There’s Always Next Year…

I want to thank every single one of my Angels and the entire Angels organization for a fantastic, memorable, inspirational season.  I also want to wish the Phillies all the luck in the world…okay, just kidding.  Game 1 of the World Series will start in just about an hour, and although I won’t be able to watch, I’m sure it will be an exciting battle between two very good teams. 

I also want to thank everyone who stopped by and read my musings about the Angels, the MLB and my take on what it’s like to be a devoted Angels fan.  I began this blog on opening day as a tribute to my Dad and as a cathartic means to get through my first season of baseball without him.  He taught me what it means to be a fan, through good times and bad, and I’ve felt his presence during every game and at every visit to the Big A this year. 

I plan to continue blogging throughout the off-season.  There’s plenty of baseball-related topics to discuss as well as other things worth mentioning here and there.  I was completely surprised with my #57 ranking on MLB Blogs and I thank everyone for their support, comments and opposing points of view.  I’ve been exposed to a wonderful world of baseball addicts like me and appreciate all they say and do to support their teams.

Sorry for the lack of pictures and my brief entry.  I am sitting on my balcony aboard the Mariner of the Seas.  We are docked in Mazatlan and head to Puerto Vallarta tomorrow.  I don’t think there’s enough tequila in Mexico to begin to mend the heartbreak of my Angels not making it to the World Series, but I’m experimenting.  I’ll be back from my cruise next week and will be refreshed and ready to think ahead to April of 2010.  Because as every fan (except Phillies and Yankees) know all too well right now, there’s always next year!!!  Adios amigos!!

 

There’s No Place Like Home

If only it was this easy:

                 

Just in the nick of time, my Angels escaped the cold, bitter chill of the Bronx and came back home to the warm embrace of Southern California and the Angels faithful.  What a difference 3000 miles makes and I ain’t just talking about the weather.

     Angels catcher Jeff Mathis reacts to his deep drive bouncing off the wall in left field, allowing Howie Kendrick to score from first base with the winning run against the Yankees in the 11th inning of Game 3 of the ALCS on Monday.

Proving once again, that with the Angels there’s no telling where, or from whom, the win will come, Jeff Mathis gave us all something to cheer about.  Considering how disappointing (more like heartbreaking) Games 1 and 2 in New York had been, we all knew our boys needed to get back home to change the momentum of the ALCS series.  Torii Hunter said he was glad to be back, “…to work on my tan!”  And the generous dose of sunshine on Monday, certainly helped.

                  

Now, if you’re expecting some trash talk about the Yankees, I’m afraid I will have to disappoint you.  Let’s face it.  The Angels and the Yankees are both top-notch teams that are playing below their actual ability.  The Yankees were able to take advantage of Angel errors in game 1, but missing was their signature long-ball.  The Angels bats were cold…both figuratively and literally.  Honestly, I couldn’t help but grab my Angels logo throw blanket to snuggle with on the couch while watching that icy wind rip through Yankees Stadium.  Maybe my A/C was on too high.  Or could it have been the frozen yogurt I was eating?

                                       

Game 2 was just plain nuts.  That game, literally, could have gone either way.  There were no big heroics, no jaw-dropping plays.  Both teams made errors, neither team was able to deliver much of anything with runners in scoring position.  It was a 13 inning marathon between two mediocre playing teams.  I don’t really understand the purpose of pointing the finger of blame at any one or two players.  If you want to pick apart a team’s performance half-way through the season, go for it.  Second guess the manager all you want.  But when it comes to the play-offs, it’s just a waste of time and energy and can really drive fan morale straight into the ground.  Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve.  The quicker you put a play-off loss behind you, the better.  What’s done is done, and you have to look forward with hope and optimism because as a fan, that’s all you can do.  To me, the real heroes of that game were the faithful Yankees fans who braved the rain, cold and risk of hypothermia to be there for the final pitch.  Kudos to them! 

                             

In these tough economic times, it’s nice to know the Angels and the Yankees are doing their part to help fans get the most bang for their ticket buck as they again, threw in a couple of “bonus” innings on Monday.  Game 3 looked and felt different than the games in NY.  The sky was blue, the sun was shining and I didn’t spot one parka or umbrella in the crowd.  But if Angels or Yankees fan were waiting for their team to turn it on or bust out with the kind of play that got them to this point in the first place, they’re still waiting.  Instead, the game stayed close, going into the 10th, tied 4-4.  And again, it could’ve been anyone’s game.  Thankfully, it was the Angels.  And kudos to the faithful Angels fans who braved the balmy warm afternoon with just the perfect breeze blowing in from left field and the very real possibility of a touch of sunburn on the bridge of their noses….ha.  Just kidding. 

