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WeekEnd HaloLinks: Houston? We have a problem!

Don't look now, but the Angels are tied with the Astros for 2nd place in the competitive AL West. Over the next few years, this might not sound so improbable.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Alright, so maybe it is a teensy-weensy bit over the top, this Houston Astros concern. But listen up now, my friends. That would be ONLY because it is still merely Week 2 of the 2015 season. As the Kansas City Royals have been pointing out, stranger things have happened. Seattle has risen, indeed. Houston is rising, make no mistake. All of us in the AL West should be worried, even heavy-spending Arte Moreno. My opinion, though, is the ones who should be worried the most are the Texas Rangers.  This aims to be another tough season, and the promise of that legendary farm system may be passing them by.


GAME UPDATE: No game yesterday. Typical travel day. But I do promise that we will have Oakland A's recaps the next two weeks. Woopee...

The Weekend Series:

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. @ Houston Astros: Minute Maid Park. Houston, TX.

Day Game Time Probable Pitchers TV
FRIDAY 5:10 PM PDT Jered Weaver (0-2, 8.71 ERA) versus Roberto Hernandez 0-1, 1.93 ERA) FSW
SATURDAY 4:10 PM PDT C.J. Wilson (1-1, 3.95 ERA) versus  (TBA) FSW
SUNDAY 11:10 AM PDT (TBA) versus (TBA) FSW


  • Super Spicey: Mike Trout is off the best season start of his still-young career, and OCR sends a down day reflecting on this. Yeah, it's only 9 games but it is true that one of these things is not like the others:

Through his first 9 games of the season... Stat Line
2011 .133 / .212 / .167 / .379
2012 .242 / .297 / .424 / .722
2013 .250 / .302 / .375 / .677
2014 .257 / .333 / .514 / .848
2015 .438 / .500 / .594 / 1.094

  • Monkey Business: Did any of you realize that we are only 6 1/2 months away from there being teenagers who have known the Rally Monkey their whole life, and yet have never seen an Angels World Series parade?  I noticed on the latest official team stats guide that the Halos are already 0-5 when trailing after 7 innings. So I wondered if rallying was something that we just don't do anymore, especially after HH commentary in recent years crying about the worthlessness of the Rally Monkey. And instead of joining the chorus, I went to the research. BBR's Play Index tool gave me the answer. As everyone around these parts should know, the Rally Monkey was born during the 2000 season, and made its stamp in history during the 2002 WS campaign. We have had our seasons of ups and downs, but last year was actually THE BEST season for rallies since the inception of the Monkey. Notice that it helped last year to AVOID trailing after the 7th...
W L %
2015 0 5 0.0%
2014 9 48 15.8%
2013 9 69 11.5%
2012 5 59 7.8%
2011 4 53 7.0%
2010 3 67 4.3%
2009 9 51 15.0%
2008 7 50 12.3%
2007 4 59 6.3%
2006 7 60 10.4%
2005 9 49 15.5%
2004 7 60 10.4%
2003 7 79 8.1%
2002 4 50 7.4%
2001 8 68 10.5%
2000 8 64 11.1%
Totals 100 891 10.1%
  • SPEE-ZEE-Uh oh!: Scott Spiezio is back in the news. Our 2002 Game 6 hero...our St. Louis Cardinal substance abuser from 2007.....our one-time out-of-control car crash arrestee in himself tased yesterday in Illinois.  "...cops were called to Spiezio's apartment complex...after his GF called 911 and reported that Scott punched out a neighbor's window...When cops arrived to the scene, Scott was gone -- so police called for K-9 backup to track down the 42-year-old....A few hours later, officials located Spiezio hiding behind a building -- and attempted to take him into custody. Law enforcement sources tell us Spiezio resisted -- and cops ultimately had to use a taser to take him down."

  • Drew Rucinski: Drew was sent down yesterday. Adam Wilk was purchased onto the 40-man, and Tyler Skaggs sent from the 40-man over to the 60-day DL. Consider all that just more signs concerning the future of Garrett Richards.


