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Thursday Halolinks: Arizona on my mind, time to start warming up

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Pitchers and catchers report today for the first day of SPRING TRAINING.


Finally.  Today is the first day.  It's not the most important day, yet its significance cannot be downplayed.  Without today, games can't be played, series can't be won, and championships can't be dreamed of.  It all starts with today.  Finally.

  • The last four years are now just an unfortunate sidestep to this season's glory.  Angels pitchers, catchers prepare to get underway -  "The sun will rise in Tempe, Ariz., on Thursday morning, pitchers and catchers will trickle in after undergoing their physical examinations and baseball will arrive again for the Angels, signaling the opportunity to wipe away last year's 84-loss season and the chance to feel optimistic about what's different."
  • The Times has a good rundown of the roster and projected batting order: Angels in spring camp -  "Angels pitchers and catchers report Thursday to Tempe, Ariz., to begin spring training. The team’s projected lineup and camp participants:
    STARTERS (projected batting order): Kole Calhoun, RF; Mike Trout, CF; Albert Pujols, 1B; Josh Hamilton, LF; Howie Kendrick, 2B; Raul Ibanez, DH; David Freese, 3B; Erick Aybar, SS; Chris Iannetta, C.
    ROTATION Jered Weaver, RH; C.J. Wilson, LH; Garrett Richards, RH; Hector Santiago, LH; Mark Mulder, LH.
  • Without the big splash signing this winter, the Angels can head into the 2014 season without the high expectation of the previous two years.  However, the previous two years also featured horrible starts to the season.  Starts that created holes the club would never recover from.  Several pieces have to fall in place for Angels to succeed -  "Expectations are lower for 2014 — most projections have the Angels finishing third in the division — but if they are to contend, they must hit stride opening day, a mission they hope to accomplish by infusing spring training with a keener focus and greater sense of urgency. Pitchers and catchers report to camp Thursday, and the starters will be stretched out earlier in spring so they have more endurance to start the season. Relievers will throw more often and with more intent."
  • Yesterday, the team failed to have anyone on the Top 100 Prospect list.  Today they made this list twice, with a third disqualified due to the player is no longer playing (although he is still getting paid).  Baseball’s Worst Contracts - Grantland.  "6. OF Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles Angels: four years, $99.6 million".  If Hamilton hits, this contract won't seem so bad...however, that's a big "if".
  • This group of millionaires (and billionaires) should be ashamed of themselves, but of course they're not.  MLB owners voted to allow teams to cut pensions of non-players - ESPN.  "Major League Baseball owners, despite earning more than $8 billion in revenue in 2013, voted in January to allow individual teams to slash or eliminate pension-plan offerings to their non-uniformed personnel. The vote, tabled a year earlier when the intention became public, quietly took place Jan. 16 at the quarterly owners meetings in Paradise Valley, Ariz., the same gathering at which instant-replay expansion unanimously was approved."
  • Many people hate the Yankees, but no one can legitimately say they hate Derek Jeter.  The guy has shown nothing but class throughout his career, and we should just hope the players we root for will show the same respect for the game has Jeter has.  Derek Jeter’s greatest feat? Staying irrepressibly likeable as a Yankee (and baseball) icon - HardballTalk.  "Look at some of the greatest players of his time. Alex Rodriguez: Disgraced. Barry Bonds: Disgraced. Mark McGwire: Disgraced. Manny Ramirez: Disgraced. Albert Pujols: Floundering. Ken Griffey: Tumbled in late career. Jeff Bagwell: Can’t get elected to the Hall of Fame. Mike Piazza: Can’t get elected to the Hall of Fame. And through all of it, Jeter soared – not only as a player but also as a modern day icon. Has any player since Cal Ripken or Hank Aaron or Joe DiMaggio been so respected simply for being himself?"  Even his team's most hated rival have acknowledged his greatness: Boston Red Sox enjoy soaring prices following Derek Jeter's retirement announcement - ESPN Boston.  "Ticket aggregator TiqIQ said that the cheapest seat for the finale at around 2 p.m. ET, before Jeter's announcement was posted, was $26. An hour later, the site didn't have anything for less than $200. As of 5:30 p.m., the average ticket price for Jeter's last game was $1,153.01, up 278.2 percent from 2 p.m."
  • This totally freaked me out.  No, it's not a picture from the Angels financial department (although "sinkhole" is probably mentioned there daily), but rather, the underworld taking possession of some really cool cars:
    Sinkhole opens up at National Corvette Museum, swallows cars - Fox News
    .  "The National Corvette Museum said the Bowling Green Fire Department estimates the sinkhole to be around 25-30 feet deep and 40 feet wide."