, 2009

High Hopes

It’s okay to have hope. In fact, it’s more than okay in my book; however, hope is not for the weak of heart. It takes a certain amount of courage to stand in the face of adversity and say, I’m not giving up. Giving up is easy way out. Quite frankly, it’s what a lot of Cub fans do every year.

I guess for some, losing is an expectation. These people not only accept losing, they embrace it. Instead of saying "here we go again" - some of us prefer to say... "Here we go!"

Tonight the Angels were beat down pretty good. It was humiliating and humbling. Some people couldn’t take it. At least one season ticket holder left early and said…”see you next spring.” I find that kind of attitude utterly pathetic and I have very little tolerance for that kind of mind set. It’s as if some ticket holders (I refuse to call these people fans) actually take joy in the team’s failures. They stand and clap when things go wrong; mocking players with a sarcastic “way to go” and then sit with their hands folded across their chest when things go right.

Baseball is supposed to be fun, but these people suck the joy right out of the game.

What’s wrong with having hope? What’s wrong with keeping a positive attitude?

I know some people will say they’d rather not get their hopes up because then they won’t be disappointed. I don’t get that at all. Losing hurts no matter what. What have you got to lose by keeping the faith alive? More importantly, think about all you have to gain! Triumphs are all the more sweet when achieved despite bumps in the road.

If you’re one of those people who would rather take the easy way out, please stay clear of those of us who want to believe. Call us naive. Call us homeristic. Just don’t call us to your pity party.

Some of us have better things to focus on. There are still games to be played.

There is no question, the odds are stacked against the Angels. They have a huge task ahead of them, but if you have followed this team at all this year, you know that they are more than capable of doing the improbable, if not the impossible. We refuse to underestimate them and we will not give up on them any time soon.

Even if they do fall short of their goal – we will not turn our backs on them. We will stand behind our team through thick and thin because that’s what we do. And isn't that what they do in places where passion runs deep?

Corny stuff? Perhaps. Never-the-less this is how we roll. Cheryl and I invest a lot of ourselves in the Angels. It starts in Spring Training where we’ve had the opportunity interact with the players and get a glimpse of their personalities. It helps us feel connected. The team is real to us.

When Nick Adenhart died tragically, it broke our hearts. Not just because it was a sad story, but because we were lucky enough to meet Nick at his first Spring Training and then at every other Spring Training he went to. We were blessed to have our picture taken with him, to talk with him, and learn about his expectations and goals.

We smile when Reggie Willits gets on base and then rubs his helmet with his hand because we know that’s his way of saying hello to his young son in Oklahoma who is watching him on TV.

We feel sad when a player like Sean Rodriguez is traded away because we remember a special moment where he shared his faith with us and us with him.

We feel joy whenever we see Torii Hunter because he has allowed us to experience his warmth and kindness when he makes the time to interact with fans. We have lots of Torii Hunter stories that have become precious memories to us.

This past spring he posed for pictures and then asked… “Do I have any boogies in my nose?” as he wrinkled his nose and tilted his head back. He also joked with a silver haired lady waiting for his autograph and told her he thought she was “hot.” He egged Reggie Willits on and told him he’d give him $500 if he could hit a homerun in batting practice and when Reggie surprised everyone watching and actually hit one out – Torii exclaimed that he was “bamboozled” and told the kids that this should be a lesson to them and that it just doesn’t pay to gamble.

These are just some of the experiences we carry with us to every game. We come prepared knowing that something special can happen at any given moment. Don’t ask us to give up on that hope. We simply won’t do it.

Cheryl and I want to stand with those who have a “Yes We Will” mentality. These are the people we want to hang out with. These are the individuals we want to celebrate with. Our bond is fortified during adverse times and made all the more special when times are good. This is also the group we want to be with when it’s time to console one another.

It’s okay to hope. It’s okay to believe. Come on now, deep down inside you want to be a part of something great. You can’t get there if you don’t believe.

October 19, 2009

Thank you. May I have another?

Baseball is a beautiful game. Where else can someone who has the lowest batting average among players with 100 or more at bats become the hero?

Jeff “English isn’t my favorite subject, but” Math-is was the newest character introduced into the script that is the 2009 ALCS. On this day, the 19th day of October in the year 2009 Jeff Mathis stepped up and proved once again that in baseball – anything is possible. Is this a great game or what?

There were lots of keys to this game that will never show up in a box score. You won’t hear them discussed on ESPN or on Fox Sports. You won’t read about them in the Orange County Register or the New York Post either. Perhaps these are just exaggerations or even coincidence, but consider these elements as possible factors for why the Angels won tonight.

First of all, there was the fly over. A C-17 literally came out of right field as it passed over Angels stadium. An omen that tonight’s hero would also come out of right field, not the position mind you, but in the way of expectations.

Second – how could an Angels squad possibly lose after seeing Rod Carew and Bobby Grich team up for the honorary first pitch of the ball game?

