July 31, 2010

Goo Gone!

Last night was fun and it was just what Angel fans needed. Quite frankly, it was also just what the Angels needed as well. If this team is going to climb back into the race - we are going to need to see a lot more of what we saw Friday night.

And guess who the star of the game was? Why it was none other than Mr. Tub of Goo himself, Juan Rivera. Now, as much as I'd like to take credit for motivating him (see my "Juan Rivera must go" post), I know I really can't do that. Face it, Juan Rivera is never going to read this blog, let alone care about what I would actually have to say about him.

Never-the-less, it is kind of fun to see a performance like the one he gave Friday night right after I spent some time blasting him. Perhaps I should do this more often? Cheryl and I, along with a few 514 Fanatics got a nice chuckle out of the whole thing. We kept calling Rivera Mr. Goo last night. I'm sure others in and around our section wondered what the heck we were talking about.

Well, a few more games like Friday night's and we'll have to change Rivera's name to Goo Gone Juan. Kind of has a nice ring to it doesn't it?

About the game... How many thought the Angels would roll over last night after fallling behind 5-0? I have to admit, the thought crossed my mind. Not Cheryl though. She actually looked at me when they were down and said to me - "I know we're going to win this game, I just blew the Rangers the kiss of death." She then proceeded to demonstrate what she was talking about.

All I can say is don't mess with Cheryl!

Good times at the balll park! It had been a while since we had a night like that. I just hope we have a lot more of those. Seriously, coming back from 5-0 is awesome.

Let's keep the mojo going.

BallHype: hype it up!

July 29, 2010

Johnny has issues, but enough about Lackey - let's get back to the future

There was a time when John Lackey was easily rattled on the mound. He could be cruising along and then lose his control and his concentration because of a bad play, a missed cal, a fly buzzing around his head (speculation on my part) or whatever. Over the years, he managed to get better at managing his emotions, but every now and then – that old character trait would rear its ugly head and get the best of him.

Well this week it appeared to me that Lackey still has some issues. Here’s a guy who didn’t just leave town, he basically gave Angel fans the finger on his way out with comments about our supposed lack of passion. Well, John got a taste of some good old fashioned Angel passion Tuesday night when the boos got loud and profound.

Lackey was quoted in the LA Times Fabulous Forum blog as saying, “That won't be forgotten," he said. "That's for sure."

What did Lackey expect? Did he expect us to forget? He went on to say “Nobody wants to get booed like that.” I have this picture of what Lackey must have been like in high school. He must have been the big man on campus who got away with doing and saying whatever he wanted. He probably wasn’t held accountable for his actions.

Well, that act doesn’t play so well in the real world Johnny.

Enough about John. Besides, his team swept the Angels and he got the last laugh. That’s tough for me to swallow, but it is what it is. So be it. There’s always next time.

Since today is an off day, I’d like to take you back to a happier time. A time in the not-so-distant past. I’m talking about All-Star Sunday when the Future’s Game and Celebrity/Legends Softball game took place at Angels Stadium.

I promised you that I would recap the All-Star festivities and even though I’m behind, I still intend to do exactly that. Next up...

The Future’s game had to give Angel fans a lot of hope as two of the stars of that game were Angel prospects Mike Trout (left) and Hank Conger (below right). Conger won the MVP award for the game, but Trout made a huge impression.

Here’s what Keith Law of ESPN had to say:

Hank Conger (Angels) might have won the MVP award for the Futures Game because he hit the home run, but Mike Trout (Angels) was by far the most impressive player and had a better case for the accolade (as did Eric Hosmer). Trout ran the fastest time from home to first that I've ever had from a right-handed hitter (3.94 seconds) and had one of the most impressive hustle doubles I've ever seen. He's a ridiculously good athlete who has great makeup where it counts: on the field, where his instincts and feel are those of a player 10 years older. He played excellent defense in center all day and, given this newfound speed, I don't see any doubts about his ability to remain there, especially because he could add 20 pounds of muscle and still have plenty of speed to maintain above-average range. Currently, he's not the best prospect in the minors, but once the Phillies call up the next guy in this article, he will be.

I’d say the future looks bright, we'd better wear shades.

If you’re interested in seeing Trout – you should know that he’s at Rancho Cucamonga playing for the Quakes after his recent promotion.

As good as the Futures game was; the most entertaining part of the night was clearly the Celebrity/Legends Softball game. It was a special night and served as sort of a Tim Salmon Reunion night as the beloved “Timmy” made the most of the evening.

Salmon embraced the evening and the fans showed their appreciation in grand style, applauding and cheering his every move. Salmon didn’t disappoint as he led his team to victory and even managed a few homeruns to boot. When interviewed on the field, he asked the crowd, if his first homerun of the game could count as #300 (Salmon finished his career with 299 homeruns) to which the crowd responded with enthusiastic applause.

It was a fun night and a great night to thank Salmon once again for his years as Mr. Angel.

