It's October 3rd, and we are one of 8 teams still playing Major League Baseball. One of the favorites to continue playing, actually. I have tried in the past to advise my fellows not to get too out of whack with every slight turn that goes against our grain. It's baseball, played by humans, so a lot of stuff is going to go the wrong way and we need to all survive the little things to be there for the big moments. But, hey, I have learned that you guys are gonna do what you do regardless, so all I can ask is that you make sure you are enjoying the hell out of it. These things don't last forever. There can be only on prom king, but everybody inside the doors is invited to dance like joyful fools.
Shameless Plug: Not every fan burns with the zealousness of a religious fanatic. There are some who take a slightly more temperate and intellectual perspective on the give and take - mostly take - of baseball. One such introspective enthusiast is a fellow member of HH, and I recommend the reading. And he is one of mine, so I really recommend the reading.
- Rust Bucket Bats: Well, that was quick. The Halos played the regular season straight up just long enough to secure home field advantage, then
rustedrested their key players in the run-up to the post-season. And their key players are still well rustedrested, as they didn't bother to put in any serious effort when they carried the lumber. The Halo pitching staff held the Royals to 4 measly hits over 11 innings, but it's the LAA offense that is supposed to be the juggernaut. And that did not happen. A Mike Moustakis home run in the 11th inning off of Fernando Salas broke a sleepy 2-2 tie and put the Halos down 0 games to 1 in the best of 5...........Forget the Chris Iannetta and David Freese home runs and look at Trout, Pujols, Kendrick, Aybar, Hamilton and Cron going 0 for 24. We should expect Trout, Pujols and Aybar to do something soon, and Cron is still a mystery. But Kendrick came into this post-season as a ..196 hitter, and immediately plummeted to .176 as he stranded 5 baserunners all by himself. He might not be going anywhere. And Hamilton? He has played in barely half the season, with 15 Plate Appearances since August. The dude is using the post-season as his minor league rehab stint. If Hambone does anything in the post-season, it's merely a bonus...........One of the things to consider is that when the Angels are at home, fail to score in late innings and run the game into extras, as the bullpen burns through one arm after another it's the bats that are to blame. And these Angels had their chances. Four straight times...
- Matt Shoemaker: MinorLeagueBall celebrates one of their graduates. I love the history progression. "He was hittable and didn't strike people out; not surprisingly, he wasn't drafted. The Angels saw something they liked, however, and signed him as a minor league undrafted free agent." Hmmm. Who was the Scouting Director back in 2008 who would have taken a chance like that? I wonder... Moving on to 2012: "Shoemaker isn’t in Richards’ class as a prospect, but he bears watching. He was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Michigan in 2008. His fastball isn’t special in the 88-92 range, but he has a solid splitter, and he throws strikes. He has yet to establish himself in Triple-A and may be a Quadruple-A type..." We are not seeing signs of life in this potential career, here. Slew forward to early 2014: "He’s not overpowering but changes speeds quite well and considering the environment at Salt Lake, he’s held his own." Now we ARE seeing a pulse. And then we get to August, after the obvious when it's clear that Shoe is killing it (now from FanGraphs): "But just based on what Shoemaker has done in the major leagues, there’s basically every reason to think he’s for real as a quality starter. Given his history, that’s a surprise, but surprises happen all the time, especially when there exist certain minor-league blind spots." Blind spots, indeed. "One of the lessons I learned during the Prospect Retrospective Project: even when you think you've adjusted for an extreme park/league effect, you probably haven't adjusted enough. Shoemaker shows that this can be important for pitchers as well as hitters."
- Predictable Predictions: MLB.com asked around for predictions on these current series and very little concerning LAA/KC surprised me. Except that of Steve Sax. "Mike Scioscia understands the Royals' small-ball tactics and has a great perspective on how to shut down the running game as a former catcher." While it is debatable whether or not Sosh has all the infield tools he would like in order to shut down the KC running game (pitchers needing to hold runners, catcher needing to throw them out, infielders needing to position themselves and make plays), it is true that he is perhaps the most strategically cognizant decision-maker in the playoffs to deal with a running game. And that is something I had not considered. I had considered, however, that the Halos will have numerous chances to exploit the decision-making skills in the other dugout.
