Tagged: Ballgames

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!

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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.

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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?

Best. Final Weekend. EVER.

Advancedcalculus_2
While the Angels are heading to Oakland more concerned about resting players and deciding on the playoff roster than obtaining the best record in the American League, and the Red Sox and Yankees are putting the finishing touches on the American League Eastern Division, few will be paying attention to the Junior Circuit this weekend as the National League provides us with the most exciting final three days of the season EVER.

Wrap your noodle around this one for a second.  While the American League is all decided except for the icing on the cake, with a mere three days left to go in the 2007 regular season, not a single National League playoff spot is decided.  In fact, as of today, there are still seven teams in the playoff hunt in the National League.

Seven.

With only three games left to play.

It’s almost like playoff series before the playoffs.

And that’s not including what will happen in the event of a tie, any tie, which looks increasingly likely.  In fact, I’d be surprised if there isn’t at least one tiebreaker played on Monday.  And, from the looks of that article, it could get a lot more complicated than that.

In fact, there could be tiebreakers played all the way through next Thursday.

With the Mets on the cusp of an historic collapse, the Phillies surging, three teams fighting for the NL West and the Wild Card anybody’s guess, I’d say it’s a great weekend to try that free trial of MLB.TV, wouldn’t you?

Enjoy this weekend.  You’re likely to never see another like it.

Dark Clouds on the Horizon?

Uggh.

I hate this feeling I’m developing in my stomach. 

The euphoria of Sunday’s wrap-up of the American League West title has faded like the hangover the club had after the clubhouse celebration, and has turned into worry as the Angels got swept in Texas, putting for almost no effort in the three-game series.  In retrospect, it looked like the hangover from Sunday night’s celebration lasted through Wednesday, when the Angels suffered their worst defeat of the year, losing 16-2.

Ouch.

I have to recognize that, when Scioscia decides to rest his players instead of fighting for home field advantage, he knows what he’s doing.  I can’t let the specter of past defeats haunt the feelings I have going into the playoffs.

But the Angels fan in me simply can’t do that.

It’d be easier to explain my worry had the Angels not won the World Series in 2002.  Before that, this team had been Red Sox or Cubs Lite, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory at every turn.  In 2002, it seemed safe to say that all that was in the past; that the Pearly Gates had finally opened to allow the Angels into the fraternity of clubs with a good future.

Because of that victory, it’s easy to ignore what’s happened since.  But right now, I have trouble forgetting it.

-In 2004, the Angels got swept in the ALDS by the soon-to-be champs, the Boston Red Sox.  Despite having home field advantage (hmm…  maybe it isn’t THAT big a deal…), they lost all three, including Game 3 by a walk-off home run to David Ortiz.  In case you don’t remember, the Halos didn’t have a single left-handed reliever in 2004, so they brought in Jarrod Washburn to pitch to Big Papi in the 10th.  He threw exactly 1 pitch, then Game Over.

-In 2005, the Angels beat the Yankees in the ALDS, then faced the White Sox in the ALCS.  All seemed fine and dandy until an umpire made a stupid call, and Scott Podsednik ran to first on a strikeout.  The Angels left the field, as the umpire had screwed up and made a signal that sure as **** looked like an "OUT!" call, but he claimed was a "Strike" call.  The inning wasn’t over, the White Sox went on to win the game and later the ALCS, and then (at our expense once again) became World Series Champs.

So I can’t get this feeling out of my head that the 2002 World Series may have just been a hiccup.  Perhaps the Gods of Baseball Curses just took a few years off, as between 2002 and 2005 exactly 213 years of baseball curses were lifted.

It worries me because it looks like we’ll be facing Boston in the ALDS, one way or another.  And the Angels under Mike Scioscia are 16-22 at Fenway Park.  They’ll play two games in Fenway, two in Anaheim, then back to Fenway for a single game, should the series go that long.  So, by resting players and ironing out the staff, it seems that Scioscia is gambling on coming back from Boston with at least one victory.

I’m not sure I’d roll the dice on that one.  But then again, the Angels coaching staff has forgotten more about baseball than I’ll ever know, so who am I to worry?