Former Angel “legends” Fred Lynn and Chuck Finley were also on hand, along with a host of former players and celebrities. Perhaps I’d be better off, just letting the pictures do the talking… Below are Bo Jackson, Rickey Henderson, Fred Lynn, and M.C. Hammer.

Followed by Rollie Fingers, Chuck Finley, Ozzie Smith and Jenny Finch

And last, but not least Natasha Watley and one more of Tim Salmon.

BallHype: hype it up!

July 28, 2010

Juan Rivera must go

Juan Rivera knows how to make me look good. Too bad that in the process he looks like a tub of goo. What else can I say about a guy who's not very athletic, extremely slow, and doesn't hit well in clutch situations? While I'm at it, where did his supposed power go?

I've been ranting about Rivera for a while now and last night he gave me even more amo when his lack luster effort on a fly ball to left field lead to two runs and ultimately a Red Sox victory. He's simply a stiff and I just can't stand watching him any more. We'd be better off putting the All-Star game Mickey Mouse statue that's been in front of the stadium in left field instead and the statue might actually have more range.

The Angels now trail Texas by 8.5 games. This morning Roger Lodge tried to be optimistic and proposed that the Angels could be just 4.5 back if they won today (and Texas lost) and then swept the Rangers over the weekend. What Lodge neglected to mention is that Texas also plays again tomorrow (which again proves my point that he doesn't do his homework - see yesterday's post) and the Angels could actually be just 4 games back by the end of the weekend if everything went their way.

Wow. So this is what it has come to? The Angels need to win five games in a row and watch Texas lose five in a row just to get to 4 games back? I'm a glass is half full kind of guy, but that's really reaching if you ask me.

Speaking of reaching... let's get back to bashing Rivera, who looked like a statue trying to reach up on the fly ball hit by Jed Lowrie that ultimately sailed over his head. I wouldn't have blamed Jered Weaver if he had walked from the mound to left field to grab Rivera by the nose and fling him to the ground. I'm just saying.

As my friend and fellow 514 Fanatic Bo said last night, "the swagger is gone." David Ortiz beats out an infield grounder? The miscues and mental mistakes are worthy of a Bad News Bears Sequel. Ever wondered what happend to those kids? Well, they grew up and put on Angel uniforms. Forget making the "Money Ball" movie; the Angels actually have some real characters people might find amusing. We could cast George Lopez as Juan Rivera and Jim Carey as Jeff Mathis.

Speaking of Mathis. He's back (boy is he back) and that's not a good thing. He teased us last year with a nice post-season peformance and started this year as a guy who might actually live up to his pre-big league hype (he was once the second best catching prospect behind Joe Mauer). Well, that was nice while it lasted. He's back to being a black hole on offense.

This season is going south fast. Too fast. It's not pretty and it's hard to watch. I would feel much better if Rivera could be moved by the trading deadline, but who would want a tub of goo? The only thing he has going for him is an affordable contract. Woo-hoo, any takers? Let's make room for Peter Bourjois. I don't know if he can hit at the major league level, but he's about 100 times the better outfielder than Mr. Goo. I'm thinking of Juan be Gone T-shirts. Who's in?

Come on Angels. Shut this blogger up and start playing like a Mike Scioscia managed team. You know I'd much rather be making fun of the opposition and not my favorite team!

Please, I'm begging you to get back to fundamentaly sound baseball and start playing like a team that actually cares. Your audeince is fading. It's hard to believe that the Angels can't sell out games against the Red Sox. We're going backwards not forward. You know things are bad when people would rather stay home and watch the summer reruns than come to the stadium for an evening of good old fashioned baseball.

I actually took a vacation day to head to the stadium today. I hope I don't regret that decision.

BallHype: hype it up!

July 27, 2010

Ramblings from a "mad" man

So I’m at the Angels/Red Sox game last night; it’s late and I’m looking down from our seats on to the field. I’m looking at the Angels defense and I’m seeing Howie Kendrick at first, Maicer Izturis at second, Erick Aybar at short and Alberto Callaspo at third. And then I start scratching my head and thinking, really; this is our infield?

That doesn’t look like a championship infield to me. Am I missing something?

And what’s with Scioscia and Kendrick? Why do the Angels feel the need to jerk the guy around and move him in and out of the lineup and all over the batting order? Is he or is he not THE guy at second base? Izturis is a nice player, but he’s so fragile, he’s likely to go on the Disabled List if someone looks at him too hard.

Come on. Play Kendrick every day. With all due respect to the little guy who comes out when the Angels need to rally - let’s not monkey around with Howie.

As for Callaspo. I can actually live with him at third base beyond this year. That is of course, so long as Carl Crawford is in left and Jayson Werth is in right field. I’m just saying.

This is what wonders through your mind when your team is 7 games back and getting spanked by Big Pappi on a night when your new acquisition has literally been knocked out of the game.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that this James guy who writes True Grich is already thinking about next year.

