I fell asleep. I ended up watching the Royals/A's game on my computer and not on regular television (I got rid of cable last year and use the MLB.tv app on my "smart" TV), using their alternate game view thing. Kinda cool except you don't get to see any of the replays. Anyway, good game (what I saw), and now we know who the Angels will face in the Division Series.
A lot o links today, so let's get right to them. Playoof Halolinks (that was intentional):
- If you hate the A's, last night's game has to be orgasmic for you. If you have at least the tiniest heart, you've got to feel slightly bad for the team and their fans: Oakland Athletics vs. Kansas City Royals - Recap - September 30, 2014 - ESPN, "For the A's, it was a stunning and heartbreaking finish. They had the best record in baseball before wilting in the second half, and needed a victory on the final day of the regular season just to squeeze into the playoffs. Oakland had chances to put all that in the past. Instead, the season ended abruptly for a team that has failed over and over again in the postseason. "It's kind of a microcosm of the year that we had," Doolittle said."
- You know what? I've come to the startling conclusion that Mike Scioscia isn't all bad. Nope, he's better than Ned Yost: Royals Defeat A's, Ned Yost In Epic Play-In Game, "Sacrifice bunts are rarely the correct call in baseball, so of course Ned Yost's Kansas City Royals laid down four of them in Tuesday night's wild card play-in game against the Oakland A's. Despite Jon Lester displaying uncharacteristic shakiness and the Royals' offense performing uncharacteristically well, Yost insisted on attempting to win by grit and grind, sacrifice and steal. He pulled it off—barely." Just ask Pedro Martinez: Pedro Martinez rips Ned Yost after Royals' wild-card win - Yahoo Sports, "Ned Yost escaped with his job still in tact Tuesday night, after his Kansas City Royals came back three times to beat the Oakland Athletics in the AL wild-card game. For a while, it didn't look like Yost would be so lucky. He took out starting pitcher James Shields in the sixth inning, handing the ball to rookie flame-thrower Yordano Ventura to make his first career postseason appearance against A's slugger Brandon Moss, who had launched a two-run homer earlier in the game."
- Bring on the Royals: Kansas City Royals at Los Angeles Angels - October 2, 2014 - MLB.com Preview, "Now the Angels and the Royals have a best-of-five date in the American League Division Series, starting with Game 1 on Thursday at Angel Stadium at 9 p.m. ET. Right-hander Jered Weaver will take the ball for the Angels, but the Royals had yet to announce their Game 1 starter, likely a choice between veterans Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas."
- Everyone is talking about the Royals' bullpen. Good. Let them miss the point that if your team doesn't have the lead going into the last few innings of the game, your lockdown bullpen doesn't do you any good. Angels know Royals will be tough foe in ALDS - angels.com, "Kansas City heads to Anaheim coming off a season in which it easily led the Majors in steals, were deemed baseball's best defensive team -- based on FanGraphs.com's rating -- by a wide margin and consistently shut down games late, with Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland combining to post a 1.28 ERA and 258 strikeouts in 204 1/3 innings. The Angels and Royals split the six-game regular-season series, but the Angels have won eight of their last 11 over the Royals overall and six of their last eight at Kauffman Stadium, set to host Game 3 on Saturday." Three keys for Angels in ALDS vs. Royals - angels.com, "The Angels' offense -- first in the Majors in runs, seventh in OPS -- is going to have to do most of its damage against a Royals rotation that includes James Shields, Yordano Ventura, Jeremy Guthrie, Jason Vargas and Danny Duffy. That staff was tied for 10th in the Majors in starting-pitcher ERA, which is good, but nowhere near as menacing as what their backend trio did."
