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HumpLinks: Halos climb all the way back to WC

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It's still far from over, but the Halos have climbed all the way out of that August hole they dug for themselves and are back in the driver's seat for a playoff spot. Now to hold on to it.

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The best way to manage one's way through a grenade-riddled bullpen lacking a joe Smith and Huston Street, is for a Nick Tropeano to step up and go 6 2/3 of 3-hit ball and shut down the Oakland A's for the miserable team they are. Back that with Old Man Albert Pujols nabbing 3 hits, scoring 3 runs, stealing a base on a sleeping defense and you have the recipe for WIN. Cap it off by burning Mat Latos' arm for a couple of innings and our staff is getting much needed rest in advance of the trip to Texas. (Let's not forget props to Johnny Giavotella for still being an ignition key.)

That trip will start tonight, when the Halos wing off to Arlington after the 4:05 game against Barry Zito. The one I have been dreading. (It's the old adage: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is...)

The AL Standings are increasingly awesome. The Halos are 1/2 game up on the Astros and 1 1/2 games up on the Twins for the last WC spot (the Twins may gain a little today as they play a double-header in Cleveland to make up for a rainout last night). They are, by the way, only 3 games behind the Yankees for the TOP WC spot (home field advantage and travel savings, folks) and the Yankees are struggling. And they are only 2 games behind Texas for the AL West, which would mean they could skip the WC game altogether. The Astros, by the way, have not been this low in the AL West standings since April 17th.

So welcome back Wildcard Links!!!

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Angels Baseball

Trout Porn: The third-best player in baseball this year. Hard to argue with that, with Trout sitting behind Bryce Harper and Josh Donaldson. Note that he is ahead of all 3 NL Cy Young contenders. From May 6th through July 5th Harper had an absolutely monster run, with a line of .406 / .515 / .873 with 20 home runs. No shame in being subordinate to that, especially with the August funk that Trout threw out. Donaldson has had a damned fine year, also. And he has been blessed by being surrounded by a much better offense to pad his numbers. The link, though, does miss. It pumps up Donaldson by showing gaudy numbers with RISP. Donaldson is at .353 / .439 / .617. That's a miss, however, because in the same situation Mike Trout is at .349 / .512 / .698. You don't prove Donaldson is a better player by listing numbers where Trout is superior............

Trout Porn: If Josh Donaldson wins the AL MVP this year I won't be too upset (yet), but Sports Illustrated will be. "...Trout’s bat came back alive and, to my eye, has now pushed him back on top in this race. Trout has hit .326/.423/.814 with six home runs in his last 12 games to reclaim the lead in this race, and despite playing in a less favorable ballpark for hitters, he leads Donaldson in on-base percentage by 26 points, in slugging by 13 points, in OPS by 18 points..."  My feeling on the matter is that even if Trout takes 2nd place again, that will mean he has gone 2nd + 2nd + 1st + 2nd in his first 4 years as a Major Leaguer and they should just create some higher level award and name it after the kid..........

Trout Porn: Last night Mikey became just the 6th player in history to have 4 100-run seasons before the age of 24..........

Mike Scioscia: Here is why I sit on the outside and am unqualified for this gig: it is far, far too easy to point out the dichotomy between what we think we know about Sosh and what Sosh publicly says about his world. What we think we know about Sosh is that he hides behind trite cliches, repeats old tropes to excuse what we see as on-field strategic mistakes, and fights off information if it defies his world view. That is what we think we know. Mike Scioscia, however, thinks otherwise. All the issues within the organization to which we have been exposed can be fixed with proper communication, and communication is easy. So sayeth the Sosh. That, or he is hiding behind some trite cliche...........

Joe Smith: Much to my surprise, and even much more to modern medicine, Joe Smith calls himself ready to take the mound again...........

Huston Street: Street is now walking around without crutches, which is very good progress. But don't get too excited. He is still not sure when he can start tossing a ball again..........By the way, you can feel like bullet dodged here in the "I lost my closer to an injury" sweepstakes. In Kansas City, their injured closer, Greg Holland, is undergoing TJ surgery. So he won't be back until 2017..........

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Elsewhere in Baseball

Inclusion: The Oakland A's have made MLB history by hiring the first woman coach. Justine Siegal will be a guest instructor this fall in the instructional league..........

Fail: Remember the other day when I linked to this article showcasing how MLBAM works hard to gut the hard work of free labor throughout the Internet to help promote their product?? It's all about how MLBAM forces other to take down small clips and bits of their broadcasts that many bloggers and outlets use to promote some event that happened in a game. Well, it ain't just the little guys. Check out what happens when you want to go to Yahoo! Sports and watch Trout's weekend home run robbery again..........

The Hambone Treatment: Jonathan Papelbon's days with the Nats may be over. Just as Arte did with Josh Hamilton, in the wake of Papelbon's attack on Bryce Harper the franchise has pulled all Paps merch from the team store..........

Hambone: Speaking of Josh Hamilton, he is back from the DL and playing and should be on the field when we visit Arlington this upcoming weekend. At least, I hope so. Because he sucks. He is hitting .167 over his last 7 games. And, highly reminiscent of the AL playoffs last year, hamilton came in as a pinch-hitter with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 7th last night, in a tight 1-run game and a chance to blow it wide open, and....struck out.............

Bosses Suck: (Not you, Josh. But they can. All bosses not names Josh. And almost every boss named Josh. Our Josh is great. But other Josh's) Don Orsillo, for the left coast folks, is the long-time Boston Red Sox broadcast announcer who was canned a few weeks ago by NESN but left to tend to his duties until the end of the season. As you can imagine, this caused quite a hash house in beantown. This weekend, in his final home game, Fenway Park and all in attendance paid him a huge tribute. NESN was covering the game. So do you think that NESN covered the tribute? Oh hell no. And they came up with lame excuses well after the fact. Typical tone deaf decision-making. Bad call on top of bad call and doubling down with even worse calls. Orsillo, by the way, will be named today to take over for Dick Enberg as the Padres announcer next year..........

No reservations. On standby: This is great. Seagulls Impatiently Await End of Giants - Dodgers Game So They Can Get to Work Eating Trash. "These seagulls just wanted to get to work cleaning up the delicious litter that fans left, but the stupid baseball game kept them there for nearly 4 hours. Stupid humans."..........

Mascots: I always thought these were all one-offs, contracted out to some local company near each franchise. But meet the guy who makes mascots for a living..........

More Screwballs: Part 2 of The Hardball Times baseball card comedy gold..........

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