Oh, Canada. America's largest National Park. The Angels split 4 games at home against the Toronto Blue Jays way back in early May, and now are in Toronto for a four game set in their only visit to Canada in the regular season. Traditionally, meeting up with the Blue Jays is not a good thing. The Halos fared pretty poorly against the Jays between 2003 and 2007, going 14 and 27. More recently, they have been a little bit ahead going 23 and 17 while alternating between a 66% winning percentage over the Jays and then a 50-50 split. Going into this series, they stood at a 50-50 split. But, what with the Rangers playing against the Women's League, a 50-50 split is just not going to cut it. The boys need to man up now and try to impose some 2002 discipline on this relationship, when the Halos went 7 and 2 against the Jays.
Thursday Night Series Opener Recap. Right off the top, screw Jeff Mathis. Last night's performance was exactly why we hate on him so much. Can anyone point to Mathis ever picking off a runner on 2nd, from his knees(!!!), while wearing the red??? No. We got the Jeff Mathis who, when he was not throwing to the outfield, was throwing to first base to try and halt a steal of second. We got the Jeff Mathis as the worst offensive player in the history of baseball. Angel fans, coaches, and fellow players begged for this Jeff Mathis. Management gave him years of opportunity to show this Jeff Mathis. Sportswriters sacrificed their objectivity promoting the fantasy of this Jeff Mathis (you have to scroll down a little, to the section titled "Mike Napoli vs. Jeff Mathis"). But Jeff Mathis refused to grant any of those communities a glimpse of that which he is (apparently) capable. Our only solace is that the Halo offense (2 run homers from both Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo, and Albert Pujols going 4 for 5!) is currently strong enough to overwhelm both Dan Haren AND Jeffey Bench.
Meanwhile, Dan Haren: Last Friday I was called out for naming Haren our "Unfortunate Wheel Of Destiny". Yeah, I named him that pretty much for everything that we have seen of him between that post and this. The wheel spun and we got Haren The Suck for two innings against the Dodgers. Then the wheel spun again and we got three innings of Haren The Beast. Fast forward to his next start, last night. More spins. Beast Mode, Weak Mode, Weak Mode, Weak Mode, Suck Mode, Beast Mode. It is what it is. Haren is bouncing between a #2 starter and a guy clinging on to a #5 slot ahead of Jerome Williams, within every outing. My heart can't take much more of this.
Anyway, we have an Angels team that is now 14 and 1 on the road since their loss up in Oakland back on May 21st. Overall they are 25 and 8 in that span. The boys are hot. And Pujols, Trout and Trumbo are on fire. And Canada is in danger of melting in their path...
Crazy Laws Of Canada: If you are released from prison, it is required that you are given a handgun with bullets and a horse, so you can ride out of town..........A law requires jailers to bring convicted debtors a pint of beer on demand..........If you have a water trough in your front yard it must be filled by 5:00 a.m...........You may never use dice to play craps..........Citizens may not publicly remove bandages...........Comic books which depict any illegal acts are banned..........Driving on the roads (in New Brunswick) is not allowed..........It is against the law to impersonate a foreigner (in Quebec)..........Also in Quebec, it is illegal to curse in any language other than French...........It is illegal to set fire to the wooden leg of a wooden legged man...........Children must not be buried alive in snow deeper than six feet...........Children under the age of 5 must not be locked in a refrigerator...........By law your parents or grandparents must have come from France, Scotland or Ireland...........All Apples must be green...........No one in Canada may watch or listen to an encrypted broadcast which is not licensed by the Canadian government. This means using US satellite systems such as "DirecTV" is illegal...........It is illegal to kill a sasquatch.
Stat Status Of The Week: Mike Trout destroys Joey Votto in WAR per game. Votto is setting the world on fire in 2012. He is crushing National League pitching, and crushing the NL All-Star voting. In all of baseball, only Josh Hamilton has more ASG votes than Votto. Votto is considered the runaway leader for the NL MVP so far. As of Thursday morning, Votto had garnered 4.2 WAR (BBR) across 74 games. Meanwhile, Trout has played only 53 games, and has a 4.1 WAR. If one presumes that both players continue at their current levels for the balance of 2012 AND that they both play every remaining game, when the regular season ends Votto will have a WAR of 9.2. Mike Trout will have a WAR of 10.8!
Garrett Richards: If I am reading between the lines of this correctly, Richards appears to be critically needed to restock pitching depth at AAA. Yeah, because we all know that we have to cut off the Texas Rangers at the pass just outside of Salt Lake City.
Jered Weaver: With his win over Baltimore on Wednesday, Weaver becomes the 7th 90 game winner on the Halos, and the one with the highest winning percentage. And something that might have been lost in the crowd, Weaver's win against the Giants, when he was limited on pitch count after coming back from back injury, was his 7th straight win over a National League team.
More Trout: from the Angels' 6/28 Game Note - "The .344 average thru his team’s first 75 games is the third-highest average by a 20-year-old since 1921: Al Kaline, .373 in 1955 and Cecil Travis .360 in 1934 – STATS." I guess it's good to finally get to showcase him in the eastern time zones just prior to the All-Star Break, helping to raise his Q score.
