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Well folks, I think we can all agree that it has been a rather important week since we were last together. Please do not mistake my weekly submission as an attempt to turn any page, put anything behind us, or move on to some trivial enterprise that is the rooting on of one's favorite collection of lovable losers.
Let us keep our love of sport in its proper context and retain the welfare of those impacted by this week's tragedies in our hearts and minds. But, even within those limits, let us allow sport to remind us that hope and joy still remain in the world. Do not be ashamed to cry and, just as important, do not be ashamed to cheer.
On To Angels Baseball!
- Fun Fact: To date, the LA Angels pitching staff has surrendered 30 total runs during the first three innings of their games, and 30 total runs during innings 4 through 6. Meanwhile, on the back end, the Halo pitching staff has yielded only 19 runs from the 7th inning on out. Sure, there have been 6 games where the opponent didn't need to take an at-bat in their final frame because they were already ahead, but their first game went 13 innings and granted that opponent (the Reds) 4 extra innings. So those 19 runs came, in reality, across only 2 fewer innings.FYI, the 6th innings has been the worst so far. What this means to me is that Ryan Madson isn't going to help things that much. Not unless Mike Scioscia moves Ernesto Frieri all the way up to the 6th inning.
- Torii Hunter: Hunter returns to, I am certain, a warm standing ovation tonight. Lots of folk, including many of you, have invented an alternate reality wherein Arte Moreno and Jerry Dipoto (both representing THE MAN) had it in for Hunter all along. Perhaps some back and forth to follow in the thread below will bring some of you back down for a soft landing, but I know the odds are long. Meanwhile, back on earth, it appears that Hunter has decided to take advantage of his post-Angel career and make himself a better baseball player. Gee, thanks Torii! Talking about his new-found 2013 approach: "I don’t swing as hard. Just try to stay inside the ball, shoot it out to the right side sometimes — not all the time." And the result of his new approach? Well, according to Fangraphs, "Last year, Hunter hit 24% of his balls in play to the opposite field. So far this year, he’s hit 39% of his balls in play to the opposite field, suggesting that he has indeed cut down on his swing in an effort to make more contact and drive the ball the other way. In this way Hunter is making himself more of a classic No. 2 hitter..."
- Josh Hamilton: While we are toodling around Fangraphs, let's make a stop at their look around the American League outfield and check in on Hamilton. What they find is that the young man can't hit a curve ball, and everybody appears to know it. "His Swing% is over 10% above league average and his Contact% is 8% below average...Hamilton is seeing the fewest amount of fastballs of any player in the American League and the second fewest in all of baseball, behind only Pedro Alvarez. Pitchers are throwing Hamilton more and more breaking balls and he is failing to adjust...he still has power to drive the ball when he does connect, but he is the AT&T of baseball. His failure to connect is as frustrating as it is infrequent."..........Which explains why is tied for 3rd wost of all A.L. batters with a -0.5 WAR.
- Jerry Dipoto: When reading one of those Where Are They Now? articles, one that focuses on 2012 first round draft picks, a thing that should jump out is the absence of an LAA Angels pick. Just a reminder to those calling for Dipoto’s head: the guy has had exactly ONE draft to start fixing our talent pipeline. One. Draft. And when looking at that single draft, note how far down the list of prospects he had to wait before he could even get started.........But before you guys think I am getting all mushy for Dipoto, worry not. He is, after all, the guy who really, really wanted to build our bullpen around this guy.
- Mike Scioscia: Who knew that Sosh was some Deacon of the sabremetric approach?? It's a common faith among the acolytes of stats that there is no such thing as "clutch". Given enough time a batter will perform roughly the same regardless of situation, and this includes RISP. In this LA Times article, Sosh takes a similar tack: batters should relax and approach their at-bat the same way regardless of the situation. "Manager Mike Scioscia believes some players have a knack for hitting in the clutch, but not because they rise to the occasion. Rather, they maintain their normal approach and don't expand the strike zone by trying to do too much."..........Keep reading, though, as Mark Trumbo is quoted with the revelation that: "Some pitchers take it to the next level, they have another gear they can go to with runners in scoring position." The logic of that observation, of course, is that it must then be inferred that holding one's normal BA against a pitcher's elevated approach actually is clutch performance. In other words, it is rising to the occasion.
