Some historical perspective here would be fun, I believe.
Back in 1995 the California Angels suffered a major collapse, and of epic proportions. Subsequently, that collapse has been measured as the greatest such collapse of all time (although I could probably spin the Boston collapse of 2011 as being at least the equal). The Angels were up by 11 games as late at the end of August 9th. They coughed up all of that lead as of September 20th. That is a swing of 11 full games in the standings, over 39 games played across 42 days. Worse, they were up by 10 1/2 at the end of August 16th. That means they lost 10.5 games in the standings, over 32 games played across 35 days.
But we are still not done (trust me, I am going to alleviate the pain I am recalling). They then went down by 3 full games as of September 26th. So from 10.5 games up on August 16th to 3 games back on September 26, the Angels saw a horrendous swing of 13.5 games in the standings, over 36 games played across 41 days.
It is often overlooked that they did right the ship in time to tie the standings back up on the final regular season game, forcing a one game "play in" event which is pretty much the same as today's Wild Card Playoff Game. So, by today's standards, they did recover and did not miss what we would call "the playoffs" today.
But, still, -13.5 games in the standings, over 36 games played across 41 days. But at least hey made the play in game.
Weeeelll...as of this morning, from the 10th of August to the 11th of September the Oakland A's have lost 14 games in the standings (from 4 up, to 10 back), over only 29 games played across only 32 days. Greater fail, faster fail, and more rapidly accomplished. And, with plenty of time left to make things even worse.
It's been from first to free fall, with scant chance of righting their own ship in time to catch the Angels. Folks, we have the foundation in place for a new, undisputed, Champion of Major League Baseball Choak-dom. That cake has been fully baked, and is now cooling on the countertop. In the mixer is merely the frosting, represented by the potential to miss out on the playoffs altogether. Would that be too sweet?
Anyway, the new crown of ignominy is already on order, and it shall be painted in greens and golds.
- PLAYOFF TICKETS!: Let's get this out front and center. Tickets go on sale for possible ALDS next Thursday morning, September 18th, at 10AM sharp. See you people in line? That would be a mistake. Don't go. Tickets will only be sold at the stadium, on game days. On the 18th, you all need to hit the phones and the website.
- Angels Keep Rolling: Ok, to the game. Angels defeat Rangers 7-3 to sweep Texas, in Texas, and keep their offensive surge rolling along. I gave you all some pretty incredible offensive numbers this past Monday, and the totals are just starting to get staggering. With luck, by Monday the updates will be just ridiculous...........In last night's game, a check of the box score that Mike Scioscia used 15 position players and 8 pitchers. 23 total players in one game!...........Since Garrett Richards went down on August 20th, this was the 4th game where Scioscia went into battle without a starting pitcher, and paraded the bullpen. The first game, on 8/25, was the Wade LeBlanc debacle. But the last three, leading up to last night, were all led by Cory Rasmus and resulted in LAA wins. 3 and 1? We would have been happy with that outcome via Richards.
- WTF?: Mike Trout has now been plunked 3 times in the past 2 games. And Trout is getting pissed of. Rightfully so, when one considers what happened last night to Giancarlo Stanton, whose face was crushed by a Mike Friers fastball, and Starling Marte, who was hit just a couple inches lower than Trout by A.J. Burnett and forced to exit the game. and Chase Headley, who took a shot to the chin off a Jake McGee pitch and was taken off the field. Supposedly, this is because the Rangers had adopted a strategy to pitch Trout inside before their pitching staff had proven control to manage that risky approach. That's the story. Everybody is sticking to it. But I call bullshit. The second time that Trout was hit, Rangers catcher Tomas Telis did set up late on the inside half of the plate, but his target was weak, lazy, late, and setting up low and nowhere near the area that Mick Martinez was aiming at. Further, when Robby Ross Jr. pitched to the same Trout, with the same catcher, under the control of the same manager and pitching coach, Ross struck out Trout with a range of locations, only 1 being inside. In fact, walking back through Tuesday's game the entire rest of Trout's appearances saw only the random inside pitch versus a much greater number of pitches everywhere else. It was not a universal strategy.