    

Game 4 is just about a half hour away.  Scott Kazmir takes the mound for the Angels while CC Sabathia will be back with just 3 days rest.  I’m ready to see the Angels play like they have all season…smart, gutsy and balls out.  But if I’m being honest, I’ll take a win any way we can get one.  Let’s go ANGELS!!!

 

Angels Baseball…Fan Strong!

 

 

Keeping The Faith!

“Welcome back to the postseason, Halos, that most celebrated
of achieved
destinations, where tradition dictates you’ll soon
be squished in the manner of a grape beneath the dancing
feet of Jonathan Papelbon.”

                                              — Jeff Miller, OC Register

Ummmm, I don’t think so.  Not even close.  The only “grapes” involved in the Angels’ sweep of the Red Sox were the kind used to make this:

          

But let’s start at the beginning.  Thursday flew by as I tackled a mountain of paperwork at the office, canceled my subscription to the OC Register and spoke with the editor’s secretary.  She provided me some phone numbers for the mucky-mucks in the sports department but I was unable to reach any of them on their direct lines.  Gee, I wonder if they were out at the Big A with their complementary press passes?  By the time I got home, I was fired up and ready for a good game.  With all the talk about the “one-two” punch of Jon Lester and Josh Beckett, I was praying John Lackey would have his best stuff.  Did he ever.  It was a great pitchers duel that continued into the 5th inning and we were all holding our breaths, wondering who would blink first.  Lester did.  Erick Aybar led off the bottom of the 5th with a double, Chone Figgins bunted him over to 3rd and Mr. Patience, Bobby Abreu, skillfully drew his third walk of the game.  Then it happened…my Torii Hunter blasted one up, up and over the centerfield wall! 

                         ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 08:  Torii Hunter #48 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim reacts to hitting a three-run home run as catcher Victor Martinez #41 of the Boston Red Sox look on in the fifth inning of Game One of the ALDS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Angel Stadium on October 8, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

It was a thing of beauty, but given the Red Sox ability to throw runs up on the board in later innings, I said a quick prayer for insurance runs.  Kendry Morales delivered in the 7th with an RBI and one more run came in on a bad throw by Jason Bay.  After giving up only 4 hits, Big John Lackey left the mound after 7 & 1/3 to thunderous applause.  Darren Oliver was superb, finishing the game without allowing a single base runner.  Fantastic!  I had hoped and prayed for a win and got just that.  To top it all off…it was a shut-out!  Sweet. 

                             

As you can imagine, I was itching to update my blog after Thursday night’s win.  After attempting for nearly 2 hours to access MLB Blogs, I gave up and hoped I’d have some time at work on Friday to send out congratulations to my boys and revel in the victory a little.  It didn’t happen as, once again, it was a busy day, cut short by my early departure to get to the Big A for all the action of Game 2.  Since I’d gone into work wearing my World Series Champs t-shirt, jersey, hat and lucky postseason red underwear, I only needed to feed the birds, grab my hubby and get on the road.  There was no traffic at all on the 5 freeway and we were in the stadium by 5 PM.  I couldn’t help but shake my head at the number of “fans” who were attempting to enter the ball park with ALCS tickets!!  I use the term “fans” lightly as true baseball fans undoubtedly know the difference between ALCS and ALDS.  One unfortunate woman had bought Game 2…Game 2 at Fenway!  Jeez!! 

                               

We headed to our seats which were in a very lively terrace section on the right field side.  I told my husband I needed to eat some dinner quickly because I knew I would not be able to eat once the game started.  This was not a typical fun night at the ball park.  My nerves were kicking in big time and at no time would I be taking my eyes off the field.  I inhaled my sandwich and nervously waited.  They showed the new pre-game video montage again and again I became emotional.  Okay, that’s an understatement.  I began sobbing and didn’t think I’d stop.  The whole Nick Adenhart thing just hit so close to home.  I was missing my Dad.  This was my first postseason game without him.  My husband was helpless to comfort me so he just handed me those stiff, scratchy stadium napkins and let me have my cry.  Jered Weaver took the mound and wrote “N.A.” in the dirt of the mound with his finger and I let loose one last sob, then got myself together.  I grabbed my thundersticks and began cheering with all my might.  I’ll spare you the pitch-by-pitch recap.  The Red Sox scored first in the top of the 4th but the Angels responded quickly with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning.  The Angels broke the tie in the bottom of the 7th with Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis leading the charge.  Josh Beckett was done with 4 earned runs, his “punch” never materializing.  Jered Weaver pitched his heart out, allowing only one run on 2 hits.  He matched Lackey’s 7 & 1/3 innings and received a well-deserved standing O when he left the field.weaver2-1.jpg picture by lafmyers

