Well, bugs and germs, here we are once again on the verge of yet another Pitchforks and Torches moment. Others here are already rounding up all the arguments against us, and they are formidable. There are no pages left to turn. Going 18 and 25 from Opening Day through May 21st now haunts. Adding to that the 4 and 8 run we have been on since July 27 and we get two bookends on our season so far of 22 and 33. If we had flipped these two stretches, and played ball at the 55% winning rate that a 90 win playoff team should, those games would be closer to 31 and 24. That's a 9 game swing and guess who would be in first place with a 2 game lead? If...if...if...if. Lame. We did NOT play at any playoff quality rate to open the season. We have NOT played playoff quality ball for the past two weeks. And right now we are NOT a playoff team. This is a far cry from where we should have been, had we stuck to playing games on paper. In fairness, this recent stretch is that period which ESPN had defined as our gantlet (you have to scroll down to question #9).
It's now the dawn of a 10 game homestand and a stretch of teams that have similar, or worse, records as our own disappointing tally that runs all the way out to September 17th when we finally face the Rangers again. That's 35 games against the Mariners, Red Sox, Rays, A's, Royals and Tigers. 20 of those are at home. If these boys got it in them, this is the time to shut out the past two weeks, reload, show that we are better than that disappointment, and get after it. It can still be done. We can still get there. We fans have the cajones! Do the players?
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Fun Laws of the State of Washington: It's illegal to ride an ugly horse (Wilbur)..........No home may have more than two toilets (Waldron Island)............TV sales are illegal on Sundays (Spokane)..........Lap dancers must remain at least 4 feet from patrons at all times (Spokane County)..........No life jackets may be worn on or near the Spokane River, nor are you allowed to stop and kneel on a sidewalk to tie your shoes (Spokane)..........Lighting on fire the house of another is permissible only with owner's consent (Seattle)..........It's a felony to harass BigFoot..........One cannot be out in public if they have a cold..........All Lollipops are banned..........In order to cut down on crime, somebody with criminal intent must stop their car at the city limits and phone the police chief..........It's illegal to pretend that your parents are rich..........(Where have I written this before?) When two trains come to a crossing at the same time, neither may proceed until the other has departed..........No buying meat of any kind on Sundays.
Field & Stream: Mike Trout has cooled off considerably since the start of August. Overall he is .273/.390/.485 with an OPS of .895 and 13 strikeouts for the month to date although he continues to play well in the field. It's true that he has had his share of crap calls in some at-bats, but let's hope Thursday acts as a nice day off to restore his juices. These are the dog days, when youngsters start to learn that the MLB season is a long grind. Take Bryce Harper, for example.
Mark Trumbo: Trumbo's Trumbomb on Wednesday was only his second since July 20th and he is hitting only .212 with an SLG of a mere .303 in that span. In that window he has struck out 23 times, and garnered a sad negative 4 1/2 runs below average added to the effort. This would be what we might call a slump. I wonder why I am not reading more about any Home Run Derby Curse?
Howie Kendrick Factoid: In only 101 games to date in the 2012 season, Kendrick has now achieved a career season high in GIDP with 19. His previous career high was in 2011 with 18. And prior to 2011 his career high was 2010 with 16. Anybody notice a trend? Torii Hunter, perhaps benefiting from batting directly behind Trout so much this season, has tailed off his normal season rate and limps in with only 12 GIDPs so far this year, well off his career high of 24 accomplished in 2011. So, yeah, Howie stands an excellent chance to knock off our reigning GIDP champ this year.
Torii Hunter: Speaking of Hunter, Torii is Toriid once again, just in time for his annual ramp up to off-season kudos for his sterling offensive contributions in the back half of his season. Since July 20th (again), Torii has gone hitless in only two games and is carrying a slash line of .394/.427/.563 with an OPS of .990. Unfortunately, this is the very same window wherein Trout has gone chill.
Angels Getting Tired: The latest Tater Trot Tracker shows Torii Hunter getting beat out for slowest home run trot in baseball on Wednesday by none other than Kendrys Morales. Morales has the first AND fourth slowest times. And even Mark Trumbo shows up in the slowest 20. But that's why we don't PR for Morales. If we had PR for his first home run and gutted the lineup, we never would have gotten that second HR out of him, would we?