- Even the Angels' site has the Royals' pen as being better: Position-by-position breakdown: Royals-Angels - angels.com, "Bullpen The Angels saw their bullpen as a weakness, so they went out and turned it into a strength. The Royals, meanwhile, saw their bullpen as a strength, and they turned it into one of the most dominant 'pens in baseball. There may not be a better 7-8-9 punch than Kansas City's Kelvin Herrera-Wade Davis-Greg Holland. By trading for Huston Street midseason, the Angels seemed to have their entire pitching staff fall into place behind him. Kevin Jepsen and Joe Smith have been brilliant. But Kansas City's late-innings track record is other-worldly. Advantage: Royals"
- I'll admit it...I don't know everything. I know, I know, you're say, "But Jim, you seem like you know everything about everything, what are you talking about?" Thanks guys, but here's the secret...I only write about the stuff I know. Okay, wait...let me change that, I only write about the stuff I kinda know. At least a little. Not like this guy, he doesn't know shit about the Angels: Innovative strategies in baseball: The new market inefficiencies - The Economist, "The other common thread between Baltimore, Oakland and Kansas City is their outstanding relief pitching. It is an article of faith among statistical analysts that there are few greater blunders than spending big bucks on a "Proven Closer"™. But one of the main reasons closers are such bad investments is that relieving is far easier than starting, since pitchers can exert all their energy in a single inning rather than having to pace themselves over six or seven, and can get away with fewer pitch types since they only face each hitter once. As a result, savvy teams can often acquire journeymen for pennies and turn them into dominant relievers. ... The Royals, Athletics and Orioles certainly deserve kudos for charting this unorthodox route to October baseball. But do they stand a chance against the more traditionally structured powerhouses in Detroit and Los Angeles?" See, the angle he's going for is how the big, bad bully Angels rely on muscle, while the those clever weak teams rely on brains. He's forgotten the A's went out and traded for a proven closer (Jim Johnson), paying him $10M to suck. While on the other hand, the Angels did this: Angels' GM quickly transformed shaky bullpen into a winning force - The Orange County Register, "The evolution of our bullpen fueled our surge," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "And it will be as important, if not more important, for playoff games." When Frieri gave up that grand slam, the Angels bullpen had a 4.46 ERA, which ranked 11th in the American League. They had converted 16 saves and blown 11. Since that game – thanks to a reworked bullpen – the Angels relievers posted a 2.94 ERA, with only five blown saves."
- Please note where this Mike Trout extreme home run was hit. Yes, that's the fountain in Kansas City. Shall we prepare for an encore? The Most Extreme Home Runs of 2014 - FanGraphs Baseball, "Excellent, it took us almost no time at all to get to a Mike Trout thing. You guys love Mike Trout things. We all love Mike Trout things. This year, Trout’s average home run went for 413 feet, the fourth-highest mark in the MLB. Last year, Trout’s average home run went for 420 feet, the very highest mark in the MLB. This homer here went for 489 feet, which is the farthest of Trout’s career by nearly 30 feet. The first half mark to beat here was 484, by Giancarlo Stanton."
- Weaver, Angels share seasons of redemption | angels.com
Weaver's 2014 season -- 18 wins, 213 1/3 innings and a 3.59 ERA despite a career-high 27 homers -- wasn't dynamic, but it was nonetheless impressive and crucial. All that talk about Garrett Richards' rise to stardom, or Matt Shoemaker's surprising breakthrough, "wouldn't have the same meaning if Jered wasn't that cornerstone that kept going and kept going," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Weave," Scioscia added, "sets the tone." Here's the tone he sets...INTENSITY (I love this GIF):
- Stay classy, Kansas City:
Something tells me the Royals' fan in the white shirt doesn't appreciate that Brandon Moss home run
Oh wait, now you're happy?
Someone wake up the guy in the gazillionaire seats, his team just won:
(The bottom two Gifs are from Deadspin, the top on is from me)
- Here's one of those clicky-things with pictures: The 10 most intriguing players of the MLB postseason - Yahoo Sports, "He won the All-Star Game MVP and he'll probably win the AL MVP this season, but there are still some baseball fans who don't give Mike Trout his due props. Perhaps because, to some, he's the face of advanced metrics and denying Trout is denying the new math. Whatever. The past arguments are invalid now — his team is in the playoffs (for the first time in his career), with the best record in baseball to boot. And yes, he still led the league in WAR (7.8)."