Darren Oliver, Kevin Jepsen and Brian Fuentes provided solid relief and once again, it was an amazing game!  The crowd roared with every strike, every out, every Angels’ hit and every Angels’ run.  We were on our feet nearly the entire game.  As we departed the Big A, the crowd was chanting “Sweep, sweep, sweep!” so loudly, they were probably heard in Huntington Beach.  I didn’t join in.  I couldn’t.  You know how superstitious I am.  And that night, my superstitions got the best of me as I decided NOT to blog.  I hadn’t blogged after Thursday’s game and they won on Friday.  So, if I didn’t blog after Friday’s game, well, I just felt it would bode better for Sunday’s game.  But Sunday would be at Fenway.  Fenway.  I decided to remain hopefully, cautiously, optimistic.

                                  

2:00 AM, Sunday morning and I couldn’t sleep.  I scrolled through the recordings on the DVR, looking for something that would perhaps lull me to sleep.  Instead, I watched the Angels’ rally, held after their last regular season home game…again.  I listened to Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu fire up the crowd.  Jered Weaver described how honored he was to receive the first Nick Adenhart pitching award.  I watched the fans cheering the players as they piled aboard a bus bound for John Wayne Airport.  Then I fell asleep and dreamed of another Angels’ victory.

  sleep.jpg picture by lafmyers

Let me just say, baseball can do for me what football will never do: get my butt up at 9:00 AM on a Sunday.  Here in So Cal, it was overcast and gloomy.  I turned the game on and saw a bright, sunny day at Fenway.  I wondered who the sun was shining for.  Scott Kazmir was good, not great, but at least he kept the Red Sox from running away with it.  The Red Sox had a big 3 run inning in the 3rd and Kendry Morales cut the lead with a solo HR in the top of the 4th.  The Sox scored 2 more in the bottom of the 4th and were all smiles in the dugout with a 5-1 lead.  The crowd at Fenway seemed to finally perk up as well.  The Angels scored one more in the 6th which hardly phased the Red Sox or their fans.  But the Angels got their attention in the 8th when Bobby Abreu had a lead-off double and Red Sox reliever Billy Wagner walked Vlad Guerrero.  Tony Francona decided he’d make the call to the bullpen.  Well, I don’t think he used the phone.  I think he just talks to Papelbon in his head, like some people talk to God.  Honestly, I expected Papelbon to make an entrance like this:

        

 

Or maybe like this:

 

                   

But no, he took the mound like a regular guy and promptly gave up a two-run single to Juan Rivera.  What?!?  This was interesting.  But only for a moment as Reggie Willits, pinch running for Rivera, was quickly picked off to end the inning.  The Red Sox then added a run in the bottom of the 8th and again sent Papelbon out to secure the final 3 outs of the game and what they expected would be a 6-4 win.  Or not.  The first two outs came fairly easy but the 2009 Angels never say die.  Aybar singled up the middle, then took 2nd base, uncontested.  Chone Figgins managed a walk of his own, bringing Abreu to the plate.  When Abreu smacked the Green Monster with a solid double and Aybar came around to score, I was cheering and waving my rally monkey.  And when they walked my Torii Hunter and loaded the bases, I yelled, “Make ‘em pay, Vladdy!  Make ‘em pay!” Vladdy drove Papelbon’s first pitch right up the middle and dropped it right in front of Jacoby Ellsbury.  Now I was screaming!!!  Figgins scored the tying run and Abreu hustled in for the go-ahead.  This was unbelievable!  For the first time this entire season, I didn’t panic when Brian Fuentes took the mound.  I knew what had just happened would not be in vain.  I knew the unimagineable was about to happen.  This would be a sweep!  Fuentes did what Papelbon couldn’t and shut down the side, 1-2-3. 

  bigfinish.jpg picture by lafmyers

It was a half hour before I felt confident that none of my neighbors had called 911 to report my screams of joy which could totally have been mistaken for the blood-curdling sort.  It was hard to do much of anything the rest of the day.  I realized I’d spent the previous four days a wound-up bundle of nerves.  Now it was time to exhale.  Oh, and watch every second of news coverage I could find.  The idiots at TBS immediately cut away at the end of the game to show a re-run of “Seinfeld”.  Not even a moment of locker room champagne dousings.  Somehow I find it hard to believe they would’ve done that had the Red Sox just completed a sweep in the ALCS.  I guess my guys will continue to be the Rodney Dangerfield of the MLB…no respect, I tell ya.  Whatever.  We’re used to the unfair coverage and the lack of respect.  Just think how stupid the local reporters look now.  They all predicted a sweep…by the Red Sox.  That’s okay.  Everyone can keep dissing my guys, but the fans will always keep the faith.  We know how bad our Angels want this.  And we know what they’re playing for.

  torii1.jpg picture by lafmyers

 

Angels Baseball…Fan Strong!

