The toughest thing I have to deal with after every Angels season (except one) is the notion that all that attention and all that support and all that thinking and worrying and worshiping and rooting and celebrating and angst and hope and laughs and tears all were wasted. Wasted simply and quickly and efficiently by 4 days of miserable showing by those I had placed so much faith in across the previous 6 months.
And, as a dude who plows some 4,000 words a week onto the Internet in direct support of the Arte Moreno Global Marketing Crusade, it depresses. That's a lot of labor to go along with the time and emotion, and it is personally impactful. Even Mrs. Stirrups contributes in her own special way of supporting the time needed to vest in the cause.
But it's fleeting. Every year I notice as the frustration dissolves. It melts away into winter ponderings: award time, baseball meetings, free agent signings, trade season, payroll forecasting. Already, I am almost over the intensified magnitude of Scioscia's playoff foolishness, having accepted instead the fortune he reaped by turning a team without a pitching rotation and loaded with kids from a totally discredited farm system into the most successful team in the regular season. Let's admit it, we are now a long way form the point just a year ago when the discussion was who would Arte fire: Dipoto or Scioscia or both? This year, we already know Dipoto has had his option picked up so all that is left to consider is Scioscia. And just that quickly we can state that he ain't going anywhere. Sure, his mistakes were obvious and alarmingly easy to have avoided, but his successes are far less obvious to observe in the moment, and must have been far more numerous. Mike Scioscia abides.
Moving on, I am over the humiliatingly poor plate showings of Pujols, Trout and Kendrick and have turned to an interest in their possible off-season rebuilding regimens. I am over the failure to play the pitch framing genius that is Hank Conger when challenged by irregular and irrational plate umpires, and wonder if this is the year that Conger begins to take over the #1 slot in the depth chart?
I am not over Josh Hamilton. Well, I am over his diss. I have heard it before from better Halos (cough-John Lackey-cough). But my guess is that there is far too much material left there on that particular bone not to enjoy picking at it all winter long. I have to be careful, of course, since he is so tight with his teammates. I am, admittedly shocked that the LAA media relations people are not all over this foo-pah of his. The dude should have already had his apology moment when he had a chance to blow it off as abject frustration concerning the failure of himself and his teammates. In a way, I hope they continue to neglect this and not spoil my fun.
I despise the way that the annual premature termination makes me feel. But I accept that this means my love for my team is sincere. I care. And it's alright. It is baseball. And the best part of this annual pissiness is that when the miracle finally occurs, I know I shall giggle uncontrollably for months and months and months. It's happened before, and it will happen again. And that shall be just as sincere.
- Trout De-porn: It has been pretty common over the years to read articles and comments from statistically-oriented observers that impale the overall value of a hitting coach, often proclaiming that a player is who he is when he arrives in the Bigs, and it's fruitless to try try and change that player into some other kind of hitter. Mike Trout, version 2014, is a pretty good straw to put into that discussion and stir things up. Fangraphs takes a shot with "The New and Not-So-Improved Mike Trout". The author does a deeper look into the results of Trout's season, and the potential consequences these results will mean if this is some sort of trend. The differences between 2014 and the two seasons prior are very real and easily measured, so this kind of study will pop up a lot over the next 6 months (probably a lot when we enter Spring Training). Every author will have some theory about the "Why?", and in this case it is reasoned that this is a conscious decision on Trout's part. While that is one reasonable possibility, it seems odd coming from a site of such metrics-centric editorial perspectives. It's as if the data behind pitchers attacking Trout up in the zone far more often than in past years does not even exist. I would feel far more comfortable if the author had broken the results up, season-by-season, and sorted them according to pitch location frequency. Maybe then we might learn how much Trout's results have changed for pitches he has always seen, and what percentage of his 2014 variance was due to pitches he had rarely seen.
