August 31, 2011

It's time

The audition is over. It’s time to hand Mike Trout a leading role on the Angels baseball team. It’s time to sit back, relax and…. Check that. It’s time to sit on the edge of our seats and watch the accolades and awards roll in. Mike Trout has “box office” written all over him. This is the kind of player people pay to see play.

This is not Dallas McPherson. This is not Brandon Wood. This is our Ryan Braun; our Josh Hamilton. Believe the hype; Mike Trout is crazy good. He is built like a bull and runs like a cheetah.

It’s time to play him every day. You can’t hold back greatness. Sitting him would be akin to asking Daniel Day Lewis to only do T.V. commercials for Purina puppy chow. Sitting him would be a crime. It wouldn’t be fair to him. It wouldn’t be fair to the team and it certainly wouldn’t be fair to us fans. We want this. We need this.

We understand there may be risks involved in playing a 20 year old in pennant race, but we will take our chances. We believe Trout is up for it. Let it happen.

Please Mike Scioscia; for the love of baseball – do not continue to platoon Mike Trout. Just play him. I’m sorry Bobby Abreu and Vernon Wells, but you should now be reduced to some sort of a platoon role; unless Wells continues to hit well. In that case, Bobby… you’re going to have to sit. This isn’t personal – it’s baseball.

Scioscia has a history of platooning young players. He did it with Casey Kotchman and he’s doing it again with Hank Conger. Lately, he’s doing it with Mike Trout. This has to stop and it has to stop today.

Baseball writers, bloggers, message board scribes, and the like are all stating the obvious. It’s time. Don’t mess this up. Everyone knows it’s time – analysts, players (past and present), coaches; everyone…. Even my cat knows it and you don’t want to mess with my cat.

Now some of you are going to remain skeptical. You think you’re the voice of reason and you’re cautioning everyone to not get too excited. Well, truth be known – you’re basically a party-pooper.

Mike Trout isn’t a science experiment. This isn’t about medical research with life or death implications. This is about baseball and baseball is supposed to be fun. So if you’re holding yourself back and worse yet – trying to hold others back; I invite you to lose yourself in the sea of Mike Trout hysteria; let the phenomena wash over you like a giant wave and embrace the moment.

Players like Mike Trout don’t come around every day. Join the chorus of fans who are chanting “Play Mike Trout” and have fun.

After all; with all due respect to that crazy radio commercial that touts the same phrase, but this is the biggest no-brainer in the history of man-kind.

Last night, we got a glimpse into baseball’s crystal ball. We have seen the future and the future is Trout. More importantly, the future is now. Trout went from knocking on the front door to the major leagues, to driving a truck through it.

I’m not taking anything away from our other young players like Peter Bourjos, Mark Trumbo and Conger. No sir, they’re all going to play huge roles in this pennant race and beyond – but every ensemble has to have a star and Trout has that written all over him. Bourjos and Trumbo are definitely game changers; but Mike Trout is a season and franchise changer. Let him play.

I’m usually very conservative when it comes to young players. I’m usually willing to wait on their talent and not be among those fans that are in a hurry to see what a young player can do. Trout isn’t your average prospect. He’s regarded as the best prospect in baseball by many.

It’s time. This season hangs in the balance and the best players on the team need to be in the lineup every day. No one can tell me Mike Trout isn’t among the best players on this team.

It’s simply time.

August 30, 2011

Random thoughts from the last four games


Why isn’t Mike Trout in the lineup?

I think somebody else is occupying Dan Haren’s body. He’s looking more like Scott Kazmir tonight…

I hate you Gilligan (Erick Aybar). That botched double play cost us four runs.

I really hope this is the start of something good for Vernon Wells.

Why did the Rangers want to trade Michael Young? Seriously...

11-0? Really? Good grief.

I just knew Russell Branyan was going to homer for some reason.

Seven runs are nice, but not so much when the other team scores 11. I hate moral victories.

Why didn’t Mike Trout start this game?

I hate the Rangers.


Come on Ervin.

Trout is starting… I like it.

I guess Bobby Wilson will be catching Ervin Santana for the rest of his life.

The way Vernon is hitting – some people will start saying he’s under paid…. Then again, probably not. I'll take what we can get just the same.

Say... Peter Bourjos shaved his head? Makes me wonder if Torii Hunter followed up on our discussion back in January. Check out the video from that post.

Thank you Mike Napoli. That’s the way I want to remember you (throwing error).

Really? David Murphy? Good grief.

Jordan Walden continues to blow saves and the Angels faithful continue to look the other way. Why?

Thank you Hisanori Takahashi.

Two back!


Really? Jeff Mathis has to catch Jered Weaver EVERY time?

Why isn’t Mike Trout in the lineup?

Thank you Jeff Mathis. Wait, did I just say that?

Howie Kendrick… I see you hitting like an all-star. If only you were this good all the time.

How does a slow guy like Bobby Abreu successfully steal so many bases?

Good grief. I hate it when it all goes so bad, so fast.

I hate the Rangers.


Why isn’t Mike Trout in the lineup?

Nice to see you Hank Conger, I almost forgot what you look like.

Peter Bourjos hitting 8th? Really?

I really like the uniforms the Mariners are wearing tonight.

Hey Joel, we’ve seen this before. My wife Cheryl doesn't like you very much.

Thank you Mark Trumbo. If you’re not the Rookie of the Year, something is very, very wrong.

I thought Dustin Ackley was struggling?

So much for the lefty vs. lefty deal… Mike Carp just went deep.

I think we can still win this thing.

Maybe not.

Thank you Mark Trumbo for keeping hope alive.

Vernon Wells can do it.

I guess not.

Side note: Turns out Bourjos' shaved head is explained in this LA times piece.

August 29, 2011

The hard way

There’s an old saying that if you want something done right, do it yourself. This is probably true in most cases with some possible exceptions being any plumbing work that needs to be done at your home or things like surgery.

In any case – the Angels had the perfect opportunity to take care of the team they were chasing themselves. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. In seven games with the division leading Texas Rangers, the Angels only managed to win two games; and yet, they find themselves a mere three games behind.

As you probably know by now (because just about every person with any interest what-so-ever in baseball keeps pointing to it), the Angels schedule sets up pretty nicely down the stretch as compared to the Texas Rangers. Without going into a whole lot of detail; let’s just say the schedule definitely favors the Angels and most fans are clinging to the idea that the Angels have an easier road.

And then there’s that three game series at the end of the year when Texas comes to Anaheim to conclude the regular season. The west may very well be determined in the final three days of the regular season.

This is not the time for the faint of heart.

The Angels could have made things a lot easier on their fans if they had just taken care of the Rangers in the last two weeks; but no, this team likes to do things the hard way. They’re virtually impossible to understand and figure out. Jonah Keri went so far as to ask the question “How the hell do the Angels keep winning?”

If you’re an Angels fan, you know full well that the Angels are the anti-sabermetrics team and they find ways to win in spite of statistical anomalies and they have long baffled stats heads everywhere. It’s no wonder they’re somewhat hated in certain circles.

Keri’s piece isn’t news to us; in fact, it’s something many of us celebrate. I love the fact that this team usually does better than the sabermetric community predicts; in fact, it’s a beautiful thing.

That being said, I’m not enamored with the idea that the Angels can make up those three games by playing a weaker schedule. Quite frankly, I'd rather not focus on it. Why?

