Remember The Anaheim!: Precisely 37 years ago today Nolan Ryan, the current owner of our newbie arch-nemesis, took the very same mound that shall be the focus of our contest this weekend and commanded his way into history with his 4th no-hit performance. That tied The Great Sandy Koufax for most career no-hitters. On that night Ryan was adorned in the uniform of the California Angels (...victimizing future Halos Don Baylor and Bobby Grich, by the way...). On that night Planet Baseball orbited the City of Anaheim...........Fast forward through time..........After being driven out of the AL playoffs for many years by the plucky band of Californios Angels, the enemy now marches to retake the AL West for good. As Private Ryan, the Marksman, leads his band of Texians and their offense of overwhelming numbers to the territorial limits of Santa Ana...our small, ancient, garrison stands alone. And no reinforcements shall be coming. But, as in days of old, Planet Baseball orbits the City of Anaheim.
Genuflect And Show Respect: Nolan Ryan returns tonight to throw out the first pitch and collect his LA Angels Hall Of Fame ring. Somethings he has managed to avoid for almost 20 years. And tonight's game is pushed back to a 7:12 start due to the festivities. Maybe they Halos are trying to fatten up the Rangers. Maybe they ran out of cheesy oil paintings. Maybe I just need to suck it up and show some respect for a few minutes. After all, Ryan's glory days coincided with my hey days running amok in a near empty stadium, and Ryan was one of the few heroes the gods of baseball deigned to bless upon me.
Fear The Frieri: As noted in the Official Game Note for this past Wednesday's game, Frieri is the first pitcher in history to go his first 12 outings with any team nnot give up a hit. He's also the very the first pitcher to start with a club and nab 25 of more K's without giving up a run over a initial 12 innings. And he is now one of only 4 pitchers to ever garner 20 K's in 9 innings club. "The only difference being that it took Frieri 10 games to do it."
Time To Pay The Piper: The 2012 MLB First year Player Draft will start Monday, June 4th, but because of the Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson signings the LA Angels won't get to start selections until the 114th pick. That means that the scouting team is pretty much focused on the humongous population of dudes at the bottom of the pyramid. As director Ric Wilson puts it: "...what I tried to do was just get everybody to spread out and just sit down and see as many guys as they can see, and really concentrate on the guys that we had a chance to get ...". In other words, this year it's kind of like Whack-A-Mole.
Blind Squirrels and Broken Clocks Department: Few will recall my prognostication a couple of weeks ago that the Jim Eppard influence would kick in with the Seattle/Yankee series'. My theory was that Eppard would host his first organizational meeting with the advanced scouts to gather info on the upcoming pitchers and blast them for shoddy work regardless of whatever they delivered. That would be his way of putting them on notice that there was a new sheriff in town and that he expected much better info on upcoming opponents - because he had every intention of using it. So the scouts would scurry back out into the field and start creating much deeper information. All that would get back to Eppard as the team approached Seattle. And the result should be an uptick in hitting right about then. Well, I am usually a pretty reliable source for being 180 degrees off in my predictions, reliable enough for most people to make some serious money, but today's the day I accidentally end up being able to declare victory! Since midway through the Oakland series this has been an offense on fire. Playing with the same Fangraphs data that river-z used, I see that in my predicted window the team is getting a 7% increase in hits per PA (24.44% versus 22.82%), 64% increase in HR's per PA (3.76% versus 2.29%), and 33% increase in Runs per PA (13.16% versus 9.83%). God I love the power of small numbers. Makes me feel good for a few hours. Nobody go ruining my weekend, now!y
Mike Trout Moment: The opening stanzas of Chapter One of the Mike Trout Career Hagiography are beginning to appear in the national media. In this piece, from Associated Press, you can virtually see the stunned looks on the face of everyone quoted as you read through it, with the obvious exception of Mike Scioscia. Meanwhile, over at HardballTalk on MSN.com, Aaron Gleeman grabs the attention of Baseball America by the head and forcibly swivels it from the east (Bryce Harper) to the west (Mike Trout).
AS USUAL, EVEN MORE STUFF AFTER THE BREAK...
Texas Rangers vs.LA Angels @ Anaheim - 7:12 PM Start (FS-W)
BIG BANG FRIDAY!
Texas Rangers vs.LA Angels @ Anaheim - 7:05 PM Start (FS-W)
ANGELS COWBOY HAT NIGHT
PLUS Miss America 2012 - Laura Kaeppeler - will sing The National Anthem.