Well, combine that with the second-half implosion of the bullpen (particularly Scot Shields and Francisco Rodriguez), I think I have plenty to worry about.

****, I already made a prediction about K-Rod that I pray doesn’t come true.

I was hoping that my tickets would be for Game 1, not the First Home Game.

Now, I suppose, I have a chance to see a series clincher.

I only pray that it goes to my team.

The Perfect Day

My God, I’m a Prophet.

Either that, or a string of not-so-improbable coincidences came together to allow today to happen as I forecast (or, rather, kinda-sorta hoped for) in my Friday night post.  Yes, I was at the game today.  And yes, the Angels clinched the 2007 Western Division Championship!  So now, it’s on to the ALDS against either Boston, New York, or (snicker) Detroit.

Ana_clinch
It’s the first time I’ve ever been at the stadium for something this special.  I went to a Stanley Cup Finals game in 1993 as the Kings lost to Montreal.  I was at the L.A. Coliseum for an amazing come-from-behind victory by my alma mater UCLA over USC in (I think) 1998.  This was neither a championship game nor was it a special, season-making victory over a rival.  But this was the most special of the bunch.

First off, no Angels fan has seen their team clinch the Western Division in that stadium since 1986.  The last two have been on the road.  That’s why, after the losses of the last two days, I had a feeling of destiny as I walked underneath the gigantic caps at the entrance of the stadium today.  This has probably been the greatest regular season this franchise has ever had (it is in my estimation, at least), and I knew they’d want the culmination of their efforts to pay off in their home stadium (where they hold the best home record in baseball.)  From the first pitch, you could feel that John Lackey was going to make this his day, and Jeff Weaver didn’t stand a chance.

And that’s the way it turned out.

Weaver ended up hitting three batters (including Howie Kendrick twice), and left in the 5th with a "torn thumbnail" (ie:  "Can’t find the plate with both hands and a flashlight.")

I think my favorite moment of the game was the top of the 9th.  I was dreading seeing Frankie Rodriguez on the mound, but he came in, threw about 6 fastballs, and ended the game with a pop-up to Garret Anderson.  If K-Rod can throw like that in the playoffs, we have nothing to fear.

But honestly, none of that was what made this game so special to me.  Sure it was great to see the Halos clinch the West.  Sure, it was a sight to behold as Garret Anderson caught the fly and the Angels came storming out of the dugout, a mass huddle of celebration right on the infield.  It actually brought tears to my eyes as the announcer referred to them as "The 2007 American League Western Division Champion Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim!"

But none of it was as important as the fact that I got to see this with my best friend of the last 33 years of my life.

My dad.

Thanks, Pop.  Thanks for going to the game with me.  Thanks for teaching me to love this sport.

Thank you for everything.

What A Time To Come Back!

Tonight is one of those games I wish I’d have live blogged, but alas, neither my mental state nor home life have been conducive to keeping up with a silly little baseball blog, and jumping right back into the fire wasn’t something I was aching to do.

But tonight’s Angels vs. Mariners game has shown that this series is looking to be one **** of a cap on this season, and possibly the beginning of a great rivalry next year.  Tonight this might as well have been the Red Sox and Yankees playing.

Despite the Mariners basically tailgating the Angels most of this year, there was never a sense of animosity between the two teams.  When they’d play each other you’d get good baseball, but nothing like the bloodthirst you can see in both dugouts when the Yanks are in Fenway.

That is, until tonight.

I have to admit I didn’t see all the game tonight.  My dad and I have watched the show "Survivor" together since I got home from Army training in 2001, and tonight was the season premier.  (I’m a firm believer that "Survivor" has ****** since about the third season, but it’s not the show that’s important; it’s the tradition.)  So I caught the first hour of the game, then went in to watch CBS with him.  During commercials, we’d flip to the Angels game, but we stuck with the show for the entire hour.

