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Thursday Halolinks: CHAMPS!

They did it. The Angels are the 2014 A.L. West Division champions.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

I wish I were a better writer.  That way I'd have the words to explain how great this morning is.  Instead, I'll just leave this here...


Post-game celebration:


  • I've given C.J. Wilson a bunch of grief lately about his pitching, but last night showed just how dominant he can be.  I hate to say it, but it looked like he just went out there and threw the ball, which goes completely against everything I've ever read about his approach.  If Wilson can continue to throw the ball as he did last night, this team will go deep into the postseason.  WORTH THE WAIT: ANGELS CLAIM AL WEST - The Orange County Register, "Wilson, who endured a 10-start stretch with a 7.71 ERA this summer, had gradually improved lately, but still showed plenty of reason for concern. On Wednesday, though, he was dominant. He took a no-hitter into the fifth and finished with seven innings on just 95 pitches, much better than his usual rate. "I have been working on mechanics a lot lately," Wilson said. "It doesn’t always show up immediately, but after a while, the hard work paid off."
  • The only thing that would have made last night better would be for Texas to have beaten the A's before the Angels won theirs.  That way we'd get to see the players jumping around on the field after the final out of the game was made.  Angels clinch as Trout relishes first postseason - ESPN Los Angeles, "In the end, the Angels were finally able to celebrate their first AL West Division title since 2009 after huddling around the television sets in their clubhouse, watching the Texas Rangers' improbable six-run ninth inning comeback win over the Oakland A's to seal the championship."  This is how I picture the players "huddling" around their television sets...
  • And this is what they saw: MLB Recap - Texas Rangers at Oakland Athletics - Sep 17, 2014 -, "The bearded closer's fourth blown save in 25 chances negated a stellar start by Jeff Samardzija and ended Oakland's two-year reign as AL West champions. The Los Angeles Angels clinched the division with a 5-0 win over Seattle and the loss by the A's. Oakland dropped into a tie with Kansas City for the AL's top wild card. Seattle is two games behind the A's and Royals for the second and final berth." Miller: Angels' crazy year has crazy end - The Orange County Register, "As the final out was recorded at Coliseum, the TV images appeared to show that there were more fans in this stadium watching the game than there were fans in the stadium in which the game actually was being played."
  • With the win, it's time to spread the joy, while also looking at how this all came to happen: Angels clinch AL West title with 5-0 victory over Seattle - LA Times, "Joe Smith stabilized the ninth inning when he replaced the struggling Ernesto Frieri as closer in late June, and General Manager Jerry Dipoto fortified the bullpen by trading Frieri to Pittsburgh for veteran right-hander Jason Grilli on June 27 and acquiring proven closer Huston Street from San Diego on July 18. Those additions, combined with the continued dominance of Smith and Jepsen and the emergence of rookie right-hander Mike Morin, transformed a shaky bullpen to a deep and dependable unit that has posted a 2.74 ERA and converted 27 of 31 save opportunities since June 24. "The overwhelming reason why we've made a push is our ability to hold leads," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think from the middle of the season to now, it's been one of the best bullpens in the league."
  • Sure, the bullpen has been pretty much lights-out for the last half of the season, but without the offense putting runs on the board, they wouldn't have a lead to hold: How the Angels won the AL West | Big League Stew - Yahoo Sports, "One powerful, sustained surge Entering play on June 20, the Angels were 38-33 and six games behind Oakland in the standings. Since, they are an MLB best 57-24 and are now 11 1/2 games up in the division with 11 to play. That's an incredible 17 1/2 games shift in the standings. It just seemed like the Angels flipped the switch into a higher gear we all suspected they possessed, but hadn't seen on display. They kept pushing and pushing, eventually pulling even with the A's on Aug. 25. Once they did, the A's have basically collapsed under the pressure, allowing the glide home."
  • Sorry, I hate to pee in your cereal, but this tidbit of information completely took me by surprise:Angels beat Mariners 5-0, win AL West title - Yahoo Sports, "Trout appears to be the likely AL MVP, but he struck out four times, including his fourth K to end the seventh, tying Baltimore's Chris Davis for the AL lead with 173 strikeouts."  Of course, strikeouts aren't completely terrible, and we all have noticed Trout's K's seem more frequent, but wow, I didn't know he was leading the league.
  • So now that the division is wrapped up, the next thing we need to watch for is home field advantage: Mariners-Angels Preview - Yahoo Sports, "Owner of the majors' best record, Los Angeles was four games behind the first-place Athletics on Aug. 10 but has gone 27-8 since. Now, it leads Baltimore by three games for the best record in baseball."
  • This must be what it feels like to be an Oakland fan this morning: 
  • Here are two interesting articles about the Dipoto/Scioscia dynamic happing in the Angels' organization.  Dipoto credits Scioscia for adapting to changes - The Orange County Register, "After General Manager Jerry Dipoto and his staff provided the necessary facts and figures over the offseason, about everything from defense to batting order to bullpen management, Scioscia shifted many of his long-held beliefs about how baseball should be played, Dipoto said Wednesday. "To look back, that’s a very difficult thing to do," Dipoto said after the Angels clinched their first American League West title in five years. "Mike’s a Hall of Fame manager. To make an adjustment at this stage in his career, to absorb so much more information, to put it into play the way he has, to be open to things. ... It took a while for us to go down that road, but he’s done an unbelievable job."  And...It's quite the turnaround for Angels and General Manager Jerry Dipoto - LA Times, "Winning also has bred a healthy and hard-won mutual respect between Dipoto, in his third year here, and Manager Mike Scioscia, in his 15th year. In his second month on the job, Dipoto fired Scioscia's longtime hitting coach, Mickey Hatcher, and the thaw in the relationship between manager and general manager was slow in coming. Dipoto said the tension between the two had less to do with player evaluation and more with on-field strategy. As an example, Dipoto said, "When I first got here, I was mystified by the way we ran the bases." By now, Dipoto said, he has come around to Scioscia's way of thinking — that the Angels might run into plenty of outs, but aggressive running puts the other team on the defensive and forces enough errors to make the strategy worthwhile."
  • This is probably going to be Weaver's most relaxed start of the year: On deck: Mariners at Angels, Thursday, 7 p.m. - The Orange County Register, "RHP JERED WEAVER (17-8, 3.50) Weaver is coming off a dominating performance in which he struck out 12 in seven innings of a victory over the Houston Astros. Weaver will be making his 31st start against Seattle, essentially pitching one whole season of his career against the Mariners."
  • And finally, the Angels need this guy.  They need this guy to be healthy.  They need this guy to be healthy and good.  Angels keeping close eye on Shoemaker's injury - The Orange County Register, ""Its always encouraging when he comes in and feels a little better, as opposed to it going the other direction, but there are a lot of hurdles Matt will have to cross before he goes out and pitches again," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "We’re not going to have that answer in 24 or 48 hours. It’s going to take some time. It’s still open-ended. We’re keeping our fingers crossed, but we’re not going to have that answer for some time yet."
  • While watching last night's game, they showed this and I thought, "Wait, what the hell was that?"
  • And I knew there was a great caption for this...I just couldn't think of one.  So it's up to you, give Kyle Seager a cation: