September 9, 2010

Jeff Mathis never looked so good making an out

One of the great things about going to the ball park is that you never know what you’re going to see. You might even see a no-hitter (odds seem better than usual for that this year). In fact you might see something you thought would be down right impossible; like Jeff Mathis winning a game in extra innings.

Come on; you knew that was coming, didn’t you?

So yesterday, I went to the Angels/Indians game by myself. Since I was going alone, I thought I’d do something different. I didn’t go up to my section on the view level at all. I thought I’d roam around the field level, take pictures and watch the game from different vantage points. (The photo below, right is of my season seat section around the third inning).

I have to tell you that a bad team looks bad no matter where you sit. That being said, it was great to see an Angels victory; even if it did take 16 innings! It’s not every day that you get to experience a 7th inning AND a 14th inning stretch.

A lot of things went through my mind over the course of the day. Okay, I know the game was only about five hours long (did I say only?), but it seemed like a whole day.

In the third inning I looked up at the scoreboard and saw that both Scott Kazmir and Josh Tomlin hadn’t give up a hit. Of course Kazmir had already walked three, but my point was that I was surprised to see a “pitching duel.” Who knew?

When Jason Donald led off the 5th with a double, I fully expected Kazmir to get shelled from that point on. Much to my surprise, Kazmir limited the damage to one run. That was real progress and yes, I am being serious.

Now if you’ve been paying attention to the Angels of late, you’d know that falling behind at any point in the game, even if it’s only 1-0 smells like disaster. Oh, but not on this day; no sir, Mike Napoli (you know the guy who can’t seem to find regular playing time even though he leads the team in homers) came to the plate with Alberto Callaspo on base and drilled a homerun to deep left field. (That's Napoli's actual homerun swing to the right)

And what do you know? The Angels go on top 2-1.

In the bottom of the 6th the Angels pad that lead with a solo homer from Peter Bourjos. Can I just tell you again how much I like this kid? He’s figuring things out and I have a lot of confidence that he’ll be a solid major league ball player. Even though he’s hitting under .200 I never get the impression that he’s overmatched.

So, the Angels are on top 3-1 and it’s now the 7th inning. I was thinking that this game was cruising along and I’d be able to join my wife Cheryl and her mom for dinner. The instant I thought that I knew I was in trouble.

I guess I should know by now that assumptions in baseball are a dangerous thing. Sure enough, my assuming that a game that was moving along at a nice pace would continue to do so was the kiss of death.

Andy Marte decided to make things interesting with a solo homerun off Jordan Walden. Marte who was hitting all of .211 with 4 homeruns (coming into the game) turned on a 99 mph fast ball and bam; it was now 3-2 Angels. Not to worry I thought.

I have to admit, that I was feeling a little optimistic yesterday and I convinced myself that the Angels bull pen would shut the Indians down and we’d all be going home with a 3-2 victory. Boy was I wrong.

Fernando Rodney (hat cocked to the side and all) gave up the tying run (his fourth blown save of the year) and just like that we were headed for extra innings. What is it with closers with the initials F.R. (like Frankie Rodriguez) and 9th inning drama?


Remember, I was feeling optimistic. I knew Torii Hunter was leading off the bottom of the 9th and I was thinking how nice a walk off homerun would be at that point.

Well, that didn’t happen.

In the bottom of the 10th, Juan Rivera looked like he might be a hero when he sent a fly ball to deep center field. It looked like it had a chance to go out; however, the Indians’ center fielder Michael Brantley had other plans and robbed Rivera of a homerun. Tub of goo lives on.

I looked in the dugout and I saw Torii Hunter shaking his head. I tried to imagine what he might be thinking. I mean, isn’t he’s the only one who’s supposed to take homeruns away from people?

Next thing you know it’s the bottom of the 11th inning and the bases are loaded with one out. Surely the Angels can score a guy now. I mean all they have to do is squeeze the runner home, right? I mean that's Angels baseball!

Up steps Jeff Mathis and the guy who can’t hit worth a lick apparently can’t bunt either. He pops it up and now there are two outs. I start to wonder if Hank Conger could do a better job of hitting while blind folded.

Up steps Erick Aybar and I started to believe this game would never end.

The crowd is getting pretty thin at this point and I question whether or not the rats at the stadium out number the fans. The game goes on and on and on. (That's my section again on the right when the game went into extra innings)

I start to get a little delusional (at least more than usual) and think about how cool it would be to see Reggie Willits hit a walk off homer. When he walks in the 12th inning, I start to speculate as to whether or not he could steal home all the way from first base. Realizing that’s not possible, I start to hope for a stolen base, a balk and a wild pitch to bring him home.

Yes, I was that desperate.

In the thirteenth inning Francisco Rodriguez comes in and walks two. I have to tell you that I don’t particularly care for anyone named Francisco Rodriguez – past, present or future at this point. That being said, he gets out of the inning.