Third, there is the 2-2-2 – something some of us learned from 514 Fanatics Nick and Patty Saturday night. When an Angel batter is up and has two strikes, two balls and two outs on them – you take your rally cap off and shake it in front of you. Well, when Vlad came up with the Angels trailing and one man on, with two outs, two balls and two strikes we shook our caps and Vlad homered. Coincidence or a new secret weapon? You decide.

Last, but not least… there were some anxious people in the stands prior to and during the game… Cheryl’s solution? Philippians 4, verses 6 & 7… Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. She kept praying and good things happened.

Am I crazy? You bet I am. I have been consumed by the excitement that is play-off baseball. I’m all in. I’m ready for the roller coaster ride and I’m willing to risk it all… I believe the Angels are on a mission and I’m willing to risk disappointment in exchange for the hope we’ll experience the pure joy that comes from winning.

October 18, 2009

Reign Predicted for Anaheim

Sometimes the toughest part about being a fan is knowing you have no control over what happens on the field. That doesn’t necessarily stop one from trying though.

Last night a small contingent of 514 Fanatics, along with other Angel fans gathered at the Beach Pit BBQ in Tustin to cheer on the Angels. We came armed with rally monkeys and rally caps. We did our best to try to “influence” the game as best we could, but at the end of the day the Angels still fell to the Yankees 4-3 in thirteen intense innings.

So here I am and it’s the morning after. I was so sure the Angels would even the series and yet it just didn’t happen. What to do?

I tend to focus on the positive and for me the positives were another outstanding pitching performance by Joe Saunders, a solid two innings from Kevin Jepsen, and knowing the Angels still have more baseball to play in October. Hopefully, a lot more baseball

This series isn’t over yet. The script is still being written and I continue to believe it will have one heck of a happy ending.

So far the meteorologists have been wrong and the pundits have been right. So far. I’m still betting that the baseball experts will ultimately fail. In the mean time, I’m sure we’ll get to hear all about how the Angels can’t possibly come back. They’ll probably glaze over Captain Clutch’s errors in the field and speak glowingly about how A-Fraud has stepped up big. They’ll expound about how Andy Pettite is supposedly a big game pitcher. I’m sure it’s something he learned from Roger Clemens, among “other” things.

How about calling out the Yankee fans that couldn’t fill up their own stadium? How about the Yankee players dressing up as if they were going to compete in the Iditarod? I had visions of Yankee players rounding the bases on dog sleds.

This Yankee team ain’t so tough and their fan base isn’t as passionate as they claim. By the time the 13th inning rolled around – the stadium had transformed itself into Oakland. It was as empty as Joba Chamberlain’s liquor cabinet after a hard night of partying.

Yeah, I’m taking some shots. That’s another thing we fans do.

While I will give a quick tip of the hat to the team that is up 2-0, I will not concede a thing. As I stated in my last post, I will not go quietly, I will not lie down. More importantly, neither will my Angels.

Last, but not least - I have a weather forecast for Anaheim. There’s a red storm coming. Brace yourself for a Red Reign.

October 17, 2009

Let's Go Joe!

I woke up this morning with an old Don Henley tune in my head. I will not go quietly, I will not lie down...I felt like it was some sort of battle cry going off in my head.

Last night I went to bed feeling confident about today and I was very much at peace. When I woke up today, it was as if I was ready for a fight. I know the Angels are going to win tonight and I can’t wait to see it happen.

I also woke up feeling like I had to make another effort to convince other Angel fans out there to have the same kind of confidence that Cheryl and I have in Joe.

Joe is unsung, but Joe is good. Darn good. He was the opening day starter who put this team on the right track with a victory. He battled through injury and ended the regular season for the Angels, just as he began it – beating the hated A’s.

Do you remember the game in 2007 when Joe took the mound wearing a Hokie cap from his alma mater Virginia Tech.? It was a game that came after the shootings on the campus that left 32 people dead. Joe carried the weight of what he called “the Hokie Nation” on his shoulders that night and he did not disappoint. He pitched six scoreless innings and the Angels beat the Mariners 8-4. Not only did they win that game, but the Angels ended a six game losing streak. Didn’t you feel in your gut that Joe was going to win that game? I know I did. It’s like that for me today.

Joe Saunders is an outstanding pitcher, but no matter what he does, he seems to continue to fly under the radar. When Scott Kazmir arrived in Anaheim he was everyone’s new favorite flavor. Heck, even the Angels team store started selling Kazmir t-shirts within a week of his arrival. It wasn’t until this year (and Joe made his debut in 2005) that Joe got his own t-shirt in the team store. I know. Cheryl and I made it known to anyone in the Angels organization who would listen.

Every time Joe steps up and wins a big game, I feel like standing on a soap box and screaming…”THAT’s what I’m talking about. This dude can pitch!” Do you hear me out there? I’m serious.

Joe’s the guy whose name always comes up in trade talks. That always makes me want to puke. Joe’s the guy everyone forgets about when they’re talking about how good the Angels rotation is. Well, it’s time to change that. It’s time for Angel fans to stand up and get behind #51.