Aw Shucks: This is the kind of thing that keeps HH away from Official Team recognition. Bobby Wilson wants to abandon Twitter because team fans are not totally supportive. I offer no sympathy. He holds a roster spot and carries a responsibility for that privilege. $485,700 to be a public figure, and an average player on a team that is trying to sell itself to the public as well above average, during times of double-digit unemployment, all comes with some scrutiny. And, sorry, Victor (see his twit response in the article), but amongst us fans are dogs with serious bite, who know damn well that this team needs their catchers to do a hell of a lot more than they have been doing for the past few years. But truth is harsh, and Official Employees need to control the marketing image, the message and reject the harshness. So they reject the truth, along with those forums that do not promise obedience.
eBay Auction Of The Week: 1960 Mark Trumbo baseball card. That is not a typo. Nineteen Six Zero!!! Well, the "Mark Trumbo" might be a typo, because it's really Ed Kirkpatrick but...WTF...separated at birth???
ALL THE FUN STUFF AND THINGS TO DO AFTER THE JUMP...
Seattle Mariners vs. Los Angeles Angels @ Angel Stadium - 7:05 PM Start (FS-W)
Felix Hernandez (R) 10-5 2.63 ERA vs. Ervin Santana (R) 5-10 5.83 ERA
LIVE MUSIC IN THE GARDEN AT ANGEL STADIUM
Seattle Mariners vs. Los Angeles Angels @ Angel Stadium - 6:05 PM Start (FS-W)
Hisashi Iwakuma (R) 2-3 4.20 ERA vs.Dan Haren (R) 8-8 4.44 ERA
KID'S CHRIS IANNETTA LUNCH BAG
Seattle Mariners vs. Los Angeles Angels @ Angel Stadium - 12:35 PM Start (FS-W)
Jason Vargas (L) 12-8 3.69 ERA vs. Jered Weaver (R) 15-1 2.13 ERA
On paper, this weekend should have leaped off the page as an awesome battle between two loaded pitching staffs. Weaver, King Felix, Haren, Santana and a red-hot Vargas all in one weekend set? Wow. Vargas gave up 10 earned runs way back on June 20th, but since then he has not given up more than 3 in any outing. And he has yet to walk more than 3 batters in any game this season. Only Iwakuma should have been the weak starter in this series, and the Halos faced him back on June 5th when he came in and pitched 3 innings of relief. How did he do? Precisely as expected for any rookie facing the Halos for the first time: 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 K and zero runs allowed of any sort.
Unfortunately, it's our own staff that is turning into the let down. Santana had been blowing chunks all over the place but his last two outings have been more promising. The same can be said of Haren, who has only given up a total of 4 earned runs over his past three outings (18 innings pitched). Too bad this offense and this bullpen are leaving zero margin for error. Even Weaver might be in that part of the wilderness where only perfection might be tolerable.
This Date In Baseball: 1944 - Charles Barrett of the Boston Braves throws a complete game victory in 75 minutes flat, and uses only 58 pitches to do it!..........1946 - Ernie Bonham of the Yankees surrenders a pair of base hits in the bottom of the first inning, and still retires the side in only 4 pitches..........1971 - Harmon Killebrew crushes his 500th (and 501st) career home runs..........and Juan Marichal records his 50th career shutout..........1974 - Jorge Lebron debuts in the Phillies minor league system as the youngest pro ballplayer ever: 14 years of age..........1980 - Steve McCatty of the A's goes 14 innings in a losing cause, becoming the 4th A's pitcher to go all 14 in a game and launching a public avalanche of criticism towards manager Billy Martin..........1986 - The Yankees ignore that criticism and retire Billy Martin's uniform..........1995 - Dodger fans force a rare forfeit when they toss their souvenir baseballs onto the field in the 9th inning of a losing cause..........2003 - Rafael Furcal executes the 12th unassisted triple play.
2012 Postseason: The post season schedule is out. Looks like the AL Wild Card play-in game that we are trying real hard to miss out on would be set for October 5th, which would make for an awesome Friday night.
"Bad Command Comparables": Fangraphs takes a deep dive into the suckage that has become Yu Darvish. Personally, I am still stuck doing the research on how anybody keeps track of bad command enough to have an inventory of comps.