During a commercial at about 8:30 PM, we switched the channel to FSN West.  As soon as the channel changed, we saw a pitch delivered to Vladimir Guerrero which he redirected over the center field wall.  Being an Angels fan, seeing Vladdy plant one into the bleachers is nothing unusual, but my father and I both furrowed our brow in puzzlement as Vlad did something neither of us have ever seen him do:  After he hit it, he stood there and watched the ball until it cleared the fence, then tossed his bat aside as casually as a Wrigley’s Spearmint wrapper and WALKED to first base.  He didn’t jog, he didn’t trot; he WALKED.  Guerrero is usually a pretty humble guy; neither my dad nor I had ever seen him show up the pitcher like that.  In fact, the only Angel who does that sort of thing is Francisco Rodriguez, and that seems to be more of a celebration that he was finally able to get three people out in an inning (something rare this second half) than shoving anything in the face of the opposition.

It wasn’t until "Survivor" was over and I was back in my room watching the game in HD that I learned the story.

Apparently, what we’d missed by not switching to FSN a few seconds earlier was the Seattle pitcher, Jorge Campillo, nailing Angels catcher Jeff Mathis in the back the very pitch before Guerrero smacked one.  Jarrod Weaver hit Seattle catcher Kenji Johjima on a pitch earlier in the game, and Campillo retaliated by hitting our catcher.  It just so happened that Vladimir Guerrero got the ultimate revenge by turning a Rawlings Official MLB baseball into two runs and a souvenir.  And to make sure Campillo knew the price, he showed him up.

Apparently a rookie pitcher with a couple weeks in the majors thinks he has something to prove and that drawing an ejection (and probable suspension) by throwing at the head of Vlad is just the thing to prove it.

There were three absolutely hilarious moments resulting from this.

First was the reaction of Jorge Campillo after the attempted beheading.  As Vladimir Guerrero, rightfully angry, started moving toward the mound and shouting a string of words that made me wish I could read lips in Spanish.  An interesting thing about baseball fights is that, should a player charge the mound, it’s a guarantee that both benches will clear.  But, should the batter truly wish to charge the pitcher, there is no way those benches can clear in time to prevent them from meeting up and exchanging blows.  Obviously, Guerrero didn’t wish to do any physical harm to the guy, or he’d have ran out there and Campillo would be tasting Anaheim mound dirt for the next three weeks.

But, as Campillo saw that Guerrero was moving toward him and realized that there was no way the benches could clear in time to truly protect him, he did an extremely bold and brave thing.  He started backpedaling AWAY from Vladdy.

So good job, o brave Jorge Campillo.  Next time, you might want to throw at Reggie Willits.  He’s more your size.

The second funny moment involved the bench clearing that resulted.  As Vladdy was walking to the mound, the camera was in perfect position as the benches emptied onto the field.  On the right side, about five steps behind the rest of the Angels, came John Lackey, charging hard.  This is the only one of these I actually laughed out loud at.

First, how stupid are you if you’re a pitcher and you get into a fight?  Your livelihood rests literally in your hands, and the damage done by throwing a punch could conceivably end your career.  So my first thought upon seeing "Big John" were wow, the really DO grow them big and stupid in Texas.

But then, on the replay, I got a better picture of it.  Sure, Lackey came charging out of the mound, looking like he was going to open a can on some poor Mariner.  But the key lay in the fact that he was a few steps behind the majority of the Angels.  Upon further review, it looked painfully obvious that he was running out there to put on a show, basically shouting "Hold me back, guys!  Hold me back!" and not intending to actually get into a fight.

So basically, he looked like even more the idiot.

And third was Rex Hudler’s commentary.  I may have to complain to the FCC about this, as anything I can do to hasten the Angels to fire Rex Hudler is, in my opinion, a mitzvah (that one’s for you, Scott).  While this whole brouhaha is happening, it was obviously beyond our two esteemed commentators to shut up and let the **** thing play out.  No, Rex had to throw his idiotic opinions into the ring.

He did this by lambasting Jorge Campillo, saying how wrong it is to throw at a guy’s head.  Well, obviously, nobody is going to argue with that.  But right there, on live TV, old "Wonderdog" (as in, "I wonder how he keeps his job with no obvious talent?" or "I wonder why, if he’s such a baseball genius, no clubs have come knocking on his door about coaching or management opportunities?") said, basically, "It’s OK to throw at a guy, just not at his head."  He went on about this for a few minutes (Rex Hudler droning?  NO!) and even said "You’ve got a whole lot of body you can throw at instead of the head."

My response to this is "Well, DUH."  Everybody who knows anything about baseball knows that the bean ball is part of the game.  It’s like fighting in hockey.  But, since the NHL has tried to clean up its act in the last 15 years or so, have you heard a hockey color commentator worth a **** encourage fighting?  No, because the image you project is important, even if it isn’t accurate.  So, while the bean ball may be an important strategic tool, the last thing you want to say on the airwaves in front of hundreds of thousands of families and children is that it’s OK to throw a hard ball 100mph at somebody, so long as the intent is only to injure, not kill.

Yes, I’m nitpicking here.  If Vin Scully said the same thing, I’d agree with him 100% and never call him on it.

But I’m also quite sure that Vin Scully would show the same disdain to whoever threw at an opponent’s head, regardless of the uniform he happened to be wearing.

If Jered Weaver had thrown at Ichiro’s head, I’d lay good odds on Hudler going on the airwaves and saying "Well, you gotta protect your batters" or some other such apologist, hypocritical drivel because Rex just can’t stop being ever the Homer.

As I said before, I really wish I had live blogged this game tonight.  There was excitement.  Scioscia got his 700th win as Angels manager.  And the Angels locked up at least a tie in the American League West.  The "Magic Number" is now at one.

It’s a great year to be an Angels fan.

No Hitter!

No, not the Angels.  They lost today.  On FOX.  And while we were lucky enough not to have to listen to Tim McCarver, the guys who did call the game (whose names I never heard, nor did I care) had some FOX football commentator in the booth, and they talked NFL for a whole inning.

I hate FOX.

At game time today, it was 99 degrees at the stadium.  If you watched the game today, you saw the stands at least half-empty.  Toward the end of the game, I was hanging out at "The Baseball Card Dugout" in Anaheim with my friend Brian (yes, the same shop and guy from my article) and a family came in to buy cards for their young son, all decked out in Angels gear.  They informed me that the stadium was not as empty as it seemed, as most of the people were hanging out in the hallways on the terrace level, keeping in the shade.

But alas, this entry is not about the Angels tonight.

Buccholz
Tonight belonged to the Boston Red Sox and a young player named Clay Buchholz, who in only his second Major League start, threw a no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles in Fenway Park.  I knew I’d heard his name before when I saw the recap on MSN, and sure enough, his first MLB start was against John Lackey at Fenway a few weeks back.  It was the first game of that double header, where Lackey gave up 6 runs in the first inning and took the loss.

I don’t think I’ve ever hid my dislike for the Red Sox.  Until 2004, I was a big supporter of them (except the ALDS that year where they swept us), as I felt the history of losing spectacularly the Angels had always possessed was just like the Red Sox, only a paler version.  We imploded in the 1986 ALCS against them, they imploded in the 1986 World Series.  They were a kindred spirit, a Big Brother in butchering the hopes and dreams of the team and its fans.

Other than that, there was the American tendency in me to root for the underdog.  I suppose it was strong in me because I was used to rooting for an underdog, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the Sox and Cubs.  In 2003, I was hoping against hope as both the Red Sox and the Cubs came within a few outs of heading to the World Series AGAINST EACH OTHER, before Steve Bartman (completely innocent, would you pay attention to the player on the field or the foul ball headed your way?) and "Aaron F-ing Boone" (not so innocent!)  For me, at least, I’m thankful they didn’t, as I got activated to head to Iraq by the Army and missed the entire World Series (and, thankfully, Iraq, due to prior injuries and family situations), and I’d have had to go AWOL to see the Cubs and Sox face off.

I also firmly believe that, had the Red Sox and Cubs faced off in the World Series in 2003, that some biblical prophecy would have been fulfilled, and with the score tied in the bottom of the 9th in Game 7, the Seventh Seal would have been opened, the seas boiled, the moon turned red as blood, and the Apocalypse would have come.

It’s the only outcome as plausible as an actual Cubs/Sox World Series.

