Well, time to let a little steam off, so here it goes.
I'm sure everyone out there is pretty dejected right now. Tonight's loss was frustrating and in some ways even infuriating.
I want to be clear however that I don't blame the players. They fought hard and for the most part executed well. It was a game we easily could have and perhaps should have won.
Even if this series (and thus this season) is essentially over, I think there are even larger issues for this team to look at.
Many of you wondered why Vlad left the game after being hit in the arm and suffering what reportedly was a "contusion." What seems even stranger is that he didn't leave the game immediately after being hit. He actually went back to the outfield only to leave an inning or so later. Perhaps what Vlad saw (or in this case didn't see) had something to do with his leaving. I don't know the medical facts, so I'm really just speculating here, but I wouldn't be surprised if Vlad took himself out of the game because he was fed up.
When Scot Shields retired the first two batters in the bottom of the 7th and then failed to bean David Ortiz, I was quite upset, actually beside myself (as I think many of you were). Just image how Vladdy must have felt!
After being beaned for what seems like the millionth time this year the Angels pitchers failed to respond by protecting their star hitter.
Don't get me wrong, I know they want to respond. Unfortunately our manager has a philosophy that says the pitchers can not and will not retaliate by hitting opposing players. This is seemingly because Sosh thinks by doing so our pitchers would compromise their ability to pitch inside. In his defense our pitching staff has generally been performing at a high level under his (and that of the recently departed Bud Black)leadership.
On the other hand, our star players have been continually brushed back, knocked down, hit, beaned, and basically intimidated for a couple of years now. Not to mention the fact that we have lost key players (Vlad included) for many games due to injuries directly related to being hit by pitches.
It may be too late to save this series, but this issue now threatens to effect the foreseable future of this franchise. Baseball, like other sports has so much to do with attitude. Confidence and swagger play HUGE roles in the success of winning teams. Winning teams often separate themselves from their competition through psychological warfare; in short, through intimidation.
As much as I love and respect Sosh as a manager, I feel he has a tragic flaw. I feel he is wedded to a terribly limiting philosophy.
We MUST protect our players. We simply cannot go on this way. Otherwise the Angels will become know as "The Team that Gets Punked."
Though also under the leadership of Sosh, the 2002 squad wouldn't let themselves get pushed around. During Spring Training in 2002 that team had one of a few key formative moments. After being hit several times in prior games Glaus charged the mound. I want to say this was against the A's, but it may have been one of the other Cactus League teams. The whole team took the field. The point is, that other teams see this. Other players see this and consequently they say to themselves; We can't fuck with this team.
This team needs to take care of business. We need a Chuck Finely, or an Adam Kennedy or an Erstad to do this. Something has to change . The Halos cannot allow themselves to continually be punked by low-lifes like Josh Beckett. The future of the franchise depends on our ability to respond.