Now, it’s getting cold and I didn’t have a jacket; I had thought I’d be home before it got dark. Now, I was questioning if I’d be home before dawn. I look at the Padres/Dodgers game and wondered which game would finish first (even though their game started three hours later). I’m hungry and the concession stands are out of hot dogs. My stomach started rumbling and I started thinking of where I would stop for a bite on my way home and wondering if any of my choices would still be open when I finally did head home.

The baseball game or something that resembles a baseball game continued on.

When Sin-Soo Choo stepped up to bat in the top of the 16th, I remember thinking that this has to be about his 15th AB of the game. Wasn’t he just up? Was my mind playing tricks on me? Choo walked with two outs. Matt Palmer was pitching and just as my mind starts to wander again (I start to speculate whether or not Palmer would receive credit for a complete game if he pitched nine innings), Palmer tries a pick off throw that gets past Juan Rivera (surprise) and Choo high tails it down to second base.

I thought to myself; well, that’s about right – the Angels probably average at least one error every nine inning (at least lately) and that was the second one in the game. After all, the Angels are next to last in the American League in fielding (I actually looked that up)!

Even if the error hadn’t happened, Choo probably would have stolen the base anyway (Jeff Mathis was behind the plate) since the Angels have given up the third most stolen bases in all of baseball this year (yup, looked that up too). Either way, we had to know Choo was getting to second base one way or another. Just saying.

Anyway, Palmer pitches to Jordan Brown and catches a come backer just as he completes the little bunny hop he does after he throws the ball; Rivera handles the toss (I know that’s hard to believe) and we were on to the bottom of the 16th.

Torii Hunter came to the plate and I’m thought once again that a walk-off homerun would be nice. Hunter doubles and I started to like our chances. Alberto Callaspo advanced Hunter to third on a ground out and now Hunter was a mere 90 feet away with one out. I felt good; that is until I saw who was up next. (The photo to the right is Hunter stroking his double),

No, please; not again! It was Jeff Mathis. At this point I was sure the game was going to break records for the number of innings and my choices for dinning options were getting smaller and smaller by the minute.

Surely, Mike Scioscia wouldn’t ask him to squeeze again, right?


Boo-ya! Mathis swung away and hit a fly ball to right field; Hunter tagged up and scored the winning run.

Game over and it was time for me to head to In ‘N Out. And that’s what a 16 inning walk off win is all about.

The two teams combined to throw 506 pitches and even though the Indians out hit the Angels 14-6 (and let’s not forget the Angels had two errors to boot – no pun intended), the Angels emerged victorious and I had the perfect material for this, my 200th post on this blog!

Baseball is amazing. Jeff Mathis came into the game hitting .194 and he ended up being a hero by doing what he does best, making an out (he’s now hitting .192). Tuesday night Lou Marson of the Indians entered that game hitting .189 and proceeded to hit a grand slam to help the Indians to a 6-1 win. It was only Marson’s third homerun in 241 plate appearances this year.

That’s baseball. I love this game!


  1. I was there. I loved it. I am happy with the Angels losing now. These are the best games ever. I wrote about it. I know you will remember what it was like in the 70s!! I like that feeling again. Happier ball park. Keep up the good work! !

  2. sotospeaks.comSeptember 10, 2010

    Thanks for the props on Angelswin. I know you have mixed feelings about it. But it's like being a Kings fan before they got Gretzky. There was an falseness about the fans there. Don't tell me Kobe or Chef Gordon Ramsey are Angels fans. It's sickening to see that PR BS. Long live the fans. In 86, I grabbed a huge chunk of CF when they clinched the division. I was also standing at the foul pole when Henderson hit the HR in the playoffs. I like being surrounded by those kinds of people. It's like being home now.

  3. sotospeaks.comSeptember 10, 2010

    Adding you to my blogroll!

  4. I've never been comfortable with people trying to define what a "true fan" should be. Check out this old blog post of mine:

    Fanning the globe in red

  5. Completely off topic - I don’t usually pay attention to the ads around the stadium’s upper deck ring, but the broadband ad they’re running lately drew my eye on Friday because it has these crudely rendered clouds that look more like little blobs of goo. The funny part was that I noticed this right when Juan Rivera grounded into a double play to end the 11th inning. I instantly thought of your blog and started laughing, so I figured I had to share - though he’s actually playing pretty well today.

    All jokes aside though, I got to go to the game on both Friday and Saturday nights this weekend and, while there were plenty of frustrating moments especially with the closing situation, there also were a lot of moments that had me on my feet cheering too. However the season ends, and I have very few illusions on that front, those stand up and cheer moments will keep me happily coming back for more.

  6. It was a fun, but sometimes frustrating weekend for sure. Thanks for sharing - I'll have to check out those clouds next time!