I have been waiting many, many months to post this particular version of WeekEnd HaloLinks. More than 20. It's kind of odd that I should place such worth on the outcome of a vote among a decision-making sub-community for whom I grant so little worth. But MLB continues to place the keys of recognition and reward in the hands of such Luddites and I am forced to view the historical recording of certain aspects of Mike Trout's glorious career through their especially cloudy lens. Such is the cruel humor of the gods.
Saint Michael of Ball just happens to be the absolute finest example of a baseball player on any team, in any league, anywhere on Planet Earth. There does not appear to be anything on the field of play that he cannot excel at should be put his mind to it, and he clearly has put his mind to excelling at nearly everything. Even his throwing arm is showing major improvement. A baseball season is the plethora of the everyday.
Unlike other sports, it is not some accumulation of anticipation that focuses all preoccupation on a finite window of events for the nation to cycle through with a pre-planned cadence. As such, the ongoing brilliance of Trout's accomplishments require a more constant and consistent application of one's attention. Much of what he delivers is missed by those not blessed with daily access. And much of what is not missed is diluted by the tedium that comes from the flood of baseball news over the course of months and months. Thus, for non-Los Angeles Angels fans and non-local media, Michael Nelson Trout is actually better than what you know and better than what you have heard or read about. He is not just about the hyperbole that comes with some great play, or comes with the aggregation of great counting stats. Trout, truly, is Wonderboy. And he has been for three solid years. This is merely the year that a sufficient number of those with feeble, biased, tired, lazy or unqualified eyes finally catch up with the responsibility with which MLB has granted them with their charter.
An extremely strong case can be made that Mike Trout should have been awarded every one of these MVP titles over the past three years. That will not always be. The future is not guaranteed and even in recent memory we have seen early brilliance quickly evaporate. And not just once or twice. One should not defer honor and recognition on some precept that the truly worthy will receive enough accolades at a later date, so that those who might not do well again should be gifted the honor today while they are still among the excellent. And no amount of twisted, tortured logic based on ancient folklore will hide from history just that sort of error. The ignominy of this missed opportunity for those chosen to be choosers of historic greatness, and fashion themselves participants in that history, will be a clearly defined pothole in the rear view mirror of baseball historians. And historians tend to amass such landmarks.
Similarly, an extremely strong case can be made that the past three years are the finest opening three seasons of any MLB career in history. That might, indeed, always be. With fortune, we will be witness to the finest opening four seasons, and opening five seasons, and opening six seasons, and...
And let's just settle in with the comfort of knowing that whatever happens going forward, we day-to-day fans of the Angels have been the most fortunate baseball fans alive. Not because we won a World Series title or two in these past couple of seasons, because we didn't. Those happy accomplishments blend into the tapestry of the game all too quickly and 99.99% of baseball fans will have to look those up 10 to 15 years from now anyway. . No, it will be because even 10 to 15 years from now 99.99% of baseball fans will know that the very best and most complete baseball player in their lifetime - the gold standard by which all other outstanding achievements are benchmarked in every year - was Most Great and Most Valuable from the very start, and we lucky Angels fans were the ones who got to watch the history that already has become Mike Trout, #27, Los Angeles Angels, Anaheim, California.
(For SoCal locals, as you listen to the talk radio blowhards do their Mike Trout reviews this week, remember that all during Mike Trout's rookie season - the very start I mention above - these talking knuckleheads were spending 100% of their time debating where Dwight Howard would end up. They absolutely ignored how Trout was destroying the American League as they tracked Howard's trajectory to the Lakers. Yeah. That worked out well.)
- Trout Porn: Grant Brisbee indulges us all with amazement. Mike Trout is merely incredible now. And he leads off with this: "A brief list of past and present players with a career WAR lower than Mike Trout's current 28.2 in 493 games: Paul Konerko, Hal McRae, Alfonso Soriano, Mo Vaughn, Shin-Soo Choo, Prince Fielder, Benito Santiago.........The full list is over 15,000 players long...Trout, by this one measure, has accomplished more in his career before turning 23 than they did in years of playing time."