No matter what happens. I won’t keep quiet about Joe Saunders. I will NOT go quietly, I will NOT lie down.

October 16, 2009

Joe gets the call

John Lackey deserved better. He pitched well, but his team didn’t show up. That wasn’t the Angels team I’ve been watching all season long. I don’t know what happened. All I know is that I’m glad that one is out of the way.

Time to do what the Angels do so well… and that's to simply turn the page. No pointing fingers. No could a, would a, should a… This one is done. Time to move on.

When the Angels were down in Boston during game 3 of the ALDS, I felt calm. I never felt like the team was out of it. Tonight, I felt uneasy and never could get comfortable. Now that it’s over. I feel calm again. I really do.

I’m confident the Angels are going to win tomorrow. There, I said it. I put it out there. I honestly believe the Angels are going to take game 2. That faith has a lot to do with who will be starting tomorrow’s game.

I’m stoked Joe Saunders will make the start in game 2 of the ALCS. In case you’re wondering why I am so excited, you can read a previous post of mine where I documented the little bit of history Cheryl and I have with Joe.

I have a tremendous amount of confidence in Saundo (as dubbed by Rex Hudler). I believe Joe embodies the spirit of what it means to be an Angels baseball player. He mirrors the steady nature of his manager, Mike Scioscia. He’s not flashy; he just gets the job done. Guys like Joe don’t get a lot of attention, but his winning generates headlines for his team.

And winning is what he has done since he came off the disabled list. He’s 7-0 since his return. Winning is what he always does. In 2008 he led the team in ERA and wins. This year Joe tied Jered Weaver for the team lead in wins with 16 despite spending a few weeks on the disabled list.

Not that any of that matters. It’s all more of a foot note, really.

I guess sometimes we find comfort in past history and there is a lot of that we can call on, but from my point of view it’s just a gut thing. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking… is that all you have?

It isn’t about statistics or match ups, or the weather or anything else. It’s all about this team’s resolve and their ability to come through when others might think they’re about to fold. Adversity has made this team strong and I’m sure that will be evident tomorrow night. I can feel it. And again, Joe Saunders will be on the mound. Man, I like the sound of that.

So buckle up folks. This ALCS is about to get interesting and a whole lot more fun.

October 15, 2009

Analyze This

When I started this blog, I told myself (and probably you as well) I wasn’t going to be doing any kind of deep analysis of the game or its players. I lied, but only sort of.

True Grich proudly presents; this, that and some other things about the New York Yankees. You see, Rob Neyer has nothing on me.

Here we go…

First up, Johnny Damon. Johnny makes up for his lack of arm strength with his ability to grow a very thick beard. Problem is Johnny isn’t allowed to grow any of that in NY. In Boston they sell t-shirts that say: Johnny Damon - Looks like Jesus. Acts like Judas. Throws like Mary. Ouch. Johnny wants to stay in NY next year (he’s a free agent after the season). Come on Johnny; why not go back to Oakland where you played in 2001? After all, that worked out well for Jason Giambi. Oh wait…

Mark Teixeira is a good hitter, but he’s a terrible liar. Please don’t tell me it’s not about the money and then go and sign with the Yankees. Now, if you had told me you didn’t want to live in the same time zone as your agent Scott Boras, I might have believed you. Then again, I can’t be too angry with Mark – his leaving paved the way for Kendry Morales and gave the Angels the flexibility to sign Bobby Abreu. I love Bobby. Players flock to Bobby. Salesmen with visions of large commission checks flock to Tex. I’ll take Morales and Abreu over Tex any day.

By the way does Tex remind you of anyone?

I'm just saying...

Alex Rodriguez leads the league in one thing. Derogatory nicknames. A-Roid, A-Fraud, A-Choke. You name it, he’s been called it. Make no mistake about it, Alex is all about himself. One WBC he wants to play for Team USA. The next he wants to play for the Dominican Republic. One day Madonna is his soul mate. The next he’s kissy face with Kate Hudson. When he orchestrated his way out of Texas, he didn’t care if he went to Boston or New York. A-Fraud is as wishy washy as a politician. He might have a bright future in congress. He might represent New York one term and then Florida the next. He’ll probably switch parties every other election too.

In New York they like to cheer – Hip, Hip, Jorge. I’m here to Rip, Rip Jorge. Jorge Posada is a catcher in name only. He wears the gear, but he can’t do the job. He’d be the perfect spokesman for one of those Holiday Inn commercials. I can hear him now… “I’m not a catcher, but I slept at a Holiday Inn Express last night.” His arm is so weak; he couldn’t even throw out soon-to be 51 year old Mike Scioscia on the bases. He’s so bad; A.J. Burnett would rather have Jose Molina catch for him. Posada doesn’t like that much. Isn’t dissention in the Yankee club house a beautiful thing?