- Silver Linings: If there is anything positive to take away from the current situation wherein the Halos find themselves, it might be that because the Dodgers are also sucking wind, the local media pressure is somewhat sedated. So, yeah, things could be worse for these guys...........Mark Trumbo is the only player in the American League who has reached base safely in all of his 14 games, and he is only 2 away from the top of the A.L. in doubles (behind, among others, Mike Napoli and Torii Hunter).
Last week I gave you a shot at a real game worn jersey. This week it's a vintage California Angels jersey that is just as cool! It's not game worn, but it does appear to be a movie prop. It says "Higgens" on the back, and was taken out of a Hollywood prop warehouse, but the owner does not know the movie or TV show in which it was used (or, of course, if it ever made it onto film. But for the Halo fan who is also a serious movie buff and wanting a great Hollywood research project, here you go!
Friday, April 19 @ 7:05 PM, (FSW / MLB.TV) Detroit Tigers vs. LA Angels - Angels Stadium, Anaheim
[BIG BANG FRIDAY, Section 101 "Trout Farm" T-Shirt giveaway]
Anabel Sanchez (RHP) 2-0 1.42 ERA versus Tommy Hanson (RHP) 1-1 6.55 ERA
It would not surprise me to witness Tommy Hanson pull a rabbit out of his hat and shock the crap out of everyone else, which would make this Broken Clocks and Blind Squirrels Night.
Saturday, April 20 @ 12:05 PM, (FOX / MLB.TV) Detroit Tigers vs. LA Angels - Angels Stadium, Anaheim
[Drawstring Backpack giveaway, Section 101 "Trout Farm" T-Shirt giveaway]
Rick Porcello (RHP) 0-1 5.11 ERA versus Garret Richards (RHP) 0-2 4.22 ERA
This is the one, if I had to put coin down, that I would take as a Halo win.
Sunday, April 21 @ 12:35 PM, (FS-W / MLB.TV) Houston Astros vs. LA Angels - Angels Stadium, Anaheim
[$4 UPPER VIEW TICKETS, Section 101 "Trout Farm" T-Shirt giveaway]
The best pitching match-up of the series. For whatever that is worth.
This Date In the History of Baseball: 1890 - The Brooklyn Bridegrooms, who become the Brooklyn Grooms, then back to the Bridegrooms, then the Superbas, then the Dodgers, then back to the Superbas, then the Robins, and back to the Dodgers, only to eventually take the LA Angels logo and become the Los Angeles Dodgers, play their first NL game losing to the Boston Beaneaters, one time Boston Red Stockings, who become the Boston Doves, then the Rustlers, then the Braves, then the Bees, then back to the Braves, then move on and become the Milwaukee Braves, and eventually move again and end up today's Atlanta Braves..........1939 - Universal Pictures holds a press conference so that Dorothy Arnold (the Hollywood hottie, not The Great Disappearance Mystery) can announce he summer marriage to Joe Dimaggio, which comes as a complete surprise to Mr. Dimaggio, who was targeting post-season..........1956 - The Brooklyn Dodgers take their act across the Hudson to play the first MLB game ever in the State of New Jersey (note the location of Roosevelt Field versus Ebbets Field), besting the Phillies 5-4 in extras. Poor attendance by Snooki's ancestors force a later retreat from the Jersey Shores..........1968 - Nolan Ryan, starting pitcher for the New York Mets, strikes out 3 consecutive Dodgers on 9 consecutive strikes (in the 3rd inning, but look at what happened in the first inning as well), something he will also do with the California Angels in 1972..........1969 - The Boston Red Sox bundle Ken "Hawk" Harrelson in a 3 player package to the Cleveland Indians inspiring Harrelson to take his ball, go home and retire. But Bowie Kuhn intervenes and, after several conversations with "Hawk", convinces him to reluctantly return (you really, really, really DO want to check out this press photo for sale from that press event announcing the un-retirement. Note Hawks' mod wardrobe!) Kuhn proclaims that "the loss of Ken Harrelson would be a tragedy for baseball." As time has proven, Bowie Kuhn was very, very wrong...........1999 - Cal Ripken, Jr. finally goes onto the DL for the very first time in his career, due to a back injury (this is NOT how he ending his consecutive game streak, which happened in 1998). Ripken will be back in a month, without any help from a Commissioner Kuhn. Or Laura Vecsey. BONUS: something that passed us by a couple of days ago, on Wednesday, was the anniversary of one of the dumbest base running blunders in history, wherein the Angels were saved from certain loss.
