A Pro Sports Owner Passes: This is not OT. By now you all have heard or read that Art Modell, owner of the Baltimore Ravens, PKA Cleveland Browns, passed yesterday. Quite a bit of the dialog surrounding his passing has had to do with Modell ever being named to the NFL Hall Of Fame, considering how he absconded with the Cleveland football franchise in the middle of the night. (He was also the onetime landlord of the Cleveland Indians and that episode launched the Indians into Jacobs Field and started the toppling of dominoes that are still wobbling today. There. ON topic!)
Think about that. Art Modell was one of the most influential contributors to what has grown into the number one sports enterprise in America: the National Football League. But he took Cleveland's football team away from Cleveland. And then he won a Super Bowl with what used to be Cleveland's football team. A team that Art Modell owned lock, stock and jockstraps. That speaks volumes about the entangled relationship between a sports franchise, its history, its fans, and the person or people who put forward the financial risk to take ownership of that franchise.
Now reflect on this: in 2016 Arte Moreno will exercise his escape clause so as to not be locked into his current stadium until 2029. Arte is a smart man and will not forfeit negotiating leverage. So he will open that door. It's the same door that Modell opened in the middle of the night. What happens after Arte opens that door is anybody's guess and Arte has every legal right. But, meanwhile, we have none. Feels kind if icky, doesn't it? Art Modell, that's Art without the "e", is why you feel so icky. Let's hope that the "e" makes all the difference.
Weekend Update: Two weeks ago the Halos went rolling into Detroit after sweeping Boston and dropped the series 1 game to 2. That hurt. Playoff odds dropped from 16.6% down to 7.9% and only the arrival of the delicious misery that is the 2012 Boston Red Sox could put us back on track. And they did. The Angels are 8 - 1 since departing Detroit. The Tigers, meanwhile, have gone a miserable 4 - 5 including being swept by the Royals and dropping 2 of 3 to Cleveland. What we need, what we really need, is to not perform the same Heimlich on behalf of Detroit's chances as Bobby Valentine did for ours.
Progress Report: With the fall of the Yankees we now have 6 teams in the mix. Baltimore, Tampa Bay and New York are fighting it out for the AL East, which will drop two of those into the Wild Card stew. I am still thinking that 92 is a magic playoff win number. As crappy as Oakland looked against us they, along with the Orioles and Yankees need to win about 60% of their remaining games to hit 92. Since 4 of those games Oakland needs to win will be here against the Angels next week, next Friday should be an interesting update. And, in fact, these next 7 games are our last chance to pick off our own competition.
CoolStandings keeps loving on us, as this past week has seen the Halos odds of making the playoffs jump from 15.6% to .27.1%. Of course, as the number of remaining games dwindles the values are going to be bouncing radically, so don't expect small changes from here on out.
Field & Stream: Mike Trout is seeing something around 70% fastballs these days, and he is making decent contact on about 15% of all pitches. He is looking at 62%. His batting average has dropped 11 points in this span and he sits tied with our visiting Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers for the AL lead. He has also dropped behind in OBP and tailed way behind in SLG and OPS. AL team scouts are determined to maintain this tailspin until he relearns how to hit MLB fastballs. My recommendation is for him to relax while the pitching is strong and the rest of the lineup is productive, and focus on base hits in order to force pitchers to go back to the off speed stuff Trout adores.
On the positive side, Trout was named AL Rookie Of The Month for August, becoming the first rookie ever to win 4 months in a row and tying Ichiro for 4 wins during an initial campaign.
Jered Weaver: Definitely missing his Friday start, the inspection of Dustin Ackley's line drive bruise turned up tendinitis and Weaver is going day-to-day. Considering the alternative of Brandon McCarthy, this has to be considered acceptable news. (hat tip to Halofan4ever)
Chris Iannetta: Iannetta is tearing it up. The dude is batting .400 over his last 10 games. It must suck to be Hank Conger right now.