 

 

It’s Hard Out Here For An Angels Fan

I’ve always imagined how difficult it would be to root for a team that’s based in another state or faraway city.  How “uncomfortable” is it to be a Seattle Mariners’ fan who lives in Chicago?  Are you even allowed to live in New York and be, say, a Colorado Rockies fan?  I happen to live just a few miles north of Anaheim Stadium so I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by “my own kind”.  During my very short commute to work, I constantly see other cars sporting identical “Angels Baseball” license plate frames, car flags and logo stickers on their rear windshields. 

                              

With Game 1 of the ALDS versus the Red Sox just hours away, the excitement is building.  At least among fans.  Real fans.  It’s just too bad no one else seems to think the Angels have a snowball’s chance in Southern California. 

                                  

Did I miss something?  If you watch the local news here in the southland, you’d think the Dodgers were the only MLB team in the state.  Every single night the Dodgers get their extensive coverage with reporters out at Chavez Ravine while the Angels get their usual 15 second mention.  I’m sure every Angels fan knows exactly what I’m talking about, but concrete evidence of this bias?  Back on July 21, the Angels played a double-header with the Royals.  The local ABC affiliate quickly reported the 8-5 win in the first game and then moved on to other stories…without even mentioning the second game! 

                 

Coverage of the Angels was extended slightly the night they clinched the west but only to allow time to mention their shortcomings in the postseason these last few years.  How nice.  I guess the Dodgers blowing a considerable lead in their division and needing nearly another entire week to win it wasn’t worth mentioning by the reporters in the Dodgers’ locker room.  Nope.  Nothing but good things to say that night.  Whatever.  I’m used to it, as I’m sure other Angels fans are too by now.  But today, just as every Angels fan is gearing up for Thursday’s game, things got decidedly worse.

                                            

While television news coverage of the Angels is at best neglectful, at least we can turn to our local newspaper for some fair and balanced reporting, right?  I mean, I’ve certainly enjoyed writing about the amazing season the Angels have had, from overcoming their early starting rotation struggles, to the fairytale that is Matt Palmer, to their sweep of the Yankees at the All-Star break, to Bobby Abreu’s strong and steady influence, to the brilliant acquisition of Scott Kazmir, and on and on.  It’s been quite a ride, all leading up to game 1 of the ALDS where, once again, we face the Red Sox.  Fans all around the country have nothing but good thoughts and love for their Angels right now and, when my husband handed me Wednesday’s sports page and special playoffs insert from the Orange County Register, I was looking forward to reading something encouraging in my local paper.  After all, it was the Orange County Register…NOT the Los Angeles Times (which I wouldn’t even use to line my bird cages).  The Register is headquartered less than 5 miles from the Big A but do you think they could hire a sports reporter who maybe, kinda, sorta likes the Angels just a little bit?  Nah.  Why do that?  Why would OC residents, who may actually support their local team, want to read anything positive about the Angels?  

             

First, there was Jeff Miller’s story in the sports section entitled “Curses!  Angels Get Boston Again”.  Now, I’m not sure who Miller hates more, the Angels or the Angels fans.  Has anyone forgotten the column he wrote, just after Frankie Rodriguez went to the Mets, in which he implied that Angels fans are racists?  (Feel free to refresh your memory here:  Angels Less Colorful Now, Which Pleases Some , but be sure you’ve taken your blood pressure meds first.)  I’m sure Miller fancies himself a comedian but one of the nicer points he made in Wednesday’s column compares another Angels / Red Sox postseason match-up to having “multiple molar extractions”.  Gee, thanks Jeff.  Way to pump up the team and the fans.  He ends his column by predicting a Red Sox sweep in 3, explaining his prediction by saying, “Only because the Red Sox can’t – mathematically – eliminate the Angels in just two games.”  What. An. *ss. 

            

The “special” playoffs insert in the paper was anything but.  I completely regret even looking at it.  Mark Whicker devoted his entire column to the numerous reasons that this ain’t the year for a Dodgers / Angels freeway Fall Classic.  He compliments the Dodgers, mentioning their “formidable bullpen” and gives credit to their back-to-back playoff appearances due to the fact that they “became more like the Angels”, but states that the Cardinals “just look too solid” for the Dodgers to overcome.  Fair enough.  So, what does Whicker think the Angels have going for them?  Not a whole lot.  He calls them “a bit arrogant” and says their home-field advantage is useless.  Sorry kids, but Mr. Whicker thinks your Angels suck.

                     

Marcia C. Smith threw her two cents in with a column that basically says the Angels have allowed themselves to be “mind-f*cked” (my term) by the Red Sox.  Ms. Smith opines, “Scioscia would probably send Ervin Santana to bat cleanup before admitting that another team has a history of owning his.”  Are you kidding me?  Is that what a manager is supposed to do hours before facing his postseason nemisis as a way to rally his team?  How the Register could even deem Ms. Smith’s ignorant dribble worthy of half a page is beyond my comprehension.  She revealed her pathetic lack of any kind of original material by lamely rehashing the worst moments of the 2004, 2007 and 2008 ALDS games, because surely that’s what every Angels fan wants to think about right now.  Further proof of her “hack-ness”?  Her column also contained the words “Donnie Moore” and “1986″, the lowest of blows to fans and the Angels organization.  Ms. Smith need not make room on her fireplace mantel for a Pulitzer Prize any time soon ever.  

                         

I guess the 3 million plus fans who flocked to the Big A this season (and filled seats at a higher percentage than the Dodgers) are all delusional.  According to the esteemed staff of the Register, we should all just accept the fact that postseason history will once again repeat itself and not even bother to tune in or show up to the games.  Putting on the red and pulling out the old rally monkey will prove to be an exercise in futility.  Let’s all just face it.  Our season’s over but there’s always 2010.

                         

Oh, hell no!!!  My first order of business on Thursday morning will be to call the OC Register and cancel my subscription (877-627-7009).  Next, I’ll be calling the Editor, Ken Brusic (714-796-2226) to voice my displeasure with the Register’s coverage of the Angels and I encourage others to do the same.  There’s power in numbers, folks!  Then, I’ll be rushing home after work to watch Big John Lackey take the mound as he and the rest of my Angels play their hearts out against the Red Sox, just as they have this entire season.

        

On Friday, I’ll be there (T231, Row G) WITH my rally monkey AND my thundersticks AND wearing my lucky postseason red underwear.  I can’t wait to sit elbow to elbow with my fellow fans to cheer my Angels on.  Before the game, we can all chat about how the Angels were never supposed to make it past the Yankees in 2002 and when they did, it was considered a fluke.  Then we can talk about the 2002 ALCS games with the Twins and how Tim Salmon led the team in a victory lap around the field when they won it.  And if there’s enough time, we’ll laugh about the Giants having the champagne all chilled and ready to go during game 6 of the 2002 World Series.  Ah…how sweet it will be to relive good memories, happy moments with people who believe, just as I do, that the Angels can do it.  Why not talk about 2002?  Every Angels fan I’ve talked to recently seems to agree, it does feel an awful lot like 2002.  So sure, history can repeat itself, but who’s to say which history that will be?  Make no mistake…I believe in Angels.

                        

 

Angels Baseball…FAN STRONG! 

 

 

Oh, October!

What a season.  Seriously.  Here we are, days away from the start of the playoffs and the AL Central will be decided by a one game tie-breaker on Tuesday.  The Twins and the Tigers will duke it out for the top spot and a chance to take on the Yankees. 

               tie.gif picture by lafmyers

It doesn’t really surprise me that it would take a tie-breaker to determine a division.  We’ve seen all kinds of crazy stuff this season.  Who would’ve thought, after their record setting start, that the Dodgers would struggle more with Manny than without him?  And who didn’t write the Rockies off before the All-Star break?  I actually thought the Cubs would’ve been contenders in the NL Central but I sure was wrong.  I wouldn’t have guessed the Mets would end the season with a record that resembled the Nationals’ more than the Phillies’. 

   

In the AL, the Yankees had a shaky start while the Red Sox looked like they would easily put insurmountable distance between themselves and the Bronx Bombers.  I’ll give the Yankees credit.  When they get their act together, they really get their act together and perform like a well-oiled machine.  A super-expensive machine.  The Rangers sure kept the battle for the west interesting.  Everyone kept expecting them to implode but that didn’t happen.  The Angels had to fight hard for every inch of ground they gained.  (If you’re reading this, Big Mike…yes, the Angels did finish 10 games ahead, exactly as you predicted, but it wasn’t easy.)

    

I’ll admit the last few days have been less stressful.  I watched the remaining games of the Texas series, as well as the final three games in Oakland, secure in the knowledge that my boys had made it to the postseason.  It was fun to watch the newbies take the field and do their best to impress the powers-that-be in the Angels organization.  Strike-outs?  Yawn…whatever.  Errors?  I just rolled my eyes.  None of it mattered.  How refreshing is that?

