Billy Eppler's hand

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

There was a great storm which ravaged the City of Angels. Rivers drove down the freeways, the wind howled, tree limbs snapped, and roads were washed out. A storm unlike anything we have seen in many many years, but look now, the clouds are starting to break, the sun is leaning forward with a baseball cap on, hoping for a glimpse, a gander, a gleam of what's in Eppler's Hand.

A bird, A bat, lightning, thunder, and fire. And that's the first whiff of the Shoe.

In the Fall and Winter of the Angels franchise, Billy Eppler has come to play some cards. His first note was subtle and sweet, Simmons is more than a shortstop. Simmons is a franchise level defender.

Simmons is a piece of armor that pitchers wear.

Simmons is a ninja wearing a baseball glove , Neo in D-Matrix, snatching bullets and throwing laser beams.

Simba is algebra between chalk brackets.

Before anyone really knew Billy Eppler was the Angels GM, he had drawn first blood in 2015 with the acquisition of Andrelton Simmons, a highly under appreciated defensive savant, who covers more ground than perhaps any shortstop in the history of the game. Foul balls become outs, RBI's become double plays, innings become shorter, pitch counts become lower, rallies become rarer, when Andrelton is collapsing the lungs of opponents offenses by snatching their breath out of the air.

I howled at the stars and moon in late 2015, early 2016, when the Angels skipped Christmas, and let 2016 float away.

In retrospect, Eppler had few cards and fewer chips to wager on the first hand of 2016. The team folded on the first hand of the Eppler era, because that's how you play this game. Not all in on every single deal, but over a series of hands, of seasons, you develop opponents, watch when they hit and when they stand, and gamble when it's getting late, Not early.

The mist hangs low on the belly of an Arizona sky. The dawn scratches itself and yawns into an infinite fractal of hope. This Angels team is going to win. It's going to win often and it's going to win by taking away the opponents' bats.

This Angels team is going to steal candy on a hot Summer night. Steal second, steal singles, steal homers, steal bloopers, steal signs, steal momentum, steal rallies, steal saves, and save wins.

This Angels team is taking the field. It's taking the field away from opponents, with a glove and a fierce determination to capture the ball, the moment, the game.

This is Eppler's Hand. A Bevy of pitchers, on the cusp of agony or ecstasy, Acie-Deucey on the mound, on the turn, on the flip.

What do we have? A set of specialists, a set of highly developed weapons and tools. What do we have? Power in unexpected places, an outfield that seldom lets the ball touch it, catchers that work for pitchers, a Battleship with sore feet, a Legend eating brunch on the table cloth of history, feasting, a constellation of hopes and dreams, of paychecks and last chances, guys in payday years, or clinging to the dream with their toenails. You got a team, an Angels team with great upside, on a launch pad that says blastoff.

What do we have, nobody knows. Even Eppler doesn't know, but he's in the game, we are in the game (again). If this hand starts picking up chips, if this Angels team comes together, beats a pair, beats three of kind, dislodges a flush, and cuts the corners off a straight, then we might see some serious shuffling... some dancing, some teams getting rolled and some chairs hitting the floor. We might see people running for the shore, panic stricken, stepping over each other frantically to get out of our way...because nobody wants to get hurt with a playoff hunter in the water.

We are playing with the Shark now, and the Shark strikes from the darkness below.

What's in Eppler's Hand?

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