Of course, such a World Series would now be anticlimactic.  The Sox won.  There’s no underdog quality to them anymore, they’re less "loveable losers" than the Angels are.  They’ve ballooned their payroll to second in the Majors, right behind the Yankees.  There’s just no reason to root for them anymore, especially as I was never a fan to begin with.  There’s just nothing special about them.  When "The Curse of the Babe" died, so did any reason to cheer for them.

But now, the Red Sox are my most despised team.  Every chance I get I root against them.  It’s not that the team has done anything to sour me or that the only thing holding back my hatred was the Underdog Factor.  It’s the fans.

Not all Red Sox fans.  The majority are great, I’m sure.  People who love their team and ride the tides of glory and disappointment like the rest of us.  It’s the very vocal minority that you see everywhere. 

It’s the whole "Red Sox Nation" thing, the arrogance and sense of entitlement that some Red Sox fans seem to have now.  They seem to act almost like the greatest thing to ever happen to baseball was the ’04 Series, and that baseball owes them.  They sneer at fans of other teams, walk around with an undeserved swagger, go into other teams’ stadiums and make idiots out of themselves, all the while still harboring an inferiority complex and deep envy of the Yankees.

All without realizing that, as the team has spent more and more to beat the Yankees, they have become the Yankees.  And the fans have become exactly like the Yankees fans they hate so much.

Oh, and Curt Schilling.

I hate Curt Shilling.  Every time I see that loud-mouthed Yellow Elephant I cross my fingers and hope for a torn rotator cuff.  He’s the only player in the game I do that to.

Of course, there are Angels fans exactly like this.  I saw a bunch when I was at the game in Anaheim vs. the Yankees.

But, as our fans don’t number close to those who support the Sox, our idiot fans & bandwagonners don’t rate that high in number either.

So (as I seem to have taken the long way to this point), when I saw Buchholz on ESPN tonight, celebrating his no-hitter with a big bear hug from David Ortiz, naturally I was a bit angry because it happened for the Sox in Fenway, right?

Wrong.

Baseball goes beyond teams, and when something extraordinary happens, I find myself completely unaffected by the team they play for.  Tonight, Clay Buccholz achieved something great, something he’ll be able to carry with him the rest of his life.

And it’s such a rare accomplishment that, no matter who does it, it’s spectacular to watch.

In fact, I have only once actively rooted against a no-hitter.  It was in Oakland earlier this year, down to the final strike when Shannon Stewart hit a single into right field.

At that moment, I jumped out of my chair and screamed "YES!" as I’d just seen Curt Schilling lose his no-no.

This does beg the question, though:  At what time, when an opposing team is throwing a no-hitter against your team, do you stop rooting for your favorite and start hoping for the no-hitter?

It’s a tough one, and many different factors have to be taken into account.  The only way I can see not wanting to see the no-hitter at any point would be on the last game of the season with the Angels needing a victory to make the playoffs and the score close.  In that situation, if the Angels are down 15-0 in the bottom of the 9th, I’m wanting the no-hitter.  Only if it’s 0-0 or close to it would I root against it.

But in other situations, I think it’s not so much a given inning that I’d start to switch my loyalties for the game and get up my hopes to see the no-hitter or perfect game.  I think I’d start to notice the budding no-hitter by the 5th, keeping it in the back of my mind.  In the 7th, I’m crossing my fingers and silently hoping to see it, and by the 9th, I’m standing and clapping with each out.

Unless, of course, Curt Schilling is pitching.  Then I’m hoping he loses it right up until the final out.

Well, that was a very roundabout way to congratulate Clay Buccholz and his accomplishment tonight, but seeing as I tend to get wordy in my entries, is anybody surprised?

The Angels are on Sunday Night Baseball this week, a 5:06 PM PST start time, and I’m going to do my best to live blog the game.  I will be online on my MSN account when I start the live blogging post, so if you’re reading this blog, watching the game, and want to chat or ask a question that will appear in the liveblog, be sure to add me in your MSN Messenger!  Here’s my account name, and I’ll post it in the liveblogging post as well:

SIDSPINMOVE@HOTMAIL.COM

Until then, Go Halos!