Yankees Swallow

Note:  The original title of this post was "YankeesS*u-c*k."  But the oh-so-good MLB profanity filter nailed it, along
with any usage of the word "m-o-r-o-n."  I’m glad that MLBlogs finds
the current title much more acceptable.

No, that title isn’t a gross estimation of my opinion of the New York squad representing the American League.  It’s an indictment of their play against the Indians in Game 1 of the ALDS in Cleveland today.

I have to say, it sure is nice to see that the Angels aren’t the only ones who decided not to show up for the first game of their series.  The Angels got shut out in their game 1; the Yankees got blown out in theirs.

I suppose it’s fitting, given the Yankees opinion of the Wild Card.

With the Yankees losing 12-3, what will be the big story tomorrow?  Will it be Sabathia out-dueling Wang?  Will it be the Yankees held to only 4 hits?  Will it be the Yankees’ bullpen unable to get outs?  How about Derek "Yankee Captain" Jeter going 0-for-4?

No, I can pretty much guarantee that the most talked about aspect of this game tomorrow will be A-Rod going hitless tonight.

Notice I said "hitless" for Alex Rodriguez and "0-for-4" for Jeter.  See, A-Rod walked twice, including an intentional free base in the 5th.  So an accurate accounting of his game would be "0-for-2 with 2 BB."  Once again, Jeter, Posada and Matsui will probably get free passes (all three were 0-for-4), and the sporting world (or, rather, the vultures that pass as writers today) will feast on A-Rod’s poor performance.  As proof, one of the announcers (not Tony Gwynn) said "It’s kinda tough to pin tonight all on A-Rod," showing once again that brains aren’t a requirement to call a ball game.

I hope I’m wrong.  I hope his incredible season this year has bought him some respect.

But I won’t hold my breath.

The real story tonight should be Kenny Lofton, who went 3-for-4 with 4 RBI’s and a stolen base.  Considering that he’s been around so long that Ken Burns had old photos of him in the early chapters of his "Baseball" documentary, he’s had a **** of a game and is showing these young Indians how to play.

Big day tomorrow.  The Angels play, the Yankees play, and both must win.

 

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Live Blogging – ALDS Game 1 – 10/3 vs. Red Sox

Angels_vs_red_sox

Welcome to the ALDS Angels Live Blog!  Be sure to add me to your MSN Messenger friends list and chat with me while watching the game on TBS today!

ANGELSBLOGGING@HOTMAIL.COM

October 3rd, 2007 – 3:15 PM: 15 minutes to game time! The Rockies just beat the Phillies in Game 1 of the NLDS.

It’s hard to believe the season has gone by so quickly, and here we are in the first day of playoffs!  Combine the excitement of this season with the feeling that, as I get older, every year is only half as long as the one before it, I suppose the 2007 baseball season was just destined to fly by as if it were piloted by Chuck Yeager.

This isn’t the match-up I’d have wanted though.  In fact, I’m downright terrified of the Red Sox.  The Angels are probably the only team in baseball who’d rather face the Yankees than anybody else in the playoffs, but I have to remember that all these fears and hopes are based on years past; they mean nothing today.  Yeah, Boston has eliminated the Angels from the playoffs twice.  In 1986, in infamous Dave Henderson home run against Donnie Moore.  In 2004, the Red Sox swept the Angels on their way to a World Series Championship.

But that is all meaningless.  The regular season is meaningless.  The only thing that matters are the next five games.

And we’ve got just as good a shot as anybody.

3:39 PM: Top of the First, no out, 0-0:  Play ball!  I’ve just been informed that Figgins (leading off tonight, as usual) ended the year on an 0-22 slump.  But still he batted .330.  I suppose I would have known that if I had actually watched the last few games of the season, rather than suffer through Hudler burnout and a desire not to watch my team phone it in and rest.

WOOHOO!  Figgins leads off with a hit off Dustin Pedroia’s glove!  Good start!

3:46 PM:  Middle of the First, 0-0:  Figgins gets on with a single, steals two bases (well, both were hit-and-runs), and Garret Anderson strikes out to end the inning.  Speaking of GA, his eye looks HORRIBLE.  Apparently he has conjunctivitis, and it has nearly swollen his right eye shut.  I have no idea how he can see a pitch clearly with that, but the doctors cleared him to play, so again, what do I know?

3:58 PM:  Bottom of the first, 1-0 Boston:  Dammit.  Lackey Meltdown Inning #1.  A solo home run by Kevin Youkilis.  No biggie, a solo shot won’t hurt you.  But then he puts two runners on, and requires a visit from the coaching staff.