- Things are getting better all the time: Shoemaker is ready; can he start Game 2? - " Gonzo and 'The Show', "Starting Game 2, after ace Jered Weaver, would allow Shoemaker to also pitch in a potential Game 5 and would mean C.J. Wilson starts only once, after his worst regular season as a starter. Shoemaker threw his second bullpen sessions in three days during the team’s first mandatory workout from Angel Stadium, and came out of it with no pain in the left oblique that has put him on a rehab program for the last two weeks. "Everything felt great," Shoemaker said. "I’d say great, but it felt normal, which is great." Los Angeles Angels' Josh Hamilton says he's OK for playoffs - ESPN Los Angeles. "Hamilton worked out Tuesday, and said he's set for Thursday when the Angels host the wild-card winner in the opener of the AL Division Series. "I feel good, just like yesterday. I ran, threw, faced a lot of pitching, so I'm good to go," Hamilton said."
- This ain't good: Stats incredible! Numbers from the 2014 MLB season will amaze you - Sporting News, "the record of each of the playoff teams against the rest of the playoff teams…
Tigers: 32-18 (.640)
Cardinals: 24-23 (.511)
Royals: 25-24 (.510)
Athletics: 23-23 (.500)
Orioles: 18-18 (.500)
Pirates: 23-24 (.489)
Angels: 22-23 (.489)
Dodgers: 24-26 (.480)
Nationals: 17-20 (.459)
Giants: 20-29 (.408)
- Winners And Losers: MLB Attendance In 2014, Nearly 74 Million Through The Gate [UPDATED], "The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim logged nine sellouts in 2014, and their attendance of 44,561 on August 7th against the Los Angeles Dodgers established the largest regular season crowd at Angel Stadium since 1998."
- I do this when I'm writing one of our postgame stories. I start writing it in the top of the 9th, so if the game changes in the final inning, you can picture me cursing at the television and deleting everything I had just written: MLB.com Runs "Royals Lose" Game Story, "Live on MLB.com in the minutes immediately following the Royals' incredible extra-inning win was a version of the game story written in the ninth inning."
- Great paragraph: An Angels-Dodgers World Series? Think Batman vs. Superman - LA Times, "Elysian Park would become an overnight campground — a Woodstock, a Coachella. Nolan Ryan would show up and sit next to Sandy Koufax — Sandy on the right, so they'd bump their magic elbows now and then. Don Newcombe would come out of retirement. Longfellow would write another poem."
- Really, Oakland is only worse than the Royals?? The 2014 Baseball Playoffs Hateability Index - WSJ, "The Wall Street Journal has assembled its second-annual Major League Baseball Hateability Index, ranking this year's 10 playoff teams in order of general loathsomeness. The rankings are based on how many points teams racked up in 10 contempt-worthy categories, such as drug suspensions, ridiculous beards and winning too much. (As with driver's licenses, points are bad here.)"
- F.Y.I.: Angels in Tustin called 'a long ways off' - The Orange County Register, "The Angels walked away Friday from negotiations for a new stadium lease with the Anaheim City Council, expressing frustration that a new lease could not be reached after more than a year. No public decisions were made at a special Tustin Council meeting Tuesday night. "We’re looking at the available land out there, how much our discussions are going to be around on how much land they actually need to build the stadium and for the appropriate parking," Parker said after the council met behind closed doors for about 2 ½ hours. "I think that’s a long ways off at this point in time, so it’s really starting the process."
- Man offers Nats playoff tickets for sex threesome - HardballTalk, "I'd say "act like you been there before," but I'm guessing this guy has never, ever been there before."
- I'm including this only because we were "talking" about it in yesterday's Halolink thread: The Most Midwestern States, Ranked, "1. Wisconsin. They have the girth, the fried foodstuffs, and the accent. Plus they aren't as stuffy as Minnesotans are. Minnesota is famous for lakes, and Wisconsin is famous for cheese, and cheese is a way more Midwestern thing than lakes." "Borrow me some cheese, so I can go with."