Giants vs. A's vs. San Jose Update: In the ongoing saga that is Jarndyce v Jarndyce (Hey, I gave all of you Bud Selig as Harold Skimpole last week, and not one of you people caught on. Expect more of this until your literacy rates improve!), Steve Henson over at Yahoo!Sports give us an update on the interminable trench warfare being waged over the rights to bilk the citizens of a city on the verge of bankruptcy out of whatever funds they have left.
Astros Going South: Just in time for their move to the AL West, the Houston Astros are reaching out towards our neighbors to the south in an effort to host games in Mexico. Somewhere in there are about 1,000 really good jokes, but I find myself distracted by the notion that a game marketed as "Los Angeles vs. Astros" will finally make grammatical sense to the fans in attendance.
Revenge Of The Old Geeksters: So Clint Eastwood has released the trailer for his new flick "Trouble With The Curve", and it smells overwhelmingly like a love fest on behalf of the Myth Of The Old Baseball Scout. You know, the one where nobody ever bothered with any kind of numerical analysis concerning prospects until Billy Beane came along. Well, Brad Pitt & Billy Bean take that! Clint smacks you down!! Next thing you know, we are going to need some gaggle of old-timers to save the world or something, because certainly all the following generations are incompetent.
Who Knew Jim Leyland Was An Idiot?: I, for one, had no idea. But here is Leyland making a pitch for Miguel Cabrera over Mike Trout for AL MVP. Note that Leyland is arguing that Trout's story line as a young phenom should not be taken into consideration by voters, but what Cabrera did as a pro in season's past should be considered in measuring his impact today. Huh? I do confess that unless Trout gets it in gear his lack of playing time in April will cost him a lot of votes as his total home run count will remain well shy of that of Cabrera, and we all know that voters love the long ball.
We All Knew Bobby Valentine Is An Idiot: Rick Blaine over at Yahoo!Sports takes Valentine to task for managing the Red Sox to another loss. Why do we care? Because another way to look at that brilliant effort was that it handed a win to the Rangers on a day that Boston was working very hard to come back again, and again, and even yet again.
Something To Look For: Randy Wolf makes some news by tossing a 49mph pitch. Fun all by itself. But read the article and learn that Zack Greinke possesses a similar skill.
The War Chest: The Hollywood Reporter, far more expert in this kind of stuff than most anybody, does an analysis and forecasts the possibility of an $8.5 BILLION broadcast rights deal for the Dodgers. That would represent about 8.5 billion tiny little doors closing on the window into the LA brand ownership of Southern California that Arte must have figured John Carpino would land for him.
So You Want A Career In Sports?: This one is for those tasked with reading HH on a daily basis over at the ballpark to keep up with the pulse of the most dedicated fan base (you know who you are). Taylor Grey Meyer was rejected from membership in the San Diego Padres Polo Shirt Brigade one time too often to subsequently be hit up for a marketing fund raiser.
Future Boston Infielder, Bill Buckner III:
Five great places to go and waste your employer's Friday morning...
(As we did last week, once again we celebrate the spirit of the 2012 Olympics. This week it's International Baseball)
1) Region: Europe (From Great Britain to Greece, Portugal to Poland, and everything in between.)
2) Region: Latin America (In Spanish, of course...but whattaya gonna do?)
3) Region: Oceana (Guam, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand)
4) Region: Africa ("Baseball is a growing sports in Africa with lots of potentialities.")
5) By Country ( See how your ancestors are following in your footsteps!)
Becky Update: Let's never pass up a chance to dance on the misfortune of Josh Beckett..........Paul Konerko: how he got concussed in anybody's guess, but I sure wish Iannetta would have been the cause..........Firing Squads: The Indians fired their pitching coach, Scott Radinsky..........Time To Get The Message: After being DFA'd by the Dodgers, nobody took Bobby Abreu, so he has accepted a spot on the Dodger's AAA team..........MLB Front Office: Now we know why they had no time to focus on Scioscia's protest. Too busy counting the seconds it takes Mike Ekstrom to warm up. But wait! There's a BONUS!! The hilarious first draft!!!
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:
On Friday up in Woodland Hill, we have An Evening With Fireman's Brew at The Green Jug. Also on Friday, down in San Diego in The Hillcrest District, Local Habit is hosting "Les Bons Temps". On Saturday, in Redondo Beach, Naja's Place is where you will find The Full Pint's 5th Anniversary Celebration. For you Central Californians, Sunday is the time to head out to Visalia for the Craft Beer Fest.