Bullish on the Bullpen: Our 'pen is back. According to the Game Notes from BEFORE the Wednesday shutdown of Oakland, the bullpen was a combined 1.84 ERA over the previous 11 games.
Meanwhile, the offense: This is NOT our problem. Since June the Angels rank 1st throughout the entire MLB in BA, OBP, Runs Per Game, and SLG. And they are only 2nd in HR's. The offense is tops, the bullpen is nails, and our starting rotation is rising. Hence, winning!
eBay Auction of the Week: Ok, so you know you have zero intention of purchasing vintage 1960's California Angels gumball rings, in their original plastic bubble packaging. But think about it: who keeps gumball rings AND the original bubble packaging for 50 years?!? Personally, I am tempted. Yeah, I am like that.
ALL THE FUN STUFF AND THINGS TO DO AFTER THE JUMP...
Detroit Tigers vs. Los Angeles Angels @ Angel Stadium - 7:05 PM Start (FS-W)
Max Scherzer (R) 15-6 3.93 ERA vs.Ervin Santana (R) 8-11 5.32 ERA
BIG BANG FRIDAY
LIVE MUSIC IN THE GARDEN
Detroit Tigers vs. Los Angeles Angels @ Angel Stadium - 6:05 PM Start (FS-W)
Justin Verlander (R) 13-7 2.74 ERA vs. C.J. Wilson (L) 11-9 3.85 ERA
Detroit Tigers vs. Los Angeles Angels @ Angel Stadium- 12:35 PM Start (FS-W)
Anibal Sanchez (R) 2-4 4.50 ERA vs. Zack Greinke (R) 4-2 4.36 ERA
SALUTE TO KIDS DAY
Well, this should sure be a weekend for tight sphincters.
Tonight we see the sequel to the August 26th 2-5 loss as Detroit leads with their Ace, Max Scherzer going up against Santana all over again. Yeah, you people think Verlander is there ace, but Scherzer has been the one on fire lately. Think 9 straight outings with at least 8K's and an ERA of 0.82 over his last 3 starts. Santana has also been rolling, so tonight could be a damned good time for him to place Halo Ace. Verlander has been a meat grinder of late. Wilson has actually been a little better and we need him to continue to remain on the rise. And you just know that Anibal Sanchez is going to be playing the brand-new-pitching-opponent thing on Sunday (hey, I totally called that on Hisashi Iwakuma for last Sunday so you dudes and dudettes need to pay more attention!) therefore Greinke needs to be staying focused on that new-found desire for a big post-season contract. (Speaking of which, I guess I can stop poking around for any news of Greinke contract updates.)
This Date in Baseball History: 1903 - The Brooklyn Superbas (aka Dodgers) and the New York Giants play a same-day double-header, in two stadiums! (no box scores available back then)..........1911 - In one of the greatest pitching matchups of all time Grover Cleveland Alexander bests Cy Young 1-0...........1916 - the New York Giants win their first of 26 consecutive victories, beating the Dodger 4-0..........1968 - Hank Aaron trips and falls after rounding third with the winning run and is tagged out, allowing the last-place Astros to score three runs in the top of the 10th and win...........1973 - For the sake of safety, the game between the Mets and Expos is delayed to allow the sun to set, because it was blinding the first basemen..........1984 - 'Doc' Gooden strikes out Ron Cey of the Dodgers, passing Grover Cleveland Alexander for the all-time rookie strikeout lead..........1996 - Scott Rolen has his arm broken by a pitch, ending his first mediocre year in the bigs just one at-bat away from becoming his official rookie year. He will return for the 1997 season and win NL Rookie Of The Year..........1997 - The Angels and Tigers combine for 33 strikeouts in a 15 inning match won by the Halos.
The Baseball Blogosphere: By the way, for those of you (ANY of you) who have played along and visited some of the interesting web stops on my 2012 Internet Tour feature, I highly recommend spending some of what remains of your non-HH time this season over at CoolStandings. I have been linking to them in the Halosphere section the past few weeks as we track our trajectory towards a possible playoff slot.