- More Trout: Jeff Sullivan returns to the study of pitch locations. Sure, it goes where we all expect. Pitchers are moving up and Trout is chasing more. But down further is an interesting tidbit: "The Angels, as a team, have seen baseball’s second-highest increase in four-seamer rate since the break, and they’ve seen baseball’s greatest decrease in sinker rate. Trout can’t explain all of that. Maybe this is less about preparing for Trout, and more about a run of arms more likely to throw high fastballs. That seems like silliness — it seems like Trout would demand particular attention — but then, pitchers hadn’t really adjusted to Trout before, so maybe this is a fluke. It perhaps shouldn’t be a fluke, but we’ll see how it continues." I wonder what that would mean to the cycle we saw with the Angels and the offense, overall? Is that a reason why the team struggled? Is that a reason behind the recent explosion? I don't know, but I do ask.
- Dino Ebel: It worked for Joe Maddon. It worked for Bud Black. It worked for Ron Roenicke. And Mike Scioscia thinks that being an MLB manager can work for Din Ebel, too. Oh, and also Bengie Molina. "Ebel's name recently came out on a search list for the open managerial position with the Astros, Scioscia said, and his former catcher, current Rangers first-base coach Bengie Molina, is in the running for jobs with the Astros and Rangers."
This Date In Baseball History: 1930 - The final bounced home run of Major League Baseball is hit at Ebbets Field by Robins (Dodgers) catcher Al Lopez. Yes, in the very olden days your could hit a home run on the bounce. (We'll never know how many of Babe Ruth's homers were one-hops over the fence, although the claim is zero. Lou Gehrig is known to have a had a few.) Today, of course, we call those "ground rule doubles" (technically, the correct term is 'automatic double"). Winning bar trivia: if a struck ball hits a player and lands in the stands, it is ruled an automatic double if the play occurs within 250 feet of home plate. This play actually happened on August 3, 2007, when Melky Cabrera lined a shot off of pitcher Ryan Braun's foot (not that Ryan Braun, THIS Ryan Braun) and the ball sailed into the stands on the fly. Since the ball went over the Visitor's dugout, it was ruled as a hit to first base, and an automatic double. Click on the bottom of the 6th inning to see this on Gameday. Also, if you click on Melky Cabrera to expand his at-bat, watch how they present the Kansas City pitcher Ryan Braun. He is wearing an LAA cap. Braun signed with LAA in 2010, but didn't stick. He played a few games of Independent league ball in the minors in 2011 before exiting baseball altogether...........1936 - Kid Elberfeld pinch-hits for Fulton of the Kitty League, and grounds out to third. "Kid" is 61 years old. But you should read about Elberfeld. The guy was quite a peach..........1952 - The Pirates become the first team in Major League Baseball to use protective headgear across the majority of the team. Next season Pittsburgh GM Branch Rickey would mandate their use. Don't be fooled, though, Rickey did NOT invent them..........1953 - The Dodgers clinch a pennant at the earliest date in baseball history. Considering that they played only 155 games then, and did not have divisions in either league, it's going to be tough to beat that record..........1959 -Toothpick Sam Jones throws a 4-hitter for the Giants, defeating Philadelphia and becoming only the second black MLB player to win 20 games in a season...........1962 - Tom Cheney strikes out 21 batters in a single game, which is pretty amazing. More amazing, though, is that Cheney did that while throwing a complete-game, 16 inning, 2-1 victory over the Orioles..........1962 - Willie Mays faints in the dugout in the 2nd inning and is carried off on a stretcher, being hospitalized for nervous exhaustion (this happened more than once). Mays will miss the next 3 games, and the Giants will end up losing 6 games in a row (including the game wherein he faints), but still catch the Dodgers and defeat them in a 1-game playoff to win the NL pennant...........1972 - Denny McClain makes his final Big League appearance in a losing effort as he gives up 3 runs in the final frame and the Braves lose to the Reds, 7-5. Ok, just kind of interesting. But get this: McClain, who was rumored to have been involved in gambling and bookmaking while a player, faces as his final batter the legendary Pete Rose. Rose, of course, will end up being banned from baseball for pretty much the same thing. Rose will single, forcing a pitching change that will send McClain to the showers...........1976 - Sid Monge of the Angels surrenders a base hit in the bottom of the 2nd to 51 year old Minnie Minoso, making Minoso the oldest player to get a base hit in a Major League regular season game (4th oldest, if you include post-season)..........1995 - Harry Caray, during an interview with Cubs' manager Jim Riggleman during the pre-game before the Cubs will face the Dodgers and rookie pitcher Hideo Nomo, blurts out ""Well, my eyes are slanty enough, how 'bout yours?" Caray will later apologize (something he rarely did). Nomo will defeat the Cubs 7-1, putting him 11-5 on the season.