Nice.  Pop-up by Lowell.  2 out.  J.D. Drew up.  Ack!  Dad’s home, I gotta help him out of the car.

Woohoo!  I come back in, the Angels got out of it!  1-0 Boston.

4:19 PM:  Top of the 3rd, no outs, 1-0 Boston:  Well, it looks like Lackey got his meltdown inning out of the way early (knock on wood), and it wasn’t too bad.  He blew through them in the 2nd.  Single to Varitek, double play, single to Lugo, caught stealing.

Now TBS is becoming like ESPN.  They just missed an at-bat because they had to get their commercials in.  1 out, Willits at bat.  If you’d have told me in March that Reggie Willits would have had the year he’s had, I’d have called you crazy.  But Willits above anybody else in this lineup has proven how flexible and loaded the Angels are.

You know, I have no idea who is calling this game, but I like ’em.  They’re low key, they’re not overtly rooting for Boston like McCarver and Buck would be doing, and they’re definitely not Hudler and Physioc.  Somebody tell Arte Moreno to hire these guys.

Willits pops out to Manny Ramirez.  Figgins up again.  It was nice to see him lead off with a hit.  That first at-bat can lay the ground work for an entire series.  Don’t believe me?  If A-Rod gets a hit in his first at-bat tomorrow, look to see how big the smile on his face is.

Strikeout.  Beckett is on his game so far, I’ll give him that.  Middle of the 3rd, 1-0 Boston.  Let’s go Big John Lackey!

4:31 PM: Bottom of the 3rd, 1 out, 3-0 Red Sox:  Double to Youkilis, and a shot by David Ortiz that still hasn’t landed.  Seven hits Lackey has given up so far.  Dammit.

Now a walk to Manny Ramirez.  You can see it on his face, the frustration.  I’ve been saying it all year, Arte Moreno needs to hire a good sports psychologist.  This pitching staff can handle the physical side of the game; they’re toast on the mental side.  And while Lackey has been mentally tougher this year, allowing many fewer meltdown innings this year, look at Ervin Santana, Scot Shields, and Francisco Rodriguez.

Lowell singles to center, Manny scores.

Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo.

4:56 PM: Top of the 5th, no outs, 4-0 Red Sox:  It appears that even innings are GOOD for Lackey, odd innings BAD.  Lackey blew through the Sox in the bottom of the fourth.

Of course, Beckett has blown through the Angels in every inning.

Izturis pops up, but had a **** of an at-bat, going into a full count.  More Angels need to be doing that.

HEY!  Jose Mota got a job for the playoffs!  He just did some commentary from the field level.  If I have to see a familiar face from the Angels broadcasting team, at least it was Mota.  If Hudler had shown up, I may have puked.

Kotchman strikes out.  5 K’s, 14 consecutive batters retired by Beckett.  Yeah, he owns us tonight.

Let’s change that.  GO ANGELS!  Ah, Kendrick grounds out.  15 straight.

****, it’s an odd inning.  Cross your fingers, pray for John Lackey.

5:28 PM: Top of the 7th, 1 out, 4-0 Boston:  19 straight outs for Beckett.  The guy OWNS us tonight.  The heart of the order is batting this inning, with Vlad up right now.  He’s 0-for-2 tonight.  ****, everybody except Figgins is 0-for.

Hey!  Vladimir Guerrero gets a hit!  OK guys, time to start a rally here!

Just please don’t break out a monkey in the dugout…

Now Garret Anderson pops up.  I’d like to blame his eye, but if that’s the case, then everybody seems to have an eye infection tonight.  Two outs.

And Izturis grounds out.  Josh Beckett is unbeatable.

5:38 PM: Bottom of the 7th, 1 out, 4-0 Boston:  Ervin Santana is in the game, Lackey is out.  Seems weird to see Ervin in there in relief.  And it’s not at all comforting.  Last year, it would have been great.  But unfortunately, Santana is the strongest indicator of the mental fragility of the Angels pitching staff this year.  Though he looks pretty decent right now…  Two strikeouts, a pop fly foul caught by Izturis, and the inning is over.  Good job, Ervin.

6:10 PM: Final Score:  4-0 Boston:  OK, Lackey wasn’t horrible.  Sure, he had his problems, but he hung in there and pitched a decent game.  Not great, but acceptable.

I sure with the bats had shown up.

Garret Anderson looked silly at the plate tonight.  I don’t care what he says, having his right eye (the lead eye for a left-handed batter) swelled shut like that had to affect him, and it showed.  But he wasn’t alone.  The entire lineup might as well have dragged along seeing-eye dogs to Fenway as effective as they were.