Then there’s C.C Sabathia. And I thought Bartolo Colon was big. Sabathia is listed at 6’7” and 290 lbs. Everything about him is big, including his ERA against the Angels this year, not to mention his career post season ERA. It’s clear Sabathia likes donuts, because he’s 0-2 this year against the Angels so far.

Cheater, Cheater Derek Jeter. Don’t you just love the way that rolls off your tongue? What can I possibly say about “Captain Clutch?” It’s going on nine years since Derek Jeter was clutch enough to carry his team to a World Series win. I think it’s to the point now where he’s better known for all the Hollywood starlets he’s had on his arm. I hear they’re lining up for him. Don’t worry ladies… I believe Jeter will be back on the dating scene some time next week when his season comes to an end.

Mariano Rivera. It’s really hard to rip this guy; after all, he’s the greatest closer in post-season history. Just ask the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks.

Brian Cash-man. What a perfect name for a Yankee GM. He’s been quoted as saying - “I think they (Angels) look down on us.” Actually, Mr. Cashman, the Angels don’t look down or even back for that matter. They look ahead. It’s what you do when you’re pulling away from your opponent.

There you have it. It’s not comprehensive, but I think I’ve managed to hit all the low points. Peter Gammons, eat your heart out.

Extra Innings:

Happy Birthday to 514 Fanatic Lauren, who turned 40 yesterday!

October 14, 2009

It's Unanimous

The so-called baseball experts are falling all over themselves as they line up to pick the Yankees over the Angels. On ESPN.com, it’s unanimous. All ten pundits have picked the Yankees. Peter Gammons, Tim Kurkjan, Rob Neyer (no shock here), Steve Phillips (who picked the Mariners to win the AL West in 2008), John Stark, etc., etc.

You know what? I’m fine with it. The Yankees should be the favorites. They had the best record in baseball, the highest payroll in baseball and own some of the most high profile mercenaries… I mean athletes in all of sports. They also have home field advantage.

No hard feelings. I actually like John Stark and Tim Kurkjan. I’m not going to hold their predictions against them.

Having been an Angels fan for better than forty years, I am quite comfortable seeing my team as the under-dogs. Last year, when they had the best record in baseball and pundits every where were pegging them for a WS title, I felt uneasy. I just wasn’t used to being in that position. This feels much more natural.

Besides, the favorites are simply that – the favorites. People who bet on horses can tell you that being the favorite doesn’t mean squat. Quite frankly, the baseball pundits are like weather men to me. They’re often wrong, but they keep coming back to tell us what they think is going to happen. Truth is, you or I have just as good a chance as predicting an outcome. Tampa Bay Rays anyone?

If you really want to listen to an expert – listen to Bobby Grich. I read on the Angels Win message board Bobby Grich had predicted the Angels would sweep the Red Sox. Good ol’ Bob-bay! is still hitting them out of the park. I haven’t heard any Bobby Grich predictions for the ALCS, but I’d be interested to hear one.

Everyone likes to make predictions. Heck, the first World Series I ever really focused on was in 1971 when the Pirates beat the Orioles. Do you know what I remember about that series? I distinctly remember Tony Kubek (who played for the Yankees from 1957-1965) predicting the Pirates would win in seven. He was dead on and I never forgot that.

Speaking of 1971 – the Orioles were heavy favorites to win it all that year. They boasted four 20 game winners. They had three future Hall of Famers in Jim Palmer, Frank Robinson, and Brooks Robinson. They had a future Hall of Fame manager in Earl Weaver. They even had three future major league managers in Don Baylor (granted, he only played one game), Davey Johnson, and Frank Robinson. They even had Bobby Grich on their bench (although he didn’t have a post-season at bat).

It didn’t matter. The Pirates won it all behind one of the greatest players of all time in Roberto Clemente (a childhood favorite of mine). By the way, do you know who else was on that team? Al Oliver, the dad of our very own Darren Oliver.

Time after time, history has shown that being the favorite doesn’t guarantee you anything. I just picked 1971 as an example because it’s one of my earliest baseball memories and it infused in me the belief that in baseball, anything can happen.

So I guess it’s my turn. I’m not going to predict the number of games it’s going to take and I’m not going to go into some kind of deep analysis of why I feel the way I do. I just believe in my biased, homeristic, Angels loving heart the Angels are going to win this thing. No surprises here.

Face it, you (Angel fans) and I know how good the Angels are. I think the rest of the world is about to find out.

Then again, maybe not the entire world….

True Grich Banned in China

A side note… I’m told by my long time friend Billy who is living in Hong Kong that my blog is banned in China. I know what you’re thinking… Those communists must be Yankee fans!

Actually, he tells me that Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. are blocked in China. I just thought it was kind of cool to say my blog was banned there.

Thank God I live here.

And a huge THANKS to the men and women who serve in the Armed Forces to secure our freedom here and abroad, especially 514 Fanatic Bobby who just completed his tour of duty with United States Marine Corps. Semper Fi Bob-Bay!