If baseball and even more specifically being an Angels fan has taught me anything; it’s that all too often, you cannot predict outcomes by how things look on paper. The optimist in me is clinging to the idea of the Angels having a “weaker” schedule, but the competitor in me, really wishes the Angels would have just taken whipped the collective rear ends of the Rangers.

For me, it’s much more appealing to go through something to obtain a goal rather than going around it. That being said, when all is said and done it really won’t matter much to me how the Angels win the west; so long as they actually do win it. I’m just saying doing it the hard way is going to cost me some sleep and provide me with a ton of anxious moments. I’m not a fan of anxiety; then again, who is?

So… what do we do?

Angel fans need to forget whatever the team has done to this point. Forget the fact that Vernon Wells and Jeff Mathis have struggled mightily this season. Resist the temptation to scream for Mike Scioscia to start Mike Trout every game (granted, I don't know if I can do this myself).

Forget about the struggles the pitching staff has had from time to time. Forget about the mental lapses of one Erick Aybar and don't even roll your eyes when Fernando Rodney comes into a game.

Don't worry about the fact that the Angels are 19th in runs scored and 22nd in on-base percentage.

Put it all out of your mind because at the end of the day, it just doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. All that matters is what happens from here on out.

Take Keri’s piece to heart and know that this team finds ways to win in spite of everything and I do mean EVERYTHING. In spite of numbers, in spite of opinion, in spite of logic or anything else. I keep talking about “letting the story unfold” and that’s exactly what we should do. So pass the TUMS and simply enjoy the ride; even if it gives you an ulcer along the way.

I know, I know... we have this need to try and figure things out before they happen and to try and predict how things will turn out. I get it. It's human nature.

At the same time, I can tell you that it’s an exercise that will absolutely make you crazy when applied to the Angels. Just don't even go there. Be in the moment and just let yourself experience this season one pitch at a time.

The way things are going, it will all come down to the last game of the season where we find the Rangers and Angels tied and Jeff Mathis will hit a walk off homerun to give the Angels the American League West pennant.

That scenario would send the sabermetrics nation off the deep end. Think about it; calculators would explode and computers would melt into a pool of red goo. Think of the number of speechless analysts sitting there with blank looks on their faces.

If that doesn't make you smile, nothing will. Go Angels!!

August 25, 2011

Off day reflections: Where are you Chone Figgins?

Jered Weaver’s press conference became a hot topic around baseball circles everywhere; from radio shows, to internet message boards – everyone was talking about what a “breath of fresh air” Weaver was and how their respect for the 28 year old Cy Young Award candidate had grown by leaps and bounds.

Weaver chose to follow his heart instead of his bank account and fans and baseball folks in general took note. It’s a wonder more baseball players don’t follow suit.

Which brings me to a question; I wonder what Chone Figgins is thinking these days?

Figgins signed a four year, $36 million contract with the Seattle Mariners following the 2009 season. He went from being a gold-glove caliber third baseman and a catalyst for one of the best teams in baseball to being a forgotten man on a last place team in a hurry.

In 2010 Figgins went for the money and in the process found himself in a new environment, playing a new position (going from 3B to 2B) and hitting in a new spot in the lineup (from lead off to hitting second). He was moved back to 3B this year, but he still hasn’t been the same. Today he finds himself on the injured list – but even if he was healthy; he would probably not be playing much. You see he’s hitting just .188 with an OBP of .243 in 288 at-bats.

I hope he likes overcast days and plenty of rain.

Figgins hasn’t had much to smile about and if you have ever seen Figgy smile, you would know it’s the kind of thing that lights up a room. From the moment he put on a Mariner uniform he never looked the same to me. I didn’t see that familiar sparkle in his eyes. He looked out of place and everything that has happened to him since makes me wonder if he has any regrets.

Speaking of regrets, it appears that plenty of Mariner fans have some whenever they discuss Figgins. There’s a perception that he quit on the team. Most hoped he would somehow be traded at the deadline; which came and went without such a move.

The happy-go-lucky, do-anything-for-the team guy we knew in Anaheim has appeared a bit cranky and hard to deal with in Seattle. He’s had a few public displays of frustration and it’s become somewhat apparent that his time in Seattle hasn’t gone the way he had hoped or planned.

Things have been so bad – that his batting average even had an impact on beer prices at a local bar in Seattle. In May it was reported that Norm’s Eatery and Ale House in Seattle was selling Widmer beer for whatever Figgins was hitting. If he was hitting. 202, the beer was priced at $2.02.

I don’t drink beer – but if someone did that with Jeff Mathis’ batting average, they might go out of business. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

In June of this year, a blog called “Outside is overrated” did a piece justifying the author’s dislike of Figgins.

Another columnist; Jim Moore of the Seattle Post Intelligencer wrote on May 31, 2011, “He’s done nothing to justify his $36 million contract and came off like a jerk during the Don Wakamatsu dust-up last year, making it doubly hard to be sympathetic. If he played in New York or Philadelphia, this guy would have been chewed up and spat out already. In Seattle, the media have been relatively soft on him.”

More from “The Flagrant Fan:” Chone Figgins bounced back some in the second half last season and he will probably come back a bit in this second half. But this is not the player the Mariners thought they were getting and as we have seen, if the season ended tomorrow, Figgins would have the seventh worst OPS since 1979 for players with more than 250 at bats. It's been mind-boggling to say the least.

There is literally page after page of stuff like this all over the internet.

It’s difficult to find anything positive about Figgins, although “Safeco Faithful” gave it shot with a piece titled “You are the problem, not Chone Figgins.”

I feel badly for Figgy. He was a big part of the Angels success during their run at American League West pennants. It pains me to see him struggle so much and for that infectious smile of his to be MIA.

Would things have turned out differently had Figgy stayed in Anaheim? One can only speculate, but I would bet Figgins would like to go back in time to find out.

In light of what Weaver just did and coupled with what happened to Figgins, I have to wonder if more players aren’t considering their futures a little differently these days. Just wondering.

August 23, 2011

The love affair continues

We don’t really know Jered Weaver all that well. I mean, as fans – we get a glimpse of his personality every now and then and his character is often on full display in game situations, but when all is said and done – we don’t know Jered.

But we do know things about Jered and over the years, he’s given us an idea of who he really is. It’s all we have, but it’s enough for us to paint a picture of the man.

We know he’s emotional and his family is very important to him. How do we know this?

We saw him write his grandparents initials into the dirt behind the mound the first time he stepped on a diamond; a tradition he continued every time he stepped on the mound for several years. He has spoken often about how much they meant to him.

We saw him at the 2006 World Series, dressed in full Cardinals gear cheering for his brother Jeff as the Cardinals went on to win a championship. Jered Weaver, the major league pitcher played the role of "little brother" proudly.

Weaver began his career wearing #56, but he now wears his brother's #36.

We saw him carry the pain of losing his friend and teammate Nick Adenhart in 2009. He and Nick were to be roommates that year and the agony of losing him was evident all year long. We saw him honor his fallen teammate by writing his initials into the mound every time he stepped on the field. By the way - tomorrow would have been Nick Adenhart's 25th birthday and guess who will be on the mound?

I watched him intently the day he faced off against his brother Jeff, who was pitching for the Dodgers (June 20, 2009). I noticed that he kept looking over at his brother, hoping to make eye contact – only to be ignored. Jered and the Angels would lose that game and Jered would give up an uncharacteristic six runs. I speculated that competing against his own flesh and blood was too much for him and that his brother had psyched him out by not interacting with him before the game.

We saw him carry Adenhart’s jersey onto the field after the Angels clinched the American League West pennant.

