Note: I am not calling the season over. My beard is still on, and until we fail to have any games remaining on the schedule, it will stay annoyingly itchy and ugly.
Also, this is long as hell. Just a warning. The more important, serious ones are at the beginning, when I was writing this with a sense of purpose. As you get further down the list, you move from philosophical comments and thought-provoking analysis to "the Cubs suck."
This was the first season I truly watched, from end to end, as a real baseball fan. Here's a couple of observations I made on the Halos, along with some other notes related to other teams.
1.) The Angels are really good. Overall, they're among the top 4 teams in the American League and probably closers to top 2 than anything else. They have an excellent combination of young talent and solid pitching that should put a stranglehold on the AL, particularly the western division, for the forseeable future.
2.) The Angels are fractionally worse than other teams on any given day, but better overall. I really think that the halos are the best team in baseball overall, although their performance tends to fluctuate around a mean of mediocrity for much of the season. Their problem is maintaining a consistent winning formula. They tend not to lose a bunch of games in a row, but have similar problems putting together 5+ game winning streaks. A lot of people call the Angels streaky, but to me they're really not streaky at all. They consistently play slightly under their potential, usually around .580 when they really could be over .600 with slight adjustments.
3.) Third base is a conundrum. What Anaheim really needs is David Wright, and that's not going to happen. I think we're better off getting Mike Lowell (A-Rod's not gonna happen) and trying to find power at other positions. If Wood pans out, let him play short.
4.) Ervin Santana is a ridiculously good pitcher. If we trade him, despite my earlier suggestions we should do so, we are a bunch of idiots and might as well start wearing blue and playing at Chavez Ravine.
5.) Bill Stoneman is not getting it done. Yes, he is better than someone who does too much, but there's something to be said for trying to win it all one year. The farm system is more than one player. We can afford to trade young prospects for proven talent because we have young prospects. I would rather see the Angels win a World Series in 2008 than Nick Adenhart throwing 200 innings with a 4.35 ERA. I am willing to sacrifice a little to win, a lot to win everything, but not everything. I'm not suggesting we trade the farm for a player, but if the opportunity arises to significantly improve an already incredible team, there's a time and a place to do so.
6.) Garrett Anderson is old. So is Vlad. Vlad, obviously has a couple years of solid production in front of him, but he gets older every year and his knees are rotting. GA is likely done. I know, I know, he produced, but Juan Rivera seems equally capable to put up GA's numbers, and he's substantially younger. We need to get Vlad a ring.
7.) The Red Sox are an organization which lacks morals. They chose Clay Bucholz when others passed over him because he stole laptops from his high school and sold them. They have Kevin Youkilis on their team and tolerate him. Manny being Manny. J.D. Drew. The Fenway Faithful. Steven Vinik. Ticket prices at Fenway. They claim to revile the Evil Empire of the Yankees, but emulate them better than any other team in baseball.
8.) The Angel organization is a class act run by a generally capable front office and an owner who is second to none in baseball. He just needs to move to Anaheim.
9.) Baseball is a long, long game, especially when playing the Red Sox. It is too long to reliably watch 125 games without seriously irritating your girlfriend. It is great for ignoring other problems in your life, but will create its own set of issues, particularly in the postseason.
10.) Gary Matthews Junior is bad, and his contract is robbery, but I like the guy, and even if he sucks, at least he's nice, which is more than you can say for anyone on the Red Sox, save Mike Lowell, and maybe Jason Varitek.
11.) Joe Saunders is the eipitome of calm, and if he can learn to pitch once he gets tired, will be an extremely valuable asset to the organization for several years.
12.) Jered Weaver needs to avoid turning into his brother.
13.) Mike Napoli and Jeff Mathis are not what they could or should be. They are, however, two of my favorite players and will be around for a while. And, according to my female friends, Mathis would be quite the catch.
14.) Angel fans need to show up at opposing ballparks. I'm tired of being the only Angel fan at Fenway, and it's terrible to see guys in Yankees jerseys behind home plate at the Big A.
15.) Move the Big A back into the ballpark.
16.) Youkilis needs to shave. Apparently, as well, some of my friends met him in a bar in Boston, and tried to talk to him. He then asked them if he should take them both home, since "two 5's are just like one 10, right?" How this guy has people wearing his shirts astonishes me.
17.) The A's and Mariners are fun teams to play. Their fans are generally knowledgable. I'm glad they're in our division and not anywhere else, because the games we have with them are thoroughly entertaining, if not downright maddening at times.
18.) The Cubs suck. They always will. Period. Phillies too.
19.) Justin Speier's name has led to innummerable puns on my part which have led to me eventually getting hit by my girlfriend, who has heard these jokes well over 100 times by now. He was a great acquisition, especially with Shieldsy getting old.
20.) The game of baseball will never be more pure than when it replaces home plate and foul-line umpires with computers which deliver accurate, verifiable strike zones and aren't intimidated and/or confused by idiotic managers, players, or flies.
That's probably it.