So April is now behind us, and the Angels finished with their heads above water. That is only the second time that has happened in the past 5 Aprils, and the Halos haven't sniffed the playoffs during this whole time. All too often we have heard the phrase "Titles are not won in April, but they can be lost." Well, if you look back at the past few seasons, for as much angst as we have spread over the days of April springs, that has not truly been the case. Playing .500 ball in April is not a sign of any certainty come October, whatsoever.
|April W - L Record
|Games Behind AL Leader
|12 - 12
|15 - 12
|8 - 15
|9 - 17
|14 - 13
500 baseball is certainly better to a lot of the alternatives, for sure, but there is still an awful lot of baseball to be played.
Dancing With The Devil: As talks between Arte and Anaheim remain stalled, Arte The Owner is pulling out the usual and customary tactic of enlisting other nearby cities as alternatives. First we heard about Tustin, and that apparently remains an option, although they have apparently moved to a plan "B" and are considering locating the stadium closer to my dreamboat vision. And, now, according to the LAT, Arte has gone further down the freeway and into
StepfordIrvine to inquire about property amidst The Grate Perk. As someone who travels Sand Canyon past the 5 freeway nearly every Tuesday rush hour, all I have to say is good luck with THAT traffic. Anyway, I am not getting the impression that Tustin or Irvine are overtly enthusiastic about welcoming the Angels into town, so we should expect to hear that Arte has started to look even further away, and in a direction other than south, in another 4 to 6 months.
- Grant Green: Green is now back, and we are being told to expect that he will be taking at-bats away from Shuck and Ibanez. "And Green is expected to get a fair share of playing time...........The 26-year-old right-handed hitter, acquired from the A's in exchange for Alberto Callaspo last July, was hitting .365/.412/.529 through his first 25 games in the Pacific Coast League and had started each of his last six games in left field..........Green becomes a right-handed-hitting option in left field, while also giving the Angels versatility at second and third base."..........Oh yeah, and for you Michael Roth fans, Roth cleared waivers and landed in Arkansas.
- Avoid Your Blowpen!: Looking at trends aroiund MLB after one month of play, the Halos are showing positive signs for pitcher health and overall success by relying on the strength of their starting rotation in an effort to minimize the impact of a mediocre bullpen. "The Angels are up from 5.95 IP/start in 2013 to 6.19 in 2014, 2nd in the AL. Hey there, Tyler Skaggs. The D-Backs could sure use him right now. The Angel pen has been leaky at best, and despite a lack of lefty options, they are second in the AL in relievers used, with the second shortest average relief outing. They aren’t chasing the platoon advantage – they’re spinning the Wheel of Mediocrity." The Tigers and the Mariners look to be in trouble,and their arms are going to be at risk of breaking down as summer wars on.
Time is running out: Your chance to fund a worthy cause, and own the game-worn jersey of Jered Weaver from 4/15, is nearing the end of its auction window. I love this part, as if this is some sort of bad thing: "Due to the unique nature of the item, this game-used item may have scuff marks, various dirt stains, etc. and is sold as is. By placing a bid on this item, you are expressly acknowledging the following conditions of this auction: all items are sold 'AS IS.' " The price has not gone up for days now. Make it happen!
Buy Stuff - Crazy-ass Baseball Stuff On the Internet:
Baseball glove scented hand soap. Since you just cannot make this kind of stuff up, one might as well embrace it. It should, therefore, become standard fare at ballparks everywhere.
This Date In Baseball History: 1876 - The very first home run in the history of the National League is struck by Ross Barnes of the Chicago Cubs. It was an inside-the-park job to go along with a single, a triple, and two stolen bases...........1901 - In another first (firsts being pretty easy to do in these very early days, I suppose), the first forfeit in the American League is called against the Chicago White Sox after the Tigers take a lead and the Pale Hose try to slow the game down in order to save time for an impending rain storm to cancel the game altogether. Umpire Tom Connolly smells a rat, and calls the forfeit instead.........1917 - In an ultimate pitching duel, Hippo Vaughn of the Cubs and Fred Toney of the Reds go toe-to-toe through the first 9 innings, each throwing a no-hitter. Vaughn loses his no-hitter, and the game, in the top of the 10th. This includes a hit by THE Jim Thorpe, and Toney completes his no-hitter in the bottom frame for the victory..........1920 - The first game of the Negro Baseball League is played. Games in Chicago will be delayed another month as the playing field is occupied by the National Guard, which was deployed in response to The Chicago Race Riot of 1919..........1928 - 9th inning, bases loaded, Giants leading the Dodgers 2-0 with 2 outs. Giants manager John McGraw orders an intentional walk to force home one run. The next batter, Harry Riconda, strikes out and this secures the strategy..........1939 - Lou Gehrig benches himself "for the good of the team". He will never play pro baseball again, and will succumb to ALS 25 months later..........1930 - Minor League city Des Moines, Iowa hosts the very first night baseball game to be played under permanent lights. 16 years later to the day, in 1946, the Red Sox announce that they will install permanent lights at Fenway Park in time for the 1947 season, leaving only the Cubs and Tigers without night baseball...........1951 - Lou Limmer of the A's homers off of Saul Rogovin of the Tigers, with Joe Ginsberg behind the plate. This marks the first time in MLB history that a Jewish pitcher faces a Jewish batter with a Jewish catcher at the other end of the battery..........1954 - Stan Musial becomes the first player to ever hit 5 home runs in a double-header. In attendance is 8-year old Nate Colbert who, 18 years later, will become only the second player ever to do the same..........1958 - In what must be considered the most unusually anti-productive threat in sports marketing history, the Yankees threaten to broadcast their games nationally if the (now) San Francisco Giants and (now) Los Angeles Dodgers broadcast their games back to New York City..........1968 - Bud Harrelson of the Mets, still standing on the on-deck circle, becomes the first player waiting to take his turn at the plate and receive a 3-0 count advantage. Home plate umpire Ed Vargo grants Harrelson ball 1 when Phillies reliever John Boozer is caught going to his mouth on the mound. This pisses off future Halo manager Gene Mauch, who orders Boozer to repeat the act. Vargo grants Harrelson ball 2. Mauch sends out yet another order to do it again. Harrelson gets awarded ball 3, and Boozer and Mauch are ejected from the game altogether.
