The time is now upon us. It has been months since we realized that the last campaign was going to turn out poorly. It has been months since we witnessed a cleaning of the house in the Los Angeles Angels front office. It has been months since we let out the gasp of ages, and months since we experienced the jubilation of Pujols-Wilson Day. It is now mere hours and minutes until we begin the 2012 baseball season and we are launched on a trajectory that is aimed at one of the very pinnacles of global sport: The MLB World Series Championship.
We have not sat quietly. We have been impatient. This is new. This is very rare for most fans, and a rather unique experience for us. Sure, it is quite common for teams and their fans to enter a fresh season with the hope that they will be successful enough to be lucky enough to compete for high honors. It is almost as common for teams - and especially the fans of those teams - that genuinely do have a solid chance for ultimate victory, to make up the gap between real odds and absolute certainty with boastful exhaltations and proclamations. This is where we have spent the past decade ourselves. But it is very rare for a baseball team and their fans to begin a season convinced that they have the very best chance to win everything, that ultimate victory is theirs to lose. Hoarding that feeling is why most fans begrudge Yankee fans. And handling this rare event poorly is why most fans begrudge Red Sox fans. We, fans of the 2012 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, now stand upon the threshold of that belief. An uncommon position during our first 50 years.
LOTS MORE AFTER THE POLL...
Consider out loud: we have one of the finest defenses in all of baseball. We have arguably the finest starting rotation in all of baseball. We have, on paper, one of the most powerful offenses in all of baseball. We have one of, if not THE, best managers in all of baseball. We have one of the best owners in baseball. Time may prove that we may have one of the finest GMs in all of baseball. All these things can completely overwhelm the one potential weakness that can be identified, which is bullpen. BUT...as Captain Thailand points out, the lesser version of this same bullpen had the lowest ERA in the entire league last year. So deal, lazy-weak-ass critics. Overall, this team has the power to be a juggernaut. And we get to watch it in perhaps the best venue for fan experience in baseball. I ask one thing of us: let us not be jerks about it. Let us not be Red Sux fans.
Over the course of the next few months we will have times of greatness and times of calamity. We will see moments of individual glory and moments of abject failure. We might win in bunches and we might lose in bunches. We will have individuals contending for the highest honors and others pulling the team towards an early grave. There will be ups and downs. Some times will be loud and some times will be quiet. Let us not be calm. Let us allow ourselves the rights as fans to rise and fall with the prospects of the season. But let us not be jerks about it.
We are about to be overrun with fellow followers. Most will be new voices. Many will be naive. Some will be difficult. At least one will be an abomination. It seems to happen every year. We will see games with 3000 comments in the threads. We may see games with 5000. This might prove the SBN/HH experience difficult for many, depending on technology. We might even see new and unexpected things on HH, such as breakout game threads between pockets of HH'ers. I cannot predict. But let us not be jerks about it.
Most importantly, be proud of your allegiance. Be fearless in your support. Be loud with your enthusiasm. Be boisterous in your optimism. Be outraged in your disappointment. Be both patient and impatient. Be welcome in our fraternity. AND GO AHEAD AND BE A JERK ABOUT IT! But remember (or realize, if you are new-ish), this is NOT a wine tasting club where appropriate attire is an Izod shirt, Dockers and penny loafers. This is a lot closer to a baseball fan's equivalent of a biker bar with occasional forays into Burning Man (here's to you, Mayhem!) If this mosh pit of BASEBALL FANaticism pains your sensibilities, feel free to call 877-8-830-830 where Terry will gladly answer your burning question as to whether or not he thinks "Albert-Pujols-your-favorite-player" is going to hit a lot of home runs.
This year, people, we seek The One Ring. Here at the start of 2012, all but a handful of our peers are already behind us, enviously bickering and casting stones and waiting for any trip up in order to pounce upon us. And they will gleefully attempt to drag us back to their level. Have no fear. We are already among the winningest baseball teams of the past decade and our launch pad for 2012 comes at a starting altitude of which they can only dream. They cannot touch us. Our peers are few and even they are willing to look upon our team as highly favored. Even they are forced to defer to time itself in order to sort this all out. None can claim with confidence that they can dominate our team. Not yet, not today, not at this time. Not at our time.
And do not be fooled. This is our time. We are the fans of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. And this place, where you are reading this is, by no small margin, the number one gathering place for Angels fans of any venue and any format not already surrounded by a large asphalt parking lot. This is Halos Heaven. Let us start. Let the season begin. Play ball!!!
Kansas City vs. LA Angels @ Anaheim - 7:05 PM Start (FOX Sports West)
Bruce Chen (L) 0-0 0.00 vs. Jered Weaver (R) 0-0 0.00
[Big Bang Friday]
Kansas City vs. LA Angels @ Anaheim - 1:05 PM Start (FOX)
Luke Hochevar (R) 0-0 0.00 vs. Dan Haren (R) 0-0 0.00
Kansas City vs. LA Angels @ Anaheim - 12:35 PM Start (FOX Sports West)
Jonathan Sanchez (L) 0-0 0.00 vs. Ervin Santana (R) 0-0 0.00
- April 6: This Date In Baseball History - In 1939 an exhibition game between the Red Sox and Reds was called in the 9th inning when all 54 of the game baseballs had been lost while playing in a 50 mph windstorm. One reporter noted that the winds were so fierce that some baseballs were being blown off the ground and over the fence! Also on this date, in 1973, Ron Blomberg of the Yankees steps up to the plate as the 6th batter of the game against the Red Sox, and becomes the very first official Designated Hitter of all time. And, exactly 35 years ago today, Frank Tanana and the Angels defeat the brand new Seattle Mariners 7-0 in the Mariners' inaugural game.