We’ve seen him deflect the spotlight from himself and turn around and give all the credit to his teammates time after time.

We saw him step into the role of the “lead dog” when John Lackey departed. He didn’t seek the role of being the ace of the team – he was simply born for it and he earned it with his play on the field.

Yes, we even some him implode when he felt he was being disrespected in Detroit. I even called him “selfish” and although I do believe he was on that particular occasion; I would have to say he is anything but “selfish” when all is said and done.

Like I said, Jered Weaver wears his emotions on his sleeve.

Over the years, we’ve also seen him taking time for autographs and pictures at spring training. He’s as approachable as any player in the game.

Now that he’s signed for the next five years – Weaver has cemented his relationship with Angels fans for life. He’s one of us. In a day and age when loyalty is fleeting, Weaver demonstrated something that Angel fans will never forget.

His loyalty was evident today at his press conference – which I was able to listen to on-line and once again – we got a glimpse into just who he is.

Weaver said it best when he simply said, “I couldn’t see myself anywhere else but here.” Yes, Angel fans – this is a glorious day.

Weaver’s emotions were on display yet again during the press conference. He referenced the alumni in attendance (Bobby Grich and Chuck Finley) and said he wanted to be a part of that “brotherhood.”

He broke up when he thanked his mom and dad, who have played a huge role in his life.

When asked about leaving money on the table, he replied;”How much more can you possibly need?” He went on to say that he doesn’t play this game for money; he plays it “for love and for championships.”

He also said “Loyalty is very important to me.” It’s important to us fans too Jered and we thank you for your dedication to this organization and the fans that support it. Angel fans love Jered Weaver (we've loved him from the beginning) and it's clear he loves us back.

Rock on Jered Weaver, rock on.

I still can't get enough of Torii Hunter

It seems like yesterday.

It was Thanksgiving morning in 2007; sometime between 6:00 and 7:00 a.m. when my wife woke me to tell me that the Angels had signed Torii Hunter (per the news) to a five-year contract. I didn’t believe her. I said something to the effect that the reporter probably was mistaken and the Dodgers probably signed Hunter (I was thinking the Angels had just signed Gary Matthews, Jr. the year prior).

As usual, my wife was right and as soon as I verified the information, I was dancing around our home like someone who had just won the lottery. You see Torii Hunter was my favorite baseball player before he ever put on an Angels’ uniform. Imagine my joy when I learned he was coming to Anaheim.

Again, it seems like yesterday. Time has moved all too quickly since that day. I’ve had visions of incredible seasons with Hunter leading the Angels back to the World Series. My imagination went wild; however, a funny thing happened along the way. Baseball had other plans and here we are in the fourth year of Hunter’s contract; arguably, his worst statistical season so far and there aren’t any titles to boast about.

Obviously, time is running out.

I bring this up today because I don’t know what the future holds. I am hopeful that the Angels can run down the Rangers and make their way back into the post season where anything can happen. I want this not only for myself and all the Angel fans far and wide, but I also want this for Torii Hunter.

I don’t mind telling you, I get attached to players. So does my wife Cheryl. The guys out there wearing Angels colors aren’t just names and numbers; they’re people we openly appreciate and cheer for on a regular basis. Some players hold a special place in our hearts and Torii Hunter is one of them; in fact, he’s at the top of our list.

Every time we have an encounter with Hunter, we walk away with a smile. He makes us laugh and he makes us proud to know he represents our favorite team. Corny? Yes; perhaps it is, but I can honestly say that Hunter is one of those rare athletes that makes being a fan a great experience.

He always makes time for fans. He’s personable and it’s easy to see how much fun he has playing baseball. He doesn’t take the game or the fans for granted. He’s special that way and stands above most that play this game. He gives back to the community and goes the extra mile time after time.

I’m going to miss the day when Hunter walks away from the game. It will be a day made all the more sad, if he walks away without a championship.

The Angels have to win it all; they just have to.

Yeah, I know – saying that makes me sound like I’m 8 years old. It’s just how I honestly feel. Good guys shouldn’t always finish last. Sometimes, they need to come out on top and I would love nothing more than a championship in Anaheim with Torii Hunter. In fact; I’d like two, please.

Call me greedy. Call me whatever you want – but be sure to call me when Torii Hunter is in the house because I can’t get enough.

August 22, 2011

Jered Weaver continues to exceed expectations

I wanted this in the worst way; to see Jered Weaver in an Angels uniform beyond 2012 and thankfully, my wish has come true. Reports have Weaver signing a five-year $85 million extension with the Angels.

From the moment he was drafted in 2004 with the 12th overall pick by the Angels, Weaver has been battling naysayers. First, some predicted he wouldn’t be drafted in the first round because he was being represented by Scott Boras and his asking price would be too high.

Kevin Towers (who was the GM of the Padres that year) said, "We just didn't feel that Stephen Drew and Jered Weaver were worth the amount that Scott Boras was going to ask for them," Towers told XPRS, the Padres' flagship radio station.

Towers selected Matt Bush as the #1 overall pick. Matt Who? Exactly.

A lot of scouts downplayed his collegiate accomplishments (which were incredible) and many projected him to be nothing more than a #3 or #4 starter. Some projected injuries because of the way he threw across his body. Some thought he was just a lesser version of his brother Jeff.

John Manual from Baseball America said this:

1) His fastball is his only plus pitch according to most scouts. 2) His delivery creates deception but also precludes, in many scouts' minds, the development of an above-average breaking ball, especially precluding tilt (i.e., his breaking ball is a one-plane pitch, not two). 3) His bonus demands seem excessive. He's performed like Mark Prior, but his stuff should not command a Prior-like $10.5 million MLB contract in the mind of most clubs. We're hearing Weaver could slip out of the first 10 picks based on his perceived bonus demands.”

Even after an amazing debut in 2006, writers like Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus downplayed his abilities. He said, “…I've often professed the belief that Weaver is really pretty much his brother, a very solid, very valuable No. 3 or 4 starter who can eat a lot of innings and keep a team in the ballgame.” Goldstein also admitted that he “could be wrong” about Weaver in the same piece. That being said, Goldstein has been very outspoken about Weaver and he hasn't necessarily been positive about his assessment.

The list of naysayers is long and if I devoted enough time and energy to the process – I could fill this blog with page after page of stuff from people who have continually failed to give Jered Weaver the credit he deserves.

When John Lackey left for Boston, some questioned whether or not he could fill the void and become the “lead dog. I think that discussion has been put to rest. There's no question that Weaver is a top of the rotation guy; whereas, there was always a little doubt with Lackey.

Even as free agency started to near – many predicted he would become too expensive for the Angels.

Along the way, I even tempered my expectations after reading so many so-called expert opinions on all things Weaver.

And yet - here we are. Weaver is in the midst of a tremendous CY Young-like season and a fresh, new five-year $85 million contract. Not only has Weaver exceeded expectations on every level; he’s blown the doors off.


And yet… some folks still refuse to give him his due. Keith Law was asked recently who he preferred between Weaver and Justin Verlander. Law replied – Verlander and it’s not even close. Typical. I can understand how some people would prefer Verlander, but to say “it’s not even close” blows my mind.

How good is Jered Weaver?