               

Carefree?  Yep…that’s me.  I haven’t felt like this since just before spring training.  On one hand, it feels like it’s been years since Opening Day.  On the other hand, it seems like it was just yesterday.  When I went to the Big A last Monday night to watch the Angels clinch the west, the usual video montage that’s played before games to the Train song “Calling All Angels”, had been replaced with a new montage that chronicled the 2009 season.  It was a bittersweet ride down memory lane and I found myself a bit emotional when it ended.  There wasn’t anything in it that I hadn’t already seen.  But I think that’s what got to me.  I realized I’ve been there for all of it, good and bad, happy and sad.  Just like seasons past, I haven’t missed a single moment of it.  I’ve cried with my Angels and I’ve rejoiced with them too.  And no matter what happens in the postseason, I’ll do the same next year.  Because I’m a fan and that’s what fans do.  I know for many players, it’s just a job.  But I’d like to think that it’s more than a paycheck.  More than a quest for a mention in the record books.  There may be a few hundred players but there’s millions of fans.  And without us there wouldn’t be Major League Baseball.

 

Baseball…good to the last drop!  

 

 

Clinch Was A Cinch!

Good morning, Angels fans!  It’s hard to believe that just a few days ago we were shaking our heads and wondering how the Angels’ storybook season had turned into one hot mess.  After losing two to the Yankees, followed by two losses to the A’s (including Saturday night’s monumental meltdown as the Angels blew a 9-2 lead to lose 15-10), it was a relief to see the Angels bounce back on Sunday with a respectable win.  But even that win couldn’t prepared me for what I witnessed Monday night at the Big A.

 

            Photo

 

Not only did the Angels clinch the top spot in the AL West, they did it with an exclamation point as they snuffed out the Rangers, 11-0.  Ervin Santana decided to make it a one man job, as he completed all 9 innings, giving up only 7 hits.  He had 2 strikeouts but they came at a crucial time, in the 6th when the Rangers had 2 in scoring position with only one out.  He had oodles of defense, including 3 double-plays.  Considering how dominant the Rangers have been in the west throughout the entire season, it just felt plain good to see the Angels play such a superior game.

 

        

 

The ensuing celebration was especially poignant as the team emerged from the locker room, sans cleats and soaked in champagne, to pay tribute to Nick Adenhart at the huge picture of Nick on the outfield wall.

 

         

 

I’m well aware that the road to the World Series is, once again, paved with Red Sox, but I’ve decided not to think about that right now.  I’d rather just enjoy the moment, celebrate in spirit with my Angels and consider what lies ahead later this week.  It’s been a long, trying season and everyone needs to let a little steam off right now…fans included!

When the last out was made Monday night, many of the players pointed toward the heavens in recognition of their missing Angel, Nick Adenhart.  I did the same thing only my missing Angel is my dad.  Dad and I would purchase our tickets in March and somehow, we almost always managed to pick the play-off deciding games.  For the first time in 9 years, I did not purchase a single ticket to any game this season.  I either was invited or given tickets to every game I attended.  I was invited to this momentous game about three weeks ago, well before anyone could have known this would be the night the Angels would become the AL West champs.  But once the magic number was reduced to 2 on Sunday, I knew I would be there to see the Angels clinch it on Monday night.  Thanks, Dad.  Oh, and just to be sure…I pulled out the World Series lucky red underwear.  I’m a firm believer in fate but I’m still really superstitious!

 

Baseball…winning is everything.

The Boys of Bummer?

No, I’m not going to give my Angels a merciless tongue lashing.  I’m not going to dissect their lackluster performances in both of their losses to the Yankees either.  I will, instead, point out the single bright-shining event of the last few days.  The Angels gained a half game on the Rangers and their magic number is now 4. 

                               

And how did this happen?  My Angels had a day off.  Oh, and Oakland beat the pants off the Rangers, 12-3.  How else could it have happened?  My Angels have lost some steam and frankly, I’m baffled by it.

                       

The addition of Scott Kazmir to the starting rotation has done much to reinforce a slightly shaky starting rotation.  We’ve seen the bullpen find their groove with Jason Bulger, Kevin Jepsen, Darren Oliver and Matt Palmer providing solid relief.  They’ve continued to hit, though perhaps not on the grand scale we saw last month.  But most of the starting line-up continues to maintain batting averages hovering around the .300 mark.  They did out-hit the Yankees in the last two games but they’ve not been hitting in the clutch.  On Wednesday, the Angels went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position!  It’s as if all of the “post-season preview” talk that surrounded their games with both the Yankees and the Red Sox, had a terrible effect on my Angels.  I certainly don’t have any medical experience (I do have a nifty box of Sponge Bob band-aids) but I’ve made my own diagnosis.