Texas Rangers vs.LA Angels @ Anaheim - 12:35 PM Start (FS-W)
Matt Harrison (L) 6-3 4.41 vs. To Be Announced (?) ?-? ?.??
Weekends like this are why we love being a contender! Just enjoy the hell out of it, folks. (And the Sunday pitcher line will be updated as soon as I know who is slotted.)
This Day In Baseball: 1925: Lou Gehrig begins his consecutive game streak of 2,130 straight as a pinch hitter for Pee-Wee Wanninger..........1941: Mel Ott hits his 400th home run and his 1500th RBI..........1975: Nolan Ryan claims his 100th win and his 4th no-hitter, tying Sandy Koufax for all-time lead, pushing the Angels over the Orioles 1-0..........2000: The Players Association introduces the idea of realignment, which will eventually become Bud Selig's idea nearly a dozen years later, recommending that the Astros simply move to the AL West...........2005: Speaking of the Astros, our future compadre in the AL West, the Houston Chronicle publishes an obituary for the team after sucking for two months. But this same team will eventually win the NLCS and end up in the World Series. You probably remember that year. That was when the Astros were swept by the White Sox. After the White Sox were launched into the World Series by Doug Eddings.
Instant Replay Instant Update: Recall WiHaloFan just a week ago. Bud Selig was against expansion of Instant Replay. Now, according to Jayson Stark, there is hope coming from the umpires and players themselves. Progress on the Instant Replay front. Thank you thank you thank you MLBPA
Great Moments In High School Baseball: I have seen a lot of silly trick plays in baseball over the years, and a couple that are downright sneaky - mostly based on some form of the hidden ball - but this trick left me plain amazed. This is another one based on the hidden ball, but nobody ever makes any attempt to hide the ball in the first place! All they do is wrap the ball in an unusual amount of misdirection. All the activity gets the base runner to get amped up and become involved, and he goes all Torii Hunter on his teammates!!
Not So Great Moments In High School Baseball: On the other hand, after reading this one I am left just plain speechless. Ryan Olson, a junior at Western Christian High School in Upland, had struck out the first 20 batters he had faced and was one last batter away from the Very First Ultimate Perfect Game Of All Time, and he was pulled because it was Senior Day. I have some similar stories that I witnessed first hand growing up and I know that this kind of sucks for life. Somebody please start a petition for Ryan Olson Day at a future Angels game.
Reminder to The LA Angels Field Operations: Practice, practice, practice. At one point, Florida faithful were convinced that the magical new ballpark of the Florida Marlins would save them from rain delays. But that's only going to be possible of the people who run that retractable roof are watching the weather. Apparently, in Florida, they are not. I recall an afternoon game late in the season several years ago, when a torrential shower passed over Anaheim shortly before the game was to begin. The Angels' ground crew was so unaccustomed to rain that they failed to get the tarp over the infield and delayed the game start by about an hour while they tried to dry it out. What they didn't know ahead of time, because they obviously failed to practice it properly, was that the tarp gets heavy when water falls all over it! Practicing the effort of dragging a dry tarp around on sunny Southern California days just doesn't cut it. it was like having front row seats to the Keystone Kops.
Because I know You Love the Baseball State of "Save": I give you this amazing box score (below). The Mariners defeated the Rangers 21 to 8 on Tuesday night, being up 17 to zip going into the bottom of the 6th. And, still, a "save" was recorded.
Frank McCourt getting the Roger Clemens treatment: the Feds have jumped in to take a look at the shenanigans (A) and, as with Clemens, it's too late to solve anything..........I think I know why Halladay went down to injury! His form sucks..........MLB explains that it was just a prototype..........Andrew Zuckerman rectifies his Halladay bobblehead to keep it anatomically correct..........Laz Diaz is an umpiring weenie: If you want to push me off the fence concerning robots in baseball, just feed me more stories where umps act like a petulant child..........Know Hope: Hank Conger has made it back onto the field at SLC, and is already hitting again..........Man In White Update: Remember the Toronto Blue Jay "Man In White" who supposedly was helping the Blue Jays steal signs? Jason Hammel of the Orioles thinks they have found a new way..........Throwbacks: For those of us who love throwback uniforms, UniWatch has the complete 2012 list.
And now, being the full service weekend linkage institution that we are, here is the obligatory moment we take out of each Friday for beer:
Recently we have touted the San Diego and Seattle Beer Fests. Well, our own Orange County Beer Festival was a month ago. But that's OK, because OC is such an awesome place that we have more than one!! In between, I suggest you join the eternal OC pub crawl.