Jered made his major league debut in 2006 along with 135 other pitchers (both starters and relievers). Of that group, he has won more games than anyone else (78). It’s a list that includes Jon Lester (Red Sox), Cole Hamels (Phillies), Chad Billingsley (Dodgers), James Shields (Rays), Ubaldo Jiminez (Indians), and Fausto Carmona (Indians). None of those mentioned have a lower career ERA than Weaver (3.30 which is even lower than Justin Verlander’s 3.57, who debuted in 2005). For a complete comparison of pitchers who made their debut in 2006, check out

Now before anyone gets too excited, I know full well that “wins” are not the best measure of a pitcher’s abilities. I’m also not saying that Jered Weaver is the best pitcher in the game today.

All I’m saying is that he deserves to be in the discussion and regardless of all that; I’m more than excited that he’s going to be a member of my favorite team for years to come.

By the way – a few folks have always been in Weaver’s camp.

In 2006 Rich Lederer wrote a piece called “Shhh! Jered Weaver is pretty good." By the way, Lederer's piece is pretty good as well. In fact, after going back and reading several pieces by Lederer, I'm a big fan.

AngelsWin’s Chuck Richter got it right back in 2004 with his analysis. Richter is a huge Angels fan and has an amazing Angels fan site, so his take was almost expected.

In any case...

This is a happy day; a downright joyous day to say the least. The Angels are fresh off a sweep of the Orioles; find themselves just four games behind the Texas Rangers and Jered Weaver is under contract through 2016.

I guess this signing also puts my question about the Angels finances in a different perspective as well. Nice move Angels. Well done and thank you very much.

August 19, 2011

Thank you Mark Trumbo

Thank you Mark Trumbo; last night you lifted the spirits of thousands of Angel fans everywhere. You gave us a reason to cheer and more importantly – believe. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I need that; we all needed that walk off homerun you delivered in grand style.

Its go time folks. Six games out 37 games left to play.

And don’t look now, but the Angels are tapping into their farm system for help. Hank Conger was called up yesterday and Mike Trout will be called up today. Perhaps these two highly touted prospects can deliver some offensive punch to a team that needs a huge shot in the arm (the Angels have the lowest batting average since the all-star break).

The story continues to unfold folks and the final chapter has yet to be written. Perhaps the Angels will be lead by their youth in Trout, Conger, Trumbo, and Peter Bourjos. I’m ready for it. I absolutely love this young core of players. I love the way they play the game, the way they go about their business and I love the potential they bring to the table.

I look forward to watching all four of these guys in Angels red for years to come, but I really want to say a few things about Mark Trumbo.

I don’t care what Keith Law of ESPN says, Mark Trumbo should be this year’s American League Rookie of the Year, period. Law doesn’t like Trumbo for ROY. Of he doesn't; Trumbo isn’t a sabermetric superstar, but his contributions to a team in the midst of a pennant race are without question – epic. I’m guessing Trumbo doesn’t get on base enough and strikes out too much for Law’s taste. Whatever. Count me among the growing number of Mark Trumbo fans.

I like Trumbo for everything he does do. He plays hard. He hits the ball out of the park.

My wife Cheryl thinks he’s got a Darin Erstad grittiness about him and I agree. You see sabermetric types hate words like "gritty," but fans like us love players who play the game the right way. You can’t measure or project grit (that will get a the sabermetric types rolling their eyes in a hurry). Baseball is more than statistics. It's about the characters that play the game and Trumbo has a quality about him that fans just love. Deal with it.

Maybe last night will end up being the turning point in this race for the Angels. It was definitely memorable and something I won’t forget and I don’t think the 41,123 in attendance will forget it either. And speaking of the attendance – the fans have been absolutely great and I tip my cap to those of you who have shown up and rallied behind this team. There’s definitely been a positive energy in the stadium and every time the Angels look like they might do something great – the fans have been right there being as loud as ever.

When Trumbo homered last night – the wave of energy that went through the stadium was awesome. That’s what it’s all about folks. Get in the game. Be there for the next great chapter.

Follow Up:

Tim Mead answers the questions by way of Bill Plunkett and the OC Register about changes to season ticket policies.

August 18, 2011

Are the Angels in financial trouble?

Somebody call hazmat; there’s a heinous odor coming from Anaheim and more specifically Angels Stadium. It smells like a season just died. Speaking of heinous, might as well cue the song " Buttercup" because once again, this team has let me and every Angel fan I know down.

I tried. I really tried to stay as positive as humanly possible and even though I’m not completely throwing in the towel, I need to blow off some steam.

Good grief.

Now there’s a lot of directions I can go right now. I can talk about what I believe to be a lack of effort and focus (Hello Erick Aybar). I could rant about Jeff Mathis, Vernon Wells and an offense that’s utterly pathetic or I could talk about empty promises from an owner (Hello Arte Moreno).

There are so many things to rant about, it’s not even funny, but there’s one thing that has been haunting me all season and I need to get it off my chest.

Something doesn’t add up.

It all started in the off season when the Angels balked at the dollars and years given to free agents like Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre.

When the trading deadline approached this year, Tony Reagins publicly stated that he wasn’t under any budget restrictions what-so-ever. And yet the Angels failed to add a player and any additional payroll.

Below the radar other things began to surface. The Angels asked their season ticket holders to pay for their 2012 season tickets by October 6, 2011; approximately three months earlier than normal. That's right - 3 months earlier! Do the Angels need the interest they'll bank from that money or what?

Wait, there's more...

In late July it was reported that the Angels and the stadium workers were at a standstill in contract negotiations. The Angels were low balling their workers proposing a wage freeze to workers who already were the lowest paid of any baseball stadium in the state. Mind boggling, isn't it?

More subtle signs…

A shortage of promotional items on give-away nights and the new policy of no longer handing out rain checks/vouchers to those who missed out; coupled with the new tag line “while supplies last” when advertising give-aways for future games. This is a dramatic change from previous practices by the Angels.

And... Have you noticed the numerous 40% off sales in the team store? It's kind of curious, isn't it?

And let me ask, why did it take them more than four months to bring in Peter Bourjos, Jordan Walden and Mark Trumbo shirts into their team store? Was someone asleep at the wheel?

I have to ask; are the Angels having financial trouble? Are the bad contracts coming back to bite the team in the rear end?

If that's the case, 2012 doesn't look very promising either.

Think about this… If the middle of this lineup in 2012 consists of Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells – the Angels 51st season is going to look a lot like the 2010 and 2011 seasons; abysmal. If the Angels are counting on this trio to turn things around – it’s really going to get ugly. That’s $48 million dollars of ugly. That’s right the three players will have a combined salary next year of nearly $50 million.

They’re still paying Gary Matthews, Jr. and Scott Kazmir millions of dollars this year.

When you consider all of these things; something doesn’t add up. There's a history here.

Something has to give and it appears those made to suffer are going to be Angel fans. Just saying.

Some Angel fans have responded to this question at AngelsWin and at Halos Heaven.

August 17, 2011

Greatness doesn't quit

If I let myself go, I could rant from now until the end of the year; pausing just long enough for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’d probably then start ranting again all the way till spring training when my mind would suddenly go blank and my eyes would get big and I’d start to feel optimistic again.

Tempting as that all might sound, I’m not going to do that. Yeah, I know you’re mad as can be and so is your brother, your sister, your mom, your dad, your cousin and even your dog, cat and goldfish. It’s been an ugly couple of days; real ugly. Maybe you came to this blog today hoping to see a little venom from yours truly.

I see the panic and anger everywhere. I see the frustration and I feel you; I really do. I know the natural reaction to the way the Angels have rolled over of late is to rant, scream and let off a ton of steam.

Sorry to disappoint you. I’m not going to do that. Yes, part of me wants to. I really hate what I’m seeing on the field, but let me point to something Mike Scioscia said following last night’s game.

Scioscia said""A week ago we were looking right up at these guys. We were within striking distance, but we've had a rough six or seven games that carried over from that trip into this series. But it can turn in a heartbeat. And that's what we have to keep our focus on -- how we play the game."

Did you catch that?

“But it can turn in a heartbeat.” That’s the thing. He’s right. You know he’s right. Maybe it doesn’t seem plausible in any way what-so-ever, but it doesn’t change the fact – that it is actually possible.

That’s what I have and that’s what I’m clinging to right now. I’m not the kind of guy who likes to throw in the towel the moment something looks impossible. Yes, I’m frustrated and mad as all get out, but deep down, I want to believe in this team. I want to cling to hope. Sure, I might be disappointed in the end; it’s not like that hasn’t happened before, but I’m not ready to start whining and complaining. That’s no way to spend the final days of summer.

Look, I know things don’t look great right now and every time Jeff Mathis comes to bat I want to scream; however, if the Angels win the next two games and pull back to within four and then gain a little ground over the weekend and early next week against Baltimore and then Chicago – they’ll be right back in this thing. They’ll be facing Texas again the weekend of August 24 and who knows; they just might surprise us.

It’s like I said yesterday – ignore the statistics and just be in the moment. Be an eight year old and just go to the game and be excited that you’re at a game instead of sitting on your couch. Don’t give up just yet; it’s much more fun to realize winning is still possible. The Angels can’t play much worse and something has to give.

We’ve got Ervin Santana tonight and Jered Weaver tomorrow. Both are worth the price of admission to watch and then some. This team still has a chance. Call me a homer, tell me I’m wearing rose colored glasses; its okay, it doesn’t matter.

I’m not ready to give up on a season; there’s absolutely no fun in that what-so-ever. I’m invested. I have tickets. I don’t want to stop watching and I want the games to be meaningful.

I’m nervous. I’m anxious. I’m angry. I have questions about the personnel. I have issues with some of the decisions this organization has made over the past couple seasons, but I’m not giving up. That’s the easy way out.

It can all change in a heartbeat. I know it. You know it. Mike Scioscia knows it. Wait for it. Believe it. Watch it happen. Nothing great happens when people give up. Think about it.

August 16, 2011

When your team can't buy a win, buy a shirt

Sometimes being a baseball fan is just painful. You get your hopes up in anticipation of a big game or a big series. The day of the first game of that series, you can’t help but think about it all day long. You can’t wait to get to the stadium to be with other fans that are ready for something special to take place.

As the game unfolds, everything that could go wrong does exactly that. It’s sort of like a nightmare and at a certain point you can’t wait for it to be over, so that you can focus on tomorrow. Watching your favorite team go down in defeat is never a pleasant experience; watching them lose do a division rival is worse and watching them self-destruct is beyond words.

So here we are; it’s the day after an 8-4 loss to the Texas Rangers. The sun actually came up this morning and I was able to open my eyes and face another day and tonight, I’ll be able to watch yet another ball game. I hope it will be a much better experience than last night’s debacle, but I have no idea how it will turn out.

And I guess there’s a beauty in that. Baseball is unpredictable and just when you think you have it figured out, it surprises you in ways you never thought possible. It’s what brings us back to the stadium time after time; game after game.

We ran late to the game; which is something that happens regularly for us because of work and commutes and a general lack of time. We arrived after Garret Richards had to leave with a groin injury and the Angels trailing 1-0. It’s always a little disappointing to arrive at the stadium with your team trailing early. It doesn’t exactly set the mood in the right direction if you know what I mean.

As the game progressed, I sat in my seat quietly; just watching and thinking and wondering how the Angels would get out of this hole. Some of the 514 Fanatics began to comment. Dave said, “Hey – why are you so quiet – you seem so introspective.” Bo looked around and said, “Come on – why the sad faces, we’re at a baseball game!”

They were both right and that’s the great thing about being at a game with people who make watching it a much richer experience.

Even still, I never really came out of my funk and Cheryl and I headed off to the team store before the 7th inning stretch – something we rarely do (leave early). By the way; the Angels with just 23 regular season home games left in the 2011 season, finally got in a shipment of Peter Bourjos, Jordan Walden and Mark Trumbo shirts and yes, we bought a few shirts because we just don’t have enough Angels gear (sarcasm).

We left the store and the stadium before the game was over… we lingered for a bit on the concourse when Russell Branyan homered; however, we left when Torii Hunter struck out and Vernon Wells popped out.

We got home before Angel talk started and that was probably a good thing because nothing makes a loss worse than the people who call in after the Angels suffer a defeat. Joe Fan in Irvine has all the answers. Pete Know-it-all thinks Scioscia should be fired, etc., etc. It’s enough to make sane fans crazy.

I didn’t hear any post game interviews, but I could imagine Mike Scioscia saying something about “turning the page” yet again and about the need to do more offensively. Blah, blah, blah. It’s a familiar routine.

Today I’m sure people are going over how bad the Angels are statistically and how poorly they’ve hit in the last month or so. To tell you the truth I’m kind of bored with all the stat talk about how bad this team is. I just want them to win anyway.

Is that too much to ask?

I just want to go to the game and be in the moment. I don’t want to hear how so and so hits with runners in scoring position. I just want to watch them hit and drive somebody in. I don’t want to know what the Angels record is when Jeff Mathis drives in a run – I just want to see him drive someone in while I’m watching.

I just want to be 8 years old again and go to the game and be excited because I’m at a ball game, period.

I don’t care where Bobby Abreu ranks statistically from a historical perspective. I don’t care about how much money Vernon Wells is making. I don’t even care how many games the Angels trail the Rangers by in the AL West.

I just want to watch a game; enjoy the game and see my team come out on top and then do it again tomorrow and then again on the next day and the day after… You get the picture, right?

Sometimes it's fun to just be a fan who is excited to just be at a baseball game. Thanks for the reminder Bo and Dave...

I’m also looking forward to Saturday when one of our favorite bands; MercyMe, comes to town for a concert after the game with the Baltimore Orioles. Who is Mercy Me? Watch…

August 15, 2011

Calling all you Angels

This is a big week. The Angels who trail the Texas Rangers by four games host those same Rangers for a four game series starting tonight. To say it’s a life or death situation would be a huge over-statement because no one is going to die as a result of this contest, but it does have an impact on the destiny of two baseball clubs looking to make the post season.

My hope is that this week will be an inspiring one for Angels fans of all ages. We all know that baseball is just a game and yet these games mean something to each of us in different ways. We want to be a part of something that’s special and uplifting and baseball has the ability to provide that opportunity.

Never mind our not having any control over the outcome. Never mind whatever else is going on in our lives; for the next four nights Angel fans young and old will be watching something that has the potential to be epic.

A story is about to be written and the details will unfold before our very eyes. This is what being a baseball fan is all about. It’s us versus them. For most of the last decade the Angels had the upper hand and held a position other teams wanted. Today the tables have turned and it’s Texas that has what we want – the lead in the American League West.

These games are special in that every baseball fans want to see their teams playing meaningful games in August and beyond. Who will be the hero? Who will be the goat? Our emotions are up for grabs and the anticipation of a four game series of this magnitude is enough is enough to put any fan on edge.

As I anticipate the games on tap, I feel both excited and nervous. I’m happy to see these games and yet I’m a little cranky that my team hasn’t played well enough to put themselves in a position to make these games even more meaningful than they are right now. Just a week ago they only trailed the Rangers by a game and as they enter tonight’s contest, they trail by four.

So much can go right or wrong in the next four days and it’s enough to make just about any baseball fan a little crazy.

There are still question marks about the offense and holes in the bull pen and to add to our angst, the Rangers appear to be playing well.

It doesn't matter. It's time to look forward.

Where do you line up this week? Do you feel like covering your eyes because you’re afraid to watch or are you amped up and ready to go all-in as a fan and arrive at the stadium ready to give it your all? Will you sit with your arms crossed and eyes narrowed or will you be on the edge of your seat with your voices loud and your fist clinched; ready to explode with enthusiasm?

I will be very disappointed if we don’t have really big, loud crowds; dressed in red and ready to rock the stadium.

It’s time Angel fans. It’s time for you to get off your couch. It’s time for you to get in your car and make your way to the stadium. This is your chance to be a part of something fun; yes, fun. Embrace the series and be a part of something exciting. It doesn’t matter that it’s Monday. You owe this to yourself and to your team.

Forget the past. Don’t focus on the statistics and all that has gone wrong. Just show up and be ready to see something great. Be open to just having fun at a baseball game. Do you realize how many other baseball fans in other cities would love to be in this situation? Don’t let this opportunity go by without being a part of it.

We may win or we may not – but we can’t be a part of the experience unless we show up. Let’s be loud and proud bet on greatness and not be afraid of the outcome.

I’m calling all you Angels. Let’s do this. Who’s with me?

August 10, 2011

The Jeff Mathis Dilemma

Whenever Jeff Mathis comes to the plate I cringe. Whenever he bats with men in scoring position, I expect the worst. When he bats at a crucial juncture of the game and there are two outs, I close my eyes.

And yet…

I really want Jeff Mathis to succeed. Yes, I really do because when all is said and done, I want the Angels to win. And therein lays the dilemma.

You see Mathis is monumentally and historically bad. How bad? Well ESPN's David Schoenfield sums it up pretty good: “It's hard to overstate just how poor a hitter Mathis truly is. For his career, he has a .197 batting average in 1,299 plate appearances. According to Baseball Reference, there have been just three others players in history to amass 1,300 PAs while batting below the Mendoza Line, and two of them, Mike Ryan and Ray Oyler, played much of their careers in the 1960s, arguably the most pitcher-friendly era in baseball history.”

I’m happy when he does something good offensively. I’m overjoyed when he makes a play that helps the team win a game on offense or defense and yet I have come to expect something far less from him after his seven seasons in the big leagues and because of that, I always fear that any positive output from him will earn him more playing time and that may ultimately cost the Angels a pennant.

I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog ranting about my disdain for Mathis. I’ve heard hours and hours of complaints from fans calling in on talk-radio and from those at ball games or talking Angels baseball in any environment. I've read volumes of opinions and poured over tons of statistics that all point to how bad he is and yet - he plays on. We don’t get it; none of us do.

In yesterday's game against the Yankees, Jeff Mathis came up to bat with the bases loaded in the top of the sixth and much to my surprise, he delivered a ground rule double that scored two and had the ball not hopped the fence, it would have cleared the bases. Normally, when a play of that magnitude happens, I throw my hands in the air, cheer, high-five someone and scream woo-hoo; however, when Mathis hit that double, I shook my head, smiled a bit and thought to myself – “Go figure.”

Terry Smith had just got done telling the radio audience that Mathis was 0-6 this season with the bases loaded (which was probably just what needed to be said – so that something positive could happen because that seems to be the way baseball works a lot of the time).

It was kind of amazing to hear the play unfold.

Just this past Friday night against the last-place Mariners, Mathis came up to bat twice in key situations. Once with the bases loaded and the other time with two men on. In both instances, he failed miserably – striking out both times. These kinds of events aren’t forgotten.

So… it’s easy to see why so many Angel fans feel tormented, isn’t it? We expect the worst and hope for the best.

Here we are in August and the Angels are 12 games above .500 and just 1.5 games behind Texas. They are most definitely in the hunt and engaged in an intense pennant race. Emotions are high and nerves are frazzled. Jeff Mathis adds to the anxiety.

It’s clear he’s here to stay; at least for this season. Regardless of any and all rants on the matter, Mathis is going to receive significant playing time. I guess we’d all better get used to it. Some of us might even have to start actively cheering for Mathis.

Any volunteers?


Anyone out there? Anyone... anyone?

E-8... Fred Lynn drops the ball

Fred Lynn must think he’s something special. Every now and then a baseball player will do something that will leave me shaking my head and that’s exactly what happened Saturday night.

As part of the Angels’ 50th Anniversary celebration, they’ve had various alumni from the past 50 years come out to the stadium for a ceremonial first pitch. They then come out to a designated area after the second inning to sign autographs for a hundred fans. Every now and then – someone has to cancel or they can’t fulfill the autograph portion of the evening because they’re working in the broadcast booth or in the dugout of the opposing team or some other logical reason.

There have been some notable players participating in this event and a list is available on the Angels’ web site.

Fred Lynn’s turn came this past Saturday and I would say it was an event of more than moderate expectations. Even though Lynn is not a Hall of Famer, he’s a player of note and one a great many Angel fans were looking forward to seeing and possibly meeting.

The game was scheduled for a 6:05 p.m. start and the gates opened at 4:00 p.m. A lot of fans who wanted Lynn’s autograph arrived at the stadium prior to 4:00 p.m. to get in line and then make their way to the autograph area to get a wrist band – which is handed out to the first 100 fans. Cheryl and I arrived around 4:20 p.m. and made our way to the staging area and we received our wrist bands.

Then the waiting began. The wait can be a good 2.5 hours on some nights give or take. Fans pass the time talking Angels baseball, showing what they might have the alumnus sign, etc. As the time gets closer, the anticipation of the meeting grows and a buzz kind of hovers over the group of people who paid their dues to get the autograph.

Well, Saturday night – the fun was sucked out of the air.

Sometime between the start of the game and the time Lynn was to arrive – the news started to circulate that Fred Lynn would not sign any “personal items.” That meant no balls, bats, photos, cards, etc.


We were told he would provide an item that he would sign. Okay… What item? The ushers were instructed to not tell us (although it was clear some fans were being told never-the-less). When Lynn arrived we were told he would be signing a hat being provided by the Angels.

Turns out the hat, was one of the left-over give-a-ways; the “flash back hat.” Yes sir, sponsorship logo and all.

Now, some of you might not think that’s a big deal, but consider this. A lot of fans showed up a few hours early for the opportunity to get an autograph on the item of their choice. There is a sign that clearly articulates the process and the rules. Fans arrive with certain expectations and those expectations were not met. We weren’t given any notice what-so-ever and were basically held captive until the session started.

Sure, we could have walked away at that point, but most decided that getting something was better than nothing. In retrospect, that was probably a reach.

Some people purchased items specifically for the session. Some had items that they had been saving for years in hopes of having this opportunity.

Fred Lynn didn’t care.

Word is Lynn usually gets paid for his autograph and wasn’t going to sign any personal items that he normally would be paid to sign. I have no way to verify this, but it is believable.

Funny – Rod Carew is a Hall of Famer and he had no such restrictions. Tim Salmon is as beloved as any player to ever wear an Angels uniform and he had no such restrictions. Neither did Brian Downing or Doug DeCinces or Bengie Molina or Garret Anderson and a host of others.

Most people never get a chance to interact with a baseball player; past or present. Most encounters are brief, but the memory of such occasions can be long lasting.

