It is October 25, 2013. The Los Angeles Angels have now gone 25 consecutive days without a loss, and have still managed to not keep up with the Boston Red Sox, who have posted 8 more wins in that same span of time. That's the joy of playoff baseball. Sigh.
Show of hands: how many of you were secretly wondering, as the WS game last night went into the 7th inning, whether or not those tales of John Lackey being back were real, and that he still had that 7th inning implosion within him? I know I was, which was why I was somewhat disappointed to witness Farrell pulling his starter with one out and two runners on, still up 2-1. The Cards would go on to score 3 runs that inning, including those 2 that Lackey left to his replacement, earning him the loss anyway: "After Lackey exits, Sox stumble in Game 2 loss". But, oh, what might have been!
On the other hand, Farrell probably pulled Lackey just in time. Within minutes the Red Sox fielders would commit two errors. And we all know how Big Maybelline from Abilene responds to those.
Anyway, here is where I am. Watching other baseball players do things our players recently did a lot of, and other fans whoop it up with everything at stake the way we recently used to do. All the while waiting, waiting, waiting for the next few months to unfold in such a way as to give me hope for 2014. You are here with me. Welcome to my world.
- Arbitration Math: For those of us interested in just how much money Arte will require to retain last season's fiasco, MLB Trade Rumors chimes in with their projections. The full list (Trumbo, Williams, Hanson, Frieri, Jepsen, Gutierrez, Bourjos and Nelson) works up to $20.5MM, and a lot of their chatter surrounds the meme of that liability triggering trade deals. And that is outside of anything that might happen with Trout. By the way, MLB Trade Rumors also tagged the team with $476.1MM in contract obligations, not even including Vernon!
- Trout Porn: Baseball America has named Mike Trout as their 22013 Major League Player of the Year. That would be his second BA PotY win in a row. Let the porn begin: "[Trout] led the American League in runs (109) and walks (110), set a franchise record for on-base percentage and easily led the Majors in fWAR for a second straight season (10.4), all while adding 27 homers, 97 RBIs, 33 steals and 190 hits...He's the first player in AL history with 100 walks, 70 extra-base hits and 30 stolen bases in the same season, the first in AL history with 25 homers, 30 steals and 100 walks in a season, and the youngest player in Major League history -- as well as the first Angels player ever -- to post back-to-back 20-homer, 30-steal campaigns....Trout, who turned 22 on Aug. 7, joined Willie Mays (1957-58) as the only players in history with two seasons with a .320 average, 25 homers and 30 steals at any point in their careers."
- Albert Pujols: Let us assume that you had not noticed that Pujols has not been anything similar to the force he was when he played for the Cardinals. And let us assume that his health problems in 2013 were not an anomoly, but part of the trend. What do you have? You have Fangraphs ruining your weekend, that's what you have. "...we learn here that Albert Pujols is walking less frequently, striking out more often, enjoying fewer hits on balls in play, hitting for less power, and ultimately being less productive at the plate...but in 2011, that skill evaporated and he suddenly swung at more pitches outside the zone than the league average. This finding might help to explain why his BABIP has been in freefall, since his batted ball mix has remained fairly stable."
- Team Of The Decade: I find this kind of thing to be interesting, even though it is highly probable. You may not recall now, but there was some talk back in 2009 that had the Angels won that World Series (instead of losing the ALCS to the eventual champion Yankees), they would have nabbed the title as Team Of The Decade. They would have been the only team with 2 WS titles, and those would have bracketed 3 ALCS appearances, 6 LDS appearances, and 5 Division titles. Enormous success by most standards. And yet, only one single player from those squads (K-Rod) makes even a whiff of a mention on the Hardball Times list of their All-Decade Team. That, my friends, is what Aristotle meant when he said "The whole is greater than the sum of it's parts."
- The Price is Right?: Here is something I struggle with all the time. The Hardball Times also goes into the options available to the Rays when it comes to moving David Price. The list of usual suspects is presented. In that rundown the Angels are dismissed with "...others like the Angels or the Braves don't have the prospects to get a deal done." Now, I cannot argue with the obvious truth that there is a dearth of viable prospects in our farm system at the moment, at least as would be needed for compensation in what is presumed to be today's market for a David Price. But then there is this nugget: "It doesn't leave the Rays with a ton of options. But it only takes one." So here is my quandary: if it is true that Free Agents receive in compensation what their particular market will bear at their particular time (team needs versus other players available), would it not also be true that MLB Franchises receive fair compensation based on what their particular market at their particular time can afford? If the Rays need to dump Price now, to get what they can while they still can get anything, and that mythical "it only takes one" team does not appear, wouldn't that mean that whatever the Angels could offer, would be one potential value of the market rate?