- Trout Porn: Current and former members of the Angels franchise are in awe of this guy. MVP Trout: What the Angels are saying about him. My fave: "I feel very happy for Mike, a gifted baseball player and a solid person, who has used his talent and his passion to earn this award. So exciting to see another AL MVP wearing the Angels uniform. I also want to thank Mike for wearing my favorite number" from Vlad Guerrero. But my least fave is from Mike Scioscia: "Mike Trout has been an all around force over the past three seasons. This honor is well deserved and further affirms his position as the premier player in the game", it's my "least fave" mostly because of his...er..."support"...in prior seasons: "I still feel that unless a player's stats are just so far out ahead of the rest of the pack -- I mean just unbelievable numbers where you're going, 'This is the most incredible season out there by far' -- it should be weighted to where your teams are. If you have four guys with very similar statistics -- some guys might be heavily weighted in home runs and some guys in runs scored -- I do think that the deciding factor will be the impact he had for his team. And a team that he has a year like that for and leads into the playoffs should be part of the equation. I believe that."
- Trout Porn: We all believed and wanted Trout to be named MVP in his phenomenal rookie season, back when he was 21. Had he been named then, he would have bested Vida Blue (age 22) as the youngest ever to be named. As it is, his award was delayed these two more years and yet Trout remains the 5th youngest ever. Only Blue, Johnny Bench, Stan Musial and Cal Ripken, Jr. were younger.
- But He Was Once Even Better: Of course, and without any irony or remorse, many are pointing out that this was actually a down year for Trout. It's true, and we all know it. For my part, I have noticed that as I scan for stock photos of Trout to use in my articles, there are many, many this year of unhappy outcomes. Far more missed catches, strikeouts, tag and force outs, than in seasons past. But holy balls, batman! Trout is down in 2014 not because he sucked, but because his 2012 and 2013 seasons were so unbelievably phenomenal!! Trout was so brilliant in those two seasons that Trout coming in 2nd for the MVP was nearly insulting to the honor itself. As Ted Berg comments over at USATODAY, "Trout is not just the best young player in baseball, he’s the best young player in baseball history. The odds are always against a player proving himself as the greatest of all time, naturally, because only one person gets to be that. But if and when that guy next comes around, it’s probably going to look a whole lot like this."
- Trout Porn: An awesome observation yesterday by is that 4th year player Trout, AL MVP and twice runner-up (age 23), is still younger than BOTH the current Rookies of the Year (Jose Abreu @ 27 and Jacob deGrum @ 26). Uh, we could add to that by pointing out that Trout is younger than LAST YEAR'S AL RoY as well (Will Meyers, 8 months older than Mike). In fact, since he was the AL RoY in 2012, Trout remains the youngest of all AL RoY Award winners alive.
- Trout Porn: While everybody else was agog over Trout for finally getting his recognition, Trout was more preoccupied trying to draw attention and recognition for Huntington's disease, a condition from which teammate Joe Smith's mother suffers.
This Date In Baseball History: 1946 - Ted Williams, fresh back from being a WWII Naval Aviator (and predominantly service ball player and aviation student/teacher), wins the AL MVP Award for the first time. He should have won in 1942, but the voters were still pissy about Williams' earlier efforts to get his draft status changed from 1-A to 3-A because he was sole provider for his mother. (By the way, Williams would get recalled back into active service during the Korean War, and he would see combat, flying in the same combat wing alongside John Glenn...........and that's the only listing for any MVP or Manager of the Year I will bother to list today. Trust me, they are legion. It is, of course, the annual award season so this is an obvious anniversary date for many of them...............1986 - Fred Wilpon (along with Nelson Doubleday) buy the World Champion Mets away from Doubleday Publishing. Wilpon/Doubleday paid a mere $80.75 million for the franchise, which is less than a lot of this years Free Agents will sign for. Meanwhile, Doubleday publishing had bought the Mets just 6 years earlier, for $21.1 million, which is less than Albert Pujols made in 2014, or will make in any of the remaining years of his contract. Wilpon will buy out Doubleday in 2002 for $131 million. Today, the Mets are valued at $2 billion (including their share of Sports net new York)...........1988 - The Angels announce the hiring of Doug Rader as new manager. Rader will last 448 games and go 232 and 216. And it won't be a happy time.............2007 - Word gets out that Alex Rodriguez, after having announced that he was opting out of his Yankee contract during Game 4 of the World Series (smooth move, Scott Boras), is about to re-sign with the MFY for a huge, long-term, deal that will end up being worth $275 million. No way the Yankees will ever regret making that deal. No way............2010 - The 1988 World Series Game 1 Kirk Gibson home run bat sells at auction to a father/son team out of Santa Barbara for the sum of $575,912. It's the second highest ever paid for an MLB bat.
