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WeekEnd HaloLinks: September 11th, 2015

Angels host Houston for three this weekend, mathematically still in a playoff hunt. It's true!

Trout looks to come alive against the division leaders
Trout looks to come alive against the division leaders
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

It's been fun and stressful trying to fill the mighty shoes of links-master Stirrups. I'm certain myself, Gorby and Josh will be relieved to have him back. That it took three of us is telling of the work he puts into these 5 days a week, with twice the content any of us were able to muster. Cheers, Stirrups!

This was also the day I was dreading having to cover. It's pretty much impossible to wake up this morning, see today's date and exhaust any energy complaining about Arte or Scioscia or MVP voting. I wasn't looking forward to being the guy that had to say something. I am certain we are all logging in here today to get our daily Angels fix and distract ourselves from how messed up the whole world still is. Part of me harbors guilt for being so passionate about a meaningless game when there are more pressing issues in the world that would benefit from my efforts. I also recognize that this same simple game provided comfort to many of us in the days immediately following those attacks in 2001. At the risk of sounding too sanctimonious here, I hope we all try to use this day as a reminder to appreciate one another, regardless of where we come from or what we believe in.

And now what we are all here for...


Angels Baseball


Houston Astros @ Los Angeles Angels - Angels Stadium, Anaheim, CA.

Day Game Time Probable Pitchers TV
FRIDAY 7:05 PM PDT Dallas Keuchel (17-6, 2.29 ERA) vs. Jered Weaver (6-10, 4.78 ERA) FSW
SATURDAY 6:05 PM PDT Lance McCullers (5-5, 3.07 ERA) vs. Hector Santiago (8-9, 3.24 ERA) FSW
SUNDAY 12:35 PM PDT Mike Fiers (7-10, 3.66 ERA) vs. Andrew Heaney (6-3, 3.52 ERA) FSW

From the official team Game Notes"The Angels have gone 5-8 against the Astros, and they were swept in Houston the last time the clubs played, in late July... There's a chance that Albert Pujols returns to first base for the Angels during the weekend series. Pujols has been limited to designated hitter because of lingering pain in his right foot."


MIKE TROUT: Is there an MVP debate this year? Grant Brisbee longs for the days of the Trout-Carbrera debates, as both the narrative and the analytics seem to come to the same conclusion this year. Real bummer about that wrist, Trouty. Though four top-2 finishes in MVP voting to start your career is a pretty nifty trick, considering how fickle the voting body can be.

MAGIC SOCKS?: Erick Aybar convinced Albert Pujols and Pujols convinced Trout to pull those socks up high on Wednesday and the results speak for themselves: "Sometimes you just have to change the flavor, man," Pujols said, a big smile on his face after his eighth-inning single gave the Angels a 3-2 win over the Dodgers. "Just try to do something to turn things around, because you never know."


Elsewhere in Baseball

RACE TO THE BOTTOM: There was a "great tank debate" throughout NHL circles this past season, as several teams blatantly positioned themselves to lose as much as possible in hopes of securing the services of the best hockey prospect since Mario Lemieux. This, despite the fact that finishing dead last only improves your lottery odds and doesn't guarantee anyone the top pick. Baseball, of course, employs a simple bottom-to-top system for their draft, making you wonder why tanking isn't more prevalent among major league teams. The Astros have taken a lot of heat for their cold approach to team building, but their sudden emergence has done plenty to silence their critics. It appears as though the NL East has caught on, as they currently account for three of the five worst teams in the majors this year. Too bad next year's draft doesn't appear to have any consensus top-end talent to aim for.

MARK MULDER: The former pitcher, who you remember attempted an improbable comeback with the Angels last year, was Jonah Keri's guest on his most recent podcast. While he does resort to some boring platitudes, for the most part he was refreshingly candid about the mentality behind pitching, pitch counts and what makes a good pitching coach: "I think the thing that made (Duncan) so great was that he realized every pitcher... was different. You have to take what you're good at and now let's make that great." Or, you can just teach them a slider. Throw the damn slider!

CESPEDES FOR MVP?: Wait, this is actually a thing? I guess it wouldn't truly be awards season if there weren't some absurd MVP debate. No one can argue what his stellar play has meant to the Mets down the stretch (and leaving Angel fans to wonder what if), but even if he kept this up over a full NL season, I'd still side with those writing in Bryce Harper's name as the runaway NL MVP.

NO MORE TEENS: At least not in the little leagues. As of 2018, the league moved it's "age determination date" to August 31. "Andrew Solomon, the coach of the Pearland, Texas team that made it to this year's U.S. championship game, said the older kids have had an advantage since tee-ball, when several months in age can make a big developmental difference. They were more physically advanced than their peers, which led to them being the top players, which often meant more playing time, which helped them improve their skills and perpetuated the cycle, he said." How about MLB implementing term limits for managers, to level the playing field and give younger skippers an opportunity?


And now, courtesy of our friend Stirrups...

This Date In Baseball History: 1886 - CVonnie Mack makes his professional debut...........1902 - John Malarkey becomes the first pitcher in history to win a game by hitting his own walk-off home run as the Boston Beaneaters (Braves) defeat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3..............1918 - In a season shortened by WWI, the Boston Red Sox best the Chicago Cubs 2-1 to take the World Series in the earliest conclusion of the Fall Classic in history. The Red Sox won't win the World Series again until 2004 (The Cubs last WS win was in 1886, and their last WS appearance was in 1945.)..........1938 - In a PCL game between the San Francisco Seals and the Oakland Oaks, kids were granted free admission, free peanuts, and even free bats for Lefty O'Doul Day for Kids. Between games of the double-header, players walked out onto the field and started autographing baseballs and throwing them into the stands for the kids to chase after............1955 - 18-year old Bonus Baby Fred Van Dusen makes his Big League debut as he comes into a game in the 9th inning as a pinch-hitter. Braves pitcher Humberto Robinson hits Van Dusen with a pitch. Van Dusen would be sent down to the minors shortly thereafter and never make it back up. He finishes his career with a 1.000 on-base percentage and no batting average and never took the field on defense...........1966 - Braves' pitcher Pat Jarvis becomes victim #1 of Nolan Ryan's career 5,714 strikeouts...........1974 - In a 7 hour, 4 minute, 25 inning marathon, the Cards will beat the Mets 4-3 as the two teams combine to send 202 batters to the plate...........1985 - Pete Rose passes Ty Cobb to take over first place on the all-time career hit leader list...........1999 - Twins pitcher Eric Milton throws a no-hitter against the Angels...........2001 - In the wake of the terrorist attacks against New York and Washington, DC, MLB cancels all games until further notice. Yankee Stadium is evacuated in response to being a potential target.............2002 - Phil Rizzuto and Whitey Ford unveil a statue in Monument Park in Yankees Stadium, dedicated to the victims of 9/11...........2010 - MLB allows Pete Rose to take the field in Cincinnati as the Reds celebrate the 25th anniversary of becoming baseball's all-time hit leader...........2013 - Brain McCann shows to the world what a jackass he really is...........

Have a great weekend, everyone!