Well, I’m only human. Like I said the other day, this season reminds me too much of 2006 and we all know how that turned out. I’m usually overly optimistic and even though I haven’t actually given up on this year, it’s getting close.

By the end of this week the Angels could potentially be out of first by double digits games. If that happens, I would have to believe it’s over. Then again, what’s more likely to happen is they’ll toy with me into believing they have a shot and then lose in the last week after the Angels have deposited the money I have shelled out for play-off tickets.

Yes, I’m venting. This is what happens when one gets mad.

And since I’m in a particular state of mind, let me get a couple other things off my chest today.

Yesterday morning Roger Lodge had Keith Law of ESPN on his show for the “Baseball Report.” Now Lodge is basically a radio personality who also happens to be an Angel fan. He seems to know a good bit about the Angels history, but doesn’t really offer me anything of substance. Hey, it’s just my opinion.

In any case, yesterday it was clear that Lodge hadn’t done his homework on Law because as soon as he introduces Law he starts in about the Haren/Saunders trade and immediately talks about Saunders’ win-loss record. Big mistake.

Law is one of those sabermetric types who doesn't give any value to wins and had Lodge known that he wouldn’t have received the statistical lesson Law proceeded to give him about why Saunders’ wins are meaningless to a guy like him.

Wait, there’s more.

Law’s specialty is analyzing minor league prospects. Great opportunity to ask Law about the prospects the Angels traded away right? Well sure it is, but that idea was lost on Lodge. Instead, he wanted to know if Law thought Joe Torre would be back with the Dodgers if Frank McCourt still owned the team. Law’s answer? “I don’t know Joe Torre well enough to answer that question.”

Now I know that being a sports talk show personality must be harder than it looks, but how about a little prep work prior to your show? I’m just suggesting…

I’m telling you, this is sports talk radio at its finest.

I wish the lunacy ended there, but then I made the mistake of tuning into Jeff Biggs.

Now, I know Biggsy (as he’s affectionately called) has been somewhat of a friend to this blog at times, but I have to tell you – yesterday I wasn’t in the mood for his act. You know, how he tries to tell us all that we should trust the Angels front office and that Arte Moreno wants to win as badly as anyone, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Biggsy really hates it when Angel fans question the front office. But let’s be clear, he also likes to tell us ad nauseum that he’s not a “house man” and he’s “not drinking the company kool-aid.” Whatever… It just seems to me like every time I tune in, Biggsy is trying to convince his audience that he’s not a homer.

Well, I have a news flash for Biggsy. It’s actually okay to admit your bias. I’m as biased as they come when it comes to the Angels. I freely admit that I wear rose colored glasses when it comes to my favorite team. That being said, it doesn’t stop me from taking the glasses off once in a while to try and get a better picture of what’s actually going on. Sometimes things still look a little foggy, but I try.

Which brings me back to Moreno. Just because Arte wants to win, doesn’t mean that the decisions his front office makes shouldn’t be questioned at times. I don’t doubt that Moreno would like to win a world series. I don’t doubt that he’d like to win a lot of them for that matter. I just think his front office has missed the boat this year and I don’t see what Moreno’s desire has to do with whether or not the Angels are pulling all the right strings.

No front office is perfect. So, let’s not pretend that Tony Reagins is King Midas and everything he touches turns to gold. Stuff happens.

When I tried to look at the team optimistically (not always an easy thing for me to do) before the season started, I saw a team that had un-athletic corner outfielders and a bull pen that was more hype than substance. I actually got to the point where I tried to over look all of that and I was indeed drinking the kool-aid myself.

My fears became reality when Abreu and Matsui started to show their age and Juan Rivera reminded us just how utterly average he is. And the bull pen? Well, we’ve all lived through that horror.

Everything became magnified when Kendry Morales went down. The weaknesses became more glaring and the holes became big enough to drive a truck through.

So… here we are. It’s the end of July and that line that Biggs likes to throw out there about there being “plenty of time in the season” is looking suspect. Hey Biggsy, let me borrow another one of your daily phrases… “I know where you’re coming from my man, but….” And here it is... The Angels aren’t looking like world beaters right now and that team in Texas that everyone assumes will fade, isn’t going away. In fact, that lineup is simply better than our Angels’ lineup. Yeah, I said it.

Biggsy, you don’t need to remind me about how lucky we are that we have Moreno as an owner. I get it, but apparently you don’t because you bring this up as some sort of way of discouraging us fans from having a conversation. Gee, I guess I shouldn’t question any of the team’s moves because Moreno wants to win. Yeah, okay.

Well, some of us aren’t lap dogs and we’re not going to wag our tail every time he does something. No one (at least not me) is questioning his desire, but desire alone isn’t going to get it done. If it was only a matter of desire, Reggie Willits would be freakin’ Albert Pujols.

Don’t get me wrong. I sincerely appreciate what Biggsy brings to the table, I just think his skin is a little thin and he’s a little too defensive about his bias.

Now where was I?

