April 29, 2010

Tap, tap - no bunting

I’m trying to picture what Chris Perez; the Cleveland Indians’ closer was like as a kid on a school yard playground. I’m betting he was one of those kids who did a lot of “tap, taps” in his day.

Think back to when we were kids and how we used to add rules to a game of handball by saying stuff like “tap, tap no slicies, no baby bouncers or no erasers, etc., etc. They were rules we would put in place to our own benefit; making sure to take away any advantage our opponents might have; especially if they were better at one particular component of the game than we were (not that I needed those rules mind you).

The reason I’m trying to picture Perez in this scenario is because of what he said in the after math of the Indians losing to the Angels on Wednesday when Howie Kendrick had a walk off bunt that brought Torii Hunter home for the winning run.

Perez was quoted as saying “It was a bad baseball play that happened to work out. I don't want to say it was bush league. But you never see that. Ninety-nine percent of hitters in that situation would rather win the game with a hit, not a bunt. It was a stupid play that just happened to work."

Is that insane or what? I mean you can’t make stuff like this up because no one would believe it. Perhaps Perez said that out of embarrassment. Perhaps we should give him the benefit of the doubt.

On second thought, nah; he’s just whining.

Sam Miller of the OC Register had a few more suggestions in his blog for what can and can’t be done (it’s a must read). As Miller puts it, “It’s enough to make you think the Angels simply have different motives in these games than Chris Perez!” Yup, someone needs to remind Perez that the object of the game is to score runs. You don’t get any style points in baseball.

Rob Neyer may have put it best when he wrote in his Sweet Spot blog “What's really bush league is Chris Perez's reaction.” I agree with Neyer which is further proof that Perez is simply out of touch with reality.

I mean think about what Perez might say if he could institute the “tap, tap” rules. Tap; tap no bunting, no swinging on a 3-0 count, no taking time out when you’re in the batter box, etc., etc.

Perez is a big guy. He’s 6’ 4” and goes 230 lbs. I imagine he’s never finessed anything in his life and has probably always used his size and brute strength to achieve whatever he wanted to do. I'm guessing that it must fly in the face of his manhood to have someone embarrass him with a play like the one Kendrick put on him yesterday. It’s the kind of thing that turns brutes like Perez into red faced cry babies.

One thing is for certain and is that no matter what happens from here on out, we will never see Perez in an Angels uniform. He’d never be on board with the Angels’ brand of baseball. Reminds me of some of the guys in the NBA who would much rather be on the highlight film than actually do what it takes to win a ball game.

I’m thinking I should write a book about instituting the tap, tap rules. I’m sure it would be bigger than “Moneyball.” I’m just saying.

BallHype: hype it up!

April 28, 2010

Play Ball!

Play Ball! Are there two sweeter words in all of sports to start a contest? “Play Ball!” ranks up there with “Gentlemen, start your engines” (Indianapolis 500) or “And away they go” (Horse Racing) or even “Let’s get ready to rumble” (Boxing) and if you’re a baseball fan – it probably ranks a little higher.

I received an email from our ticket representative Arthur (who is a great guy who does a great job of dealing with with my questions and complaints) asking me if we had any children who came with to the games that might be interested in an event for someone between the ages of 5 and 13. Our dear nephew Christopher (who is 13) got the call and after a few email exchanges and phone calls with Arthur; Christopher, Cheryl and I found ourselves on the field prior to the Angels/Indians game on Tuesday evening – April 27.

Now, Cheryl and I have stood on the field before for photo days and other like events, but never prior to the start of a major league game. I felt like a little kid during the time I was on the field. Christopher was making his first ever appearance on the field, and I’m sure it will be something he will remember for the rest of his life (as will Cheryl and I).

David Courtney (the public address announcer) introduced Christopher and then in a voice that seemed much deeper and bigger than typical 13 year olds – Christopher exclaimed “Play Ball!”

It was short and sweet, but make no mistake about it; it was cool. The players had just run on to the field and this game could not start until Christopher gave them the command. For that brief moment Christopher got to do something special; something few ever get a chance to do.

Christopher admitted he was a little nervous prior to stepping up to the microphone. Who wouldn’t be with more than 35,000 fans in attendance? Afterwards, he said, “I’ve heard of stage fright, but who ever heard of stadium fright?”

That being said; Christopher didn't show any fear when he made the announcement. He handled it like a professional. David Courtney better be looking over his shoulder; because his future replacement just made his debut! I’m just saying.

And then it was over, but the memories for all three of us will last forever.

Shortly after it was over; so was the game as the Angels appeared to not be listening to what Christopher had to say that night. They didn’t’ come to play. They tanked and were routed 9-2. They didn’t “play ball” - at least not the kind of baseball we’ve come to expect from the Angels.

Joe Saunders is doing his best to make me look bad. Good thing I’m not taking his performance personally; even though I’m constantly defending him against his critics. My argument/support isn’t holding much water thus far. Luckily for both of us, it’s still early in the season.

So come on Joe! Let’s get some swagger back and start taking care of business!

At least Brandon Wood is answering some of his critics in a big way. Wood had his second three hit game in a row and this one came with an exclamation point as he went yard for his first homerun of the 2010 season.

Get ready to see some more of that. Again, I’m just saying.

Here's a clip of Christopher announcing the start of the game:

video

Great job Christopher!

BallHype: hype it up!

April 26, 2010

The week in review April 19-25, 2010

Yankee fans are kind of like cockroaches. They’re in every city and no matter what you do; you can’t get rid of them. They’re annoying as heck, but they scatter when the light hits them in the eyes.

This past weekend the Yankee fans were out in big numbers once again and were last seen scampering for the exits by the end of the weekend as their Yankees lost yet another series in Anaheim.

Beating the Yankees never gets old. It's just too bad the Angels didn't sweep.

Many Yankee fans were present at the "Big A" this past weekend. In fact there were far too many for my liking. I’ve never understood why so many Angel season ticket holders vacate the stadium when the Bronx Bombers roll into town. I mean, I can sort of (but not really) understand not wanting to see the Indians (who arrive today), but the Yankees? Come on.

Friday’s and Sunday’s games were the most memorable of the season to date. Classic Angel/Yankee games with the traditional outcome. Nothing beats being there for wins like those.
I got a kick out of all the crisp new Yankee hats and new Mark Teixeira jerseys and T-shirts that were present at the stadium. A World Series title has a way of bringing out the roaches, err… fans in big numbers. I wonder how many of them even know who managed the Yankees before Joe Girardi and Joe Torre.

That being said, I didn’t see any major incidents between Angel and Yankee fans over the weekend and that’s always a good thing.

Winning the series was a great way to end the week, but I expected better than the 4-3 record for the Angels over the last seven days.

As I look back on the week, one player stood out big time; Kendry Morales. "K-Mo" hit .542 for the week with three homeruns, 10 RBI’s and a monster 1.509 OPS. Sha-zam. That’s some big time hitting right there.

Morales already has two homeruns right handed this season after hitting only four from the right side in all of 2009. It’s like I said back in the first week of the season, Morales has put the league on notice. He can hit and hit for power from either side of the plate and he’s on his way to becoming the most dynamic hitter in the history of Angels’ baseball.

Yes; he can be that good.

The funny thing (at least to me) is that most Projections don’t see Morales hitting 30 homeruns in 2010. They’re looking at 2009 as some sort of statistical anomaly, I guess. In fact none of Bill James, CHONE or the like have him even driving in 100 runs.

Okay, whatever… the Angels usually out-perform their projections any way.

Oh and by the way –Morales is this week’s winner of the True Grich Award (given to the Angel who had the best performance of the week) with an honorable mention going to Bobby Abreu who had hit an impressive .385 for the week and a solid 1.121 OPS.

The bull pen did an excellent job as Fernando Rodney, Kevin Jepsen, Brian Stokes and Jason Bulger combined to pitch 18.2 scoreless innings. That’s the bull pen we envisioned before the start of the season. They were getting it done.

All of that being said, the highlight of the week for me was Brandon Wood's bases loaded double that drove in two key runs against the Yankees yesterday. As Wood came to bat; the enormity of the moment was clear. Here was Wood's chance to do something positive. Cheryl (my wife) turned to me and said, "Let's pray for Brandon." We did and Wood delieverd in a big way.

One observation about that inning. When Mike Napoli was batting just prior to Wood, Francisco Cervelli trotted out to talk with his pitcher - Javier Vazquez. At the time, I muttered that he's probably telling Vazquez to not give anything good for Napoli to hit because Wood was on deck. Napoli walked, which fueld my own speculation. What he actually said, I'll never know - but that scenario in my head really made me want Wood to come through even more.

It felt so good to see Wood succeed. Moments like that are truly priceless.

So as we enter the new week, the Angels are 10-10 and two games in back of the hated A’s. The good news is that the Angels haven’t even hit their stride yet, while Oakland looks like they’re playing well above their heads.

I know it’s early (and I'm more than a tad bit biased); but once the Angels hit their stride, the AL West could be in big trouble. I’m just saying.

BallHype: hype it up!

April 23, 2010

Booing is for the birds and I don't have wings

If you boo the players on your favorite team are you passionate or just a jerk? I think that’s a fair question, don’t you?

I mean it’s one thing to boo a guy for not giving his best effort or for being a putz (let’s not forget Jose Guillen), but is it okay to boo a guy who’s simply struggling? Does booing him make him play better? Or is it just a way for fans to vent?

Brandon Wood is struggling and that’s probably an under-statement. He looks lost and doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of breaking out of his slump. Then again, you have to ask; is it a slump or is he really this bad? I don’t know the answer to that; although I’m inclined to believe he’s just off to a bad start.

Rob Neyer and Aaron Gleeman don’t see Wood projecting very well. They make a valid argument (I can’t believe I’m saying that) and it appears there is reason for concern.

Regardless of all that – my question is should Angel fans boo him? I know they boo their own in places like the Bronx or Boston, but I don’t necessarily believe they’re the gold standard for fandom. At the same time, I also don’t pretend to be the arbiter of that standard either. It just bugs me.

I don’t think any fan who boo’s Wood wouldn’t do it to his face. It’s one thing to be sitting in the stands, but when it comes to a face to face encounter; could the same fan look Wood in the eye and tell him he sucks? I’m not asking if they’d be intimidated to do so, I just wonder (and hope) if they’d find some compassion for what he’s going through.

The year Steve Finley was an Angel (sorry to bring up such a horrible memory) he was so bad; I hated to see him in the lineup. Mike Scioscia kept trotting him out there and Finley kept saying all the right things about how he appreciated Scioscia’s faith in him, etc., etc. I wanted to boo Finley. I can’t recall if I did or not, but I’m certain I voiced some displeasure never-the-less.

That same season, I saw Finley at an autograph session and on photo day. In both instances, I told him “We’re pulling for you.” He seemed to genuinely appreciate the sentiment. I’m sure Cheryl (my wife) looked at me and laughed because I had been so hard on him sitting in the stands.

Fact was I hated his statistics, but I could not hate the person. I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t have to say anything at all, but when the opportunity presented itself, I wanted to give encouragement instead of silence or worse.

By all accounts, Wood is a good guy. Personally, I think he could probably use a little support. I want him to succeed in the worst way. I have empathy for a guy who’s been waiting so long for his opportunity. He never complained once. He never showed any sense of entitlement. He just went about his business and waited for his chance.

Through his early struggles, he’s never even shown any frustration and still goes out and plays pretty good defense. He’s also had a few bad breaks on well hit balls.

Now I’m not trying to tell fans how they should act (although you might think otherwise based on what I’m writing). I just choose not to boo the players on my favorite team. Have I ever done it? I probably have, but I couldn’t tell you who or when. I would assume it was only out of pure frustration and not any actual hatred.

Baseball is such a tough game. It’s designed to make players fail far more often that they succeed.

And I keep coming back to something Torii Hunter has said many times and that’s to treat people the way you want to be treated. I know he didn’t invent that saying, but I’ve heard him say it so many times, I’ve come to associate the phrase with him.

I fail at a lot of things. Thankfully, no one is there to boo me when I do (and yes, I understand no one is paying to watch me work). Writing this has made me reflect a lot on this topic. I’ll boo the opponent at the drop of a hat (after all, the Yankees are in town), but I will make a conscious effort not to do that when the players on my favorite team struggles. I will reserve the right to boo if someone goes Jose Guillen on us though.

If I have a complaint, I’ll voice it in other ways. I hear blogging is popular.

Now before I end this post, I want to address the one thing that the anti-Wood crowd continues to bring up ad nauseum and that’s Troy Glaus.

It seems as if no one can complain about Wood without bringing up the year the Angels let Troy Glaus walk. I have three words for those people… Get Over It.

Troy Glaus played 91 games in 2003 and only 58 games in 2004. When his contract came up at the end of the 2004 season, there were serious questions about his health and whether or not he’d be able to play third base again. They were legitimate questions. At the same time – Dallas McPherson was coming off some great years in the minor leagues and appeared to be ready.

The Angels made the decision to let Glaus walk and give McPherson a shot. It didn’t work out; mostly because McPherson ended up being the bigger injury risk of the two; but never-the-less, some fans can’t let it go.

It was the right decision at the time. Hind sight tells us otherwise, but that’s baseball. Sometimes things don’t work out, but you have to try to do the best you can with the amount of information you have.

Letting Glaus walk was the right decision at the time; given the circumstances. I can’t blame the Angels for being apprehensive about giving Glaus a multi-year contract at that time.

Again, I know it didn’t work out, but to lament on that part of Angels’ history is pointless and irrelevant when talking about Brandon Wood. The Angels are right to give Wood a shot now. If it doesn’t work out; it’s still the right move. We need to see what he can do.

And let’s not forget that all of this eventually paved the way for Chone Figgins to have a few good years in Anaheim. Most fans totally leave out that tid bit during the discussion.

Moving on. Bring on the Yankees.

Let’s hope the stench from Joe Saunders’ performance last night has dissipated by game time. Yeah, I just said that. Joe stunk last night and he’s not helping my case against the sabermetric types that keep projecting a lack luster season for him.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a huge Saunders fan and I look for him to rebound next Tuesday against the Cleveland Indians.

Now about those Yankees...

BallHype: hype it up!

April 22, 2010

BFF (Brian Fuentes Forever)

Head’s up to those of you back east. There’s a baseball that’s headed your way. It left Anaheim last night sometime around 9:30 p.m. Yeah, that’s right, Brian Fuentes served it up to one Miguel Cabrera; so be on the look out for something resembling a meteor crashing back to earth.

After all, today is "Earth Day" and we're still waiting for Cabrera's homerun ball's return to the planet.

Okay, so here’s the thing about Brian Fuentes from my point of view. Last night’s homerun was more about Cabrera than it was Fuentes in my opinion. Cabrera is probably one of the five best hitters in baseball. He’s going to take your pitcher yard every now and then. Besides, it wasn’t like Mike Scioscia was going to banish Fuentes to the bench when he returned from the DL. I know some Angel fans would prefer something along those lines, but they’re not living in the real world.

All I know is that if Fuentes can solidify his hold on the closer position, the Angels will be a much deeper and ultimately better ball club. Now, if he can’t do that, I trust that Scioscia will remove him from that role at the appropriate time. As always that’s on his time not ours (ours, being the fans’). We saw this last year when Kevin Jepsen started taking on a bigger role. And even though that was a move that had to be made; it made the team weaker because the Angels’ lost some depth in their bull pen.

So – if you want the Angels to succeed; you should be hoping that Brian Fuentes is successful. The booing that took place last night was actually disgusting to me. If you want to boo someone, boo Johnny Damon.

Speaking of Damon; just before Jered Weaver struck him out looking; I yelled out “He’s going to be taking!” Sure enough Damon took a called strike 3. I figured it was a cold night and Johnny wanted the evening off. Seriously, it was predictable because Damon is one of those guys who like to look at a lot of pitches and if you can make your pitch, you can catch him looking.

The funny thing about his ejection to me (and you have to remember, I don’t need a whole lot of incentive to find things about Johnny to poke fun at) is that he actually played well the two games his team lost and when his team wins one; he’s in the clubhouse. I guess if the Angels have to lose a game, I can swallow that bitter pill a little easier knowing Damon didn’t have a role in it.

Now, did you notice how I diverted this conversation away from Fuentes and on to Damon? Isn’t it more fun to make fun of Damon than it is to lament over a bad outing of one of our own?

Don’t get me wrong – if Fuentes starts to struggle on a regular basis; I’ll be among those calling for Rodney to become the closer. I’m just not in that panic mode yet. That was only his second outing and he’s coming off the DL.

Scioscia will do the right thing because believe it or not, he probably wants to wins games even more than we fans do. I’m just saying.

BallHype: hype it up!

April 20, 2010

The Week in review April 12-18 plus one

I have to admit that I didn’t watch a lot of Angels' baseball this past week. Those two 10 a.m. starts in New York conflicted with this thing called a job. Never-the-less, it was nice to know the team managed to go 4-2 on their first road trip of the year.

I’m very encouraged by the performances from the pitching staff and I’m especially pleased that Joe Saunders took a step forward in dismantling some of the projections that have been published about the kind of season some are expecting from him.

The one thing I really can’t understand is the continued “hating” by some fans on Brandon Wood. It’s as if some people really want him to fail. It makes absolutely no sense to me what-so-ever. And if you’re one of those fans who have gone so far as to boo Wood, shame on you.

Brandon Wood succeeding would be a good thing. Having a rock solid third baseman for the next several years would really be a shot in the arm for the organization. In any case, whatever is going to happen is going to happen on the Angels’ terms and not ours (as in us fans).

Face it; there were a great many fans who wanted to see Maicer Izturis start over Erick Aybar (I may have been among them – but my memory is a little foggy, don’t you know) and many continue to pine for a Mike Napoli over Jeff Mathis (again, I know a certain blogger who might have been on this wagon as well). In both cases, Mike Scioscia is showing us all (once again) that he knows best.

So here’s the thing; I trust Scioscia and I take it seriously when he said the following (as reported by the OC Register’s Dan Woike) “He will get an opportunity because we really feel good about his defense,” Scioscia said. “We have some options if we have to take some pressure off him. There is no finite amount of at-bats where we will make a decision and say, ‘This is it.’ Brandon is going to get an opportunity to contribute because we think his bat will play really well in the big leagues. We’ll see moving forward.”

I mean does anyone really see Maicer Izturis as the long term solution at 3B? I like Izturis as much as the next guy, but Wood’s upside is too high for him not to get a legitimate shot. Be patient folks. If you really want something right now and you can’t wait – go to Starbucks for coffee (better yet – support a Long Beach company like It’s a Grind); otherwise, enjoy the ride with Brandon Wood. It could be a lot of fun. And if you play your cards right – you could have bragging rights down the road and be among those of us who believed in Wood. Seriously, there’s plenty of room in the spotlight for this one.

Okay, so last week I gave the True Grich Award to Hideki Matsui. This week that distinction (because there’s no actual trophy) goes to Joe Saunders who edges out both Jered Weaver and Ervin Santana. Saunders went eight strong innings against the Blue Jays without giving up a run, allowing five hits, walking one and striking out 2. It was vintage Saunders. I expect more of this from him all season long.

Even though Monday was part of this week and not last – I have to comment on it just the same; after all, the Angels only played six games last week and not seven like opening week.

How awesome was it that John Lackey tanked on Patriot’s Day in Boston? This was good news on so many levels. First of all, the Tampa Bay Rays swept the Red Sox in four games in Boston for the first time in their club’s history. Secondly, Lackey gave up eight earned runs in just 3.1 innings and saw his ERA blossom to 5.63. All the while, Joel Pineiro combined with Kevin Jepsen and Fernando Rodney to shut out the Detroit Tigers.

The only thing that would have made it a better day is if Johnny Damon had gone hitless. He even threw out a base runner much to the shock of this blogger. Go figure.

I look forward to more days like this.

BallHype: hype it up!

April 18, 2010

First road trip of the season

The Angels headed east this past week and Cheryl and I headed south. That’s right we weren't going to be outdone – even though our team was out of town, we still managed to get some baseball in. We headed down to Petco Park in San Diego to see the Padres host the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Now, we’re die hard fans; however, our trip wasn’t motivated by our love of baseball. No sir, we headed off to Petco Park for our love for a former Angel player; David Eckstein. Oh yeah, and it also happened to be David Eckstein Bobble Head night.

More than 9,000 little leaguers took the field before the game and when the Padres came to bat in the bottom of the first inning, we thought for a moment one had snuck back on to the field. We then realized that was no little leaguer; that was Eckstein hitting second. Hey, you can’t expect me to blog about Eckstein without at least one comment like that, right?