This Date In Baseball History: 1820 - Alexander Cartwright's birthday. Forget the Abner Doubleday myths. Cartwright surely holds an important place in the birthing of out National Pastime..........1869 - Fast forward 49 years, to the day, and the nation's very first professional baseball game takes place between the Cincinnati Red Stockings and "Amateurs"...........1892 - 23 more years go by until, again on this same date, baseball's first Sunday game is held..........1904 - Blue Laws being as solid as a screen door, Sunday games were still rare but the Brooklyn Superbas (later the Dodgers) create a loophole and allow free admission, requiring fans to purchase a scorecard..........1912 - Sunday games are STILL not ubiquitous when, on this date, the New York Giants play the newly-pinstriped Yankees in the first-ever major league game played at the Polo Grounds on a Sunday. it's only an exhibition game, but it's a fund-raiser that will yield more than $9000 (nearly $250K in today's money) for the victims of the HMS Titanic disaster..........1925 - Babe Ruth undergoes an operation for an abscess in his intestines. In other words, an ulcer. He will miss the first 40 games of the season..........1929 - Clearly back on his feet, widower Babe Ruth marries his second wife - Claire Hodgson - in a ceremony held at 5 in the morning to avoid massive crowds. (Go to the 1:27 mark here.).........1934 - Red Barber, who will later recruit and school Vin Scully, calls his first major league game..........1939 - President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Yankees (as opposed to the home team) ignore my history lesson above, and visit the grave site of Abner Doubleday at Arlington National Cemetery. Roosevelt was later scheduled to throw out the first pitch at Griffith Park (Washington Senators) but the gods had already been angered and he was rained out...........1945 - Pete Gray makes his major league debut. Gray will go on to appear in 77 games in this, his only, season. He will finish his career with a BA of .218 and have 2 triples, 6 doubles, and 5 stolen bases. Why do we care? Well, Jeff Mathis fans, Pete Gray played with only one arm. (Gray's career OPS+ = 47. Mathis' career OPS+ = 52.)..........1951 - Mickey Mantle singles in his first-ever at-bat...........1951 - Bob Sheppard, Yankee Stadium announcer, calls the very first of his 56 years worth of home games..........1955 - Taking a cue from Mantle, Roberto Clemente singles in his first-ever at-bat..........1956 - Luis Aparicio, Don Drysdale and Frank Robinson. All three are future Hall of Famers..........1964 - The Mets open Shea Stadium..........1968 - The A's play their first game in Oakland..........1977 - In a classic example of trying to fight off an irresistible force, umpires walk of the field in protest of instant replay being shown on the scoreboard in Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium..........2012 - Jamie Moyer, at the age of 49 years and 150 days, becomes the oldest player to win a major league game..........


  • Legal Steps: This went viral on Wednesday, and drags the back foot of Jordan Walden into the conversation. Carter Capps has hit the Big Time based a heck of a lot on his outrageously unorthodox delivery. Everybody has an opinion on it, and the line basically break down between two sides: those who have some experience making rulings based on, or defending, the official rules of baseball...and all the rest of humanity. Whereas Walden would take a hop off the pitcher's plate and land on his push-off foot a few inches later on his way to the plate, Capps hops a couple of feet off the pitcher's plate, lands, replants, and pushes off again from the mound dirt itself. Umpires, and MLB, consider all those acrobatics to a part of his normal delivery, a delivery that began with his initial push-off from the pitcher's plate. They are working overly hard at parsing this language in the official rule book: "An ILLEGAL PITCH is (1) a pitch delivered to the batter when the pitcher does not have his pivot foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate; (2) a quick return pitch. An illegal pitch when runners are on base is a balk."  My opinion is that is all B.S. Based on that logic, C.J. Wilson could incorporate cartwheels into his "full" delivery, beginning at the pitcher's plate, and hand the ball to Chris Iannetta.

  • Slow Play: Canada has decided to do an end-around we Americans and our attention-deficit driven need to speed up baseball games. Their response? Install new turf in Toronto that slows down baseballs.  Lots of folks have noticed.  Ground balls have died in the infield instead of getting through to the outfield for a base hit. But, then get this: "...the complicated process of removing the artificial grass between Blue Jays homestands might also help to make the field play faster....The removal machinery applies 'extreme pressure' to the turf when it is rolled up, helping to stabilize the rubber pellets that form the infill and flatten the synthetic blades of grass...Over time, playing on it will do the same thing.' Hey, here's an idea! Try using one of these between home stands.

  • TrumBomb!: Does anybody remember the dominating performance of Madison Bumgarner last October? How the guy was untouchable and all? The best playoff pitcher since we started walking upright?? Well, guess who remains unimpressed.


Flip 'em if you 've got 'em!..........If there is one thing to take away from the first few days of 2015 baseball, it's that the Angels are King Makers! 9 days in, as the Halos fall from #2 to #14, their efforts totally paid of as the Royals were elevated from #17 to #1!............Grant Brisbee wants to allow fielders to race beyond the fence to snag home runs. I still think that the rule should require the fielder to come down in the field of play while retaining control of his catch in order for it to be an out...........Robinson CanoMaster of the Brain Fart..........Kevin Pillar shows off his mad Free Running skills..........I wonder what would have happened to history had we kept Jean Segura and tried to convert him into a second baseman?............Whew! Kris Bryant has finally been polished off in the minors and ready for The Show. And just in time, too, as he needed to show up on or after today in order to assure the Cubs a full extra year of ownership. I'll bet nobody in the LAA front office is complaining about that part of the CBA.............Yankee fans everywhere must be broken-hearted, as word comes that Derek Jeter has moved on and forgotten all about them.


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: A Very Hoppy Friday Night beer taste/release at Portland Brewing Company in Portland (CA)...........It's not baseball, but there will be beer: the Long Beach Grand Prix goes all weekend.

Saturday: Bay Area Craft Festival at Waterfront Park in Martinez, CA...........St. Luke, Fruit of the Vine, Food, Beer & Wine Stroll kicks off in Stockton at 4005 N. Sutter St............Taste of Brews Inland Empire, a brew festival, will be held at Riverview Park in Corona..........Tartan Day Scottish Faire should be beer heavy, in Fremont.. And some pretty cool athletic competitions will be in store, as well..........CityBeat Festival of Beers on El Cajon Blvd, right there in front of the Lafayette Hotel in San Diego. That's the North Park area, above the Zoo, for us northerners.........The Long Beach Grand Prix continues.

Sunday: ...........The Long Beach Grand Prix concludes.

Stay safe, everyone!