It’s a new day, let’s not assume that history will repeat itself. Let’s realize the Angels are in the fight of their lives (figuratively, of course). Oh and by the way – if the Oakland A’s pass the Angels in the standings, I’m going to lose my mind. Why? Well, because I hate the A's...

But tonight… tonight my wrath will be reserved for John Lackey. I’ll be wearing my Lackey shirt tonight, but with a twist. Under his name, I’ve taken a black sharpie and written “IS DEAD TO ME.” And just so you know, the booing you'll be hearing will include my own voice.

How perfect would it be for Jered Weaver to out duel Lackey tonight? These are the kind of little victories I’m clinging to right now. Kind of pathetic, but fun never-the-less.

It’s go time. It’s time to take care of business and get back into the race or just let Brandon Wood play every day. Either way, Cheryl and I will be at the stadium, watching and actually cheering. Bank on it because that's just the kind of fans we are.

BallHype: hype it up!

July 26, 2010

Saying good-bye is hard to do

This one hurts. If you’ve spent any time on this blog you know Cheryl and I are big fans of Joe Saunders. In fact, that’s probably an understatement. We’ve been downright fanatical in our appreciation of Joe. He’s simply our favorite pitcher.

When the news came down that he had been traded (our friend and fellow 514 Fanatic Jeffrey called me with the news), my first thought was how was I going to break the news to Cheryl? I knew she’d take the news hard and she did. She thought I was kidding. I really, really wish that was the case.

Today we’re feeling a little empty and more than a little sad. Watching Joe break down when asked about the trade made it all that much tougher. Joe was a rock on the mound. He never, ever got rattled or shaken no matter what the circumstances. Seeing him so vulnerable when talking to the press made us even sadder. He clearly loved being on this team.

For us, Joe wasn’t just another guy in an Angels' uniform. Joe was “our” guy. He was the pitcher we loved to follow. He was the guy we most wanted to see at spring training every year. He was the guy we’d wait hours for in hopes of getting a few minutes of interaction. We “lived” and “died” with him every time he took the mound. You could even say that every victory was just a little sweeter for us when Joe was the winning pitcher.

Joe is just a great guy. He’s accessible, appreciative, polite, charitable, and well, I could go on and on. He and his wife Shanel were becoming a huge part of the community with their work with Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC). His departure creates a huge void that goes beyond baseball.

Now if you’re a baseball analyst you probably like the deal the Angels made. I’m not an analyst (although I play one from time to time on this blog) and I am somewhat skeptical of the deal. How it all works out is anyone’s guess (and there are plenty of people giving us their opinion on the matter). So I’ll just say this - Dan Haren has been a good pitcher.

I should emphasize that “has been” part. He’s been all over the place this year; striking out tons of batters (was tied for the NL lead), but has also given up tons of homeruns and had an ERA that is really no matter than Saunders’.

So, the big question is what are we getting? Are we getting a three time all-star who just needs a change in venue or are we getting another Scott Kazmir? I really don’t want another guy who had his best seasons somewhere else. I’m just saying.

It’s clear (at least to me) that as of right now, the Rangers are a better team. Winning three out of four this past weekend kind of makes that obvious, doesn’t it? The idea that Ian Kinsler might be celebrating an AL West Pennant just isn’t sitting well with me. I don’t like Kinsler and I’m not a fan of C.J. Wilson either.

I’m very disappointed that the Angels didn’t put a dent in the Rangers’ lead. Come on – we kept hearing over and over again from the Angel players how they had a lot of head to head games left with this team. Well, they didn’t seize the opportunity.

This season is reminding me of 2006, the last time the Angels didn’t win the division. Seeing Howie Kendrick at first base yesterday emphasized that memory. In 2006 the team was constantly putting make-shift lineups on the field. Hmm. We’ve been here before.

And while I do believe that Alberto Callaspo is an upgrade at third base, I’m not convinced that this team has the pieces to make a serious run at any kind of title this year. I hope I’m wrong and pleasantly surprised, but I’m just not seeing it.

To make matters worse, we’ve lost Joe Saunders. Sometimes being a fan just sucks. Then again, at least I get to boo John Lackey on Tuesday, so maybe things are looking up.

Meanwhile, I'm still behind on my posting and hope to get caught up this week. So again, thank you for checking in and please bear with me.

In closing, Cheryl and I would like to thank Joe. We'd like to thank him for being so friendly and kind to us. We'd like to thank him for the memories and for providing us with so many memorable moments. We'd rather not say "good-bye" because it sounds so final and we've had more than our fair share of those. We'll simply wish Joe the best and look forward to seeing him again.

By the way, we're wearing our Saunders shirts tonight. Seems like the right thing to do.

BallHype: hype it up!

July 20, 2010

FanFest was a Fan Feast

The All-Star Game and all the festivities associated with it have ended, but the memories and experiences will linger on for years and years. It all started on Friday – July 9, 2010 with FanFest. The event was a “fan feast” as we were able to partake in a smorgasbord of baseball related activities unlike any other.