- 2014 World Series Storybook Tales: Between these three possibilities, what might be the more compelling narrative for baseball as a whole this year? The Angels versus Cardinals and all the entanglement of rosters between the two franchises, now and in the recent past? The Angels versus Dodgers in a SoCal Freeway Series? Or the Angels versus Nationals and a head-to-head match-up for all marbles, early in the careers of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper? (Side note: if we do get to see LAA vs. STL, know that A.J. Pierzynski will probably not be in attendance.)
- Howie Kendrick: Howie has had a pretty good year. But he has a pretty bad reputation for playoff performance. "The Angels' chances of making a deep playoff run would improve if Kendrick can maintain the swing that led to a September surge. Kendrick hit .293 with 33 doubles, 85 runs and 75 RBIs this season, and he was superb in the clutch, batting .326 (56 for 172) with runners in scoring position. But he has been on a tear since Sept 4, batting .407 (33 for 81) with seven doubles, two triples, two home runs, 13 runs and 19 RBIs in his final 22 games." This would be a good time to shake that rep.
This Date In Baseball History: 1919 - Adolfo "Dolf" Luque becomes the first Latin American to play in a World Series............1924 - The Kansas City Monarchs and the Hilldale Giants face off in a 10 game championship series, the first ever Colored World Series. Winter Book Club reading here. Fantastic picture here. .........1951 - Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round The World"..........1965 - Vic Power plays his last game, representing the Angels ("Angles" in the story, sigh) in a 5-2 loss against the Twins. Powers is the final active MLB player to have worn the uniform of the Philadelphia A's..........1974 - Frank Robinson becomes the first black Major League Baseball manager. And Earl Weaver knew how to help make that happen.........1976 - On the final day of the regular season, Royals players George Brett and Hal McRae are separated by .001 for the AL Batting Title. Brett will edge out McRae with final results of .333 versus .332. the deciding hit is an inside-the-park home run off a misplayed line drive. McRae, sensing racial motivations, comes to believe that the mis-play was intentional. (By the way, future Halos Rod Carew and Lyman Bostock were also in that Title race down the stretch.).........1976 - In Henry Aaron's final at-bat of his career, he gets an infield single. Except for Minnie Minoso appearing in 3 games as a 50-year old novelty act for the White Sox, Aaron is the last active player who also played in Negro League Baseball..........1982 - The Brewers defeat the Orioles to edge out Baltimore for the AL East title (and earn a date with comeback destiny, partnered with the Angels). It is Earl Weaver's final game as manager and more than 50,000 Baltimore fans give him a 45 minute ovation after the loss. Go to the 1:15 mark in the video and note that all those people in the stands ARE IN BALTIMORE. And you will also catch a very quick glimpse of a much younger Milwaukee owner Bud Selig congratulating Cecil Cooper at about 1:12:55. (Oh, and enjoy Howard Cosell, by the way!).........1993 - Mel Harder throws out the ceremonial "Last Pitch" in Cleveland's Municipal Stadium before the Indians relocate to Progressive Field. Why do we care? Because when Municipal Stadium opened for business back in 1932, the first actual pitch in a baseball game was made my Indians hurler Mel Harder. Yeah, same guy.........1999 - The final regular season game is played in the Houston Astrodome. Without looking it up, did you know the original name of this place? Did you even know it had another name?..............2004 - The Expos play their final game before carpetbagging to Washington DC and get re-branded as The Nationals (they had played their last home game a few days earlier)..........2010 - Josh Hamilton wins the AL batting title with a .359 average..........2012 - In the final game of the regular season, and the AL West title on the line, Josh Hamilton commits a critical error and launches an Oakland rally, with the A's winning 12-5. This give the A's the AL West title, and the Rangers a Wild Card appointment with the Orioles, which the Orioles win. Oh, the tangled webs of history. The fly ball that current Halo Hambone botches comes off the bat of one-time Oakland playmaker Yeonis Cespedes. This is the same year that Hamilton suffers vision problems, missed 6 entire games down the stretch AND failed to hit a home run in his final 41 Plate Appearances, loses the AL home run title by 1 to Miguel Cabrera, gifting Cabrera the Triple Crown, which vaults Cabrera over Mike Trout for the AL MVP. Hamilton ends up blaming his vision problems on too much coffee.
- Baltimore vs. Detroit: The final score was 12-3, but that could not be any less informative. The score was actually 3-2 after 2 innings, and held at that score until the 7th. in the bottom of the 7th and top of the 8th both sides scored 1 runs apiece, bumping the tight game to 4-3. Most of the runs were powered by homers, with Nelson Cruz jacking a 2-run homer followed by back-to-back homers from Detroit's Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez. J. Hardy would homer in that 7th, and Miguel Cabrera would counter with a homer of his own in that top of the 8th. But what happened next is a study in (A) how feeble the Detroit bullpen is, and (B) how much a manager can exacerbate the appearance of a bullpen's feebleness...............In that bottom of the 8th, with 1 out, Max Scherzer surrendered a double. At that point Sherzer had tossed 98 pitches, and Tiger manager Brad Asmus pulled him, inserting Joba Chamberlain. Joba threw all of 6 pitches, 4 of which were strikes and 2 of those strikes were induced ground balls. But one of those grounders was hit at ex-Halo Andrew Romine and Romine booted the chance. The other was a single up the middle. For some reason, this was determined to be a sign that right-handed Joba Chamberlain needed to be pulled instead of being allowed to pitch to right-handed hitting Steve Pearce. Bad move. Joakim Soria took over and gave up a single, was ordered into an intentional walk, then gave up a single, and infield run-scoring out, and a double. Four runs later Soria was pulled for Phil Coke. Coke would give up two more runs but Detroit was already Dead Man Walking. Soria carries a playoff ERA of 108 and Chamberlain's is infinity. But methinks this didn't have to be that bad had Asmus allowed Chamberlain to stick around a little longer.
- Fox Goes Stats Crazy: This could be cool, but I wonder. Fox will have a simulcast covering the NLCS which will be stats-centric. "During the game, our panel will provide insight from every level of baseball, as well as real-time demos, extended replays, and breakdowns of storylines from Game 1. Perched atop a bedrock of data supplied by our various partners, we’ll analyze batter/pitcher match-ups, umpiring tendencies, defensive shifts, controversial calls, and the debatable managerial moves that seem to be the talk of nearly every game in October." Isn't the better point of stats to look backwards and understand what happened, instead of trying to explain what is happening in real time? I see a real risk of turning information into "web gem" joys that do more to entertain the production crew than assist the viewer in following a compelling sporting match. But I do choose to withhold judgement.
- Billy Beane: The biggest part of the aura of Billy Beane is that he knows a hell of a lot more than the rest of us know, and we won't catch up with what he knows today until he has already mastered everything that makes today irrelevant. And all that hinges on accepting as absolute fact that the point of competing in Major League Baseball is to just get to the playoffs, and turn the Steering Wheel of Destiny over to Lady Luck and allowing her to have her will on your soul. (In that respect, many of the rest of us are still a couple of decades behind, as we mistakenly believe the point of sports competition is to win the championship.) If you are a Beane Acolyte, failing to hold that premise will only lead to confusion. After all, since Beane took over as GM of the A's, Oakland has won precisely ONE post-season series (out of NINE). Not one WS title, ONE PLAYOFF SERIES. Billy Beane has not even sniffed the World Series. The Oakland A's must be Lady Luck's personal beyotch. Well, know that Beane is, if nothing else, consistent. All those moves this season? Yeah, they were all about the Angels, just trying to get to the playoffs. They had nothing to do with actually trying to win once they got there. Deadspin calls bullshit, which is what they do. But considering the context of where the A's were sitting in the world of baseball at the time, Deadspin may be more right than Beane.