- Travs: Heads up! The Arkansas Travelers just updated their team logos, and now we all need new lids...
Buy Stuff - Crazy-ass Baseball Finds On the Internet:
Here's one: Hang your balls on your Christmas tree. I point this out only because there is no Los Angeles Angels from which to choose. It's 2013, and you still have to select "Anaheim Angels". I guess that will make some people happy. Which is better than these nutcrackers, I suppose, since those only come in Cubs and Red Sox versions. And if there is one team that warrants a nutcracker homage, it would be the 2013 LA Angels.
On the other hand, what could go wrong with placing a Koji Uehara Yomiyuri Giants Action Figure into the Christmas stocking of your most significant other??
This Date In Baseball History: 1911 - The NY Giants score a Game 5 victory over the Philadelphia A's, 4-3, on a sac fly walkoff. Later in the day, during interviews, home plate ump Bill Klein reveals that the Giants' runner was too excited to bother touch home plate but that nobody on the A's noticed..........1960 - On this date in 1960 Gabe Paul announces he is resigning his position withe the Reds to take on the GM job of the newly minted Houston Colt .45's. Echoing Texas Front Office drama today, baseball-expert Paul with lock horns with majority owner Roy Hofheinz and quit long before the team even plays their first official game. No problem, though, as Paul then went to the Steinbrenner Yankees and built The Evil Empire.........1986 - Bill Buckner. I mean, really, need I say more???.........2005 - Texas, the entire state, finally gets its first World Series game as the White Sox defeat the Houston
Colt .45's Astros 7-5 to take a 3-0 lead in the WS..........2009 - The Angels lose the AL Pennant to the Yankees, 4 games to 2, by a final score of 5-2. And the very last Halo to make the very last out in the very last playoff appearance by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim was Gary Matthews Jr., pinch hitting for Mike Napoli. GMJ's slash line for the entire series was .000/.200/.000.
Rounding Up The Major League News
- Heeeere We Go: It's bad enough that too many people have exalted the St. Louis Cardinal Franchise, and The Cardinal Way, into something that saves America from the gutter scum of the rest of our teams and we fans. Now we have the Cards losing Game 1, badly, and the immediate reaction is a flurry of news accusing the Red Sox of cheating. I mean, it's the only way that Boston could have won, amirite? Over in TwitLand, Rob Dibble is ticked off and defending Lester outright. First because of some solid personal experience as a pro pitcher. I'd go with that. Works for me. But, wait, he then gets me a little confused by shooting a potential hole in Lester's pine tar story. Ok, now I am lost. Where is Dibble going with all of this? Oh. Finally, we get to the root of his defense: Dibble believes Lester because Lester is a
cancer survivorCancer Survivor. Ok. Meanwhile, all of you out there who might be the least bit curious about this possible issue can, according to Jeff Passan, Final Authority On Everything In The Universe, can just STFU. Because Jeff Passan has done all the research necessary, written down all the stories, and now Jeff Passan says so.
- Just Painful: Mike Napoli once belonged to us. He was an asset placed at Mike Scioscia's disposal in order to help get this franchise into playoffs and through them. Mike Scioscia chose Jeff Mathis. And helped choose Vernon Wells. (Where is TheBigTwizzle now, when you need to beat him over the head???) And ended up requiring an Albert Pujols. Which now risks the possibility of losing Mike Trout. Yeah, Mike Scioscia chose poorly. Now John Farrell has to choose. Fangraphs goes out of it's way to break down the 2013 World Series and the serious challenge that manager John Farrell has in front of him by having to decide between using a Mike Napoli OR A JUICE DRIVEN DAVID FREAKIN' ORTIZ. So what do we, as LA Angels fans, have left but to boo? Eternally boo.
- Chillax, People: We all know it's coming. Nobody needs to go getting their freak on as if it's any great surprise. Mike Trout is not going to win the 2013 AL MVP. And the players themselves have cast their opinion, voting Miguel Cabrera The Sporting News Major League Baseball Player Of The Year. "The vote was not close, with Cabrera named on 141 ballots to 35 for Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis. Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout got nine votes, with eight apiece going to Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw and Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, three to Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, and one each for five other players."