Well it appears some things never change. In his first at bat, Eckstein took one in the side as he was hit by a pitch. Same old David; he was doing whatever it takes to get on base.

It’s clear the fans in San Diego have taken to old number 22 and why not? Eckstein still plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played. And we spotted him signing autographs for fans before the game; just like he did every night during his career in Anaheim.

Eckstein and the Padres are a great fit. Eckstein is one of the most fan friendly baseball players you will ever see in a uniform and Petco Park is one of the most fan friendly parks you will ever visit.

We love visiting the park as often as we can; and used to make an annual trip to San Diego during Eckstein’s years in St. Louis. We’ve come to appreciate Petco Park a great deal. The people who work there are some of the friendliest you will ever meet. They’re great about making sure you enjoy your visit. There are ushers stationed at the top of every aisle and they hold up signs when there’s action on the field asking fans to be considerate and wait until a player has finished his at-bat.

They have a mascot and I think ball parks with mascots are simply cool. Little kids love them and they add a fun dimension to the environment. The Padres also had a guy roaming the stadium who served as sort of an in-the-stadium-correspondent. He would come on at various times (via their huge video screen) to put on contests or interview fans. It’s kind of a nice touch that makes the game very interactive at times.

The food is always great there and they serve Oggi’s pizza, which is one of our favorites. We also like picking up a bag of their roasted nuts. You can also count on the workers thanking you when you leave the stadium. It’s just a great family environment and it has a hometown feel.

The game was a lot of fun. Kevin Correia combined with four other pitchers for a 5-0 shut out of the D-Backs. Eckstein was 1 for 4 (plus the hit by pitch) and Nick Hundley hit a solo homerun, while going 3 for 4 with three RBI.

Prior to start of the game, Adrian Gonzalez received his 2009 Gold Glove Award. He nearly had to give it back after bobbling a ground ball shortly after in the first inning, but recovered to make the out and thus kept his Gold Glove. I’m just saying it was almost an ironic moment.

The game also marked the 2010 debut of Kris Benson, who was making his way back from injury. Seeing Benson at Petco wasn’t a first for us. We saw him on August 10, 2005 when he pitched for the New York Mets. That night, the Mets beat the Padres 9-1. It was vintage Benson who only gave up three hits in 8.1 innings. None of the Padres who were in the lineup for that game are still with the team; however, three of the Mets (David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes) who played that night are still with the Mets.

One funny site at the game Saturday night appeared in a window from a high rise building beyond the stadium in center field. Someone put up some lights that read D-Back in red. Again, it was nice to be at a ball park, while our team was out of town.

That being said, we are looking forward to the Angels coming back home tomorrow, fresh off their three game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Angels have a ten game home stand with the Tigers, Yankees and Indians coming to town.

Stay tuned (I also hope to recap the week tomorrow – a day late).

BallHype: hype it up!

April 14, 2010

Notes on Terry Evans, Milton Bradley and Joe Saunders

So many topics, so little time. I guess I have some ground to make up on this blog. There have been a few things that have happened over the last couple days that warrant some comments… So, I’ll just get right into it. Now, remember this blog isn’t necessarily about box scores, so bear with me.

Terry Evans was sent to Salt Lake City today to make room for Scott Kazmir. It was one of several moves the Angels made this week. This move is very disappointing on several levels.

The move enables Reggie Willits (who was also activated off the DL) to assume the role of the "fourth outfielder."

I had really hoped that Evans would stick as the fourth outfielder and while I realize the fan appeal of someone like Reggie Willits, it’s my opinion that Evans has more upside and just as much versatility as Willits.

On a personal level, I like both players – but Evans is 28 years old and this could be the end of the road for him. He’s now in that place where it’s time to look in the mirror and decide what would be in his and his family’s best interest. In other words, is it time to give up the baseball dream?

The move wouldn’t have been so hard to take had Evans been picked up by another team; however, much to my surprise he cleared waivers. Even then, had he been picked up by another team, there was still a chance he would have ended up in their minor league system.

I feel for Terry Evans. He really doesn’t have anything else to prove at Salt Lake City and now has to sit and wait for an opportunity. Time is running out for him and waiting for a shot is probably the last thing he wants to do.

Evans is one of the good guys we’ve come to know a little bit through our visits to spring training. He’s not just a name and number in a program any more; he’s a real person and one that Cheryl and I have come to root for. What’s a fan to do?

In a league where people like Milton Bradley are given multiples chances, it’s a shame to see Evans’ dream start to fade. Granted, Bradley has more talent, but it still seems as though things are somewhat out of whack.

Speaking of Bradley, he’s at it again; don’t you know?

The Mariners and more specifically their manager Don Wakamatsu had a little talk with him after yet another incident with fans; this time during last week’s road trip. Apparently, the self proclaimed bad boy of baseball has been putting pressure on himself.

Really? Pressure? That’s what’s behind all this? I ain’t buying it. Now had he said his body was occupied by an alien I might have found that more believable. If Bradley can’t handle the pressure; perhaps he should find another occupation. I'm just saying.

You know, I received a little bit of flack back in March from one Mariner fan who took exception to my “Men behaving Bradley” post. Well, I stand by the statements I made back in March. If Bradley stopped playing baseball today; we’d forget all about him tomorrow. He wouldn’t be missed at all.

I’m betting I’ll be posting about him again and it won’t be because he’s won some sort of sportsmanship award.

On to other, more interesting things…

I love all the blogs that are surfacing around the web. It’s great to see so many different people talking and writing about Angels' baseball. Each is different and offers a unique perspective. I try to check them out regularly.

One of the newer blogs out there is from the folks at Fan Sided. Halo Hangout is written by Nate Proctor, who is a very knowledgeable baseball guy. He’s started a series of player previews on his site and recently did one on Joe Saunders.

Now, if you read this blog regularly, you know that my wife and I are huge Saunders fans and anything written about Joe is bound to get my attention.

Nate basically makes it a point to tell his audience that Joe Saunders is over-rated, and how he should basically be the poster boy as to why “wins are over-rated.”

Nate goes into a lot of detail about Saunders’ 2009 season, citing a number of sabermetric points along the way. Nate doesn’t project a very good season for Saunders and is basing his analysis on what he sees statistically from Saunders.

One problem. In the course of his analysis Nate totally ignored the fact that Saunders pitched hurt for most of 2009. He didn’t mention it once and when I commented on his blog about that omission; he disagrees that it had any role in his performance.

That doesn’t make any sense to me.

This is the problem I have sometimes with the sabermetric types. They often look at the numbers and only the numbers. They don’t necessarily factor anything else into their analysis. While I would agree that wins as a stand alone statistic is somewhat pointless; simply looking at the numbers doesn’t tell the whole story. That being said, a pitcher's job is to pitch well enough to give his team a chance to win and Saunders does that.

I’m sure my statement isn’t new to Nate or any other sabermetrically inclined baseball fans; however, time after time those "other" factors are ignored.

I’m betting that when all is said and done, Joe Saunders will have a season more like the one in 2008 than the one in 2009. We saw a glimpse of what Saunders is capable of when he came off the DL last year and pitched well down the stretch. How will he do this year? Time will tell.