Fun History Bonus, having nothing to do with November 14th: I tripped across this during my research this week. The man who is currently the Public Address Announcer at Yankee Stadium, and was once the same at Angel Stadium, Paul Olden, is the same Paul Olden who was the reporter on the other end of the infamous Tommy Lasorda Dave Kingman tirade (which was from the May 14, 1978 game and not from June 4, 1976 as is often reported).
Pacific Coast League History Bonus: Here is a lost PCL Promotional film, about 30 minutes long, produced in 1946. It was uncovered just 2 years ago. Color footage is cool, but so is the reason for the film. It was made as an important part of a formal post-war effort to build the PCL into a third Major League.
- Money Money Money Money: Let's face it. the Marlins are a joke, run by a huckster who has screwed Miami to degrees just shy of criminal levels. Even the players on his own team know. For most of them, though, the very fact that Loria is a con is what has resulted in open slots that allow them to get any shot at the MLB level. Their one superstar, their one anchor, Giancarlo Stanton, has spent a great deal of time this past year screaming over the feeble effort put forth by Loria and predicting his own inevitable departure. Until Loria opened his wallet back up, as he does for rare and brief occasions, and dangled $300 million dollars over a contract extension. Suddenly, Miami ain't so bad after all.
- The Wave: I know, I know. A huge number of you hate the Wave. Whatever. Personally, I am awaitign the moment that Angels fans realize that they could invent the Lightwave by coordinating their cellphone activity. It's only a matter of time before somebody does it. Anyway, The Hardball Times has a piece, The Physics of the Wave, which deals mostly with the transverse wave action of baseball bats once they come into contact with a pitched baseball. Sounds droll, I know. But there are a couple of very cool links in that article. The first such link actually DOES go into the physics of the Wave. "It was found that between 25 and 35 people were needed to get the wave going...the wave usually rolls in a clockwise direction...typically moves at a speed of about...20 seats...per second. It also has an average width of about...15 seats"...........The second link is your shortcut to the visuals behind the the transverse wave thingy in bats. And the GIFs there are awesome!
Hilarious Throwback Baseball Cards. And we lead off with a Trout!..........The Blue Jays have already made a very large trade to fill their hole at second base. So why am I still seeing reports that the Blue Jays being named as one of the possible suitors for Howie Kendrick?..........And why am I not reading rumors of Howie to San Diego for Tyson Ross?..........At least I am happy that I am not reading rumors of packaging Howie plus prospects to the Phillies for Cole Hamels, freeing Ruben Amaro up to trade Chase Utley to the Padres for Tyson Ross and a package...........Meanwhile, Yoan Moncada adoration? Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don't make..........Dear Curt Schilling: never stop being a stupid jackass. It would hurt my copy...........One of the things that needs to be considered whenever anything exits the mouth of Scott Boras, is "cui bono?"............The late Tony Gwynn is honored with a craft brew named in his honor, released as part of San Diego Beer Week (see below for more SD Beer Week links!)............
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...
Friday: San Diego Beer Week still going strong..........So let's add Beer Week with Coronado Brewing at House of Blues in San Diego..........and Speedway Grand Prix beer tasting & release event at AleSmith Brewing Company in San Diego..........Up closer to LA, we have Belgian Beer Week at Crazy Harry's Bar in Winnetka...........and Alpine Kraft Bierfest at Alpine Village in Torrance..........And up in San Francisco northerners can track down the Great Alvarado Beerfest.
Saturday: San Diego Beer Week still going strong..........as is Alpine Kraft Bierfest at Alpine Village in Torrance..........and Belgian Beer Week at Crazy Harry's Bar in Winnetka...........Sticking with San Diego area, hit up the Saint Archer Brewery beer tasting & release event at House of Blues...............and the East County Drink About pub crawl starting OR the Secret Stash! beer tasting & release event, both at Urbn St. Brewing Company in El Cajon...........or get over to Stone Brewing Company for the novelty of Master Pairings: Ultimate Beer & Chocolateevent.
Sunday: San Diego Beer Week still going strong.........so try out the Twisted Manzanita beer tasting & release event at House of Blues...........And Belgian Beer Week at Crazy Harry's Bar in Winnetka is still happening...........But closer to the stadium, over in Costa Mesa one can enjoy the Grand Opening of Barley Forge Brewing Company.