Cheryl and I showed up early Friday and as we were walking in we ran into fellow 514 Fanatics Bob and Stephen. We had planned to meet up with the two, but it was a total coincidence that we would run into one another so early. The same thing happened a couple years ago when we were meeting up for a Spring Training Game in Surprise, Arizona.

As we walked into the convention center – the first thing we saw was Arte Moreno and Tommy Lasorda shaking hands and greeting the fans and media. Where was Frank McCourt? Just wondering…

Over the next five days, FanFest would be our home away from home. Cheryl and I spent countless hours at the event. We stood in line for autographs; which by the way were the most well organized event of its kind. Fans were required to “sign in” as they got in line to prevent people form cutting. This was most effective and made for a fair process. If you’ve ever been to a free autograph signing, you’re probably aware of all the things that can make the process frustrating.

You know the “graphers” who are out to make money from autographs? Well, they weren’t out in big numbers. Nope, not at FanFest. That made the experience all the more pleasant because some of them look like they need a shower and can be pretty obnoxious about getting as many autographs as possible.

Speaking of autographs; over the course of FanFest, we were able to get auto signatures from Jim Fregosi, Bobby Grich, Shawn, Green, Gaylord Perry, Orlando Cepeda, Mark Langston, Shigetoshi Hasagawa, Rickey Henderson, Fred Lynn and Clyde Wright. We always ask them to personalize items for us and most obliged with the exception of Cepeda and Henderson. Henderson is a strange bird. I know that’s not going to come as a surprise to most. Anyway, he wouldn’t sign baseballs and would only sign flat items. Whatever, it was fun to meet the Hall of Famer. He didn’t talk in third person, but he did talk to himself.

Other than the obvious favorite in Bobby Grich, I was also very pleased to get Jim Fregosi’s autograph. Fregosi is one of my early favorites and is part of the era when I first started going to Angel games.

Everyone was pretty friendly – some more so than others. Mark Langston had to get the award for best sport. I watched him sign and pose for a picture for every person in line. He also engaged each fan and found something to talk about with everyone. He really went above and beyond the call.

The star of FanFest had to be Tim Salmon. His line was three times longer than just about anyone else’s (with the exception of Henderson). He happened to have a signing at the same time as Steve Garvey and Salmon’s line was much longer. Angel fans really represented at the FanFest!

One observation we made early on was how some of the interactive exhibits required you to retrieve your items (like a photo for the front page of the O.C. Register) online. We assumed that in some cases this would involve a charge; something that didn’t happen in New York during their FanFest in 2008.

Never-the-less we posed for most of them. One of the more fun activities was posing for a homerun robbing pose. Doesn’t Cheryl look like a natural as she’s blowing a bubble while hauling in a homerun from say… David Ortiz? That’s right Big Pappi can’t hit one that Cheryl can’t get. That’s my girl! Torii Hunter would be proud, don’t you think?

We also enjoyed the fans themselves. Some of them had some creative shirts and I had to snap pictures of some of them. One of the better ones was an Oakland A’s shirt and even though I hate the A’s, I did like the “Get off my mound” shirt one fan was sporting. What was even funnier is that this fan wasn’t even an A’s fan – he just liked the shirt.

We also ran into a Tiger fan with a cool shirt and a die hard Dodger fan sporting a Don Drysdale stat sheet on the back of his jersey. You can check them out below. Fans from every fan base represented all week long. Cool stuff for sure.

We also got to meet John Ireland and Steve Mason from ESPN Radio 710. They were kind enough to pose for a picture with Cheryl. Cheryl's a big fan of their show, so this was quite a treat.

I know this report is late and I have much more to say, so again – please stay tuned. It may take me a while to update the blog, but I will get it done.


It’s nice to see the Angels start the second half with a 3-1 series win over the Mariners, even though a sweep would have been better. That being said, I’m not fooled by the nice start because we are talking about the Seattle Mariners, who are on pace to lose 100 games. I’m just saying.

Paul McAnulty has been designated for assignment since Maicer Izturis has been activated. I have to say seeing McAnulty and Frandsen in the lineup at the same time along with say even Reggie Willits didn’t give me much confidence.

I believe the Angels will make a move before the deadline, but it probably won’t be earth shattering. For that, I’ll wait for the off-season when they go hard after Carl Crawford. Just saying.

BallHype: hype it up!

July 13, 2010

Quick Notes from the All-Star Festivities

Thank goodness for the All-Star break. If I didn't have this to focus on right now, I'd be focused on the way the Angels have limped to the mid-way point of the season. That will all be in focus once the mid-summer classic is done, but in the mean time I wanted to post some quick notes about all the festivities.

It has been a blast. The FanFest, the Futures Game, the Celebrity/Legends softball game, and the HomeRun Derby have all been awesome. I will take some time over the next week or so to organize my thoughts about the whole experience, so please stay tuned.

We're off to one last round at FanFest, the Red Carpet Parade and the All-Star game itself. We have definitely taken advantage of every single aspect of this special occasion. We've stood in long lines, snapped hundreds and hundres of photos, shot some video and just soaked it all in.