Oh by the way, you don't need me to tell you the Angels beat the Yankees today. I'm sure you know that by now. Let's hope this is the start of something good.

BallHype: hype it up!

April 11, 2010

The week in review April 5-11, 2010

In a word the week was disappointing. Make those two words as in “extremely disappointing.” A 2-5 start is not what I had envisioned for the Angels. This team has too much talent to be this bad. I don’t care if it’s the first week of the season; matching last year’s longest losing streak of four games is totally unacceptable.

Things aren’t going to get any easier for the Angels as they head off to play the Yankees and Blue Jays on a six game road trip. The Yankees are well… the Yankees and the Angels have historically not played well in Toronto over the years (let’s hope my saying that changes their luck).

In any case as I look back on the week, the highlights were dominated by Hideki Matsui, who clearly hasn’t missed a beat since his MVP performance in last year’s World Series. I look forward to watching him all season long and believe he will be a tremendous asset in the post season as well. And yes, the Angels will be in the post-season despite this week’s lack luster effort.

It was also good to see our fellow 514 Fanatics and welcome some new additions to our section; including Bobby and Ashley’s daughter KayLynn and new comers Erik, Michelle, Elisa, and McKala. KayLynn attended her first ever Angel game on Saturday; which the Angels won 4-3. Perhaps we’ve found a new good luck charm.

The stadium looked prepped for the 2010 All-star game with new decorations and had a very festive feel.

We checked out two new concession stands this week – Chix the new eatery that features “freshly prepared chicken” and Major League dogs featuring “famously topped hot dogs from around the league.” Chix didn’t cut it for either Cheryl or me. The service was slow and pretty bad (they kept giving our order to people who ordered after us) and the sandwich wasn’t anything to write home about.

The hot dogs from Major League Dogs were a winner. I tried the Chicago Dog and Kansas City BBQ dog and both were delicious. The KC BBQ dog is a great deal, not only do you get a hot dog, but it includes barbequed beef brisket on top of the dog! Very delicious too.

Overall, the concessions didn’t get the best of reviews as I heard complaints of waits of up to 30 minutes and even one stand running out of hot dogs on Opening Night. One 514 Fanatic (Jeffrey) also noticed that the Angels were selling “blue” cotton candy and wondered aloud at that color choice. I guess when your team is getting beaten, everything looks bad.

As for the baseball… well, as I said earlier – it was extremely disappointing.

The low lights were Howie Kendrick’s two errors, the Angels only throwing out one runner in five attempts, Brandon Wood’s seven strike outs, Joe Saunders giving up four homeruns in two games and the overall poor performance of the bullpen with the exception of Brian Fuentes and Kevin Jepsen. The staff gave up eleven homeruns in seven games and walked far too many batters (26). They also hit two batters. That’s 28 free passes in seven games. Ugh.

The team didn’t do a good job of manufacturing runs this week and only managed to steal one base while being caught twice (once by Erick Aybar, of course).

The highlights aside from Matsui’s offensive display was the solid pitching of Jered Weaver, Erick Aybar’s .385 OBP for the week, Torii Hunter’s .994 OPS and Howie Kendrick’s solid week at the plate.

The True Grich Award – which will be used in this blog to recognize the most outstanding Angel of the week, goes to none other than Hideki Matsui. Matsui lead the team with 5 RBI, and a team high 1.080 OPS.

Other memorable moments included Jered Weaver receiving the Nick Adenhart Award which will be awarded annually to the Angels most outstanding pitcher, Mike Scioscia receiving his Manger of the Year award and Torii Hunter being presented with the Silver Slugger Award. It seems like most of the highlights came off the field, unfortunately.

Bobby Cassevah made his major league debut and pitched well in his first appearance. The 25 year old was a Rule V pick of the A’s this past December and was returned to the Angels in the spring. He was called up this week to replace Robb Quinlan, who was sent to AAA. This could be the end of the line for the 33 year old veteran.

Not the best opening week, but at least there is still plenty of upside for this team and this season.

BallHype: hype it up!

I could get used to this

Hideki Matsui is bigger than Sony and Toyota right now; at least in Anaheim; where he is winning over the Angels’ fan base one at bat at a time. What a monster of a week for the man affectionately nicknamed Godzilla.

This is big time fun. Matsui has brought a buzz to Southern California. There’s a new energy in the stadium when he comes to the plate. There’s a confidence in him that’s growing amongst the fans and he’s the one guy you want to be in your seat and watching when he comes to the plate to hit. He’s been better than one could have imagined and we’ve only seen him in just six games.

If this any indication of the kind of impact he’s going to have. We had better hang on because this is going to be one heck of a ride. If he keeps this up, they’ll rename the 55 Freeway, The Matsui Express.

Vladimir Guerrero may have been Superman, but Hideki Matsui is fast becoming a super hero in his own right. I can’t help but reflect on the differences between the two sluggers. Vlad is a free swinger and Matsui is the polar opposite; a patient hitter. In his final couple of seasons in Anaheim, Vlad’s production in clutch situations seemed to diminish greatly, as we saw a shell of the player that won the 2004 American League MVP award. Matsui may not make fans forget about Vlad, but he’s certainly eased the pain of those were upset when the Angels let Vlad walk.

I’ve heard the term “professional hitter” attached to players like Matt Stairs over the years, but if ever there was a true professional hitter; Matsui defines the roll perfectly. I love the fact that he absolutely kills lefties. His three biggest hits; the two homeruns and last night’s walk off single have all come against left-handers. Oakland may be regretting the fact that they intentionally walked Torii Hunter to get to Matsui.

I know one thing; the Angels certainly don’t regret signing him and the same goes for Angel fans; myself included. If you haven’t been out to the stadium to experience Matsuiland yet, you need to get there soon.

BallHype: hype it up!

April 9, 2010

A tip of the cap to the Twins

So... the Twins are pretty good. What else can you say when your favorite team just got out hit, out pitched and basically just out played in a four game series. I mean we knew that Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau were exceptional players, but when guys like Delmon Young and J.J. Hardy hit like Babe Ruth all you can do is tip your hat and say, nice job Minnesota.

I suppose I should thank the Twins for letting the Angels win the opening day game. I didn’t endure the off season just to experience a start like this, but what’s a fan to do?

And isn’t it a little too early in the season for a three game losing streak? I mean it’s not like the call-in shows and message boards don’t have enough to talk about with Brandon Wood’s slow start and the never-ending debate about who should start at catcher.

And another thing, the three game losing streak kind of takes away a thing or two. We won’t be able to say the Angels haven’t lost a series all year. Nope, scratch that one off the list. We also won’t be able to say, the Angels haven’t lost three games in a row all year. That too vanished into thin air.

Then again, had those things been future topics, the moment someone would have mentioned them the jinx would have been in again. I guess it’s better to get it out of the way now.