Albert Pujols: Albert is 13 for 35 for a .371 BA while clubbing 3 home runs over the past 10 games, raising his season average 14 points to .270. We can safely say that this is the Pujols we were celebrating in the off season.
Bullpen: Don't look now, but the Angels' bullpen has turned into a monster. Since the Seattle series early this month, the bullpen has surrendered only 4 runs in the 7th inning,
6 2 runs in the 8th ( mostly due to ignore the 4 run mess against the Dodgers back on June 12th, which was Jerome WIlliams and NOT the 'pen), and 2 runs in the 9th. That's across 20 games. In the last 13 games since the Dodger game melt down, the pitching staff has surrendered only 5 late-inning runs total. And you get pretty hopeful stats such as David Carpenter going completely scoreless in his last three outings, over 4.1 innings. (thanks to glausistheboss for the correction)
Angels eBay Item Of The Week: Jim Eppard signed baseball card. California Angels. 1989!!! What are the odds of finding this up for sale again??
Speaking of Merch: Look for these in the Mike Trout section of an LA Angels team store near you, soon!
Personal Rant: I need to take a moment and abuse my Friday pulpit to get something off my chest. Indulge me, please. "Let me go on the record, SoCal Sports Talk Radio, that you have what might possibly be the dawn of an era that witnesses the Mickey Mantle of our time, sitting right in your lap as SoCal sports broadcasters. It is a story that - due to accidental fortunes of geography and time zones - is yours and yours alone, to cultivate and ingratiate into the bloodstream of American Baseball. And all I am hearing, every goddamnable day, is what the Lakers are not going to be able to do in trades, or what Steve Nash is not going to do for the Lakers, or which person is not going to become the next Clippers GM, or how LeBron is not going to be ringless any more, or what evidence does or does not exist between the NFL and the New Orleans Saints, or how Drew Brees has not signed anything legit, or what teams are not going to manipulate draft picks to get Dwight Howard. When what perhaps might be the biggest story of the next 15 years of your careers was ignited, let it be known that you were move heavily invested in the NHL Hall Of Fame inductees, and what might or might not be going on between Tim Tebow and Lolo Jones. I was here to bear witness and write it down on the Internet, where it lives forever. All of you are guilty."
vs. Toronto Blue Jays @ Rogers Centre - 4:07 PM Start (FS-W)
vs. Toronto Blue Jays @ Rogers Centre - 10:07 AM Start (FS-W)
vs. Toronto Blue Jays @ Rogers Centre - 12:07 PM Start (FS-W)
Well, this should be interesting. After starting a converted bullpen arm on Thursday (Brett Cecil), Toronto is running out Villanueva from their bullpen to start Friday. Then they send Alvarez back to the mound on Saturday after having been forced to exit his last start due due elbow soreness in his throwing arm (and who has only won 1 game in the past 6 weeks!). Finally, recent call-up Laffey trots out on Sunday for only his third start this season, his only other three appearances this year having come out of the bullpen just like Villanueva (not to mention his multi-DFA membership). Meanwhile, considering the last couple of weeks, doesn't that Halo pitching lineup just reek of potential awesomeness??? And the Angels' offense has recently amped up the heat to Medium-High, so this weekend could be one hell of a fireworks show leading into the holiday week!
This Day In Baseball: 1905 - Archibald "Moonlight" Graham makes his Major League debut. Graham's only Big League hit will come 9 decades later in W.P. Kinsella's "Shoeless Joe", later made into the movie "Field Of Dreams". Sure, most of you all hate "Field Of Dreams", but Burt Lancaster's soliloquy as "Moonlight" Graham wishing for one at-bat was poured of 24K gold into a mold chiseled out of diamonds by Michelangelo himself. 1913 - The Reds and Cubs play an entire regulation 9-inning game and use only one baseball. No fouls balls and no home runs were hit to force the use of a new ball. 1933 - Ethan Allen, well beyond his glory days in the American Revolution and long before he got into the furniture business, hits an inside-the-park home run but is called out for batting out of order. 1941 - In a doubleheader, Joe DiMaggio ties, then breaks, the consecutive game hitting streak of George Sisler. 1950 - The Red Sox defeat the Philadelphia A's 22 to 14, in only 2 hours and 50 minutes! 1960 - The Philadelphia Phillies strike out 24 times during a doubleheader (here and here). 1975 - Playing a doubleheader against the San Diego Padres, the Cincinnati Reds play their record breaking 14th consecutive game without committing an error. 1990 - The Oakland A's Dave Stewart and the Los Angeles Dodgers Fernando Valenzuela both pitch no-hitters (here and here, respectively).
Off-Duty Cop Hit By Bullet, INDOORS at Tropicana Field: Now this is not the kind of thing that gets reported every day. Somehow, a stray bullet traced through the Miami sky back on June 16 and arced across to Tropicana Field, pierced the roof, and nailed a guy in the thigh, giving him a bruise. And the guy is a policeman. You have to read the article to understand the physics behind why the shooter could not have been INSIDE the stadium. On the one hand, is it simply not possible for a cop to get away from gun fire even for a couple of hours? On the other, how more often has this happened and gone unreported, because the people involved are not experienced police officers?
