Way back at the dawn of the regular season, among other proclamations, I described Mike Scioscia as "...one of, if not THE, best managers in all of baseball". This has been a long and tortuous season so far and it has become painfully obvious that I was over-estimating things. Sosh may, indeed, be the best manager in the game. At the very least he remains in the top 3 or 5. But I have come to the conclusion that this merely means that all the other skippers simply suck. As the controversial Desiderius Erasmus once said: "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king". Mike Scioscia is a painfully flawed decision-maker. And I probably need to re-assess things and admit that the current condition is merely today's position on a journey that has been trending for years. I can take down the statue, Mike Scioscia is nothing more than the Howie Kendrick of MLB Managers. He is what he is, and he is ours. (Full Disclosure: I composed this paragraph Thursday morning and must have been plugged into the Halo zeitgeist, because a couple of hours later a wagon pulled up to the HH doorstep with Gorbachav5 in the driver seat.) As bad as Thursday night's game was, the chance to go 3-1 against the Rangers was in Sciscia's hands right there in the 9th inning Wednesday, and he blew it. And then he tried to cover his tracks with a barrage of disingenuous cover stories.
CJ Wilson has wholeheartedly jumped into the deep end of the Pool of Craptastrophe with both feet first, canon balling up a massive wave of second-half feculence that has swamped the pool-side buffet that should have been a Texas collapse. On a night when the team required an ace outing from the one man who should be most familiar with the situation and the conditions - a multi-million dollar erstwhile staff ace, no less - Wilson took the mound and barfed up 8 runs of abomination and then handed the newly well-oiled Rangers momentum over to Sosh and an implosive bullpen. And we fans got front row seats to the slaughter, And this merely caps off a month of crapola. If my math is right (adding BBR to last night's data and dividing it all out anew), over the past month Wilson has surrendered 26 earned runs in 43.2 innings for an ERA of 5.36 and an astounding WHIP of 1.489. Gawd-awful, Fountain Valley dude.
Field & Stream: As noted yesterday, Mike Trout was named BOTH AL Player Of The Month and AL Rookie Of The Month for July. Now, we all know that Trout did not play in the month of April. He played in May, and was Rookie Of The Month. He played in June, and was Rookie Of The Month. He played in July, and was Rookie Of The Month. Needless to say, Mike Trout is the 2012 Rookie Of The Year, even if he returns to merely normal. He was, for the record, also Player Of The Week for June 4 - 10. Good luck in your age 20 season, Bryce...
Jered Weaver: Weave is kicking some serious ass right now. His 0.950 WHIP leads all of baseball. His ERA of 2.29 led the AL until Ryan Dempster was moved over from Chicago to Texas, but that lasted all of 48 hours. Dempster will now have to contend with a daily DH so that slight ERA lead he had when he moved (2.25) has already jumped to 2.82 and will not last too much longer down there. Weaver is tied atop the leaderboard in MLB with those all-important-to-the-voting-scribes category of WINS, even though he did a short tour of the DL earlier this season. Since coming off the DL, Weaver has been blistering batters from the mound, turning in an ERA of 1.87 over the 8 starts, all Halo victories. Meanwhile Justin Verlander, his chief rival for the 2012 CYA, has hit a rough patch and fallen down the leaderboard in several categories, creating a vacuum of chatter amongst the EastSPiNners of baseball. I have a vested interest in the CYA for Weaver this season, so get used to me using this weekly forum to make up for that fading Verlander bias.
Albert Pujols: Albert Freakin' Pujols has definitely arrived. Since the ASG through Thursday, Pujols is hitting at pace that, over the course of a season, would result in 229 hits with 58 home runs and 124 runs scored, with a slash line of .358/.427/.731 and an OPS of 1.158. And the baseball world has taken proper notice.