Rounding Up The Major League News...
- Vin Scully, Prophet/Poet: There are many of you who fail to appreciate greatness, even when it is thrust upon you. For the rest of us, here is Vin Scully brilliantly and effortlessly weaving into his play-by-play the ancient Greek legend of The Sword of Damocles, perfectly timed to the moment just before the sword metaphorically does fall in real time (hat tip to HBT). Think about that. The frikkin' Sword of Damocles pulled out of thin air, giving listeners an insider glance to behind the scenes among the LAD staff while enlightening his audience with an historical reference, and doing it at the most prescient moment possible. And his delivery just humbly flows to his mic, without any self-satisfaction.
- Baseball Econ Data Point, #163: Do baseball players make too much money? Baseball Nation takes a cleaver to the old tripe, fighting back against Slate. The bottom line, of course, is that all that money floods into baseball regardless of who gets to put it in their pocket. But, to the theme here, there is a lot of money flowing into baseball: to begin with.
- Baseball Econ Data Point, #218: No, I am not going into yet another baseball franchise/carrier agreement as you might be expecting. Nope, I am going someplace far more interesting. DISH network is going after the Sprint/NexTel Network. Google this yourself and learn about all the various kinds of issues and claims (Good for national security? Really?) Instead, I am suggesting that this is important to sports (and baseball) because it reveals that carriers are figuring out ways that will end up bypassing the licensing costs being imposed by content providers, which means one more baby step away from the world that is propping up the TV deals of teams such as the Yankees, Dodgers, Angels, Mariners, Indians, etc. DISH, if they gain wireless access to user devices everywhere, can connect consumers to services such as NetFlix, Amazon, Hulu, and MLB and not have to pay ESPN, et al. It compliments their normal TV content provider service and gives them a direct pathway to the inevitable future.
- Baseball Econ Data Point #88: My theory behind data point #218 is supported by last year's brouhaha between AMC and both DISH and Suddenlink. It was really ugly, with AMC holding their best rated shows hostage in their attempt to bundle content into larger revenue for themselves. That revenue, of course, would ultimate come from you and me. And look how DISH responded back then. DISH just started to hand out Roku boxes to their customers! Note also, in the article, that as content creators are more eager to offer their products on alternate stream services soon after original air dates, the ability of the carriers to recoup cost by selling advertising during re-runs is evaporating. So, if the content creators are rushing to alternative streams, and those alternatives are not so far behind first-run anyway, why shouldn’t the DISH’s of the world make a dash into that future market, leaving behind the market that had been funding the AMC’s? And there, my friends, would go the financial underpinnings of all these new-fangled baseball-media deals. Those long term earnings forecasts are at risk of getting gutted by the rapid advance of the very technology upon which they depend.
- History: A very impressed and grateful hat tip to Baseball Nation. Bob Wolff has had a 74 year career as a broadcaster, which included many incredible interviews with baseball greats going way, way back. We're talking Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Jimmie Foxx on forward to contemporary times. And he is donating his phenomenal collection to The Library Of Congress for all of us to treasure.
- Bobbleheads: Many of you should know by now that I am a huge fan of quirky and eclectic bobbleheads. So imagine my delight when I tripped over this mythical collection!
Video Of The Week
(Remember when baserunning was fun? Vanderbilt University pulls off a triple steal!)
(Trouble viewing the video? Direct link here.)
Bud Selig is so unpopular in some circles, that he becomes the movie plot focus as the best possible use for a time machine..........Bobby Abreu thinks he still has maybe one last shot. But if not, Bobby Abreu is gonna be just fine..........Come back to Halos Heaven, Sam Miller!..........Son, in this life, you don't ever walk by a Buck O'Neil story..........Did you guys catch this? Ben Revere enters a cheat code, and goes all Mike Trout/Jim Edmonds.
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...
Saturday: Waterfront Park is the place to be for the Bay Area Craft Beer Festival in Martinez..........Wild For The Yuba Beer & Food event at the Grass Valley Memorial Veterans Building in Grass Valley.
This Week's Beer Bonus: 17 Ways to deal with the Anaheim Parking Lot Police...
This Week's Beer Bonus(2): Ummmm....beer.....