October 12, 2009

Ringing in the ALCS

Okay, so the Angels just swept away one obnoxious fan base and what do you know? Here we go again to face another batch of the loud and the proud. Forgive me for painting these two fan bases with a broad brush. I know it’s not fair to the fans of those teams that actually can conduct themselves in a civil manner, but humor me anyway just so I can get through this post.

Get ready to hear the “got rings?” mantra over and over again. If they’re not saying it, they’re usually wearing it in the form of a t-shirt. My answer? No, I don’t have any “rings” and neither do you, unless you were actually employed by a team while they won a World Series.

What you Yankee fans do have is a boat load of memories and the experience of seeing your team win it all 26 times. We get it. We know all about your rich tradition. Albeit, you will have to go back a little further than us Angel fans to recall your last title. In fact, taking 2008 off from the play-offs probably made you more nostalgic than ever … until now.

And for the record Yankee fans – this is all about the “now.” So when the Angels put the beat down on the Yankees, please don’t ask me the "rings" question. Please don’t resort to that because you have nothing else to fire back at us Angel fans. That's as weak as Johnny Damon's arm. It’s 2009. It’s a new day and it’s all about the scoreboard. If you want to give us a history lesson, at least wait until our team has had their parade.

Am I predicting an Angels victory? Well, I’m actually really not here to do that. I’m just laying the ground work for a conversation we might be having sometime soon. And it goes both ways.

So, let’s set the ground rules now. Let’s talk about this season and this series. Let’s agree that the two best teams in the American League are about to get it on. Winner goes to the big party. Loser goes home. I don’t want to see you standing on the platform shouting out the “got rings?” question as our train pulls away from the depot. I’d just rather see you give us a simple wave and be on your way. If your team proves to better, I’ll do the same.

Let’s not rehash the past. We got plenty of that with the Red Sox and how… well, let’s not even go back there.

Every play-off series should be treated like a Heavyweight Title Fight. The winner is crowned champion. There’s no “look at all the other guys I’ve beaten.” Or even better, “got belts?” A boxer is only as good as his last fight. This should be the case for baseball teams as well. The only real fan base that has any bragging rights are Philadelphia Phillies fans and until their team is knocked out they should be the only ones doing any talking.

Look, I promise not to bring up any recent Angels/Yankees play-off history. What’s the point? It would be hypocritical of me to talk about the recent past, right? I’m glad we agree on the ground rules.

Now, there are some things I can not promise you. I may claim the devil wears pinstripes. I will probably let out an A-Roid chant now and then and throw in a Madonna joke or two. I’ll do a little cheater, cheater, Derek Jeter (just because it sounds good and he did cheat on his taxes). I may even refer to your team as the NY Mercenaries. I will definitely laugh when Jorge Posada tries to throw out Chone Figgins stealing a base. And all that’s just for starters. Just know it’s not personal. It’s part of the fun.

Is it Friday yet? Let the games begin.

October 11, 2009

Dear Boston, Dave Henderson Can't Help You.

We came. We saw. We conquered. Boston took their best shot and it wasn’t good enough. The better team won and that’s the name of that tune.

Baseball is a game of tradition. It is rich in history and full of superstitions and things like curses and such. The talk going into the series was all about the past. It was about 1986, 2004, 2007, and 2008. It was about looking back. I guess the past gives the experts and media types something to talk about.

Well, anyone that knows the Angels knows this is not a team that looks back and it is not a team that looks ahead. It is a team that focuses on the business at hand.

We heard (over and over) all about the Angels inability to beat Boston in the play-offs. We heard all about how Papelbon had never given up a run in the post season. Boston had a great record at home. They had a lot of confidence in their ball park. Blah, blah, blah. It was enough to make anyone want to throw up. Seriously.

Today the Red Sox even tried to resurrect the past by having Dave Henderson throw out the first pitch. Henderson is the man who broke the hearts of Angel fans in 1986 when his homerun sent his Red Sox to the World Series and the Angels home.

Well, Dave Henderson is no match for the Rally Monkey. Heck he’s not even a match for my rally cap. Cheryl had the monkey going and I had the cap firmly in place. Maybe Henderson should have closed the game instead of Papelbon. Maybe then he would have been of some help. I'm just saying...

Now, if anyone wants to talk about the past – let’s talk about how this team is like the team in 2002. It never gives up. During the game, Cheryl walked down the street to her mom’s to deliver some guacamole. One of our neighbors asked her if she was “giving up.” Cheryl confidently replied… “We never give up.”

During the game Buck Martinez the color commentator for TBS said something to the effect that Scioscia must be thinking about the depth of the Red Sox bull pen now and how they will have their work cut out for them tomorrow night. When he said that I had to laugh. I told Cheryl – I am certain Scioscia isn’t thinking about tomorrow night, he’s focused on this game right now.

And what a game it was.

So many players deserve thanks, but I'd just like to recognize a couple for now.