- 2014 MLB Postseason: The Schedule is now set. I see the potential for a lot of weeknight games. A Tuesday for the Wild Card Game. Thursday, Friday, Sunday, Monday*, Thursday* for the ALDS. Friday, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday*, Friday*, Saturday* for the ALCS. Then the AL is the home team in the WS on Tuesday, Wednesday, Tuesday* and Wednesday*. Also, I see that I am going to be traveling back east for everything from Game 3 of the WS on out. It could have worked out real nice had the Mets not sucked so hard. Not that that was my plan. Astute observers will notice how Bud Selig tiptoes around Monday Night Football, and Thursday Night Football. (* = if necessary)
- Mets Mess: Back on September 1, in my MondoLinks, I linked to what seemed to be a minor item of unfortunate news, that the Mets had fired their Marketing Director. It seemed unfortunate because this person had blazed some innovative trails that the rest of baseball was following, and doing so despite having a very poor product to sell. Well, the story turns out to be a heck of a lot worse than all that. The fired Director, Leigh Castergine, is now suing the Mets and owner Fred Wilpon on the claim of being fired because Wilpon was morally opposed to her being pregnant out of wedlock, and the team management was aware of his opinions and attacks and did nothing. Craig Calcaterra, who runs NBC Sports' Hardball Talk blog, is an attorney whose personal practice involved lawsuits of this type. And he has read the complaint, and thinks that Wilpon and the Mets have some major problems on their hands. "I don’t know if [the allegations are true] or not. But I do know that reputable attorneys like the ones who represent the plaintiff here do not make such easily testable assertions in complaints in specific terms like these (and as appear in several other places in the complaint) if they’re trying to shake someone down or use a lawsuit as leverage to get something else. They may be false, sure, but based on my experience, allegations stated the way in which the allegations are stated here ring true. Or, certainly ring in a non-frivolous manner."
The need to find Anybody-but-Trout-for-MVP campaign has added Victor Martinez to the list..........Hey Rangers, get the eff off OUR field!!!..........Trout porn: first player EVER to lead a league in Runs Scored in first 3 years of career.............Rangers fan tries to make us feel sorry for him. Rangers fan writes melodrama. "Go Nats" comments and burns Rangers fan's 1st World addled ass...........Deep sigh. If only the Angels were serious about Latin players, Josh Hamilton might have a real reason to be worried..........Mike Scioscia, Manager of the Year Front Runner. And, considering he is playing with two starters and one power hitter tied behind his back, I tend to agree...........Speaking of Sosh, somebody commented around here that Sosh is using more stable lineups than in the past. Specifically last year. Not true. Last year he used 118 different batting orders. Already this year, he is at least at 113...........Bud Selig forms a committee to study the pace of baseball games. To be followed soon by "Bud Selig forms a committee, to study the pace of Bud Selig committees"...........Grant Brisbee, upstairs among the SBN overlords but forever an avowed A's homer, goes a long way to explain the Angels success. And it pretty much boils down to "lucky"............Puig Smuggling. Ugly then, uglier now...........Sandlot batting. Because, hey, sometimes it works!...........Russell Martin IS Iron Man!...........Struggling to reserve judgement. Hoping it ain't so. But maybe Ron Washington is not such a sympathetic figure after all...........Click only if you have a strong stomach because, yes folks, the Jeter suck-fest CAN get a lot worse, and has...........And, finally, what to do with your baseball field when your baseball season is over.
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: 12th Annual Microbrew Festival at Two Harbors, over on Catalina. Two harbors has a great history, by the way...........5th Annual Peter Reeves Memorial Sourfest takes place at Churchill's Pub & Grill down in San Marcos..........And The Libertine Pub up in Morro Bay is also doing sour, with The International Sour Beer Day Extravaganza..........Oktoberfest in Alpine Village continues...........Mammoth lakes, in case you have yet to hear, is really working hard to put up festivals as they try to deal with the winter economic cratering that comes with the drought. This weekend its the Rocke & Rye Whiskey and Brew Tasting.
Sunday: The River Craft Beer Festival is happening in Petaluma at the Downtown Riverfront..........2014 Brews on the Bay takes place at the SF Brewers Guild in San Francisco...........5th Annual Peter Reeves Memorial Sourfest continues...........Oktoberfest in Alpine Village continues.