History For Sale: Somehow the jersey that Don Larsen wore while pitching a perfect game in the 1956 World Series is going up for auction. If Larsen himself is not the seller, one has to wonder how this piece of history ended up in the hands of a private party in the first place?
Git Er' Done, 'Stros!!!: Just in time to join the AL West, the Houston Astros are looking to make some serious changes. First off, we are all put on notice that they are changing their uniforms - AGAIN. We don't get to see them until after the season, though. Too bad. Considering their uni history, I am overcome with curiosity. More important, they are looking to make changes to Minute Maid Park. I don't care about the train (kinda stupid, kinda cool). But we should all care a hell of a lot about the possibility of removing Tal's Hill. This whole quirky center field area needs to be cleaned up before we have Mike Trout or Peter Bourjos dashing around there and risking some career-threatening injury.
MLB Has A New Drunken Sailor: Congratulations to the Los Angeles Dodgers, for inheriting the Tom Hicks Memorial Checkbook. Just weeks removed from bankruptcy, the LAD's do what anybody with fresh credit does: they do stupid and sign Yasiel Puig to a $42 million guaranteed contract, AND fail to block Puig's ability to go to arbitration and make it even higher. Puig, who may be a great guy for all I know, is a 21 year old Cuban defector who has not played organized ball in over a year. The echos of this signing will be felt throughout MLB, similar to the Jason Werth fiasco. But why should Magic Johnson care? His money is going to come from Fox Sports. And Fox Sports is going to get their money from you (not me, because I have Uverse and they, along with Dish, refuse to overpay for Fox Sports). It's only a matter of time.
2012 All-Star Game: Just a note that ASG rosters will be announced this coming Sunday morning, at 10:00 am.
Yankees Lose: Yeah, the news itself is kind of stale, but I just checked some scheduling calculations. Just a couple weeks ahead of the final meeting between the Angels and Yankees, the Yankees lose both C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte to injury. Both might be back in time to face the Rangers in August. Prepare to hear whining coming out of Arlington any day now.
Nyjer Morgan, Dumbass: Ok, here comes my old-fashioned sense of decency popping out. But Nyjer Morgan needs to be suspended for this. He clearly goes out of his way to bitch slap a fan after GOING INTO THE STANDS in a try on a fly ball. Rules are rules, man. The field belongs to the players, and the stands belong to the fans. You know, the people paying for you to wear funny pants and run around on manicured grass for millions? This fan was doing absolutely nothing wrong, just paying attention to a foul ball and reaching straight up to catch it. This cost Morgan his out. Tough shit, Nyjer. Had that fan been me, I might have tried to block your visiting ass from making that catch ON PURPOSE. And STILL your job is to shut the hell up and get back to your spot on the field. You. Don't. Smack. Fans. For. Being. Normal. Fans. In. The. Stands. Period.
Five great places to go and waste your employer's Friday morning...
1. Seat Geek (One very cool way to track down tickets to just about anything, baseball and beyond.)
2. Visual Baseball (Not highly current, but an interesting take on the use of new visuals for baseball stats.)
3. Encyclopedia of Baseball Catchers (Absolutely EVERYTHING about...yeah...catchers!)
4. Ballpark Tour (A great survey, with photos, of all the ballparks in American, past and present.)
5. The Baseball Race (Head to head seasons in the recent past, played out like a track meet!)
Oh, Boston, still can't keep players on the field legally, but quick to dump them when they are about to get busted? Marlon Byrd (another Victor Conte customer) suspended due to PEDs. And just days after being released outright. Hmmm........Prince "Gazelle" Fielder eludes Rangers "stellar" D. In an otherwise embarrassing exhibition of baseball Wednesday night things reached their nadir as the Texas Rangers somehow managed to fail to tag out Prince Fielder caught in a run down. Let's make sure that you caught that. I typed "Prince Fielder".......... Condolences to the friends and family of Paul Bargas. The Twins' 23 year-old local prospect out of UC Riverside succumbs to brain cancer. RIP young man.........There's "hazard pay", and then there's this: San Francisco's finest dressed up as Dodger fans and went to Giants games looking to get beat up? Hell, if the police wanted to see if anybody wearing black and orange would kick the crap out of them this week, they should have dressed as Dodger players! Worst of all, they probably had to miss the first two innings of the game to remain in character..........Adios Ysrael Carmona. We hardly knew ye.......... Signs of The Apocalypse: first we had the Rockies going with a 4-man rotation. Now we have the Astros going with a 6-man rotation. Cracks are heard to be growing in the crust of traditionalism, everywhere.
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:
Tonight, 6/29, Firestone Brewery will be hosting the Firestone Walker Brewing Company "Firkin Friday and Keep The Glass" event at the Steingarten LA. Saturday. 6/30, is the KNB4 Day 4: GRAND FINALE BONANZA EXTRAVAGANZA in San Diego, complete with pig roast. On Sunday, I got nuttin' local to SoCal but I do have stuff out there in the hinterlands, if anyone is interested.