Vladimir Guerrero has more than 400 homeruns in his career. He has an MVP trophy on his mantle. He has as an impressive a resume as you will find in baseball, but none of it compares to the base hit he delivered today. Thank you Big Daddy.

Thank you Bobby Abreu. Bobby, you look good in red and your hit off the green monster was a sight to behold. You're one of us now, baby.

The past is right where it belongs. Time to start talking about the now. Time to remind everyone about this team’s heart. Time to go to the ALCS. Can I get a boo-ya!?

This feels good. In fact this feels awesome. It's never really been about revenge for me. It's been more about seeing the Angels getting the respect they deserve. It's been about putting the silly notion that the team was some how cursed. And okay, the revenge thing ain't bad either.

Perhaps Papelbon will take my advice from an earlier post and head off to Australia where summer is approaching and he can work on getting a tan. He can take Pedroia and Ellsbury with him. They can talk reminisce about the past. Ortiz can go and wash the spit off his hands and the good people in Boston can now focus on the Patriots. We Angel fans still have something to cheer for.

And to my friend from Section 514... Bo, this post is for you. Thank you for being Mr. Positive. I'm with you. I believe that Yes, We Will!

October 10, 2009

Rock on Jered Weaver

Last night Jered Weaver pitched the kind of game I envisioned he would throw when he signed with the Angels in 2005 out of Long Beach State (my alma mater). Jered’s rise through the organization’s system was one of the most anticipated events in Angel’s history.

When he finally did arrive on May 27, 2006 he did not disappoint. Jered pitched seven innings, giving up just three hits, walking one batter, and striking out five, while not giving up any runs. The Angels won that day 10-1 over the Baltimore Orioles.

I remember the day well. Cheryl and I drove down to San Diego’s Petco Park to see the Cardinals and David Eckstein play the Padres for an afternoon game. We love Petco Park and we have always loved David Eckstein. Going to see David whenever he was in town was something that had become a tradition for us.

After the game, we then drove back to Anaheim to catch Jered’s debut. It was a great day all the way around.

Cheryl and my early impressions of Jered included an encounter with him at an Angels fan fest. Jered came into the autograph session with a big smile, blonde hair flowing, sunglasses on and would point to people he knew (perhaps with a wink under those sunglasses) just like a big Hollywood star would do when walking onto a set. Cheryl and I affectionately dubbed him “Rock Star” that day. He was larger than life.

Make no mistake about it, Jered Weaver rocks. As fans we only get glimpses into a player’s personality away from the playing field. What we know of Jered comes from watching him stopping to sign autographs and pose for pictures at Spring Training. He always takes time for the fans.

This past spring we asked Jered to sign a picture we had taken from last year’s division clinching celebration. He looked at it and said “Now, that’s what I’m talking about.” It was vintage Jered.

Last night was vintage Jered too. In many ways this season will always represent the maturation of Jered Weaver to me. It’s obvious the death of Nick Adenhart has had a profound impact on Jered’s life. Weaver has handled the passing of his friend with class, doing everything possible to honor his buddy.

Again, I’m just a fan with very limited access to players, but I’ve had a great seat in the theatre known as Angels Stadium and on the side lines at Spring Training. Jered now has a quiet confidence about him. He seems more focused and is clearly on a mission. I believe he carries a heavy heart to the mound every time he steps on it and yet he seems inspired to pitch his very best.

I will never forget the first Angles game after Nick’s passing. It was April 10 and Jered was on the mound. He gave up one unearned run and threw six and two thirds innings, while striking out eight Red Sox; leading the Angels to a 6-3 victory. It was an emotional game and Jered Weaver had become a leader right before our eyes. It wasn’t a role he asked for. It was something he was destined to become.

It’s awesome when a player of Jered’s talent lives up to the potential that is within him. It’s something fans like Cheryl and me find extremely gratifying. These aren’t just names and numbers taking the field each night, they’re individuals with life experiences that sometimes may not be different from our own. We all suffer loss. We all strive to do our best in life, but in the case of players like Jered, they have to do it with 40,000+ watching them.

In 2006 133 pitchers made their major league debut. Jered leads all of them with 48 career wins to date. Rock on Jered Weaver.

Beating the Red Sox to take a two to nothing lead in the ALDS is awesome. Seeing someone like Jered Weaver play a role in that is what memories are made of. Sharing it with our friends in Section 514 makes it all the more special. Cheryl and I feel blessed to be Angel fans. In fact, being an Angels fan simply rocks.

October 8, 2009

Lesson learned

My wife Cheryl is a wise woman. Tonight when Torii Hunter came up in the bottom of the fifth inning, Cheryl turned to me and said “get your rally cap on.” Hat on. Ball gone. Just like that. Angels up 3-0.

My wife will tell you that I should listen to her more often. She’s probably right.

Turns out, I’m a quick learner. In the bottom of the 7th I didn’t wait for her to give me the rally hat instructions again. Rally cap on. Two more runs in. Game over. Angels go on to win 5-0.

