Sometimes Life just tosses up softballs. This past Wednesday afternoon, while in the middle of my day job, my phone buzzed with an unfamiliar number. I let it go to voicemail and continued on with my revenue generating responsibilities. Later that day I checked the message and heard: "[Mr. Stirrups] this is [So-And-So] of the Los Angeles Angels and I am calling to invite you to call me back at this number. We are very interested in speaking with you."
I know what you are thinking. Jerry Dipoto is reviewing my scouting report and wondering if the two ankles I crushed in high school (yeah, 40 years ago) have fully healed and I might consider throwing an inning or two for his scouts. Or, perhaps Arte has been so impressed with these Friday Links pages that he just cannot help but insist on granting me an exclusive interview. I had those thoughts, too. Alas, it was not to be.
I called So-And-So back only to discover that he is actually So-And-So Inside Sales Rep. How he got my full name, cell number, and knew I was a regular I may never know. Anyway, the question at hand was how I was going to approaching my ticket sales and purchases this year, and how I felt about the pending announcement that the Angels were going to be providing a completely private ticket exchange within their own system?
Trust me, Ladies and Gentlemen, I gave So-And-So Inside Sales Rep at least 4 clear opportunities to associate this new program with Ticketmaster. I walked So-And-So through the StubHub to Ticketmaster change. I asked him specifically, multiple times, about the process in order to give him a chance to walk back his statements about it being something completely new, something unannounced, and something not already posted on their website. And I was very courteous all along. I did not light any fire under him when he gave me the line "Many teams have decided to make a change..." even though we all know that this community currently consists of exactly two such teams - the Angels and the Yankees. And I helped de-clutter So-And-So's mind as he got wrapped up in how a seller interact with the new system versus me, a buyer. I was sincere, polite, interested, engaged, and seriously trying to help So-And-So clearly convey his message.
And his clear message was, I shit you not, that in a few weeks the Angels will be announcing still ANOTHER ticket exchange program in addition to their recently announced Ticketmaster oversight system, which is NOT their abandoned StubHub contract, and is not associated with the major advertiser on their flagship AM830 radio station: 714-TICKETS. Another one. One that would compete with their new Ticketmaster Overlord. WTF???
There can be only one of two possible outcomes to this random act of serendipity. (What other word would describe the Angels calling up an HH blogger and volunteering some bizarre breaking news?) Either this particular individual is incredibly confused and spending a lot of his waking hours confusing the local fan base...or...the entire franchise is completely confused concerning how they are going to put their product into the hands of their customer base in trade for financial remuneration.
Which is too bad. Because all I want to do is pay some money and go see Mike Trout play baseball. Why make that so difficult?
On To Angels Baseball!
- Erick Aybar: National Hero. Mr. Clutch. Preeminent Pinch Hitter. He Who Slays the USA. In case you have not heard, Erick Aybar (our adorable knucklehead) came off the bench in the top of the 9th inning of a tie game against Team USA and promptly drove in Captain Gulf of the Texas Rangers to send Team DR into the semi finals. Then Aybar stole second. Then Aybar scored the insurance run from second on a Jose Reyes single. The USA is not quite out of it, but they now take the low road. And now all the of Baseball America has had a chance to learn about how one of the key contributors to our Halos is capable of doing that which we wish we got to see him do more often.
- Hot Or Not: Good for Luis Jiminez. 15 games in and he is hitting .321 and nearly lapping Alberto Callaspo in OPS. Matt Young is still killing it. batting .500 with an OPS of 1.243 would, in a rational world, trump the "Vernon Wells is having a good spring" meme. Smokin' Hot Howie Kendrick (.485 BA, .879 SLG and 1.364 OPS) is holding off the Pretty Potent Luis Rodriguez (.375 BA, .375 SLG and .768 OPS), and Hank Conger lines up strong offensively as paired with Chris Iannetta, with only Hank's defense ruining the backstop party. On the downside, Mark Trumbo is still looking for his power button. 0 home runs and .333 SLG is, politely, a slow start. But, hey! Mike Trout now has a triple (speed) and a home run (power) to go with his .407 BA and a.233 OPS. Imagine what he could do if his was in shape!
- Bill Hall: I hate these stories. Bill Hall was about to get back onto the field, only to suffer another set back and needed an MRI for his achy calf. Alden Gonzalez tweeted an update late last night that Hall has a strained muscle and is out indefinitely. The world is full of guys who got a taste, but the gods of fortune just kept turning their back on them every time they needed some luck most.At this rate, in a couple of weeks we will all have moved on, probably without him. And by July nobody will remember his name. And he will be out there somewhere remembering that he was playing pretty decent, with a fair chance of making the roster.
In the year that I have been browsing eBay for odd and rare LA Angels items for sale/resale, this is possibly the oldest bobblehead I have tripped over. The asking price is rather stiff, and I don't know what the owner would take for an acceptable offer, but I cannot ever recall seeing a bobblehead for the earliest Gene Autry Los Angeles Angels!
