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HumpLinks: .500 becoming a way of life

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Scioscia runs out the Hot Mess Crew to the mound last night, surrendering completely in the 7th. The pitching debacle is helpful in obscuring the lame offense and yet another fielding error.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Nearly half way through the season, the Halos are still only able to barely manage to win half their games. .500 ball is becoming a way of life, and the Angels are finding ways to stay as close to .500 as possible, even if that way is damned ugly.

You know things are brutal when not only the manager throws in the towel - and with 1/3 of the game yet to be played! - but even the play-by-play announcer starts to wander off the event, and takes his audience with him.

Yes, it was that bad. It was one of those nights when, about 4 PM, I was wondering whether to bite on the impulse and change my plans and take the missus to a game. And it was one of those nights when, about 7 PM, I was regretting my decision to not bite on that impulse. Nothing was going on at the house and work was sucking me back in. And it was one of those nights when, about 8 PM, I was feeling damned sorry for those thousands of fellow Halo fans who bit on that impulse of their own, and went to witness that debacle.

But you know what? I was feeling damned lucky for all the right reasons. Not because I missed the debacle, which would be the wrong reason. Nope, by 9 PM I realized that had I bit on that impulse, right about then I would be getting hell from the missus who would be doing that passive-aggressive thing of inquiring whether or not I wished to keep sitting there and witnessing it all. And I love baseball. I would stay. I would vest longer than Mike Scioscia, hanging in there all the way to the final out. All the way. And I would be happy about it.

It's now about 10 PM, and I regret not going. I would have had a hell of a time.

Instead, I did the following. Enjoy the links.

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Angels Baseball

The Formula: Mike Scioscia has found his important puzzle piece: the 7th-inning role player. This puzzle piece is the flame-throwing Trevor Gott. "The 22-year-old gives the Angels pitching staff something they don't have a lot of: a flamethrower. Most of the starting rotation, and eighth- and ninth-inning duo Joe Smith and Huston Street, don't throw hard. Gott does, and not only does he throw hard, his fastball is live. It sits from 95 to 98 mph -- he's added velocity since he was in the Minors...and runs sharply left to right."............

Small Ball: So Daniel Robertson is happy to do the little things. Such as successfully sac bunt on a suicide squeeze play to score the winning run late in a tight game. Yeah, that kind of stuff. And he is on a roll: "He’s made three starts, appeared in seven games and struck out just once in 15 plate appearances....He’s also made some remarkable catches in the outfield, one of the strengths that initially drew the Angels’ interest." But hold on. Thre is an even better reason to spotlight Robertson. He's gritty! It's all "...about his work ethic". Because somebody "...has to do the dirty work," he said. "Someone has to be in the trenches. Someone has to be diving, making those plays. And those are the little things that need to be taken care of..."............

Predictable: Who says C.J. Wilson is inconsistent? Not Alden Gonzalez: "CJ Wilson against the #Astros since the start of last year: 28 earned runs, 33 1/3 innings.". Now, I realize that a team does not juggle a rotation so that a key starter can miss his slot in order to avoid any certain team, but shouldn't we expect that those analytics interns walk downstairs and bludgeon Wilson over the head with this news? I don't care that he is dismissive of data, the dude is an employee. Somebody needs to give him some kind of order to approach this particular team differently, because they know all they need to know about how Wilson is going to approach them normally...........

Unpossible: How the heck does this thing happen? Luis Valbuena hit 2 home runs last night, one off of Wilson in the 4th inning, and then one more off of Cam Bedrosian in the 5th inning. That give Valbuena 19 total home runs on the season, so far. That is more home runs than Mike Trout. It's as many home runs as Paul Goldschmidt and Nelson Cruz. It's just 3 home runs behind the red-hot Albert Pujols, who currently leads the league. But Luis Valbuena is batting a buck 95. Yep. His slash line going into last night was a miserable .186 / .262 / .428. He had only 44 hits of any form. SMH..............

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Elsewhere in Baseball

Oops: One minute a stadium hero, snagging a foul ball bare-handed and denying the opposition a cheap out, all while still protecting your baby. The baby never even stops working on his bottle....The next minute, after replay review, you are the bum. Fan interference, out #3. Next...........

But do they have matching Polo's?: It's soo simple to be far more imaginative than the LAA promos, still rooted in what worked a decade ago. I have already touched on cross-promotional opportunities with Hollywood tent-pole blockbusters. And along that theme, why not Hollywood retrospectives? For example, Jumanji jerseys for a Robin Williams celebration??? I am not suggesting that the players need to wear these in a game, but why not during BP, and why not hand out related merch to incoming fans? And why not then sell BP-worn jerseys in the team store?...........

Cliches: "Rats abandoning a sinking ship." Could any phrase more aptly define the reaction of Ohio State politicians to hold off on passing a resolution in support of Pete Rose? Up to a point in recent time that can still be measured in hours, these politicians were gearing up to petition MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred to reinstate Pete Rose, This was to be timed in conjunction with the national attention focused on Cincinnati for the 2015 All-Star game. Then proof popped up that Rose was a worse offender than previously proven, and a bigger liar than previously known. And with proof, goes "poof!"...........

Still Scoring: Some guys have all the luck. This year's super-hottie bikini model cum commercial conquerer (not to be confused with last year's super-hottie bikini model cum commercial conquerer), Hannah Davis, is now the traveling companion of Derek Jeter. This is the Derek Jeter who has already enjoyed the attention of this lady, and this lady, and on and on and on. But wait! It gets better. Ms. Davis pays for her own half. I have to ask: does she provide the gift baskets, too?.............

Blue Storm, Rising. Red Storm, Setting?: While we flounder, is our window closing? The Royals are lining up to be the Total Power of the American League. Our own version of the Washington NationalsThe latest rumors have them considering the addition of Johnny Cueto, Ben Zobrist...............

In Closing: One of the best things about being in a baseball stadium in late summer afternoons is the glorious display of mother nature that can bless the faithful who have come to worship the sport. Sublime, as only a Beethoven or a Mozart could accompany. And I never have my good camera..............

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HH Links Grammar Robot: I have been getting pinged by the folks at Grammarly.com, asking me to engage their resources here on these pages. I suspect that they are reading my stuff, and silently cringing. I can't say as I blame them, since I cringe when I read my stuff, too. Anyway, these are the folks who performed the baseball fan grammar cock survey, showing the Mets fans to be the worst at grammar (the Indians fans rating the best, and we Angels fans coming in somewhere in the middle). Now, according to my contract, I am honor bound to proof-read and edit my own content. But when I drive 8 hours from Tucson back to Santa Ana on a scorching hot Sunday afternoon, unpack and clean up and settle in and get caught up on the news, then compose MondoLinks and publish at two o'clock in the morning, only to have to wake back up at 6AM for my day job, I know that I can leave such things to red floyd. Well, as it is, I have loaded the Grammarly extension to Chrome and things should get better around here. Not perfect. Just better. (For the record, I do wonder how a tool such as Grammarly measures shortcut baseball fan lingo. Maybe Mets fans are just better at it?).............


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