Along the way we've met some great baseball fans, seen some crazy things, read funny shirts and so much more. Again - I will recap it all in the coming days.

So... until later, it's time to "Play Ball!" Look for us on TV, we'll be wearing red, don't you know.

BallHype: hype it up!

July 10, 2010


Oh yeah! You know, I have been waiting for this day ever since I started writing this blog; the day I could tell Bobby Grich that he's my all-time favorite Angel (I tell him this every time I see him) and that even my blog is named after him. Well, that day was yesterday at the All-Star Game FanFest in Anaheim.

I have much to say and show you (photos) about the FenFest, but I was too tired last night and don't have much time this morning. That being said, I just had to post about the one and only Bobby Grich. I mean come on; have you seen the name of this blog?

Cheryl and I waited in a long line to see Bobby. When we finally made our way to the front of the line, I told Bobby as I had every other time I had met him that he was indeed my all-time favorite Angel. He said, "I really appreciate that" as Cheryl snapped a photo. When I told him about my blog and handed him a business card with the web address, he said, "Wow, you really are a fan."

Grich proceeded to ask Cheryl and I where we were from and when we told him Long Beach, he said, "I grew up there." Cheryl then told Bobby about all the times she had run into him in the Belmont Shore area and Bobby said, "Well, it's nice to see you again."

Cheryl used to see him cruising around Belmont Shore/Naples riding his bike with his daughter in a little seat on the back and then again at area restaurants. Grich seemed sincerely pleased to be running into two big fans at FanFest.

So Bobby, if by chance you've taken the time to is read this, I have to say it was great to see you again and I hope you enjoy the blog! Yesterday was not our first meeting and I hope it's not our last.

More on FanFest later...

BallHype: hype it up!

July 7, 2010

Is it Friday yet?

When the news first came out that Jered Weaver wasn’t selected for the All-Star game I was pretty annoyed. I usually don’t get too worked up over the selections because I've come to accept that the way players are picked is flawed in many ways.

That doesn’t mean I want to change anything, mind you; I just recognize the All-Star voting for what it is; an imperfect process.

The way I see it – no matter whose doing the voting, good players are going to be left off the team. Some say we should leave it to the managers – but then you have morons like Joe Girardi picking his own players. How about the writers you say? Well, they can’t even get the Hall of Fame voting right as far as I’m concerned. Everybody has a bias or an agenda of some sort – so I just accept the All-Star game as it is. If the fans mess it up, so be it.

That being said, it doesn’t stop me from being somewhat upset when someone like Weaver is snubbed. Now, I wasn’t annoyed to the point of losing any sleep over Weaver’s slight and although I thought about blogging about it, I didn’t. As things turned out, my procrastination paid off because the great writer - Joe Posnanski summed things up perfectly in his own blog. Trying to top what he had to say would be pointless.

Posnanski wrote this about Weaver, “I just don’t get why people don’t know more about him and appreciate his talents. A good argument could be made that Jered Weaver should be STARTING this All-Star Game in front of the home fans. Instead he’s not even on the team at the moment. That’s just lunacy.”

Now, I’ve been saying for quite some time that I could see Weaver starting the mid-summer classic so I really enjoyed Posnanski’s piece. I invite you to read his whole piece about Weaver because he really sums things up pretty well. I probably would have done a lot more ranting. And he's right - more people should know about Jered. They can start by reading this blog more often. Just saying...

Basically, Posnanski freed me up from having to rant yet again. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy ranting as much as the next guy, but this time my work was done for me. Thanks Joe!

One last thing about the All-Star voting. I can't believe a franchise that draws more than 3 million fans each year can't mobilize themselves some how to vote more Angels into the game. I just don't get it.

Which brings me to an issue that's even bigger than Weaver’s snub and that's the Angels lack of offense and generally horrible play (Besides word is Weaver might still be added to the team).

The Angels have now lost four of their last five games. That’s just not getting it done. They’re limping towards the All-Star break and trail the Texas Rangers by 4.5 games as of this morning (and trail by six games in the loss column which is not good).

I mean look at the 25 man roster and you’ll see names like Paul McAnulty, Cory Aldridge and the like. Now, I happen to appreciate a guy like McAnulty because he’s a Dirtbag; but a roster that boasts power bats like Reggie Willits, Kevin Frandsen and others is not going to generate enough offense to over take Texas.

Add in a bullpen that’s capable of blowing up on any given night and you have a recipe for disaster. I hope Tony Reagins has something up his sleeve. Even though Mike Scioscia is a miracle worker, he needs some help moving forward.

And what’s with Scott Kazmir? My wife Cheryl is not a fan. She regrets the fact that she actually owns a Kazmir T-shirt and any time she hears his name she has a few choice words to say about him (nothing profane mind you). Now, I know a player is pretty awful when it comes to that. Cheryl would never actually boo Kazmir, but she’s not going to be baking him any cookies in the near future either.

