Wednesday. Hump Day. So called because you've climbed the foothills of Monday (although not so much this week for many of us) and you've scaled the cliffs of Tuesday to reach the zenith of mighty peak known as Wednesday. It's all downhill from here.
Hump Day. That reminds me of camels. And camels remind me of a Man Vs. Wild episode I saw recently wherein Bear Grylls taught me that the Berber people will skin a dead camel, climb inside its rotting carcass, tauntaun style, and cover the opening with its hide to weather a sandstorm. Rotting camel carcasses remind me of...
SINGING THE BLUES: With another loss to the Dodgers, this one a 6-4 defeat, the Angels fall to 0-5 against their crosstown rivals this season. The last time the Angels went winless against the Dodgers? 1997 - the first year of interleague play and the first year they were known as the "Anaheim Angels" after Disney took over from the Autrys. That team, much like this one, was barely able to keep its head above mediocrity, finishing at 84-78.
AT LEAST THEY PUT UP A FIGHT: Kole Calhoun hit only the 5th homerun by a left-hander against Clayton Kershaw all season. The bullpen was fairly solid. And Mike Scioscia got himself ejected. But Mike Trout and Albert Pujols continue to struggle. The Angels really need one of those two guys to put the struggling offense on their back, as much as that is possible for guys who represent two-ninths of the hitting on any given night.
THE LONG SLIDE: Like that 1997 Angels team, this one once had much more promise. The 1997 version of the team was 16 games over .500 on August 9th before collapsing. The 2015 edition was 14 games over .500 near the end of July before succumbing to awfulness This decline, which has seen the team hit a robust .230 and slug .358, has left the Angels with a 13.7% chance to make the playoffs, as they are now 4.5 games back in the Wild Card race.
MORE HARVEY: As you may or may not be aware, the current headache that is the Matt Harvey - New York Mets relationship could be the Angels' problem. The Angels drafted the talented pitcher out of high school in 2007. He was committed to North Carolina, but for $1 million, he could have been the Angels property (this was before hard slotting and penalties). Arte didn't want to pay up, and now he's the Mets' problem. Whew! Dodged a bullet on that one...
Huston Street recently brought a little levity to the debate, declaring sarcastically that he is on a 55-inning limit for the season.
2016 SCHEDULE: The 2016 schedule has been released (the Angels website calls it "tentative," but I don't know why they'd release it if there was a chance it would change significantly). Some things to note:
- The team opens at home against the Cubs, which will be a great chance to see in person a couple of young power-hitting phenoms in the same game - Mike Trout and Kris Bryant.
- The Angels will, once again, NOT travel to St. Louis (but will play the Cardinals at home), so we will be spared the justifications from various media members as to why the "best fans in baseball" boo a former hero so mercilessly.
- Alden Gonzalez's note about how players hate off-days on the road (the Angels have two next year) was interesting to me. I guess that makes sense; you want your days off when you can enjoy them with family at home. I just always figured that a day off on a tough road trip would be welcome. It seems not.
Elsewhere in Baseball
HOW BAD IS YOUR MANAGER, REALLY?: In light of the Nationals' recent struggles, their own manager, Matt Williams has come under fire from the fanbase and media. This is an interesting piece about how we should think about the quantitative effect managers have on a baseball season. On the one hand, the macro view, according to noted sabrmetrician Mitchel Lichtman, shows that it could take anywhere from 50 to 200 bad decisions, in aggregate, for a manager to cost his team one win. The author of this piece points out that while that may be true, each game can have only one of two outcomes - a win or a loss - and in many games, one single bad decision can push the result from one side to the other.
CARPINO IS NOT ALONE, ALLEGEDLY: Many here were upset about the Angels' decision to fete the illustrious Derek Jeter with a gift presentation, using plenty of interesting analogies to describe the way the Angels honored Jeter. According to a tell-all book by a former Yankee employee, there may have been others within the Yankees' organization to, ahem, "honor" Cap'n Jetes. To no one's surprise, there are factual inconsistencies within the book. But hey, if you know someone who wants to read some Yankee-bashing from a disgruntled former employee, this would make a great gift.
AND YOU THOUGHT THE ANGEL CATCHERS COULDN'T HIT: Apparently the Mariners' catchers are even worse. Like, historically bad. They are the worst hitting catching unit by 27 points of OPS, and the previous record-holders came in 1967, before baseball regulated the height of pitchers' mounds. So take heart! Even in this season of disappointment, it could always be worse. We could be Mariners fans.