Finally, a Sober Moment: This week I was locked away in a bunch of those vast, cavernous, convention halls loaded with too much air conditioning and too little control of the acoustics. Outside were tens of thousands of my fellow humans having the the times of their lives and doing things some will recall for the balance of their lifetime. Like the guy who sat next to me on the flight home last night. He dislocated his kneecap at about 1am Thursday but didn't go to the hospital until 10am. How did this happen? Playing beer pong. Why did he not go immediately? Two reasons. One, he was already well lubricated and pain wasn't a big issue at that moment (the contest was tied at two cups each, as he tells it). And, second, he was already well versed in the issue of knee dislocation as it had happened to him 6 years prior. Again, playing beer pong. True story. We humans really do love our sporting ventures.
By now you might have guessed that I must be talking about Las Vegas. Yes, I was there this week to be a small part of a highly paid forced audience for corporate executives who need a full house to hear their wisdom. I know that sounds harsh, but you are getting me at the tail end of 20 hours of listening delivered within the framework of 72 hours of human existence. I'm kinda raw. And I have less than 3 hours left to do this Friday Links Edition. In a few weeks I will have some distance and a chance to rehash all the info and be totally plugged back into my terrific company as we continue to accelerate away from our competition and change the world. It really is fun times.
But before I get back to why you all showed up to here this morning in the first place, let me give a shout out to maze88 her at HH for totally hooking me up with two great show seats in Vegas. 5 rows off the stage in the middle of the VIP section and, whaddaya know?, VIP's all around me!! Apparently, VIP seating really IS stadium style, as they kind of make up the seat assignment and write them down on little bits of paper. VIPs don't need no stinking tickets! So, of course, they get things a little screwed up and we all have to reshuffle on our own to get the parties back together. And VIPs, especially those who are patronizing the performance of their fellow celebs at other venues, do like to party. But it's a great conversation starter. I didn't even need the show, I was having such a good time. Ok, enough about me. At least now you understand why the following might be a little disjointed at times. Here we go:
Angels Defeat Mariners in Opener 3-0: So last night was kinda cool, what? The Dan Haren you were all raving about in the off season made an appearance, striking out 14 and yielding but 4 hits (see below in the Weekend Series section for concern of an epic rate of K's this series). And the Albert Pujols everybody on Planet Baseball was raving about for the past 10 years made his appearance. Pujols crossed the 450 HR mark as the 4th youngest in history. Assuming, of course, all biological paperwork is in order...blah...blah...blah. (OT interjection: I coached youth soccer here in SoCal for years and I can state with absolute empirical certainty that cert scamming for youth athletes in Latin America is as Latin American as burritos. Or Miss Venezuela.)
Halo History Moment: It seems to have been overlooked this past week around here, but Monday was the 20th anniversary of the team bus crash that injured 12 and sent Skipper Buck Rodgers to the bench for the bulk of the season. So I was doing some Googlelodian investimagation to research and write about this a little bit (I didn't know that Chuck Finley was a hero that day!) and I stumbled across this article on Slate and got all distracted. And that Attention Deficit moment has now taken it's toll on you, as I am not going to write about the bus crash anymore, but spend the next few minutes swimming in the sweet, sweet juices of vengeance upon both Slate and Mike Penner of the LA Times. Both of those spent considerable time going out of their way, in October of 2002 and the eve of the World Series, to bash the crap out of our franchise. Nice timing boys, or...uh...girls, or...boys...
How Many Outfielders Can We Legally Play At The Same Time?: Travis Witherspoon hit for the cycle last night. Down in A ball, for sure. But damned if it isn't nice to forecast logjams resulting from our own farm system. I have been following this team since 1966 and I can tell you all that this is really uncharted territory for me here. So what creative skippering might be possible if, down the road, we could field three of the fastest players in all of baseball and one of the most prodigious power hitters, all in the same outfield? Weaver proved he can hit, so maybe we DH for the catcher? Or how about we play only 3 infielders? [Editor's note to those not yet initiated into The Spirit Of Stirrups: if you find yourself really itching to dash off and post a comment correcting me about the rules of the game, that's a sign you need to surrender your Internet passport for the balance of the day. Don't go messing with what's been a really great week so far. Just let it go. Or, instead, study every word on this page.]
Mike Trout Mini-Panic Moment: The Gupper ("Trout", "guppy", "Gipper", get it?) is slowing down of late, going 2 for 17 and shaving 35 points off his BA in his past 4 games. He can probably thank Albert Pujols for going 6 for 16 with 2 homers and 4 RBIs in that same span, to provide air cover. Trout and Pujols getting on the same page would be awesome, but that probably is just my opinion.
Memorial Day Preview: MLB released their new Memorial Day cap looks for 2012 and they are going with camo logos. Understated, but (I think) quite nice. Here is ours:
AS USUAL, EVEN MORE STUFF AFTER THE BREAK...