- The Solution!: This off-season, the various brain trusts from throughout Major League Baseball seem to have all come to the same conclusion: the secret of success lies in the hands of the Bench Coach! The Angels sucked so they fired theirs. And then brought in The Big Gun to fill that spot. The Rangers missed the playoffs so they fired theirs, then robbed the Angels' farm system to fill that spot. The Dodgers just missed the World Series, obviously due to their bench coach, whom they immediately fired. The Tigers and Cubs are now racing to solve their Managerial dilemmas by chasing down the Red Sox bench coach. Unless the Cubs fix their problem first as they pursue the Rays' bench coach. Which is all just like the Mariners, who see their future solution in the bench coach now in Oakland. Clearly nobody looked at how well things worked out for the Phillies, who made the bold move to upgrade their 2013 bench coach. And here we fans, knuckleheads all, thought the problem lie with a manager, or the GM, or possibly even the owner. Silly us. [NOTE - An earlier version of this paragraph used the wrong link for Ebel. Now fixed. - Stirrups]
- Boom!: So you think you want to go play in the 2014 Free Agent pool, huh? Well, are you a team, such as the Angels, that needs to wear floaties?? We are starting to see signs that them waters is full of sharks. First was the Tim Lincecum signing, at two years for $35MM. Wowza! Then came word that Clayton Kershaw was offered $300MM - and turned it down!
- Baseball Biz: Uncle Bud and his marketing crew are all still a little light in the thinking department. The basic idea is that MLB picked precisely the very worst day to start the 2013 WS, if they desired to secure the maximum possible ratings opportunity. "If the World Series goes seven games, four of the games will compete head-to-head with an NFL game, a fifth game will go up against college football games, and game seven would compete with a major holiday in which people leave their houses at night (Halloween). That's a formula for a ratings disaster." Not to mention how many games fall on my gym nights.
- Instant Replay: A lot of self back patting has occurred this week over this play, and blown call, reversed. We hear that, hey, it was always going to be alright because the umpires had already started to converge and reverse the call on their own. We hear Joe Torre imply that the ump (Dana DeMuth) still has not missed a call all year, because the other umps over ruled him and made the call right. We read that DeMuth got the call wrong because he is trained to make the assumption of a catch. All that and Joe Torre is merely "hopeful" that expanded instant replay could be in place for 2014. For my part, I remain stunned that DeMuth managed to get that call wrong in the first place. It's not like the baseball did some sort of disappearing trick or anything. He was making a whole lot of assumptions right there.
Video Of The Week
(Gawd I love me some Legos!!)
(Trouble viewing the video? Direct link here.)
Japanese animated baseball GIFs, because stuff like this is so different as to be cool. Danger, though. Kind of mesmerizing............I missed this when it happened, but it's funny enough to still toss out there as a baseball event worthy of note. I mean, like, has this ever happened before??..........I kind of agree with this guy. Hundreds of pages of rules and more rules and even rules within rules, and still baseball has trouble making sense..........Oh, Jeez. What is it with people in New England?? One meme is not enough, so the Red Sox have tacked on to their beard meme with a haircut meme..........Gawd Awful, as only Texas knows how to do it............This is fun stuff, drilling into MLB mis-management of its own marketing, until you learn that WS ratings are actually substantially UP by 18% over last year............Prince Fielder, GIF'ed in Awesome..........Which reminds me of this............and this..........but not this..........Red Sox fans. Thank the Maker most of them remain trapped in Boston...........The Cardinal Way must include savings a few coins by not purchasing their own bat weights for road games...........Crack is such a dangerous thing...........One problem with the WS is that too many dudes with too much money get first crack at good seats, whether they know jack shit about sports or not. Which leads to embarrassing moments such as this. Probably a pair of hedge fund managers or something.
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...
Saturday: The Bags & Brews Fall Classic Cornhole Tournament takes place at Black Diamond Brewing Company in Concord, CA.............The Hermosillo Club in Highland Park, LA, is putting on The 8th Annual Woodshop Tasting, which is a bottle sharing event.
BEER BONUS: What you drink defines your politics.
BEER BONUS #2: A rather amusing, and topical, WS-related beer ad, from a long time ago...
BEER BONUS #3: The Best Bar in America?