- This Week in MLB Power Rankings: LA Angels begin 2012 at #1!
- Catching is the hardest job in sports. "It is the most difficult position to play over the course of a whole season in all sports, and the demands are very real," says Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who caught nearly 1,400 games in a 13-year career with the Los Angeles Dodgers. "Not only the demands physically, but the demands to perform when you’re not feeling 100 percent, the mental part of it. It’s extremely taxing." Personally, I would go a different way. I would come up with "umpire". You are the one guy who has high-speed multi-angle computer-animated video interrogation and cavity probe, with an infinite catalog of expert frame-by-frame analysis, striving only to prove your imperfection. And you are the one guy who is not allowed to be imperfect. And everybody hates your guts anyway. No matter what you ever do.
- Meanwhile, in a corollary to the above story on catchers: Home plate collisions.
- Did the Halos buy the AL West? What? Really? And the alternative was...rent? Gift card in their stocking? Such a concept is shocking. I am shocked, I tell you.
- Last week in the Friday HaloLinks I surprised myself by accidentally stumbling upon a heretofore un-realized snarkery aimed at the Wicked Network of the East. How nobody on the Internet had come up with East SPiN before that moment is beyond me, but I lost my cool and cracked myself up and pointed at myself to all of you. Patting myself on the back and all that. Eyespy was so motivated by this surprisingly enjoyable brain fart that he has graciously donated the artwork:
Speaking of East SPiN, I heard this on AM710 while driving in to work Thursday morning and I heard Doug Gottlieb inform the nation that Colin Cowherd was en route to Anaheim for LAA Opening Game. And then he says this: "Nothing says Angels Baseball like Colin Cowherd, who grew up in Southern California." Yeah. ESPN and Cowherd. Our new BFF's. Vomit. (And, for the record, anybody who has listened to Cowherd long enough knows that he grew up in Washington State.)
- Predictions: Here is a place where someone has some 'splainin' to do. In yet another forecast for the Rangers to be the AL West champs because the "...Rangers had a run differential 144 runs better than the Angels last year; that's a lot of ground to make up..." how is it logical, or even mathematically defensible, that the Rangers needed 144 more runs versus their opponents than the Halos posted in order to win 10 more games than did the Halos??? The implication is that the Angels need to find 144 more runs this year than last (assuming that the everything else holds at steady state) simply to reach parity, and 145 runs to overtake the Rangers in the division. From where I sit, one could slightly oversimply and find a mere 11 games last year that the Halos lost by a 1-run deficit, grant the Halos 2 more runs in each (especially if they are home games), cut the run differential between the Halos and the Rangers to 122 (still!), and take the division anyway. Am I being just too obtuse on this. Is there some advanced way to see inside these numbers of which you are acutely aware? What's right?
- Old Timey Baseball Fan Tradition For Season Opening, Part 1: Ya Gotta Have Heart! Long before Nintendo Baseball, back when punk rock was merely a sapling, every year on the opening weekend of baseball one of the seven (!) television stations would broadcast the musical "Damned Yankees". It's quaint, and the music is an emotion other than pain and suffering, but there is meaning there anyway - especially for sabre purists! And it's MY Friday, so just let your guard down a little bit and enjoy an old memory with me:
Old Timey Baseball Fan Tradition For Season Opening, Part 2: Who's On First? (Albert-Friggin'-Pujols, that's who!!!) No, really, here is a more fresh delivery of that all-time classic baseball routine by Abbott & Costello which reaches well back into the days of vaudeville (and the original pre-dates the more familiar baseball-themed version, by the way). Unbelievably - and this is a serious admission from an old fart like myself!! - this is much funnier than the original:
- Old Timey Baseball Fan Tradition For Season Opening, Part 3: "Take Me Out To The Ballgame! Take me out with the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and crackerjack, deep-fried dogs and a nice heart attack!.."
- Old Timey Baseball Fan Tradition For Season Opening, Part 4: "Oh, say, can you see..." The best and worst performances of The National Anthem before any sporting event.
San Francisco Giants, ready for baseball ..........A's to New York? Floating a trial balloon ..........OT: Most hilarious sports video mash up in play today ..........Oh yeah, the AL East is fierce. FIERCE, I tell ya! ...........In honor of Moondoggy, I just received my new shirt to wear to games during the 2012 season (Yeah, I know about the typo and I ain't worrying about it. There's a 12 character limit on jersey names and too few people know the proper spelling anyway.) I remain curious as to whether or not I will get any grief from an usher.........."Bypass Lanes". Somehow I doubt they will offer these for beer concessions..........Speaking of beer...Ozzie Guillen is inspiring sporting behavior in fan purists everywhere..........Which brings us to...
Finally, the obligatory moment we take out of our day, each Friday, for beer.
(Picture I took at a local antique store)