Those guys have been doing great work for all the major sports for years now, but they are wrapping up their efforts and saying sayonara as of the end of this MLB season. They have already shut down the updates for the other sports. It's a fun idea and the Intertubes will be poorer for the loss, especially when their historical data finally shuts down some time in the near future.
Bud Selig, Al Gore's Twin: How is it possible that a guy overseeing the constant jetting back and forth throughout the country among teams in divisions that defy natural geography, perform 90% of their contests under enough lighting to drive Las Vegas for the sake of TV money, and serve up tons of food waste and packaging waste in 16 venues nightly, be granted an honor for environmental sustainability? Compared to what? A nightly Space Shuttle Launch??
LA Angels Skipper, Through The Looking Glass: Scott Miller over at CBS Sports reveals to us what almost was: Sparky Anderson brought into the Angels dugout to manage the Angels in 1996, and mentor Joe Maddon as his successor. That was Bill Bavasi's plan. Instead, Tony Tevares overruled Bavasi and the Halos chose...Terry Collins. Mike Scioscia came riding tot he rescue to pick up the pieces of the eventual mess.
Revenue Sharing Has Made Baseball Grate!: All of our small town franchises are having a fabulous time! This year it's the Pittsburgh Pirates that are Uncle Bud's poster children for competitive balance. Whatever happened to the once-heralded Colorado Rockies? Shhhh! That's so 2007...which, of course, had long since died by 2010, and then reborn in 2011, yada yada yada...
Paul Konerko. Still struggling with that whole first base line thing:
100 great places to go and waste your employer's Friday morning...
(Note: I have changed the title/format a little to line up with a countdown to conclude this feature as the regular season winds down. Yes, I really have pointed you all to 77 interesting baseball-related web by-waters so far!)
73) 10 Quirky Baseball Rules & Oddities (including all 23 ways to get get to first base)
74) One Quirky Coincidence (Who is the best left-handed MLB player ever born on 11/21 in Donora, PA.?)
75) 7 Acts of Odd Splits (Fantasy baseball guys pay attention to the weirdest stuff.)
76) Oddball Baseball Cards (3 Parts, for any of you who collect baseball cards.)
77) Recent Minor League Oddities (Including an at-bat that lasted 32 minutes!)
Kids love baseballs - and adult fans can be dicks about it. But this one ends well. Very well...........Bobby Valentine has a flaw - and it's commonly known as 'talking'...........Gulf, in gloriously excruciating detail - Tony LaRussa has a new book coming out that contains nice gems about the recent World Series..........Piranhas on the Red Sox carcass - Let us not allow a week to go by without indulging in the sport of gloating over the Boston miasma..........Crime? Meh - Why focus on crime fighting when there is a World Series Victory Parade to be planning for!?
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:
Friday Night: I hope all you NorCal Halo Fan/Beer enthusiasts are getting up early to register for tonight, because we lead off with the Northern California Beer Festival Beer Dinner at 98 Broadway, Jack London Square, Oakland. Saturday We Got Busy: Up North again, in Healdsburg, you guys and gals got the Healdsburg Soroptimists Beer in the Plaza (a charity event, obviously)...AND...the Sierra Nevada takes over 25 Handles @ Tap 25 in Livermore...AND...the Beer Dinner with Dr. Charles Bamforth (UC Davis Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences) in Sacramento. Meanwhile, closer to the stadium, San Diego hosts the 10th Anniversary Festival & Treasure Chest Release....Tehachapi (Kern County) plays host to another charity event, the Main Street Tehachapi's OKTOBERFEST (???). And right next door to Anaheim we have the 3rd Annual Brew Ha Ha at Oak Canyon Ranch in Irvine. Sinday: closing out the weekend North Hollywood has got the Beer, Food & Magic Show at 1pm and 3pm over at The Federal Bar. Beer? Magic? The possibilities are endless...