Fred Lynn was nice. He was cordial. He reached out to shake the hand of every fan. He smiled. He did everything, but the one thing fans wanted most.

It was very disappointing and not the kind of memory any of us were hoping for.

Now, I know not everyone who comes to these things is collecting autographs for their own personal collection; but I would venture to guess that the overwhelming majority do. I will even acknowledge that within the group of fans that show up – there are certain ones who try to take advantage of the situation, push for things they know they’re not supposed to and try to bend the rules and ignore common courtesy and etiquette. Never-the-less, the majority of fans who come want to create a memory for themselves and Fred Lynn dropped the ball (he's a former center fielder, thus the E-8 in the title).

He could have made a 100 fans happy, but I guess that was simply too much to ask.

The 50th Anniversary Celebration has been awesome. The alums who have taken the time to sign autographs have been tremendous; with a special note to Clyde Wright, who has filled in more than his share of times when someone was unable to fulfill their obligation.

The process; while at times a little bumpy has for the most part been fair and well organized. It is something we have enjoyed and continue to look forward to participating in. We even hope it becomes an annual tradition.

I just thought that Fred Lynn spoiled a good thing on this particular night and it bothered me enough to blog about it.

End of story. Take it for what it’s worth.

Other things to check out (good reads):

From SB Nation: Mark Trumbo on pace to join fairly exclusive group of sluggers

From Yahoo Sports: Road to discovery

In case you haven't heard; Angels pitching prospect Garrett Richards will make his major league debut today. For more on Richards, check out AngelsWin: Garrett Richards gets the call

Even more about Richards from Halos Heaven: Garrett Richards Pitching Debut Wednesday

August 5, 2011

Random and not-so random thoughts for a Friday…

Joel Pineiro won the second annual Angels Cook-off Thursday. Later that night, Mike Scioscia informed the media that he’s removing Pineiro from the rotation. Put two and two together… and you have a new career for Joel. Just saying.

Thursday was kind of an odd day… Doug DeCincnes was charged by the Security and Exchange Commission for insider trading, just a day after he threw out the first pitch as part of the Angels 50th Anniversary celebration.

Last night Jeff Mathis made a big play when he blocked the plate and stopped Danny Valencia who tried to score on a single. It was a very solid play and unfortunately, probably bought Jeff Mathis another 200 at-bats.

By the way… In 16 games, Hank Conger is hitting .317 with a .962 OPS since being sent down to Salt Lake City. He also has four homeruns and 19 RBI. Funny, Jeff Mathis has 35 hits in 63 games and 15 RBI in 63 games. Why do I even bother with this stuff?

Even still…

The Jeff Mathis PR Machine must be hard at work – the Angels scoreboard operator keeps posting the statistic that the Angels are (now) 71-27 when Mathis has an RBI. Really? How about posting that he only has 132 RBI in 7 seasons? If the goal is to make Jeff Mathis look good – they need to give Angels fan more credit. We’re not buying it.

Speaking of buying it – how monumentally crazy is it that the Angels team store doesn’t sell shirts with Peter Bourjos’, Mark Trumbo’s, Tyler Chatwood's or Jordan Walden’s names on them? Hey, but you can buy a Jeff Mathis shirt! Isn’t that special? Seriously – have you (or the Angels marketing department) seen the number of young girls holding up “Peter – will you marry me?” signs?

It’s funny – they got Ervin Santana’s no-hitter commemorated on a shirt and in the store in less than a week – but continue to miss the boat on the four young guns.

Peter Bourjos continues to impress everyone with his amazing speed. Last night he went from first to third when Jeff Mathis grounded out (surprise) to the pitcher, who threw him out at first base. If you blink, you might miss something he does on the field; he’s that fast.

Check out the great interviews by David Saltzer from Angelswin. Interviews with Bert Blyleven, Mark Trumbo, Tyler Chatwood, and Peter Bourjos up (among others).

In other news…

The Angels’ Wives are partnering with the OC Animal Care Center and the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation to host the fourth annual Angels for Animals night at the Big "A" this Saturday, August 6th. Fans are invited to join the Angels' Wives at the Home Plate Gate in an effort to promote the importance of animal adoption and spaying and neutering pets.

From 4:00 PM through the second inning* (6:05 PM start time), the Angels’ Wives will sell $40 mystery bags containing a baseball signed by an Angels player or coach as well as $5 raffle tickets to win other autographed items. Fans will also have the chance to meet many of the animals currently available for adoption at the OC Animal Care Center and the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation.

This year, 10 lucky fans that purchase a Mystery Bag will also win tickets to the September 6th game vs. Seattle, a VIP Pass to meet select Angels players before the game and a chance to watch the team take batting practice from the Diamond Club.

Prior to the mystery bag event, from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM, Angels’ second baseman Howie Kendrick will sign autographs for a 10 dollar donation to the fundraiser. The first 200 fans in line will receive wristbands and be guaranteed a personalized autograph, limit one per person. Gates open at 10:00 AM (no camping out) and all proceeds will go to local animal shelters.

*Due to the limited number of "Mystery Bags," there will be a three bag limit per person, while supplies last.

August 4, 2011

A time to sparkle

In the movie “Fever Pitch” starring Drew Barrymore (as Lindsey) and Jimmy Fallon (as Ben); Ben introduces Lindsey to the folks who sit in his section at Fenway Park. Lindsey soaks it all in and says… “Wow, you have quite a group here.” Ben replies “Well, it’s my summer family.” In many ways that sums up Cheryl and my relationship with the folks we sit with in our section at Angel games.

Over the years we’ve met up with some of them at spring training (sometimes planned and sometimes not). We’ve met for dinner outside of the stadium (enjoying something other than a hot dog every now and then). And of course, watching baseball games is made to be a much richer experience when our “family” joins us for a game.

While all the 514 Fanatics are special to us, we’ve become particularly attached to one specific family who sits in front of us anywhere from 10-20+ games a year. It’s a relationship that is dear to us and one that was formed as a direct result of being Angels’ season ticket holders.

We’ve not only gone to dinner with this family and met them at spring training; we’ve also celebrated milestone birthdays and vacationed with them in Yosemite.

Even though we have different backgrounds and even different faiths; we have come to be a part of each other's lives in a way that goes beyond just being fellow Angel fans. Let’s just say that getting to know them is one of the best things to ever come from being season ticket holders. They’re just incredible, loving, giving and friendly folk.

I mention them today because all too often circumstance has a way of making sure we realize there is more to life than just baseball.

The mother of this incredible family (Lauren) is battling breast cancer. Hers is a journey that has just begun and though there are many days ahead; there is a legitimate hope for a great outcome.

It is a journey that I’m sure the family will tackle and triumph over together; after all they're quite the team. It is also an experience Lauren plans to share with anyone who has an interest via her journal/blog.

You can follow Lauren’s blog HERE.

The family invites you to not only follow along, but to become engaged by contributing your own messages as well. I’m told reading the messages and entries on her blog is one of Lauren’s favorite things to do. This is your chance to sparkle folks; so break out your rally monkeys and please lend your support.

August 3, 2011

Three Guillen's walk into a blog and the author ends up praising Mike Scioscia

I have had a few days to digest the events surrounding the Angels/Tigers game that took place this past Sunday. I’ve listen to some commentary, read some comments (including a great piece by one of my favorites Joe Posnanski) and I’ve come to some conclusions and opinions of my own; some of which may surprise you.