Going into last night the bull pen hadn’t surrendered a run in ten innings. Of course, that fact was mentioned on the radio prior to the game; guaranteeing the kiss of death that they would give up runs. Boy did they ever. I’m sorry, but every time I hear one of those statements, I’ve come to expect the worst. It’s kind of funny, but not necessarily funny ha-ha, if you catch my drift.

I’ve got to say this about the Twins; I actually like them. I don’t think they get nearly the respect they deserve. I’m a little tired of hearing about the small market genius of Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s, when it’s the Twins that have really done one of the better jobs as a small market team. I like their players, their manager Ron Gardenhire, and I love the way they play the game.

That being said, I’d probably even like them a little better if the Angels had at least split with them. I’m just saying.

So, the A’s roll into town next. Now, if you’ve spent any time reading this blog, you know I really hate the A’s. I won’t try to explain that again now, you can just check out my first ever post on this blog for the history.

Just know this; I’m expecting the Angels to put a little beat down on the team from Oak-town over the weekend. Anything less will be a huge disappointment.

I say let’s squash any hopes the A’s might have as soon as possible.

Remember Nick

On a serious note; it’s been one year since the tragic death of Nick Adenhart. I don’t think there’s been a game at Angel Stadium where I didn’t think about Nick since his passing. The memorial outside the main gate is gone and so is his picture from the center field wall; however, his memory lives on.

It’s hard to not think about what might have been on so many levels. I imagine tonight may be a little emotional.

Tonight Adenhart’s memory will live on in the presentation of the inaugural Nick Adenhart Award which will be presented to Jered Weaver, who is being recognized as last season’s most outstanding pitcher within the Angels organization. Weaver is a fitting recipient on so many levels.

Lyle Spencer of mlb.com – writes about the pain of Adenhart’s loss in his column. I was struck by a comment from Bobby Wilson in the column. Wilson said, “Nick had so much ahead of him. I would have taken his place in a heartbeat."

There are so many stories; heart warming stories about the impact Nick’s passing had on people. Here’s one that’s sure to bring a tear to your eye, courtesy of Angelswin.com.

BallHype: hype it up!

Is Steve Garvey a closet Angel fan?

Wednesday night, fans in Sections 514 and 515 got a little bit of a surprise when Steve Garvey was spotted sitting among those in the Upper View. Below is a video of Garvey leaving the game.

video

This begs some questions. Is Steve Garvey a closet Angel fan? Are times that tough that he has to sit just a few rows from the top of the stadium (not that I'm complaining about my seats!) or was he trying to fly under the radar as a newly minted Angels fan?

The video shows Garvey leaving during the 7th inning stretch (and that's 514 Fanatic Dori with her camera) in true Dodger fashion. Ah-hem, Mr. Garvey, if you're going to be an Angel fan, you're going to have to stay until the end of the game. And please, lose the white shirt and sweater and get your RED on! I'm just saying.

(The original post disappeared some how - and I've recreated it here).

Also: I received an annoymous comment (which blogger also lost) that read: "I was above him in 515. It looks like he took the Palm Desert High School baseball team to the game. He had a ton of high school kids with him and his wife."

BallHype: hype it up!

April 7, 2010

There goes the perfect season

This just in. The Angels are not going to go undefeated this year and if that catches you by surprise, you’re not alone. I was quite certain this team wouldn’t lose a game all year long. I mean, how could they? With that lineup, rotation and bull pen? Come on. It just didn’t seem possible.

And to think that Joe Saunders could actually lose a game in April (something he’d only done once before) seemed out of the question. How did this happen? I want some answers and I want them now!

Look, I’m just kidding about the 162-0 deal. I actually think the Angels will only win about 150 games (give or take). I also thought that Jered Weaver would either throw a perfect game or just a no-hitter in the opener and that Brandon Wood would either hit for the cycle or smash four homers.

Before you try to strap me into a straight jacket; read on….

My point is that this is the month for supreme optimism. Then again, there are fans out there who take the opposite track and are ready to dismiss the season after one at bat or one play, let alone a game or two. Our opinions are likely to have wide swings both ways.

It’s like the 2008 season when Jon Garland pitched for the Angels and made his debut in Minnesota. He won that game going eight strong innings, while only giving up six hits and one run for a 9-1 victory. Some fans were ready to ink him to a five year deal right then and there.

The next game he gets hammered for seven runs in a 10-4 loss to Texas. Those same fans were ready to DFA (designate him for assignment) him. We’re a fickle bunch, aren’t we?

So, here’s the thing about last night. I believed the Angels would come back. I really did. I thought Hideki Matsui would tie the game in the bottom of the 7th win a big fly after Torii Hunter had doubled. I thought the Angels would find a way to win. After all, Terry Smith (Angel’s radio broadcaster) kept telling us how badly Nick Blackburn has pitched against the Angels in his career. I know, I know – that was the kiss of death.

Speaking of which… why does that always happen? You know when a broadcaster makes one of those absolute statements that end up jinxing a player? Take opening night for example; I kept hearing over and over again how Bobby Abreu had at least one base hit in every opening day of his career. As soon as I heard it, I knew he’d go hitless and he did. When I kept hearing about Blackburn’s history against the Angels, I got that bad feeling again and just like clock work, Blackburn delivered a win for the Twins.

Now, I’m not a superstitious guy at all. I find them pretty silly and yet, time after time – someone makes a statement about how good or bad someone is and the next thing you know, that which is never supposed to happen, happens or that which is always supposed to happen doesn’t. It makes me crazy (which could explain my 162-0 prediction).

You would think by now that people would just stop pointing out these things. It’s like everyone assumed the Angels would lose to the Red Sox in last year’s ALDS because that’s what always happens. And then on the flip side, most Angel fans assumed the Angels would beat the Yankees in the ALCS because again, this is what always happens.

The world doesn’t work that way and quite frankly, that’s a good thing. Stuff happens and that’s why we play the games. Thankfully, the Angels have at least 160 more.

Here’s a blogging heads up for the regular readers. My goal is to post as often as I can during the week; this will often mean the day after; however, one of my goals is to also do a recap of the week on Sundays. That’s when I’m more likely to include any videos and photos from the week. It won’t be rehashing stuff I’ve already written; instead, I’ll be adding fresh content that will hopefully keep you coming back.

As always, thanks for reading.

BallHype: hype it up!

April 6, 2010

Opening Night Review

The 2010 Angels opened to a sell out crowd last night and the reviews are in. Granted, you’re basically only going to see my review on this blog because well, that’s just the way I roll. I’m just saying.

Hideki Matsui was easily the star of the night with two hits (including a homerun) and two runs driven in. His arrival in Anaheim seems to be a big hit; as fans in the right field pavilion greeted him with a sign reading “MatsuiLand.” Very cool. It was reminiscent of the Wally World gang that established their beach head back in the Wally Joyner days. I don’t know about you, but I love stuff like this. Kudos to the fans in the right field pavilion!

I guess it’s time for me eat some crow. During the off season, I posted an entry voicing my concern over the Angels’ interest in Matsui. One game into the season, and I’m already prepared to say I was wrong. Not only is Matsui fast becoming not only an offensive force, but a fan-favorite as well.