What a night.

John Lackey was awesome tonight. If you were one of those people who weren’t sure he should get the start tonight, shame on you. This is the guy everyone on that staff looks to. You’ve heard all the labels. He’s the lead dog. A big game pitcher. A horse. Tonight, he was all those things and more.

And what can I say about Torii Hunter? The last time this team faced Boston he got on his teammates pretty good. He basically told them they needed to play better against teams like this. They did and he did. I’ve always said, I’d rather watch a winner than listen to one any day and tonight, I got to watch one.

Torii Hunter is my favorite player in the game today (not to be confused with my all time favorite – Bob-Bay). Torii was my favorite before he ever came to Anaheim. I’ve just always loved his game and his attitude.

The morning I found out the Angels signed him – my wife was up early watching the news. She woke me to tell me the Angels had just signed Hunter. I didn’t believe her. I told her the news reporter probably meant to say he signed with the L.A. Dodgers. After all, it was about 5:30 a.m. I just wanted to go back to sleep. But then I thought... what if she’s right?

Like I said earlier, Cheryl is a wise woman. When she’s right, she’s right. Never-the-less, I decided to go on-line to prove her wrong. Well, she was right again. Torii was coming to Anaheim.

I went dancing through the house in my pajamas that Thanksgiving morning. Tonight, Torii Hunter had me dancing again. They don’t call him Big Game Hunter for nothing.

I know it’s just one game and there is more work to do, but it’s nice to get that first one. Real nice.

Let’s do it again Friday night.

October 7, 2009

Fan Strong

Angel fans are on edge (myself included). We’re like volcanoes ready to erupt. The tension that comes with play-off baseball combined with the excitement of what’s ahead makes for a highly volatile situation.

This isn’t going to be just another play-off series. We are all sick and tired of losing to the Red Sox. We can’t take it any more. No, really – I’m serious; we can’t take it any more!

So, how will all of this translate to the fans in the stands? Will we sit on our hands and wait for things to happen; so tense we can barely move? Or… will we remember how loud it was in 2002 and bring back the energy and spirit of that time? Those thunder sticks were like war drums beating throughout the game. The pounding was relentless. It was deafening. My ears kept ringing for days. It was awesome.

Angel fans -- we need to unite. We need to come together to be one loud voice and drown out any Red Sox fans that might be in our house. That’s right – our house. I want Red Sox fans to feel uncomfortable at the Big A. I want them looking over their shoulders. Let them squirm in their seats a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want anything bad to happen to them -- other than seeing them leave the stadium at the end of each game with their heads hung low and eyes staring at the ground. I guess a few tears wouldn’t be bad either. Okay, sobbing Sox fans would be fine with me.

1986, 2004, 2007 and 2008 were nightmares. I don’t ever want to experience that again. Never, ever again.

I have a great feeling about this team. It reminds me of 2002 in so many ways. They’re never really out of a game. The forty-plus come-from-behind victories are proof of that.

This team has a swagger. They’ve got that look. More importantly, they’ve shown tremendous resolve. Don’t you dare underestimate this team.

If that’s not enough to convince you, I’m sorry. I won’t be providing any sabermetrics for you, but I can provide you with something that should give you all the confidence you need. The Angels closer in 2002 was Troy Percival. His birthday is August 9. The closer for this year’s team is Brian Fuentes. Fuentes also celebrates his birthday on August 9. Bingo. We just found the key to a championship – have a closer whose name is 12 letters long and make sure he was born on August 9. Folks, this is the kind of hard hitting baseball analysis you won’t find any where else.

Seriously… the team is ready to step up. We fans need to do the same. You’ve seen the ads – the Angels are “Fan Strong.” Time to live up to that slogan, Angel fans!

October 6, 2009

Embrace the Wonder Dog

Rex Hudler is one of us. When it’s time to line up and take sides, there’s no question where Rex stands. He’s an Angel through and through. He wears his 2002 World Series ring with pride and he should. He gives everything he has to the team, the fans and the organization. Rex is a team player. A throw-back. Like I said, he’s one of us.

For Rex, baseball is still just a game. He knows it was a privilege for him to have been a part of the game as a player for so many years. He acknowledges what a blessing it is for him to still be a part of it as a broadcaster. Kids love him. Mom’s love him. Grandmas especially love him and who better to judge the character of a man than grandma?

So why write about him now?

As I wait for the play-offs to begin, I start to think about why I love the game of baseball so much and all the things that make the game so enjoyable. One of those things is Rex.

If you’re looking for deep analysis about the upcoming series, you’ve come to the wrong place. There are countless others out there doing that and quite frankly they can do it better than me. I’m here today to write about the thoughts that run through my head as the Angels approach the play-offs. I recognize that I have no control over what happens on the field or the front office. I’m not here to second guess Mike Scioscia or Tony Reagins. Granted, there may be times when I don’t agree with them or I might be disappointed with the decisions they make, but that’s just part of being a fan.