I write this as a huge Jered Weaver fan and an even bigger Angels fan.

That being said, in my personal opinion Jered Weaver acted in a manner that was detrimental to the team. I’m not condemning Weaver and I’m not saying that I would have done anything different myself, but upon a great deal of reflection I think Weaver was absolutely wrong in the choices he made Sunday.

What Jered Weaver did was act in his own best interest. If you want to take it a step further, you could say he was simply selfish.

I’ve been saying for some time now that I believe the Angels margin for error in winning the west is very slim. Losing Weaver for even one start could prove to be the difference between making the play-offs and an early off season. You see Weaver was suspended by major league baseball for six games (he’s appealing) which could equate to one less start.

I understand why he acted as he did and I’m not angry with Weaver. I even empathize with him to a certain degree. I guess you could say I don’t expect baseball players to be perfect (which might tell you something about why I’m probably a little more tolerant of blown saves than most fans), but I would like to think that they put their team first on a regular basis.

As I watched the events unfold Sunday and Weaver threw over the head of Alex Avila something struck me. I knew for certain that this was Weaver taking matters into his own hands. If I know anything about the way Mike Scioscia manages his ball club, I know that he does not seek out retaliatory actions in the course of a game. It’s just not his style and more importantly, it’s something he simply doesn’t believe in.

It’s also something that probably makes a lot of fans crazy and I imagine it may even bother some of his players (this was one of the problems Jose Guillen had when he was an Angel).

I believe that Scioscia knows every win is precious and I’m guessing that he doesn’t like to give opposing teams any kind of advantage (like not being able to put in his best players). He wants to win as much as anyone – but he also wants to win playing baseball the “right” way. I believe he wants to attack games in a respectful fashion and stay clear of any “one-ups-man-ship” that is so prevalent in today’s sports and society as a whole.

Baseball is rich in unwritten rules, codes and the like; however, I believe Scioscia answers to a higher code. Scioscia is as traditional and “old school” as they get, but I think he differs in the area of “gamesmanship” from most. He doesn't let tradition or secret codes get in the way of winning.

When I listened to Scioscia talk to the media on Tuesday prior to the game, it was clear in my mind that Scioscia was focused on the big picture. It wasn’t about whether or not Weaver should have done what he did – it was about how his actions could impact the team and influence the course of the season.

He never came out and spoke out against Weaver (not his style), but when I read between the lines, I concluded that he wasn’t pleased (again, my interpretation) because he was focused on winning a division.

Mike Scioscia get’s it. Scioscia is the guy who is always going to take the high road and his primary focus is to get his team to think, work and act like a team. Getting 25 individuals to focus on being a team is a difficult task. John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach knew how to do this better than anyone and his results speak for themselves.

Mike Scioscia swims upstream and against the tide every day. He’s not Ozzie Guillen (who openly talks about retaliatory actions) and holds himself to a higher standard than most of us. His view isn’t a “world view” per say and it reminds me that I too must rise above that kind of thinking as well. Perhaps his way is a direct reflection of his faith; perhaps it’s a reflection of his character. Perhaps it’s both because the two are intertwined. In any case, it makes me respect and admire him all the more.

You see, Scioscia’s take on baseball often helps put life in the proper perspective for me.

I have to believe that Scioscia is disappointed in Weaver because Weaver strayed from the agenda at hand and that’s to win the American League West. Remember John Lackey’s last game as an Angel (it was game 5 of the 2009 ALCS)? Remember how Lackey reacted when Scioscia came to remove him from the game against the Yankees? Lackey uttered something along the lines of “C’mon Sosh, this game is mine.”

I’ll never forget it.

Like just about every other Angel fan at or watching the game I wanted Lackey to finish that game. I was rooting for Lackey more than I was rooting for the team.

I was wrong; and dare I say - we were all wrong and Scioscia was right. It wasn’t “Lackey’s game” at all – that game and the decision to pull him was about what was best for the team. Regardless of the outcome (the Angels did win that one) – Scioscia’s decision was based on what he believed needed to be done to win the game and not necessarily appease Lackey.

Most fans think that particular moment sealed the Angels’ fait and there was no way Lackey would resign with the Angels. I have come to believe perhaps that’s only half true and that it was actually Lackey’s fait that was sealed because Scioscia saw someone who continually went against the agenda.

It’s the kind of stuff that sent Jose Guillen packing. Guillen hated the fact that whenever an opposing pitcher hit him his teammates (the pitching staff) didn’t retaliate. He didn’t understand. Guillen made things about him. Lackey made game of 5 of the 2009 ALCS about him and this past Sunday – Weaver did the same.

There’s a great book written by Rick Warren called “The Purpose Driven Life.” The first line in the book hits you like a ton of bricks. It simply reads “It’s not about you.” That idea goes against the grain of just about every “world view” and yet – success really does come when we understand it’s not about us.

Jered Weaver made the wrong choice on Sunday. I don’t hate him or condemn him for it. Like I said earlier, I probably would have done the same thing. I simply want to acknowledge that I believe he made the wrong decision.

It’s like driving. Ever been behind a “slow poke” when you were in a hurry? Ever tail gate that person or pass them and shoot them a glare or worse? Ever have the tables turned on you – where you were driving along minding your own business and someone came up on you like a bat out of hell? You didn’t like it much did you? And yet – we often do things to others that we don’t want done to us.

We know better; however, sometimes we do the wrong thing anyway. I have to believe Weaver knows better and I’m certain his manager does. I just hope that when all is said and done it doesn’t cost the Angels a pennant.

On a personal note – writing this post was an enjoyable process for me. I have to admit, when the events unfolded Sunday, I felt a certain amount of obligation and/or pressure to post something in a timely manner; however, I had a problem. Every time I tried to put my thoughts into words, something was wrong.

My original goal was to focus my wrath on Carlos Guillen and rant about the pathetic and “bush league” behavior he demonstrated. Now we both know that’s something I can really sink my teeth into and yet – it just wasn’t coming together like I wanted.

I kept putting the post aside and continued to think about what I saw and what I had heard and read in the aftermath. I knew there was something at the core of all of this that struck me and it just took a couple days for it to surface. I know enough about myself that my immediate reaction to things is often different than what comes to light with time and reflection.

Weaver was in the moment. If he had more time to reflect and consider the consequences he might have made a better decision. He didn’t have that luxury.

I know the natural reaction to what happened to Weaver via Carlos Guillen is to do exactly what Weaver did. I also acknowledge that would most likely be my own natural reaction as well. I also understand that it not ought to be because I am "not of this world” and in his own way Mike Scioscia reminds me of that “code” every now and then.

It’s funny - this post started out being about Jered Weaver and somehow ended up being a tribute of sorts to Mike Scioscia. You know what? I’m okay with that.

To say the Angels are blessed to have Mike Scioscia as their manager is an understatement on so many levels and I admire the way he stays true to his beliefs and doesn’t waiver in the course of what others think or more to the point - of what others want him to do. He takes his responsibility to actually manage the team seriously and he owns it. It’s a beautiful thing.

Like Weaver, I’m not perfect and that’s not to say Scioscia is. Even though Scioscia is a terrific manager, he doesn’t always make the right decisions on the field (no manager does). However, I am confident the reasoning behind the decisions he makes is based on a core set of values that represents exactly who he is. What we see is what we get and I appreciate that very much.

The amazing thing is that Scioscia is probably even a better person than he is a manager.

On a somewhat funny note... did I just reference three different Guillen's in this post (Carlos, Jose, Ozzie)? I guess I did.