This Day In Baseball History: 1971 - Bernie Gera sues MLB after her minor league umpiring contract is voided without explanation after only six days. The suit will last until 1996, when it is finally settled out of court. Rumor has it that by using "Bernie" instead of her given name of "Bernice", she successfully hid her true gender until after she began calling games in person.........1974 - Ron Bryant, fresh off a 24-winning game season with the Giants, decides to take a swim during Spring Training, and injures himself in the pool. He will go 3 -16 over the next 15 months and wash out of baseball..........1999 - Don Zimmer named interim manager of the Yankees, while Joe Torre (our current WBC Team USA skipper) is out for cancer treatment..........2008 - The Dodgers and Padres play the first ever Major League baseball game on mainland China (not to be confused with the first ever professional league baseball game on mainland China) in front of a near sellout crowd that ends up getting totally confused during the 7th inning stretch by the whole "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" thingy. Clearly, they were expecting "Buttercup"...........2012 - Baseball Reference decides to blank out the name of the 2011 NL MVP, in response to the Ryan Braun PED controversy.
Rounding Up The Major League News...
- Sabre Primer: Here's a big help for those of us who tend to let our eyes race past random posts discussing strange acronyms and abbreviations loaded with the letter "Z" and stuff. Athlon Sports gives us all an introductory explanation of various advanced metrics. It's not very many stats, and some of even those are kinda rare, but you get a "What", a "Why" and an "Example" for each. Go. No more excuses for these.
- Bobblehead Sabremetrics: Speaking of stats, here is a twist. Even teams that might not use advanced stats yet to build their rosters, might already be using advanced stats to manage their bobblehead giveaway nights! "For example, bobble head giveaways are quite popular and raise attendance significantly. But bobble heads are expensive to produce. If the Indians give away 10,000 bobble heads, they maximize attendance and profit; if they give away 15,000 bobble heads, attendance increases marginally over giving away 10,000, and the team takes a loss on the promotion."
- Buckle Up: As Bud Selig meanders into the twilight of his era as Commissioner, you might want to pay particular attention to his desire to change baseball into something that completely abandons what we have known and loved for decades. His goal is to get to a true, global, World Series. This will, of course, require walking away from the provincial tourney we have had throughout the sport's history.
- Umpires: Here is an interesting diversion for a weekend afternoon. It was not always true that we had 4 umpires on the field of play during games and how we got here, and what it meant to wins/losses and favoritism along the way, is fascinating. It's a long read, and requires some patience, but there are real gems to be found in there. For example, that teams would exploit too few judges maintaining fair play to intentionally stock their rosters with guys skilled at cheating and pulling shenanigans between the lines.
Video Of The Week (NSFW)
(Trouble viewing the video? Direct link hhere.)
Goose Gossage is a whiny little bitch..............Cable Channel Economics, where you pay for what nobody is watching..........Hat tip to HardballTalk (and shame on me for never thinking of this myself!!) for directing us all to the minor league West Michigan Whitecaps, as they introduce the ultimate stadium food: the Baco. A taco that uses bacon as the shell..........The Nolan Ryan situation deepens, and he appears on the verge of yet another walk. Next to strikeouts those always were his specialty, after all..........
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: Up in Fairfax, The Pavilion In Bolinas Park is the scene for the 18th Annual Fairfax Brewfest. Not to be outdone, the San Diego Convention Center is the site for the Inaugural Epic Beer Festival.
Saturday & Sunday:Stone Brewing Company in Escondido will be hosting two events, one each day, beginning with the 2013 March Madness Homebrew Competition & AHA Rally, and concluding with a more relaxed Beer & Cheese gathering on Sunday at noon.
Angels Stadium Neighborhood Brew Tour: So anyone of legal age can obtain beer from a billion different places. Hell, you can get golden-colored bubble fluid out of bottles even at IHOP. But what if you really like your beer, and have a couple of hours to enjoy before/after a game? Where does one go? I'm sure that you have your favorites, and why, and I encourage you to share.
Alright! In Week One we did a tour of the best establishments within one or two miles of the stadium itself. Week Two we checked out the finer stops for those of you traveling to/from a game via the 5 freeway. This would be most folk coming from LA proper, the West Side, the Valley, and beyond. Week Three was for fans venturing in down the 57 freeway.
This week we look to help out our visitors from the hill country of Orange County, in the Lake Forest/Ladera Ranch/RSM regions. For those of you seeking some special selection after getting back from a Sunday afternoon game, wherein you might take pause to celebrate another Halo victory, we offer up these GPS opportunities:
(Again, as pulled from The Drinking Issue of OCWEEKLY)
- Amazing Grape Wine Store - 29911 Aventura, RSM (Not just wine, here!)
- Cismontante Brewing Company - 29851 Aventura, RSM (Craft brewery with an on-prem tasting room)
- Dimension Liquor - 20761 Lake Forest Dr., Suite J, Lake Forest (Craft beer haven)
- Bru Grill & Market - 23730 El Toro Road, Lake Forest (Think Yardhouse, but with craft beer and good food)
- Selma's Chicago Pizzeria & Tap Room - 27702 Crown Valley Pkwy, Ladera Ranch (As the name implies)
As always, feel free to contribute below!