Zack Greinke: Apparently, that important need to sign Greinke to an extension turns out to be not so important after all. Sure. Also, the official team Game Day Notes for yesterday (8/2/2012) point out that the addition of Greinke give the Halos "...5 pitchers who have been All Stars (Weaver – 3; Haren – 3; Wilson – 2; Greinke – 1; Santana – 1)".
Maicer Izturis: Since replacing Aybar and getting regular at-bats, through Thursday Izzy has a slash line of .324/.342/.486 with an OPS of .829.
eBay Auction Of The Week: Here is a vintage pin. Not such a big deal by itself, but the wow factors are that it celebrates the original Big A and scoreboard AND a World Series that did NOT happen for the Angels until 2002!
ALL THE FUN STUFF AND THINGS TO DO AFTER THE JUMP...
Los Angeles Angels vs. Chicago White Sox @ U.S. Cellular Field - 5:10 PM Start (FS-W)
Zak Greinke (R) 0-1 2.57 ERA vs.Philip Humber (R) 5-5 5.90 ERA
Los Angeles Angels vs. Chicago White Sox @ U.S. Cellular Field - 4:10 PM Start (FS-W)
Ervin Santana (R) 5-10 5.97 ERA vs.Gavin Floyd (R) 8-9 4.28 ERA
Los Angeles Angels vs. Chicago White Sox @ U.S. Cellular Field - 11:10 AM Start (FS-W, TBS)
Dan Haren (R) 8-8 4.59 ERA vs. Francisco Liriano (L) 0-0 (3-10 overall) 3.00 ERA (5.18 ERA overall)
This series is right there for the taking. The Halos have everything going for them on Friday and Sunday, with only the Santana crapshoot on Saturday to worry about ahead of time (there will be enough worrying on Friday and Sunday in real time, no sense assuming craptastrophe any earlier than necessary.). Winning becomes pretty damned important after the missed opportunity in Arlington, what with the Rangers getting to feast on the tanking Kansas City Royals and then the mediocre Boston Red Sox. I am equally as interested in how well Greinke fares in his second AL outing tonight as I am in how well Haren's back holds up on Sunday. Meanwhile, the vaunted Rangers pitching staff really amped up the Halo offense, which pounded out 40 runs in 4 games. We fans need a reward for our faith. Let's do this!
This Date In Baseball History: 1948 - The great Satchel Paige, at the tender age of 41, finally appears in his first MLB game, hurling the Cleveland Indians to victory over the Washington Senators (the version that would become the future Minnesota Twins, not the version that would become the future Texas Rangers) in front of 72,434 fans..........1959 - MLB tries out their experiment of two All Star games in the same season as a way to revive interest. This second ASG takes place in downtown LA, in the LA Memorial Coliseum..........1975 - recently ex-California Angel Denny Doyle opens his day as the #2 hitter with a 2-run home run in the bottom of the first to extend his hitting streak to 22 games, in the midst of leading the Red Sox into one of the greatest World Series of all time..........1979 - Yankee Stadium hosts a pre-game memorial service for Thurmon Munson, who perished in a plane crash the day before..........1989 - The Cincinnati Reds snatch 16 hits in their first at-bat in a game against the Houston Astros..........1998 - C.J. Nitkowski of the Florida Marlins becomes the third pitcher to hit three consecutive batters, doing it in the bottom of the 8th against the Astros..........2002 - Darin Erstad signs an extension with the Anaheim Angels. This guy is going to come in handy on a fly ball to center field a couple of months later............2004 - In a game where Jim Edmonds would go 1 for 3 with 3 walks, Jason Isringhausen would blow the save, and Dan Haren would end up taking the loss, Albert Pujols becomes the first player in history to hit at least 30 homers in each of his first 4 seasons as the St. Louis Cardinal lose to the Montreal Expos........2008 - Francisco Liriano (Sunday's recently acquired opponent) makes his first start back after TJ surgery, with a win over the Cleveland Indians. That win, combined with a White Sox loss (see how I try to stay topical!) park the Minnesota Twins into a first place in the AL Central that they will never relinquish.