- Just Joshin': Something I might not do often enough to get it out of my system, would be to take cheap shots at Josh Hamilton. It could be a long winter of Fridays for Team Hambone. So it occurs to me: about those "poisons in my body to even attempt to play" thoughts? Um...what about all those poisons ON your body, Josh? I don't have any problems with tats (although Evangelical Christians should), but that ink is metal salts and plastics mixed in with vegetable dyes. Ingested orally, and in quantity, would not be good for your diet. So that would be: poisons ON your body IN DEFIANCE of your faith for personal reasons having nothing to do with the welfare of your family. I'm not so sure whining about being given a substance produced naturally within your own body is an angle you should be using.
- LDS Destiny: Not sure I am following this author. If there have been 20 seasons with the current playoff format, there should have been 20 seasons where some team had the best record in the AL. Out of 20, it appears to me that 9 made it through the LDS and 11 lost in the LDS, about 50/50. If that math is true, then this statement does not ring as true: "Given these results, perhaps we should not be all that surprised that the Angels and Nationals were eliminated in the LDS this year; it is the most common result." But at least we can put the notion of rest, to rest.
- Sosh Gets a Pass: I am unsure whether or not Jon Heyman is on Team Scioscia or anything, but I do find it of some interest that a review of playoff managers skips right past our skipper when it is pretty easy to find a rich vein of discussion to the contrary throughout the Halosphere to be mined via any Google effort at all. "Scioscia, though, hasn't absorbed near the body blows of many of the others, maybe due to his overall excellent track record (or maybe the Angels were simply out too quickly for anyone to think the manager had any effect). While Scioscia may get the benefit of a doubt, Ausmus and Williams, the rookie managers, seem to have much bigger targets on their backs." Although there is some merit to the notion that such a quick exit left the national media, in other time zones, with an easy path to dote on the Royals, there is a stronger tone there that rookie managers are cut far less slack and are easier to second-guess. Thus Sosh, being the established vet, gets the pass.
- Warm Up the Player Blender: We already knew that the Halos DFA'd Brendan Boesch and John Buck. Well, those studs chose outright Free Agency to being outright assignments (here and here), and are now free to hook on with the Astros and win the AL West next year. Unless, of course, those waiver claims of Alfredo Marte and Roger Kieschnick we already reported about pan out as planned, and we roll to a World Series title.
This Date in Baseball History: Some teams know what to do when they get to The Big Dance. The work themselves into the World Series. This date is all about them. 1904 - Boston Americans (today's Red Sox) send "Big Bill" Dinneentot eh mound on one day's rest for the opening game of a double-header season finale to face the New York Highlanders (today's Yankees). Highlander pitcher Jack Chesbro, who had previously won 41 games that season, throws a wild pitch in the 9th inning and the Highlanders lose. This results in Dinneen ending the season completing all 37 games he started that season, and setting a record of 337.2 consecutive innings without being relieved. You might want to remember that when you next ponder C.J. Wilson...........1920 - Second baseman Bill Wambsganns leaps and snags a line drive, lands on 2nd base, and tags the runner approaching from first, and the Indians infielder becomes the only player to complete an unassisted triple play in World Series history. And in that same game, Indians outfielder Elmer Smith becomes the first player to hit a grand slam in World Series history. But we are still not done, because in that same game Jim Bagby becomes the first World Series pitcher to hit a home run.............1923 - The first ever post-season game is played in the original Yankee Stadium, and becomes the first World Series game to be broadcast nationally. Outfielder Casey Stengal breaks a 9th inning, 4-4 time with an inside-the-park home run..............1924 - In the bottom of the 12th of Game 7 of the World Series between the Senators and the Giants, Senators' catcher Muddy Ruel pops up to Giants' catcher Hank Gowdy. But Gowdy, circling under the high pop-up, trips over his own mask and misses the catch. Ruddy then doubles, and will end up scoring the clinching run............1948 - The largest crowd to see a World Series game live jams into Cleveland's Municipal Stadium as 86,288 fans watch Warren Spahn defeat Bob Feller in Game 5...........1956 - Jackie Robinson plays the final game of his pro career, when the Brooklyn Dodgers lose to the Yankees in Game 7 of the World Series. Robinson will retire in the off-season after being traded to the cross-town rival Giants. Both teams would remain in New York only 1 more season..........1957 - Lew Burdette, originally signed by the Yankees in 1947 and traded away in 1951, returns the New York with the Milwaukee Braves to face off against the Yankee in the World Series. Burdette will throw three complete game victories, winning the Championship on this date with a shut out. Burdette will sign with the California Angels in 1965, and be released into retirement after the 1967 season..............1968 - Bob Gibson pitches his 8th consecutive complete World Series game, and sets a new record with 35 strikeouts in a World Series, but loses Game 7 to the Tigers 4-1, partly because fellow Cardinal Dal Maxvill becomes the first player to go 0-22 in a WS.............1976 - The Kansas City Royals defeat the Yankees in Game 2 of the ALCS, marking their first post-season franchise victory............1982 - The Milwaukee Brewers win Game 5 against the California Angels, becoming the first team in history to come back from an 0-2 deficit in a League Championship Series.
- Oh no. Oh Hell No: Major League Baseball announced their umpire crews for the League Championships. And for some reason that defies all explanation, Joe Frickin' West is still with us. Having been a crew chief for the Giants-Pirates Wild Card game, his incompetence has allowed him to leap-frog up to crew chief of the ALCS. Sadly, there is a 1/1000 of a percent of my soul that actually might consider being happy the Angels avoided making it that close, only to lose a pennant due to the ego maniacal shenanigans emanating from this chump of an asshat. West is the worst. Literally. Just click on "Incorrect Calls" to sort for yourself. And his shit goes back, like, forever. Just how the hell does this happen/? HOW???
- Back To Mangler Reviews: One of the unfortunate pratfalls of any post-season, in any sport, is how MSM story ideas get distilled down to paste and time expands to fill the void, with the net result a lot of hagiography. In this 2014 baseball season, we have hit that point. "Now, these last four managers standing, beginning tonight at Camden Yards in Baltimore, will be employing every bit of their ingenuity, charisma and guts to lead their teams to the World Series....Bochy's success will earn an all-expenses trip one day to Cooperstown....There's no greater architect than Showalter....Matheny was the perfect choice...The players absolutely love playing for him...Yost has become one of Kansas City's favorite sons, earning the respect from his young team after a winter of self-analysis....He went back to being Ned Yost, the manager of a young team..."
What does a team do when they have a player who is healthy enough to suit up, but not healthy enough to have a positive contribution to the cause on the field of play? Why, they don't play that player is what some teams choose to do............Gee, what? The LAD suddenly has found the religion of 'budget"? I guess somebody doesn't like having their shiny blue toy being subject to crapshoots. By the way, that link is to "The Los Angeles Register". I thought that sad saga folded a couple of weeks ago???...........Department of Crappy Timing, exhibit #370091. Notice how popular the bidding is, even for charity............Somebody is already bored with what little baseball being left and all. So here is the all-time winning percentage rankings of every franchise, stacked by division...........Oops. MLB has released a new product series for the 2014 playoffs. Always October. Immediately after October became not so always for the Angels............Pablo Sandoval and his Magic Color Changing Bat. (It's just a TV green error, folks. Don't freak out.)...........Maybe the next Mr. October doesn't play in Anaheim. Maybe the dude who plays in Anaheim is the next Mr. May...........Hey! Ol' McDonald wants to play. Eee Aye Eee Aye Oh!
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...MORE OKTOBERFEST FESTIVITIES!!!
Saturday: Oktoberfest Lineup: Lake Arrowhead..........Upland..........Richmond..........Dana Point..........San Diego..........PLUS: Firestone Walker Brewfest in Turlock..........AND BooZ & BrewZ Beer Festival in Fairfield...........AND Winchester Goose 1 Year Anniversary in Chico...........AND The Promenade Wine & Beer Festivalin Long Beach...........AND the Dixon Beer Fest in downtown Dixon..........AND the Moorpark Beer Festival..........AND the Bravecort Brew Fest & Masskrugstemmen in La Jolla.