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!


  1. You're right, no one saw this coming. MVP for Vlad?

    This is how Dodger fans felt in 2004 when he signed with Anaheim.

  2. AnonymousJuly 02, 2010

    Lot's of Angels fans talking about this topic right now and I believe Hideki Matsui will finish the season strong like he always does...

    Vladdy was my favorite Angel for a long time but like you said nobody could have seen this coming. Personally I think the big question is can Vladdy do it for a whole season?

    Matsui slumps during the middle of the season, that's become his MO, but he knows how to finish the season strong as evidenced by his World Series MVP last year.

    I just hope the Angels give him a chance to show off his clutch hitting this season because right now the Rangers are looking good, they just signed Bengie Molina (a great hitting catcher) and now they're in the race for Cliff Lee...

    Daniel - http://angelsapparel.net