       

My Angels are suffering from a case of “post-season jitters” also known as the “championship chokes”.  We’ve seen the symptoms before: sudden lack of confidence, uncharacteristic sloppy base running, sudden onset of unexplained errors.  We know this is not typical of our usually sharp and on-the-ball (literally) Angels but it is an ailment we’ve seen in post-seasons past.  Maybe this bug has struck early this season?  And maybe, just maybe, it will run its course over the next week and be out of their system by the time the real play-offs start.  Wouldn’t that be perfect?

                                            

I want my Angels to show up in October brimming with confidence, bringing their A game and being the superstars I know they are.  I want bats blazing, lightning fast speed on the base pads and defensive plays being executed with the surgical precision that takes our breath away a second time when the re-play rolls. 

                                         

Let’s face it.  2002 was magical…from start to miraculous finish.  It cannot and will not ever be duplicated.  But I don’t know a single Angels fan who hasn’t had a “feeling” about this season.  There’s no denying it would be an amazing story of tragedy to triumph.  I’m not saying the Angels should win the World Series because Nick Adenhart died.  But I sure would love to see them win it for Nick.  That would be a story.  And my favorite stories all have happy endings. 

 

Baseball…make someone happy.

 

 

Throwing Them A Bone

I’m just kidding.  Continuing the theme of giving credit where credit is due, the Angels fought the good fight but were eventually done in by the Yankees stealing a page from the Angels’ play book. 

                                   

(Hey, wait a minute!  Is it me or does she look a little like Kate Hudson?) 

Chad Gaudin was rock-solid through the first 4 innings.  Ervin Santana had some struggles though he managed 7 strike-outs in his 6 innings.  By the time the Angels started to chip away at the Yankees’ 5 run lead, it turned out to be too little, too late.  Tied at the top of the 9th, the Yankees did exactly what they needed to get their go-ahead run and although Mariano Rivera looked a bit shaky, he was able to wrap up the win.  With the win (or the Rangers’ loss), the Yankees became the first team to secure their spot in the playoffs.  I look forward to an Angels / Yankees match-up in the ALCS.  (From my lips to God’s ears…!)

                             

Speaking of playoffs…the Rangers’ loss also took the Angels’ magic number to 5.  Tickets for the Angels’ possible appearance in the ALDS went on sale today.  I say possible because I’m certainly not going to jinx anything.  My MLB Angels Mastercard may or may not have come out of my wallet today.  I’m not telling.  Yet.  But I will say this, I did something five months ago that should guarantee my Angels make it to the World Series.  While I can’t talk about it (obviously), when it happens, I just hope I’ll get MY credit when credit is due.  I’m making a HUGE sacrifice for my Angels.  And my hubby thinks I’m doing it all for him.  Ha.

                         

Wednesday’s third and final regular season game with the Yankees is a day game.  Scott Kazmir faces off against AJ Burnett and I sincerely hope we can get Kazmir another win.  I saw news footage today of the first snow fall in Colorado but I can tell you it’s supposed to be a scorcher here in So. Cal.  The heat, combined with a 12:30 PM game time, will have the stands looking like the Royals are in town but I doubt the game will lack any of the excitement we’ve come to expect when the Bronx Bombers come to Anaheim.  Who’s ready for a re-match?

 

Baseball…life in motion.    

 

 

Numbers Game

I’m over it…last Wednesday’s hard-to-swallow “loss” to the Red Sox, that is.  I’ve no doubt that game was responsible for the ensuing migraine I suffered with for three days.  To all the Red Sox fans who so nobly pointed out that 1, bad calls happen in every game…sometimes they favor your team and sometimes they don’t, and 2, my boys gave up the game in the 6th inning, I must point out that if those calls in the 9th had gone the other way, I could’ve been saying the exact same thing to you (just substituting 7th for the 6th inning).  But I have no interest in reliving the game (or the headache) any further. 

     

Say what you want about Angels players.  Fans will always “dis”, talk smack and complain about players…whether they play on opposing teams or their own.  But when I hear derogatory comments about our “skipper” Mike Scioscia, I’m not going to keep quiet.  No one (or two or three) players can be credited with the success of the Angels in the past seven years.  The 2002 World Championship was won prior to Arte Moreno purchasing the team from Disney.  The turning point for the franchise undoubtedly came when Scioscia took over as manager.  He has the ability to make the most of a player’s talent, whether he’s a rookie or a seasoned veteran.  He has a gift for maintaining competitiveness, harmony and real sense of teamwork that is evident every time the Angels take the field.  He also if the most even-keeled manager I’ve ever seen.  I’m sometimes in awe of how he can keep his emotions in check even when total chaos is going on around him.    

           

Angels fans wonder how he manages to keep his composure and to be honest, sometimes we wish he’d have words with officials a little more often than he does.  But others disagree.  I’ve heard him called a “whiner”.  I recently read (and I honestly can’t remember where) that Scioscia has almost been ejected 16 times this season.  Almost been ejected??  How exactly is that conclusion reached?  Does the author of that statement have some kind of telepathic powers to read the minds of the umpires? 

                               

As for Scioscia making a remark to home plate umpire Rick Reed as they departed the field after Wednesday night’s game, I don’t care how professional or disciplined you are, I would have questioned Scioscia’s judgement had he NOT made a remark.  Sox fans would’ve expected at least that much from Terry Francona, I suspect, had the situation been reversed. 

                                

I can understand the animosity fans have for certain players.  I’m guilty of that myself (just a few…AJ Pierzynski, Jose Guillen, Vicente Padilla).  But why is it so difficult for fans to give other managers the respect they deserve?  Is it that hard to give credit where credit is due?  This hasn’t exactly been an easy season for the Angels.  They’ve overcome tremendous obstacles.  Without Mike Scioscia at the helm, lesser teams would have fallen apart and never been able to pull together and recover to claim first place in their division.  I don’t know how the rest of the season and the post-season will play out but I do know Scioscia is manager of the year material.  There’s no denying that.  I’m not saying Mike Scioscia is some kind of saint (no…he’s an angel…ha!) but he’s a class-act who has had a tremendous impact on the team and baseball in general.  Like I mentioned in an earlier post, we see Scioscia’s brand of small-ball being duplicated all over the league.  His influence is wide reaching, and rightly so.  He knows what he’s doing.  Period.

         New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi #27 takes pitcher Chien-Ming Wang #40 out of the game in the 5th inning against the Texas Rangers during their game on June 4, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Joe Girardi;Chien-Ming Wang    

Speaking of giving credit where credit’s due…Joe Girardi’s Yankees had a shaky start this season and trailed the Red Sox by 3 games at the All-Star break.  Of course, the “mack-daddy” lineup Girardi has to work with is even more evidence of a manager’s vital role in the success of a team.  You’d think a crew made up of the likes of A-Rod, Jeter, Tex, Swisher and Matsui would be able to win games just by merely taking the field.  But alas…it doesn’t always work that way, as the Yankees once again discovered in Anaheim Monday night. 

      New York Yankees starting pitcher Andy Pettitte sits in the dugout in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif., Monday, Sept. 21, 2009. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Andy Pettitte had a pretty decent 6 inning outing for the Yankees.  Joe Saunders had a better 8 and 1/3 inning go of it and reluctantly left the mound with one out in the 9th.  The Yankees scored their only 2 runs on solo homers by A-Rod and Matsui.  Kendry Morales had his solo HR as a pinch hitter in the 7th.  The Angels’ 4 other runs would come from the usual piecing together of a few hits (Vladdy had 2 RBIs) and a Rob Quinlan walk.  While the Yankees were finally able to conquer the Red Sox this season, I don’t anticipate the same thing happening against my Angels.  The Yankees came into town needing just one win to clinch their playoff spot.  Their best bet of that happening is with a Rangers’ loss because, well…they’re playing the Angels… in Anaheim!  And we all know how that story usually ends.

     

So, we know that the Yankees’ magic number is 1.  And now, the Angels’ is 6.  Any combination of Angels’ wins and Rangers’ losses will secure a spot for my boys in the post-season.  Considering this is the Angels’ last home stand before the end of the season, It would be nice if they could clinch at home.  Then again, if they have to duke it out right up to the end and possibly carry some momentum into October, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.  Clinching early and having some “resting” time hasn’t always worked out for the Angels.

    

 

I’d much rather see them stay on their toes.

 

                       

          

Baseball…vitalizes body and mind.

 

 

Halo Hell

It doesn’t happen often, but after tonight’s game I am at a total loss for words.  Really.  What is there to say?

To homeplate umpire Rick Reed and the rest of his crooked crew, I have just one question:  What exactly was tonight all about? 

 

Was it this?

                   

 

Or this?                            

      bribe.jpg image by DilligafJKT

 

 

Has the world gone mad?!?

     redsoxyankees.jpg image by make_it_stop

 

That’s it.  That’s all I’ve got.  Besides, it’s hard to type when you’re crying.  Oh…just one more thing.  Can someone please tell me what, given the remaining AL schedules, needs to happen for the Red Sox to be eliminated from the playoffs?  My head hurts too much to figure it out.  Bitter?  You betcha!!!

 

Baseball…WTF???  (Okay, so I made that slogan up on my own.  Can you blame me?)

 

 

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