I love the Matsui dynamic in the clean up spot. For the last six years, we’ve basically had the free swinging Vlad Guerrero in that role and although Vlad was tremendous as an Angel; having an OBP machine like Matsui in there makes me feel very confident.

It appears Matsui’s impact is far reaching. Even as we were leaving the stadium last night, there were two camera crews from Japan interviewing fans about the game. It’s the kind of stuff that creates a buzz in the stadium and I like it.

Jered Weaver didn’t exactly rock the house, but our “rock star” definitely got the job done. The bull pen was solid; although I have some concerns about Fernando Rodney’s velocity which topped out at just 89 mph. Here’s a guy who reportedly can hit 100 mph on the gun throwing significantly below that.

Side note: When asked about Rodney’s velocity on the post game show, Jeff Biggs replied to one caller with “his velocity is fine.” I’m hoping Biggsy provides better responses than that moving forward. It looks like the post-game show might go through some growing pains initially as they iron out some of the logistics. I’ll excuse the fact that he’s in a studio and not in a locker room, but this show needs to have better access to the players and manager after the game.

Onward…

Erick Aybar looked like a force to be reckoned with. I loved his debut as the every day lead off hitter. He had two hits, a walk and two runs scored. If he keeps that up, Figgins will become a distant memory.

I know, I know, I walked right into a Brandon Wood discussion with that last statement and while it’s true that Wood struck out three times last night, I’m simply not concerned. If anything, I’m anxious because I want him to shut the doubters up once and for all. He will. Trust me.

I’m thinking that Kendry Morales just put the American League on notice last night with his first homerun of the season. This one came from the right side of the plate and if this is a sign of things to come, the AL West and the rest of the league are going to have their hands full. It’s early, but Morales has the potential to be the most dynamic hitter in the history of the Angels.

There, I said it. What’s more; I believe it too.

Now, what was up with the crowd last night? It was pretty quiet until about the 7th inning. I heard a caller on Roger Lodge’s show this morning saying last night had a play-off-like atmosphere. Huh? I don’t think so. It was as if the fans were waiting for something to happen.

Looks like Josh and Jake (514 Fanatics) will have to get the crowd going tonight.

Joe Saunders takes the hill; so you know Cheryl and I love that.

BallHype: hype it up!

April 5, 2010

Rockin' in the 2010 season

Finally! Opening day is upon us. This is always one of the best days of the year. The energy and anticipation have all the makings of a rock concert and who better to take the stage than Jered Weaver? After all, Weaver is a rock star and I mean that in the most complimentary way.

The mound will be his stage tonight and mark my words; he will rock the stadium. Yes sir, the 2010 tour is about to begin.

I believe this will be a very special season for Weaver. This is the year he will emerge as one of the elite pitchers in baseball. I feel it in my gut and hope for it in my heart.

You see, there are so many things that I absolutely love about Weaver.

He’s a competitor. He knows how to get after it and gracefully embraces the biggest moments when given the opportunity. Weaver doesn’t pine for the spotlight, but he’s very comfortable in it.

There’s also a very human and sensitive side to Weaver that’s endearing. We’ve seen him demonstrate that in the past with the way he honored the memory of his grandparents before taking the mound and again then last year when he changed his routine to honor and remember his friend and teammate Nick Adenhart. He did this by simply writing initials into the dirt behind the mound before getting down to business.

I believe Weaver channels his emotions well and has the ability to focus accordingly. Although last season there was a game when I think his emotions may have got the better of him.

It was the June 20, 2009 game where he started against his brother Jeff Weaver of the Dodgers. Cheryl and I arrived early at the ball park that day and we watched as Jered warmed up. I remember him looking over at his brother who was also warming up on the other side of the field and Jered seemed to long for a look or some sort of acknowledgement from Jeff. It didn’t come. In fact Jeff never even looked Jered’s way; not even once. Jered appeared (at least in my opinion) to be hurt a disappointed or even puzzled. He had that look that little brothers have when they want their big brother to give them some attention, only to be ignored.

Jered went on to have one of the worst games of his 2009 season as the Angels lost 6-4. I’m sure it was a learning experience for him and something I doubt will happen again. That day showed a side of him that’s honest and real. I love that about the guy.

This is a man with tremendous talent and an equally big heart. He plays with a quiet tenacity and has a fearless nature about him. There are times when he appears larger than life and yet there are also moments when he’s just like another kid from the neighborhood. It’s the combination of confidence and humbleness that draws me to him as a fan.

He can command the room with his big smile, booming voice and tall frame and yet he can also be that guy you run into at the local breakfast joint and joke around with. He’s approachable and yet – he has that star quality at the same time.

I want Jered Weaver to succeed in the worst way. I find myself cheering for him a little harder than I might for others at times. He never makes the game about himself and I’ve enjoyed watching him mature and develop as a professional athlete.

Some people will tell you that baseball is just a game and in many ways they’re right to an extent. However; baseball at its core can be so much more than that. It’s about 25 guys pulling together to try and accomplish something together; something that is bigger than any one of them. It’s about the competition and how character is revealed in the process. It’s about moments big and small that become lasting memories. And even though it may sound corny, it’s a part of who we are as a nation because this is our game, our pastime.

I am looking forward to this season for so many reasons. On some levels I believe this could end up being my favorite Angel team of all time. There are so many individuals on this team that I genuinely like and rooting for them is going to be fun. And despite what the prognosticators might say, they will be good; very good.

It will also be my first season as a full-time blogger and I’m certain that my journey will be one I will never forget. I have no idea how the blog will evolve over the course of a 162 games and the play-offs, but I believe it will be one heck of a ride.

I can tell you it won’t be about box scores or sabermetrics or second guessing Mike Scioscia or the front office; although I won’t shy away from those topics when necessary. It will be about observations and insight from me, my wife, and my friends. It will be about those unique moments that make every game so very special.

But tonight is all about Jered Weaver. Yes, it’s a team game, but I believe Weaver will set the tone for the entire 2010 season. I believe he truly considers this opportunity to be a great honor and that he will approach it appropriately. He won’t try to be bigger than the moment or the team; he will simply take the mound and get after it and let the results speak for themselves.

Time for the talking heads to quiet down. No more words. No more talking. It’s time for baseball and in the infamous words of Al Bundy; all I have to add is simply… “Let’s rock.”


BallHype: hype it up!

April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!!

We interupt the start of the 2010 baseball season to wish you a very Happy Easter. This is a music video. It's not baseball related what-so-ever, but it's appropriate for the day.

Enjoy...

One door closes and another opens

Opening day is tomorrow and it’s time to look forward; however, before we step into a new season, I thought it would be appropriate to kick the door shut on the spring.

The big questions of the spring have basically been answered. Brandon Wood is going to be the starting third basemen (filling the big shoes of Chone Figgins) and Bobby Wilson and Terry Evans; two players who are out of options (they can’t be sent to the minors without clearing waivers) have made the 25 man roster along with veteran Robb Quinlan.

