Sunday, July 31, 2011... It was probably the most enjoyable Angels loss of the decade, maybe ever. There was actually only on inning of consequence to the Angels cause. It was the sort of game that stands out in relief to reveal the savvy and emotionof the youngmen playing hte game, representing our team, psychologically filling in our deep need for nationalism and war, competition and victory.
Bottom of the 7th inning, Jered Weaver pitching, Carlos Guillen hits a 2-out solo HR to make it 3-0 Tigers. In addition to a shutout, Justin Verlander is working on a no-hitter. Earlier in the game, Magglio Ordonez had spent a great deal of time admiring one of his HRs and gotten a little lip from Weaver. Guillen in response showboated like a stripper without a pole. Weaver was having none of this totally unsportsmanlike conduct. He barked at Guillen's tub of lard as it waddled around the bases. Warned by the umpires he calmly threw above the next batter's head and was ejected, raging against the Tiger dugout all the way to the showers.
But the drama was just beginning. Erick Aybar led off the 8th inning bunting. Verlander threw wild and Aybar made it to 2B on the error. The no hitter was intact but Verlander was rattled, shouting at Aybar then and whining about it like a bitch in heat to the press for weeks on end. No matter how great a pitcher Verlander is, this revelation of a selfish and entitled ego made him look like the caucasian Barry Bonds of self-aggrandized disregard for the rules of the game. Weaver would be suspended for his headhunting but baseball philosopher Bill James took the most umbrage at Verlander's postgame btiching:
Yes, and I thought Verlander’s saying that it was bush league to bunt against him to break up the no-hitter was the MOST offensive thing connected with the game, and that if anything connected with the game was totally intolerable to major league baseball, it should have been that. Major league players have an absolute obligation to try to win the game, and the value of "respecting" a no-hit try cannot be allowed to take precedence over that. Anyone who suggests that it should, in my view, should be suspended until he apologizes and explicitly acknowledges that the other team has every right and every obligation to try to defeat him, without any regard whatsoever to personal goals.
Aybar would eventually score on a Fielders Choie gone awry when Peter Bourjos hit a 1-out grounder and Maicer Izturis would plate Bourjos with the first Angels hit of the game. Shutout over, No-hitter over.
Verlander would not even get a complete game as Jose Valverde came in for the 9th inning. With Vernon Wells on 2B and 2 outs he got Aybar to pop out in foul territory. But the battle lost had led to a larger psychological war being won. The Angels had an unquestioned leader, Jered Weaver. They were a team that wanted to win in stead of stylishly being polite. In a don season, the July 31 game gave every Angels fan the assurance that the guys on the field wanted to win even if Scioscia and Reagins love of Mathis and Wells was preventing that from always happening.