- Closers Impact (or lack thereof): Joe Posnanski has a sweet piece over at Hardball Talk which focuses on the empirical fact that "Teams leading going into the ninth inning have been winning 95% of the time more or less since the dawn of time. Yes, strategies change. Players change. Equipment changes. The use of relief pitchers evolves, the preparation of hitters evolves, the data used to set up defenses evolves, the game itself evolves...........In 1948, teams won 738 of 776 games they led going into the ninth. That’s 95%............In 1968, that crazy year of the pitcher, teams won 1,315 of the 1,381 games they led going into the ninth. That’s 95%.............In 1977, when I was 10 years old and Duane Kuiper hit his only home run, teams won 1,788 of their 1,876 games. That’s 95%...........In 1989, when reliever Mark Davis won the Cy Young and Tony La Russa and Dennis Eckersley ushered in the era of the one-inning closer, teams won 1813 of 1890 games. That’s 95%...........In 2000, when the home runs were flying like balloons before a Super Bowl, teams won 2,081 of 2,190 games. That’s 95%...........Last year, teams won 2,032 of 2,137 games. And that too is 95%." In simple terms, forget about roles. Just have the lead going into the 9th, and over time you will win 95% of those games.
Owners Versus Owners: So the NBA has taken firm action against one of their own, banishing Donald Sterling and lining up the dominoes to strip him of his franchise altogether. So what would happen throughout MLB had Sterling owned, say, the Texas Rangers? Well, Fangraphs digs into just that. Marge Schott plays the role of example. "Major League Clubs can terminate the rights, privileges and property rights of another Major League Club with the approval of 3/4 of all Major League Clubs for financial improprieties, gambling, throwing games, and failing to maintain an adequate ballpark. They may also act to terminate a Club’s rights when it "willfully violates any provision of the Constitution" or "fails or refuses to fulfill its contractual obligations." This section is on par with Article 35A of the NBA Constitution in terms of voting structure and the kinds of misconduct that can lead to the expulsion of a team." MLB has booted owners before. Given the need, and a strong commissioner, MLB could do it again. Let's pray we never need to find out.
Uniform Trivia: Here is some MLB uniform trivia fun! What team was the first to wear throwbacks, and when? Who was the first player to wear an earflap on their batting helmet? Which team was the first to wear numbers on their uniforms? These and other questions are answered here.
Video Of The Week
(No catch. No ball. Beer wasted. No offer of towel. Ergo, no second date shall come.
But at least he's wearing his jersey sleeves and his cap's on backwards!)
(Having troubling viewing the video? Click here.)
K-Rod gets some love..........Santana gets some love..........Dan Haren gets some love.............Oh geez. The Mets have a Loyalty Oath. And they really mean business...........The 2014 AL West, so far the best division in the American League, second toughest so far in all of baseball. Despite the Houston Astros.........The best thing Jeff Sullivan does, is write about the worst pitches thrown in MLB games. Gold. Pure gold...........Cool beas! Rare film footage and the infamous 1919 World Series!! Dig the animated scoreboard at 1:30...........Leave it to the Red Sox to find a fertile new field in which they can plant their own sense of victimhood............Korea baseball fans take their games pretty damned seriously..............How to sneak into baseball games. Mom and dad must be very proud..........Stupidest injury of the week goes to Matt Cain of the Giants.
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...
Saturday: Big day today..........River View Park in Buellton is the site for the Buellton Beer Fest. That means YOU, Lompoc!............Down San Diego way, in Vista, the Historic Downtown Vista Village is hosting The 3rd Annual Harrah's Rhythm and Brews Music & Craft Beer Festival. This is being put on by the San Diego Brewers Guild.............Here in OC is a big one. The OC Brew Ha Ha is going on in Silverado, at Lake View Park, featuring The Sabroso Craft Beer & Taco Festival...........Speaking of ha ha's, The Big Solano Brew-Haha is at the Specialty Events Center in Fairfield...........Oh, yeah, and Tap Takeover, Keep The Glass Night will be at Boll Weevil 53 in Santee. This will be Green Flash Brewing Company, featuring Road Warrior Imperial Red Rye Ale.
Sunday: Wander over to Whole Foods market in Newport Beach for a Bottle Share @ The Back Bay Tavern............If you are near Mountain View and have a thirst, seek out Artisan Wine Depot for Speakeasy Ales & Lagers Tasting.
Stay safe, everyone...