Last night Major League Baseball showcased Long Beach State Night in Anaheim for all the nation to experiance...........The post-McCourt Dodgers are now courting Brooklynites. Maybe they can get to some televisions back in New York...........A friendly Public Service Announcement comes our way from Salt Lake. The best record in baseball was built heavily on the minor league system considered to be the among the weakest...........That was fast. Derek Jeter is off the field for only 4 days and MLB (well, Lyle Spencer of MLB.com, anyway) starts fitting Trout for the cronw of "Mr. October"...........A nice little nugget for baseball history buffs, found film footage of the 1924 World Series, now restored..........One of the Royals coaches is all pretty fancy-dancy when it comes to filling out lineup sheets. Calligraphy, and in color! It doesn't appear to be Ned Yost, who has pretty simple handwriting...............The Pittsburgh security staff at PNC Park are simply crackerjack. I am sure that there must be metal detectors at every entrance to save us all from terrorist attacks by state-sponsored trained operatives. But if a random little old lady can freely wander right into the visitors dugout all on her own, well, them metal detectors aren't making me feel so safe after all..........Jim Edmonds: decent player, decent career, indecent taste in music. But not missing the playoffs, at all............Don't be fooled. Miguel Cabrera plays baseball for money just like every other MLB union dude..........Really? Mike Nunn is the worst that somebody can come up with when looking back at back draft decisions by the Angels?..........Sometimes, while scavenging the Internet for you folks each week, I trip across the most random things. This week it was the person who designed the current LAA franchise logo..........I also tripped across the fact that our own Joe Smith is just as lucky as C.J. Wilson when it comes to dating success............For the uninitiated, Ned Yost has ALWAYS loved bunting............Are you an Angels Trivia Expert? Take the quiz. It's pretty easy. Even I scored 7 out of 8..........Tiny batting helmets predict the Dodgers over the Tigers for the World Series title. As scientific as anything, I suppose..........Postseason GPS: California rules the playoff rosters!............Have some fun: the history of baseball, shrunk to 24 hours. The Angels win the World Series about quarter to 11, PM.
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...And just in time for Oktober Baseball, Oktoberfest Festival!
Friday: Oktoberfest, Lake Arrowhead runs all weekend..........Huntington Beach Oktoberfest runs all month...............'Staches & Steins Oktoberfest Celebration is at Pyramid Alehouse, Brewery & Restaurant in Walnut Creek............Modesto Oktoberfest in Modesto
Saturday: Oktoberfest, Lake Arrowhead runs all weekend..........Clayton Oktoberfest is in swing Saturday & Sunday..........Taste of Brews Oktoberfest is not far from the stadium in Corona...........World's First Vegan Oktoberfest takes place in Santa Monica...........Wine, Rhythm & Blues charity beer event is in Sierra Madre...........Downtown Brentwood Craft Beer Festival is over on the Westside...........Stocktoberfest in Stockton...........Carlsbad Rotary Oktoberfest in Carlsbad...........Clayton Oktoberfest in downtown Clayton...........Huntington Beach Oktoberfest runs all month..............Lakeport Oktoberfest in Lakeport..........Los Angeles Oktoberfest at Beverly Hills Country Club..........Montrose Oktoberfest, near Glendale............Oakland Oktoberfest in Dimond...........Twain Harte Oktoberfest in Twain Harte.............
Sunday: Oktoberfest, Lake Arrowhead runs all weekend..........Huntington Beach Oktoberfest runs all month...............Clayton Oktoberfest is in swing Saturday & Sunday...........Vista Oktoberfest is at the Art Gallery & Lounge in Vista.............