I really bought into the whole off season training thing that was reported about in the spring and believed he would get his “swagger back.” Boy was I wrong (not the first time).

I am beginning to think about two words for Kazmir and those words are “head case.” I don’t understand how a guy who’s been in the majors as long as he has, thinks he can get by on two pitches? As Scioscia said in a July 1 piece in the LA Times, “Some of the issues that have plagued Scott," Scioscia said, "have been a little redundant."

Ya think?

While I’m rambling on here – did anyone notice that Rich Thompson got called up? Anyone notice that this happened shortly after I blogged about the need to add him to the 25 man roster? Probably not…

Of course, I probably shouldn’t even mention it myself since his one outing so far wasn’t the best. Oh well… It was basically in mop duty. Who wants to pitch in those situations?

Two more games in Chicago and then on to the hated A’s. Meanwhile the Rangers face off against the two worst teams in the AL – Cleveland and Baltimore. Oh joy…

Speaking of joy – the All-Star weekend is upon us! Finally! Cheryl and I will be up to our eye balls in all things All-Star related. And yes, I’ll be blogging about the whole experience. It all starts Friday with FanFest.

We had an amazing time in 2008 when the All-Star game was at old Yankee Stadium and I’m kind of thinking this can’t possibly live up to that event. Never-the-less, it’s duty that we welcome with open arms and it should be great fun.

Man, I love baseball.

BallHype: hype it up!

July 2, 2010

Shut up and play

So what is it about the Texas Rangers that makes them want to run their mouths in June, July or anytime during the season (before anything is actually accomplished) prior to October? Is it the heat and humidity in Texas? Did someone pistol whip the bunch of them? What?

Last year it was Ian Kinsler. This year it’s C.J. Wilson, whose team just got beat two out of three games by the Angels. Apparently Wilson didn't think the outcome mattered much because Wilson said, “We're a better team -- 100 percent. When we play up to our capabilities, it might not be that close.”

Wilson went on to say, "We have a better balance to our team. They have good pitching, but their offense is like, I don't know. We have more wins. It's pretty simple. I'd rather take our offense. I'd rather take our defense. I'd much rather have our bullpen."

Here's a news flash for Wilson: You’re 1-3 lifetime against the Angels with a 5.27 ERA. Plus you just got beat. Do you really want to be mouthing off in early July? Maybe your team (and you, yourself) should do something of significance before any of you spout off. You know, like maybe actually win the division and then win more than one play-off game? I mean one play-off win is all your franchise has to show for its entire existance. You'd think some of you might find that a little humbling. Just saying.

It’s okay to think your team is better and it’s perfectly fine to believe your team has a better offense, pitching staff, etc, - but to go public with those thoughts is kind of well… foolish, don’t you think?

I have to tell you my favorite part of Wilson's quote was “When we play up to our capabilities, it might not be that close.”

You mean when you play the National League in interleague play? Let’s see – 14 of your wins came in interleague; against teams that are ALL below .500. Now, it's nice that you did what you're supposed to do, but it's nothing to crow about.

Forgive me, but I’m not impressed.

I will freely admit the Rangers have a good team. They even have "a shot" at winning the west, I suppose. But until they actually do it, they really don’t have any business talking what-so-ever.

That being said, that “shot” at the west is pretty slim, in my opinion. Face it; they have three pitchers who haven’t even thrown a 150 innings. What happens when they get to near 200?

They have Wilson (who’s at a career high 102.1 innings right now), Tommy Hunter (who threw 112 innings last year) and Colby Lewis (who threw 127 back in 2005). AND… their other two starters aren’t exactly "lights out." Scott Feldman has a 5.48 ERA and Rich Harden is hurt (and has a 5.68 ERA). Omar Beltre made his major league debut this week and even though the Rangers won that game, his performance was nothing to blog about…

This is the staff that has to carry them through the dog days of summer? I'm sorry, but I have my doubts. Even with the acquisition of Bengie Molina (which is sure to help their staff), they just don’t have the pitching to get it done. And as we saw last night – it’s still ALL about pitching.

By the way, you can follow C.J. Wilson on Twitter at @str8edgeracer. You never know what else he might say…

BallHype: hype it up!

July 1, 2010

Things that make you go hmmm

I’ll be honest with you. I really thought Vladimir Guerrero was done. Nothing I had seen in the last two years made me believe he would ever be the kind of player he once was. You know the kind of guy who could single handedly demolish an opposing team. The kind of guy who makes you go “wow” when he connects squarely with a pitch.

Boy was I wrong. In fact, I couldn’t have been more wrong. More importantly – the Angels front office guessed wrong too. Branch Rickey, the late legendary baseball executive once said, “It’s better to trade a guy a year too early than a year too late.” Mind you he said that before there was this thing called free-agency, but I’m guessing he’d have applied that theory to free agents as well.