Scott Kazmir will start the year on the Disabled List (DL); however, he’s scheduled to just miss one start. Matt Palmer will start in his place on Friday, April 9 against the hated A’s, with Kazmir rejoining the rotation for the series in New York against the Yankees the following week.

The Angels’ bull pen may be the best in baseball with Brian Fuentes, Scot Shields, Kevin Jepsen, Fernando Rodney, Jason Bulger, and Brian Stokes. That’s a group that should be able to step on the neck of opponents and crush any attempts at overcoming any leads the team has during the year.

I really don’t see any Cinderella stories emerging in the AL West this year. The glass slipper isn’t going to be there for Texas and certainly not for Seattle or Oakland in my opinion. The Angels look like champions of the west again and if the shoe fits… well, you get the picture.

They’ll be lacing them up tomorrow night with Jered Weaver making his first ever opening day start. The rest of the rotation will have Joe Saunders going on Tuesday with Ervin Santana on Wednesday, Joel Pineiro on Thursday and Palmer on Friday.

We are going to see an entirely home grown infield with Kendry Morales, Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar and Wood. Add Jeff Mathis and Mike Napoli to that group and again, you have a core that was drafted or signed by the Angels and then developed through the Angels’ minor league system. In fact 13 of players on the 25 man roster came up through the Angels organization. These foot soldiers are ready for the challenge ahead.

Rounding out the 25 man roster are Maicer Izturis, Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu, Juan Rivera and Hideki Matsui. Reggie Willits will start the year on the DL.

Last, but not least Mike Scioscia the 2009 AL Manager of the year will be back to make sure everyone toes the line.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to kick it up a notch. It’s time to step on some toes (if necessary), make tracks in the sand and get this shoe err, show on the road. I’m ready for some Angels baseball; either that or a shoe commercial. Quick start the season before I use the line "There’s no business like shoe…" oops… too late.

BallHype: hype it up!

April 3, 2010

Mr. Matsui comes to Anaheim

Angel Stadium had nearly twice as many fans tonight than last night. It was even a little loud at times (but don’t tell our usher that). It’s starting to feel like baseball season once again, even though the air has been cold at night.

Between the end of tonight’ game and the start of Monday’s game, the stadium will get a little make-over as the decorations come out to signify the start of a brand new season. I’m getting that old familiar feeling that comes with the start of a new hunt for a red October and yet, something is a little different this year.

Could it be the trees behind the center field fence? How about the new paint job around the concession stands or some of the new food choices around the Big “A?”

Well, it’s none of those things.

It’s all about Hideki Matsui. I heard on the radio today that some 70 media credentials were handed out for opening night. That’s a lot of microphones, lab tops and cameras!

Matsui got to play left field tonight and I can only imagine the news that will generate back in Japan. It’s certainly going to be an interesting year with all the extra media following the Angels around. Perhaps the coverage of Matsui will eventually lead to more Angel fans in Japan. I love the idea of expanding the Angels brand around the world. Heck, a lot of people look good in red.

I am really digging the idea that a whole wave of new fans are going to be exposed to the Angels brand of baseball and that names like Kendry Morales and Erick Aybar might become household names in Japan. I know the media will be covering Matsui, but there are only so many Godzilla stories one can tell, right? Sooner or later, they’re going to find their way to Torii Hunter and Jered Weaver and all the other Angels.

Think about it.

I’m picturing little boys and girls in Tokyo wearing Napoli jerseys. I’m picturing tour buses outside of Angel Stadium for every game. Japan’s rock star is on tour and his new home base is Anaheim. Yup, I’m envisioning a good time in 2010.

Speaking of visions, there was a very strange one on the field tonight; Garret Anderson in Dodger blue. It just seems wrong on so many levels. The only way it would have been even more strange is if GA had dived for a ball in the outfield. Hey, I’m just saying…

The Angels won the game in the bottom of the 9th. As we were leaving the stadium, we headed down the escalators and there were puddles of water near the top of the escalator for some reason. One Angel fan shouted that the water came from the tears of Dodger fans. You gotta love it. Baseball season is here.

Here are a few photos from tonight. A couple of Matsui, followed by Jeremy Hill and Garret Anderson in blue.





BallHype: hype it up!

April 2, 2010

No fun allowed

File this one under the heading of “unbelievable.” Last night at the Angels/Padres exhibition game, two little 514 Fanatics named Josh and Jake were being exuberant like any good baseball fan should be. They were chanting “Let’s go Angels,” followed by the customary clap that goes along with it.

Nothing wrong with that, right?

Well, the boys were a little relentless in their cheering. They only stopped between innings. Again, nothing wrong with that, right?

One wouldn’t think so, but apparently one fan sitting in the front row of our section got a little tired of it and actually complained to Jake and Josh’s dad. I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or scream when this “fan” took it upon himself to try and squash the enthusiasm of two nine year old boys.

Not to fear, the good fans in our section came to Josh and Jake’s rescue as everyone decided to show “Mr. Front Row” a thing or two by joining in the “Let’s go Angels” chant. It was perfect.

The guy doing the complaining was wearing a Chone Figgins shirt which might explain his foul mood. Maybe he didn’t know that Figgins was now a Seattle Mariner. Maybe he was confused by the new third baseman wearing #3 on the field and had to take it out on someone. I’m just saying.

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end here.

A little while later, the usher who “patrols” our section came up into the stand to also try and quiet the boys. Seriously, he also tried to stop the boys form cheering. I wish I was making this stuff up; however, it’s true sadly enough.

The usher (who shall remain nameless) was greeted with boos and once again, other fans decided to give the boys some support and joined in the chanting of "Let's go Angels!" Soon the whole section and other surrounding areas were playing along.

You have to wonder about the mind set of "Mr. Front Row" and the usher don’t you? If you can’t cheer at a baseball game, what’s the point in coming? It’s no wonder Angel fans get tagged with the reputation of not being passionate when they’re efforts to show a little team spirit are squashed.

It’s insane. Then again, it’s more than that; it’s simply stupid.

Isn’t that grass around the diamond part of a baseball field? Or do they now play golf in stadiums? Now, I know they play tennis on grass, but the last time I checked tennis players don't wear uniforms and the guys on the field were swinging bats and not tennis rackets.

I mean what are these people thinking? What about those times when the message boards around the stadium flash the words “Get Loud” or “Make Noise.” What about the little song that ends with fans yelling “Charge!”?

This is okay, but two nine year old boys cheering is not? The world has apparently gone mad. What’s next? No more rally monkey or thunder sticks? I’m envisioning a stadium full of people sipping tea with their pinkies extended. Hot dogs will be replaced with finger sandwiches and crumpets (whatever those are). Again, the world has gone mad.

I guess John Lackey was partially right about Angel stadium lacking passion. Only it’s not the fans that are lacking, it’s some of the people who work there.

Our usher got the big FAIL last night and we told him as much on our way out. I guess it’s still spring training for some people. Can there be any other explanation? In any case, some of the joy was sucked out of being at the game last night. My only hope is that this doesn’t end up being a trend.

BallHype: hype it up!