And there’s never been a better time to be an Angels fan. When I think of what it means to be a fan, I think of Rex. I think about his unbridled enthusiasm. I think about his boundless energy and positive outlook. I think about his ability to unite a crowd for one common purpose and that’s to cheer on the Angels.

It doesn’t hurt that Rex tried to pattern his game after Bobby Grich either. How can I not love the Hud Man?

So, if you haven’t done so yet – I encourage you to embrace the one they call the Wonder Dog. It will make your journey through this baseball season and beyond, all the more enjoyable. Baseball is supposed to be fun and nobody knows that better than Rex.

October 4, 2009

It's like that...

Do you remember when you were a kid and you looked at all the presents under the Christmas tree with your name on it? Remember feeling like Christmas was never going to get here and once it did, you were so happy you couldn’t stop smiling all day long?

The play-offs are like that, only better.

It’s like being a kid all over again. The anticipation coupled with anxiety makes you a walking, talking ball of contradictions. You’re excited. You’re nervous. You can’t wait for it to start. You can’t wait for it to be over. That feeling that consumes you is something you wouldn’t trade for anything.

I absolutely love the fact the Angels will be playing the Boston Red Sox. I want them to exorcise their demons. Time to buck the trend. Put a stop to the assumption that every time the Angels face the Red Sox in the play-offs, bad things happen. Let’s end it once and for all. Time to get the monkey off the Angels’ backs and back where it belongs – in rally mode.

There’s a certain element out there that’s already planning and predicting a Red Sox/Yankees ALCS. Bah-hum bug. The media types out there need some new material.

Besides, some of the Red Sox could use an early vacation. Summer is fast approaching in Australia and Jonathan Papelbon can head over there to work on his tan. I mean come on, if anyone could use a little sun, it’s Papelbon.

Jason Varitek’s arm is going to need some serious rest and recovery after he tries and fails to throw out the Angels on the bases. It’ll be like the Wiley Coyote trying to catch the Road Runner. It ain’t happening.

You see, I’m thinking about a party in November. I’m visualizing standing shoulder to shoulder with Angel fans from across the south land, lining a parade route and feeling like Christmas has come early. I want to see some “Sean O’Sullivan-like” dancing. I want to see Rex Hudler so amped up he’s actually speechless for a minute and then see him erupt into unbridled enthusiasm.

Most of all, I want to see Nick Adenhart’s jersey doused in champagne again.

Let’s do this.

October 3, 2009

Remembering Bruce

When I started this blog I knew at some point in time, I would be writing about the passing of a fellow Angels fan. I wasn’t quite sure when to do it, but as the regular season comes to a close, this feels like the appropriate time.

In a season full of both joy and sorrow, the 514 Fanatics lost one of their own. On August 19, 2009 our friend Bruce Manning passed away from a sudden and unexpected heart attack at the age of 55.

I only had the pleasure (and it was truly a pleasure) of knowing Bruce for a couple years. I am sorry I didn’t know him longer. Bruce always greeted Cheryl and me with a smile. He always had a great story or funny joke to share and made everyone around him feel comfortable. You couldn’t help but be in a good mood when Bruce was around.

I enjoyed every moment I ever spent with him. It was obvious Bruce was a devoted father to his four daughters and a loving husband to his wife, Roberta. He was a dedicated volunteer to the Hillel Foundation of Irvine, an avid poker player and he loved baseball. He looked good in red too. A converted Yankee fan, Bruce clearly enjoyed his time at the ball park. He often brought friends and/or family to the game.

Sometimes it’s the little things you remember about people. Bruce grew his own grapes and he often brought them to the game to share. They were delicious too. I remember Cheryl and I looking at each other with that “oh my goodness these are awesome” look on our faces the first time we had some.

I can’t help but think about the care he must have given those grapes to make them grow into delicious little pieces of heaven. I also can’t help but think about the relationships Bruce must have also grown over the years. I’m sure all who knew him were better for the experience.

We’ll miss you Bruce and as the Angels march forward with their #34 patches on their uniforms, the good fans in 514 will also march forward with your memory in our hearts.

October 2, 2009

And so it begins

The Angels played their last regular season home game last night. Eighty one home games are in the books. Cheryl and I attended a combined 75 of them (we each missed some along the way). You can add to that, two road games at AT&T Park in San Francisco, two spring training games and one pre-season game at Angels Stadium (vs. the Padres). Additionally, we went to three non-Angel spring training games in Arizona and one game at Fenway Park (against the hated A's). All told, we saw 84 games,.

Did we really just do that? It's been a long journey and yet... it's only the beginning. The playoffs are finally here. This is what we've been waiting for all year long.

Here are a few pictures from last night's game...

Rich Thompson and Terry Evans got a little playing time in.
And then the post-season rally began...

No rally would be complete without the one and only... Bob-Bay!!

Yes We Can!

Eleven more wins and the Angels will be World Champions. And so it begins! Game on!