OK, so we’re down 1-0.  It’s not the end of the world.  But the offense has to show up Friday, and they have to pound Matsuzaka early and often.

If not, it’ll be a sad day in Anaheim on Sunday.

God I hate the Red Sox.

Live Blogging the ALDS

Alds

In just a few minutes, the first pitch of the 2007 playoffs will be thrown.  In roughly 3 hours 38 minutes, the Boston Red Sox will host the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Game 1 of the ALDS on TBS!

And, I will be liveblogging it.

Join me here and on MSN Messenger as you watch the game!  Just load up the front page of this blog, refreshing it occaisionally as I update the post.  Sign into your MSN Messenger and add my as a friend so you can chat with me, ask questions, rag on me for being an Angels fan, whatever you want!  My MSN screenname is:

ANGELSBLOGGING@HOTMAIL.COM

Here’s a few examples of my previous liveblogging efforts:

8/28/07 vs. Mariners

8/21/07 vs. Yankees

I’ll see you here at 3:30 PM PST (6:30 PM EST)!

Blogging with Chone

FigginsThe playoffs are about to begin, and in an effort to make the players seem more accessible to the fans, MLBlogs has given accounts to a few of them, including our own Chone Figgins!

It would have been nice had they given him this blog in April, as following along with Figgins while through his breakthrough season would have been a fascinating read.  But I’ll take what I can!

So, be sure to stop by to give him a read and a comment or two!  Be sure to notice who made the first comment in his first post!

Less Than 24 Hours

Is it really October already?  Has the 2007 regular season come and gone, or was what we witnessed just a dream, an opium hallucination of baseball euphoria?  While it may have been a pleasant trip into the ether or a nightmare spawned from the Prince of Darkness himself, depending on which team you root for, the baseball fan in you has to admit that this may have been the greatest regular season ever played.

And tomorrow, we head into the playoffs, where none of what happened between April and September matters.  Where anybody can be a hero or a goat, where the work of 162 games pays off or dries up, where you go home happy or you just go home.

2007 Postseason Schedule

With that, it’s time to make some picks, which I’m notoriously bad at.

Chicago and Arizona: Coming from the National League "Comedy Central," the Cubs didn’t have to be great to get here.  Sure, their offense has been spectacular these last few months, but it’s going to have to be better to get through Brandon Webb and the Diamondbacks.  Only thing working against Arizona is the youth; if they fold under the pressure of the playoffs, Chicago will roll over them.  Prediction:  Arizona in 4

New York and Cleveland: I don’t see why this one is such a toss-up.  The Yankees have been the hottest team in baseball since June, and while the Indians are a really good team, they just can’t out-muscle the Yanks.  Provided the pitching doesn’t implode or the starting rotation in particular succumb to the early stages of Alzheimer’s, the Yankees should make quick work of the Indians.  Prediction:  New York in 3  What I’d like to see:  The Yankees sweep Cleveland, with A-Rod going 15-for-15 with 15 home runs.  Then the Yankees facing the Angels in the ALCS, where they get swept, but A-Rod goes 20-for-20 with 20 home runs.  Then he opts out, and gives the finger to those who booed him in the Bronx last year.

Philadelphia and Colorado:  Get a coin.  Flip it.  Heads, the Rockies win in 5.  Tails, the Phillies win in 5.  That’s the best you can do to predict this one.  Both teams are running on adrenaline as well as talent, and both have earned their place in October because of outstanding Septembers.  Trying to predict a series that is fueled 90% by emotion is futile.  Might as well try to predict the winner of every NCAA football rivalry this year.  Yeah, I’d have taken USC over UCLA last year, too.  Result of Coin Flip:  Phillies in 5

Anaheim and Boston:  Yes, I said Anaheim.  Get over it.  No, I don’t have a problem with "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim."  If Arte Moreno wants to call them the "Tokyo Angels of London by way of direct flight from Beijing with a stopover in Moscow" that’s his choice, so long as it helps sell merchandise and brings more money into the club and puts a better team on the field.  Yeah, I’m stalling.  I really don’t want to make this pick.  Boston is the better team, no doubt.  But since when does that matter?  Boston is also tired, having had to push their way through September, while the Angels have coasted through the last few weeks of the season, resting up.  But everybody else sais "Boston in 4," and I want to be one of the cool kids, too!  Prediction:  Angels in 4.  There, I said it.  Get over yourself, Red Sox Nation.  Your team is not the greatest thing to ever happen to America.  In fact, lose that Red Sox Nation ****.  You stole it from the Raiders, and their fans will snap your necks and eat your children.

OK, folks, here it is, my pathetic attempt at prognostication of the MLB postseason.  Be sure to stop by here next week to laugh at me.

Unbelievable Ending

If any of these half-wit talking heads on ESPN or FSN or wherever you get your sports news ever again imply that games in September are in some way more important than those in other months, feel free to go all Elvis and shoot your television.

Had the Mets or Padres one a single game more than they did, the playoff situation would be very different.  One more game, the Padres wouldn’t be heading home dejected right now.  One more game, and the Phillies and Mets would have played today instead of fate sealing the Mets’ choke yesterday.

But with that said, with such an exciting season behind us and two teams tied at for the NL Wildcard after playing 162 games, how fitting is it that the one-game playoff between the Padres and Rockies was the most tense, exciting game of the season?

This last week has seemed almost like the playoffs themselves.  The National League had seven teams fighting for playoff spots, none of them decided before Friday.

If the regular season ends like this, what will our playoffs be like?

Happy Anniversary To Me!

I planned on writing an entry last night, but that post would have been an "End of the Season" post, and since the Padres and Rockies are all tied up after 162 games and have to play a 163rd tonight, I have to wait.  After all, doesn’t the season have to be over in order to do a review of it?

Instead, this post is the internet equivalent of putting a single candle into a Hostess Twinkie, lighting it, and singing "Happy Birthday" to yourself alone in a darkened room, as one year ago today I started this blog.  The complete text follows:

Every New Beginning Comes From Some Other Beginning’s End

Posted 10/01/06 at 10:25 PM

As the day comes to a close, so closes another season of Major
League Baseball. Tuesday will start another round of playoffs,
culminating in a World Series that will guarantee the 6th different
World Series Champion this millennium, as none of the teams in this
year’s playoffs has won a title since 2000.

In other words, my
team and the reason for writing this blog, the Los Angeles Angels of
Anaheim, will not be playing anymore baseball this season.

The
lights at Angel Stadium have dimmed, and while baseball continues in
other parks around the country, we will see no more MLB in Orange
County this year. We finished in 2nd place in the American League West,
giving us our third straight winning season (a franchise record.) While
some fans may be disappointed, considering that I never expected to see
a World Championship come to Anaheim, I’m happy we hung in there as
long as we did. For most of the time I’ve been an Angels fan, the team
has been a second rate club, one with no expectations of victory from
its small legion of fans. With the 2002 season still fresh in my
memory, I still have a feeling of victory and vindication of my
devotion to my team I never expected to have.

Yankees fans
consider it a disappointing season when they don’t at least make it to
the Fall Classic. I consider it a gift when we make it to the playoffs.

With that, the 2006 Angels season was a success, and I can’t be disappointed in them for coming in second to the Oakland A’s.

So,
we Angels fans will have to watch the playoffs for the first time in
three years without our team. We’ll be OK. We’ll find other teams to
cheer for, and more to root against. We have owner Arte Moreno’s
promise that money will be spent on free agents in the off season to
strengthen our team. Soriano, Tejada, Manny Ramirez, Barry Zito, many
big names are floating out there as wanting to be a part of the Halos
next season. And we’ll have to wait a few months to find out which of
these (if any) will be wearing our red cap while playing in the Big A
next season.

-Mission Statement-

With that, there are a few things I want to make clear about this blog.

I’ve spent the last month or so checking out other baseball blogs, particularly those at mlblogs.com

This will
be a fan’s blog of the 2007 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim season, from
today (the end of the Angels 2006 season) until October (or early
November if we make a World Series run!), the end of next season. And
by "fan’s blog," I mean one that encompasses MY feelings and
experiences through the season.

There are plenty of blogs out
there that deal with the author’s favorite team, and some that follow
news and rumors about those teams with the quality of a local sports
page. But I don’t want to just repost news and events that you can find
in a million links through Google or Yahoo. I want this to be about me,
as selfish and narcissistic as that sounds. As you read this (and I’m
sure not many will, at least until the 2007 season officially starts),
I want you to learn about me as a person and fan with my Angels as a
backdrop.

I don’t want the reader to feel the sterile aura of
the press box as they read this. I want you to feel as though you’re
sitting next to me in the cheap seats, or in front of my TV, or in the
passenger seat of my car listening to the game on the radio with me. Or
missing the game entirely as something else happens in my life.

It’s
an experiment, and I hope it turns out well. And I hope you enjoy
reading it, as that will make it enjoyable for me to write.

So
comment as much as you wish, leave feedback, agree with me or disagree
as you will. And get ready, as we have playoffs starting in less than
36 hours and Spring Training is less than 5 months away!

in anticipation of starting this. There are some great baseball blogs
out there (none really for the Angels, though), but every one I’ve seen
has missed the point I’m trying to make with this one.