AL West, 2002 Strongest Division in Baseball: Don't look now, but the AL West has a winning record overall versus the AL East, versus the AL Central, and versus the National League. The AL Central has a losing record against the other two AL Divisions, and an even .500 record against the NL. The AL East has a better winning percentage versus the AL Central than the AL West, but an inferior winning percentage against the NL and, of course, a losing record against the AL West. No NL Division has a winning record versus the AL. And the AL West is surging, with the Oakland A's and Seattle Mariners beating up on out-of-towners the past couple of weeks. In fact, the Halos and the A's own both Wild Card slots, and the Mariners are a mere 6 1/2 games out of taking over third place in the WC race, having taken it out on Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Toronto lately.
Ryan Dempster: Remember "scouts", those old farts who wander the fields of baseball far and wide and render their personal opinions about players based in no small part on their "lyin' eyes"? Well, a few of them had some not so kind words about Dempster to share with any reporter over at CBSSports willing to jot them down. "...4th or 5th starter...", "His ERA translates to being in the high 4's in the American League.", "...he has to pitch in a bigger park", and my personal favorite "If you come to the conclusion that he's like [Zack] Greinke, you're losing your mind." And last night sure wasn't overwhelmingly impressive, now, was it?
Fernando Rodney: Rodney is having a season for the ages. After the Arlington outing of our own bullpen, this particular salt, and in this particular wound, is all the more galling, no?
That Didn't Last Long: The After glow of the All-Star game has already been washed away in Kansas City, as Sports Radio 810 WHB reports that the Royals have been abusing taxpayer to money ear-marked for stadium improvements. Among the many fun things they have been spending tax-payer money on is...uh...paying taxes.
Uh...yeah. This is why the LA Angels still own Baseball in LA:
Five great places to go and waste your employer's Friday morning...
1) The History of Olympic Baseball (NOTE: this article begins with the 1912 Olympics. In 1904 an exhibition game was scheduled, but its hard to document that the game was actually played.)
2) 1936 Olympic Baseball (More in-depth look at Hitler's Berlin Games that featured an exhibition match in front of ~100,000 fans. BONUS: Read a little more about Hitler and baseball here.)
3) Everybody Clamoring for Olympic Baseball - Pick One: ESPN, Toronto Sun, CBS Sports, Yahoo! Sports, NBC Sports, SF Chronicle, even TulsaWorld gets in on the act!
4) Individual USA Olympic Baseball Records (This covers official games only, not exhibitions.)
5) Where Are They Now? (A somewhat dated review of top Olympic Baseball Players and what happened to them)
Five Years Too Late:
Harold Skimpole Bud Selig promises to retire..........Are Pink Hats Now Passe?: The Red Sox "Nation" is reverting back to a "County"..........Department of Where Does All That Money Go: Jose Conseco has filed for bankruptcy..........$3.95 is priceless: The best way to prevent your fans from looking like Keystone Cops as they try to chase down a foul ball...is to FILL YOUR SEATS!..........Official Headcase: Ron Washington joins Nolan Ryan in publicizing Josh Hamilton as a mental case..........We Now Enter The Twilight Zone: It's Waiver Wire Season, when all sorts of phenomenal names are offered up to any takers in a massive round of poker bluffs. Cliff Lee is already out there.
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:
Just a couple of events this weekend here in the State: Out in the desert, at La Quinta, LQ Wine (which also produces craft beers) will host a wine and craft beer tasting beginning at 3PM. Enegren Brewing Company's One Year Anniversary, Saturday starting at 11am in Moorpark. Meanwhile, up in cooler climes, we have the 17th Annual Mammoth Festival of Beers and Bluesapalooza. This runs all weekend, August 3 through 5, at Sam's Wood Site. Their really groovy Souvenir Program for 2012 is already posted here.