Rickey was widely considered to be an innovator in his day. He was the man who signed Jackie Robinson and drafted Roberto Clemente. He’s credited as being the man who developed the frame work for the minor league system and is considered one of the greatest baseball executives in the history of baseball. One should take what he has to say pretty seriously.

That being said, the Angels clearly let Vlad walk at least a year too early and even if Rickey’s advice is correct, it doesn't make me feel any better the morning after Vlady basically demolished the Angels by himself.

Imagine how Tony Reagins feels. I wonder if he got any sleep last night.

You know what's worse? Vlad’s performance is magnified by the struggles of Hideki Matsui. While one guy is struggling to make contact the other is taking batting practice. It’s only natural for fans to compare the two and grimace. Some might even feel a little sick today. I’m serious. Ever had something you really valued stolen or lost? Remember that sick feeling you had? It’s like that for a lot of Angel fans today.

You know it was easy to smile and wish Vlad well when he was creating havoc against other teams, but when he started doing it to the Angels it wasn’t fun any more. It hurt. I guess we now know a little bit about how Ranger fans felt for all those years Vlad was launching rockets against their pitching staff. No wonder they wanted to sign him.

Last night's game was the kind of night nightmares are made of. Vlad hit a grand slam and a solo homerun. He had four hits and drove in five of the Rangers’ six runs. He owned the Angels last night and that trade mark smile of his was flashing all night long.

It was so bad, I swear I could see the pitchers in the Angels bull putting on helmets and starting to dig fox holes. No one beyond the outfield fence was safe.

Imagine being a 12 year old kid, who grew up watching Vlad do this for the Angels and then being at the game last night to witness a former Angel coming back to haunt his old team. It’s the kind of thing that can make a grown man cry, let alone a 12 year old.

I had intended to write about Tuesday night’s game before this post, but what’s the point? I’m too shell shocked to even remember much about Tuesday night (but I’ll try in a bit).

I doubt anyone saw this coming. There’s no way the “experts” saw it – especially the ones who picked Seattle to win the AL West. Even the folks who do projections didn’t see it coming either.

Bill James gave the most optimistic projection of 24 homeruns and an .877 OPS. Vlad is likely to blow that out of the water by season's end. He already has 18 bombs and an OPS of .962. I can't even believe that I'm typing those numbers. Are you kidding me? Vlad's comeback is like Rocky Balboa getting up off the canvas to beat the daylights out of his opponent. It's as unreal as Robert Redford in "The Natural." Did anyone check Vlad's bat? Was "Wonder Boy" etched into the wood?

On one hand I’m happy for Vlad. I’m glad he found the motivation within himself to come back with such vengeance. On the other hand, I have to wonder – where was this the last two years and where in the world was this kind of offense in the post-season? And did he have to do this against the Angels? Good grief.

Well it’s time to quote another great baseball man by saying it’s “time to turn the page.” I’m sure that’s what Mike Scioscia is telling himself and his team today. Time to move on.

A few quick notes about Tuesday night (a happier time).

Cheryl’s cousin Larry and his wife Cathy were out for a visit from back east and we invited them to an Angel game. Now, they happen to be huge Red Sox fans. I know, I know… I was horrified when I learned this. Okay, maybe not so much horrified as I was I was shocked and mystified. How did I not know this after years of being married to Cheryl? I'm kidding of course… Larry and Cathy are great baseball fans and I can forgive them for their baseball team preference; especially since the Angels finally got the Red Sox post-season monkey off their backs last year.

On our way into the stadium Cheryl and I introduced ourselves (along with Larry and Cathy) to Jeff Biggs and Jason Brennan. I have to tell you Biggsy looks much younger in person (I had only seen a picture of him on the AM 830 web site) and both gentlemen were kind to say they read this blog. We had been meaning to say hello previously but we hadn’t gotten to the stadium early enough until Tuesday night.

These two do a great job of giving Angel fans an outlet to talk about Angels baseball. Keep up the great work guys!

In any case – we had a great time showing Larry and Cathy around the park and the game itself proved to be outstanding. We even enjoyed the video tribute to Vlad – although Larry didn’t really appreciate the highlight of Vlad driving in the winning run against the Red Sox in the deciding game of the 2009 ALDS as much as Cheryl and me.

One funny (then again maybe not so funny) note – we were listening to Terry Smith on the radio during the game like always when Smith noted how Kinsler had only hit two homeruns this year after knocking 31 last year. You know what’s coming next don’t you? Bam! As soon as Smith uttered those words Kinsler went yard. I’m telling you it’s uncanny how often this kind of thing happens. I cringe every time I hear this kind of statement on the radio and I’m not even superstitious.

Okay, so the rubber game of the three game series is tonight and Jered Weaver takes the mound. I hope Weaver sends Vlady a friendly little message in the way of an inside heater the first time he faces him. Vlady is looking a little too comfortable up at the plate.

This is a big game (I don’t care what Scioscia might say) and I want the Angels to remind Texas whose the boss (And I’m not talking about Tony Danza either) tonight.

Now, let’s do this!

BallHype: hype it up!