LA Angels vs. Seattle Mariners @ Safeco Field - 7:10 PM Start (FS-W)
Ervin Santana (R) 2-6 4.22 vs. Blake Beavan (R) 2-4 4.46
LA Angels vs. Seattle Mariners @ Safeco Field - 4:15 AM Start (FOX)
Jerome Williams (R) 4-2 3.74 vs. Felix Hernandez (R) 4-3 2.80
LA Angels vs. Seattle Mariners @ Safeco Field - 1:10 PM Start (FS-W)
CJ WIlson (L) 5-4 2.90 vs. Hector Noesi (R) 2-5 5.26
For starters, tonight we see an Ervin Santana who may have turned the corner compared to the rough start he endured. His last few outings have been smoking hot. If this measly bunch of whiffle bats can pull out a few runs against what will probably be Cy Beavan, the Halos could be in good shape. Saturday is a funny one. King Felix is roaring along with a pretty damned fine ERA that parks him at 8th in the league. But Williams has been an interesting case, showing up on the mound when the offense scratches out a decent amount of runs. In his 8 starts so far in 2012 the Angels posted run totals of: 5, 6, 4, 4, 4, 3, 7, and 1. Be honest, those are some pretty good numbers compared to what we have come to expect out of these guys. I know all about cause and effect, fellas, but after a week in Vegas I know all about the concrete faith one can have in 4 the hard way. This is beyond Karma, people. At the time of this writing, this is as sure of a reality as sunrise. On the other hand, Sunday could end up being a 2 hour 20 minute 1-0 win for the Halos. Why? Well this trio of Mariners starters just peeled off 21 total combined K's in the their most recent outings and by the time the Halos get to the boring Sunday afternoon in the empty idleness of Safeco, some bad mojo could have settled in. Wilson is going to slice through these guys like a razor blade, but the Halo bats might just shred themselves in frustrating apathy of "grind" and "process".
This Day In Baseball: 1901: First shut out in the American League (Ted Lewis of the Boston Americans)..........1922: Babe Ruth goes apsh!t. He "...throws dirt the umpire’s eye, then goes after a heckler in the stands, and finishes his tirade by standing on the dugout roof calling the crowd "yellow" cowards." [from nationalpastime.com]. Note the boxscore. Ruth was batting only .136 at this point in the season and he was probably a surly dude getting hounded by everybody. He would end up batting .315 with an SLG of 1.106 and 39 HR's. So, uh, Pujols, make a note of that, will you?..........1935: Speaking of Babe Ruth, he hits his 714th and final career home run as he goes 4 for 4 with 4 HR's for the Boston Braves, with the final homer clearing the roof..........1951: Willie Mays makes his Major League baseball debut. Mays goes 0 for 5 and the Giants are playing .500 ball, but the Giants would end up at 98 wins and the League title and Mays would end up with the RoY. No pressure, Mister Trout..........1979: Pirates vs. Mets game is called DURING the 11th inning, ending in a rare tie, due to fog..........2009: Some dude named Jason Isringhausen caps off a 7 run surrender by the Mets' bullpen in the bottom of the 9th as the Cleveland Indians storm back from 0-10 in the 4th to win 11-10..........2011: Paul Splittorf dies from cancer, Buster Posey is run over by Scott Cousins and lost for the season, Mariano Rivera makes his 1,000 appearance (a first ever for a pitcher with one team).
Brett Lawrie - Catalyst For The Future: It has become fairly common among the fans of baseball who do NOT work in the front office to push for an ever-increasing use of technology to solve the mystery of human frailty when it comes to rendering fair control over the proceedings on the field of play. Bud Selig, of course, is having none of it. (I don't understand why they call it the "front office" when those knuckleheads are never out in front of anything.) Enter Brett Lawrie. Fresh off a 4 game suspension for going ballistic over the strike
vicinity zone, he tees off again by charging across the field at another ump over a call on the basepaths. So now take a read of this, and ask yourself: is Brett Lawrie actually the tool (in both the literal and figurative sense) who, over the course of his career, will shake up the whole "good old boy system" between baseball execs and the umpires and crack open wide the integration of technology tools to get the game right? Lawrie seems hell bent on refusing to accept any cluster-eff on the part of the umpires and trot quietly back to the dugout. This can have rippling consequences. Eventually, it could trigger a whole fresh dialog as it becomes painfully obvious the current state of instantaneous human guess-work is just not good enough. In that article, pay special attention to the brewing undertone that umpires around baseball are possibly going out of their way and starting to focus their laser beams of self-righteous indignation at the Blue Jays in general, and Lawrie specifically. That alone would force the hand of MLB to do something, would it not?
The Return of The Impaler: Vlad Guerrero is back? Really? And looking young and fresh again? WTF?
"The 37-year-old veteran is moving free and easy following a year of problems with his left knee..."
"and on Tuesday Guerrero recorded...a stolen base in an exhibition game"
?!? And then my mind became totally blown when I read this paragraph:
"The 16-year veteran played left field against the Pirates and appeared to be doing everything possible to make a strong impression with his new club. On one long drive to right field, Guerrero sprinted into the infield to back up third base to guard against an errant throw. "
Vlad being capable of sprinting that far may be a miracle of international chemistry. But how does one explain the desire on the part of Vlad to make that run? In a minor league contest? that was an exhibition game???
If all this is true, and we see THAT Vlad in the Blue Jays uni this season, history may see his stint with the Halos as a mere blip on the radar of his total career. No HoF cap for us.
MLB In Yankee Back Pocket Moment of the Month: Does anybody who follows any team in baseball that is NOT wearing pinstripes really believe that MLB would go out of their way to rush out a press announcement that informs sports followers everywhere that nothing is happening?
Important Note to future drunken idiots: either contain your naked runs across the field to daylight hours, or wear cleats! (And I kinda feel bad for the totally sober security guys who have to tackle and pounce on a naked dude.)..........Worthless Bullpen Help Update Of The Week: JC Romero just signed with his 7th team in 7 seasons. How did we miss the chance to regain this guy? Yeah, just one more data point as to why Dipoto is a clear upgrade..........This would be lucky enough to make me consider becoming a drunken idiot: the same fan catches back to back homers? What are THOSE odds??? Even The Cincinnati Reds were amazed. They made him honorary game captain..........Roy Oswalt Watch, Update 2012: The Rangers, and now the Orioles.
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:
Last week we provided some travel advice on June being the upcoming San Diego Beer Month. Regrettably, this week's travel advise comes a couple weeks too late (Hey, I don't make the MLB schedules). Seattle just finished their Beer Week Festival of 2012. Maybe we can all get to work this Memorial Day Weekend and try and catch up with them!