Angels Know How to Thank Their Fans

While Dodgers owner Frank McCourt was busying drafting a letter to season ticket holders asking them to renew for next year not long ago, the other team in the LA-area that’s approaching 100 wins came out with a ticket plan that would blow most teams in MLB out of the water. For the final series of the season, the Angels are offering tickets as low as $3, and discounting many other seats as much as 80%. Sure, I realize you’re not going to find premium seats here, but to be able to buy $40 seats for eight bucks, or to even get into Angel Stadium paying just three bucks a ticket is pretty strong.

Even if the Angels have already clinched the division and the Rangers are eliminated, you’re still going to get a quality on-field product. What’s more, this is a fan-friendly gesture that will truly allow a family to come to the ballpark and check out baseball’s best team (record-wise) without being gouged. This is not something that’s necessary, and sure it will help the team at the concession stands and souvenir shops, but it’s just one more reason why Arte Moreno might be the best owner in all of baseball. How many other owners would let fans come watch a first place team for $3 a ticket?

Donovan McNabb Campaigns for Ryan Howard to be NL MVP

I briefly touched on my postseason award picks when I argued for Tim Lincecum to win the NL Cy Young. Incidentally, it looks like Brandon Webb will win it because he’s now at 22 wins while Lincecum has tacked on two losses to go 17-5, though I still would choose Lincecum. Anyway, in the comments section we had an argument for Ryan Howard as NL MVP over my pick of Albert Pujols who has been by far the most superior player in the league. Seems as if commenter Gene is not alone in his choice; Donovan McNabb argued in his blog that Ryan Howard should be MVP:

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In Praise of the Amazing Tampa Bay Rays

It’s early, there’s still plenty of time to collapse, the Yankees and Red Sox will catch em. Heck, even the Blue Jays will pass them up. They’re hot right now, we’ll see how long it lasts. I probably said those words, or at least thought them, several times during the course of the year. Well, it’s late September, football season is in full swing, and the effing Rays just clinched their first ever spot in the postseason. From worst to first. From joke to legit. The Tampa Bay Rays started off strongly and didn’t let down. They went head up with the Red Sox several times down the stretch and prevailed. They absolutely earned their spot in the playoffs, and they’ll be a dangerous team, too. So how did they do it? How was their turnaround possible?

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Video: Indians/Tigers Brawl, Gary Sheffield and Fausto Carmona Fight!

If there’s one player in MLB you don’t want to mess with, it might be Gary Sheffield. The guy’s got a short fuse and already looks mean enough at the plate. He’s someone you don’t wanna piss off. Well, Fausto Carmona apparently could not care less, because after giving up a home run, he responded by brushing Sheffield back and nicking him with a pitch. The following brawl between the Tigers and Indians was the result. My advice is to watch with the sound down — you’ll enjoy it much more that way.

Thanks to contributor Gene for the tip. I think the best part was when Sheffield carried the bat the entire way down the first base line. How classic was that? I’m telling you, Sheff’s a guy you don’t wanna mess with. Fausto clearly wasn’t intimidated. Can you believe how steamed he got? I also liked Sheff’s explanation for the fight:

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Tim Lincecum Angling for Cy Young Award, Giants Ruining Him in Meantime?

We’re getting to that point in the season where there are fewer and fewer games available for standings and stats to change. We have a pretty good idea who’s going to make the playoffs in both leagues, and I have a pretty good idea to whom I would award all the regular season hardware. I’d still go with Carlos Quentin as my AL MVP, Albert Pujols as NL MVP, Cliff Lee as runaway AL Cy Young, and Tim Lincecum as the NL Cy Young winner. I really hope voters don’t just look at Brandon Webb’s win total and give it to him — that would be shortsighted, albeit typical. Lincecum has a better win/loss percentage, better ERA, more innings per start, more strikeouts, fewer hits allowed — he’s just been the best pitcher in the NL this year. Before Brandon Webb stalled on win No. 19 and started to implode, Lincecum’s chances to win were much slimmer. Webb’s shoddy performance opened the door, but the Giants have also bent over backwards to help Lincecum try to win the Award. And they may have gone too far.

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Old Baseball Rookie Pranks Were Pretty Good, Too

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of baseball pranks that the vets play on the rookies. What’s there not to like about guys major leaguers toting Hello Kitty backpacks around the yard? Especially at this time of year in September with all the rookies up for roster expansion, the times get even wilder! It’s not just costumes either — some of them can get really creative. Anyway, though we can get caught up in some of the good pranks these days, they weren’t too bad 20 years ago. This anecdote from Living on the Black — John Feinstein’s book about Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina — had me rolling. The following excerpt details a prank pulled on Glavine following his first major league win. Language NSFW.

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Ozzie Guillen Has Interesting Thoughts on Race, Is Against Affirmative Action

I recently posted a few excerpts from Ozzie Guillen’s interview with Sporting News Magazine, talking about how lucky Chicago was to have both him and Lou Piniella in the same town. I was pretty pumped to tear into the article once I picked up the magazine, and it didn’t let me down. (Incidentally, SN Magazine has improved tremendously since they changed page formats and printed issues less frequently — there are many more feature stories that are worth reading). In the interview, Ozzie was candid as always, first off expressing his thoughts that Latin players are mentally tougher than other players. Here’s why:

“I think the Latin players are smarter than American players in one way: It’s hard to play the game when you don’t speak the language. And you have to overcome that problem, the homesickness, maybe being criticized by somebody and you don’t know what they’re talking about, maybe you watch the TV and you don’t know what the hell they’re saying. … And the competition is getting harder because now you got Korean players, Japanese players, Chinese players … That’s why I criticize a lot of teams — because what is the reason we bring Japanese translators and Latinos no have one? Maybe because you have other teammates that are Latino, or one of the coaches? … Is it because there’s less Asian players in the big leagues? Or do they have better treatment because they bring fans and TV and revenue to baseball?”

I have to admit, that guy that appears so dumb on the surface, actually has provoked a lot of thoughts in my mind. Why don’t Latino players have translators? I think Ozzie hits on a lot of the reasons in his last sentence — the run of the mill Asian player doesn’t have a translator, but the superstar Asian player does — because he brings in revenue. Additionally, the cultural transition between Asian and Latino players is much different and more difficult for Asian players. Not to mention, the fact that there are several Latin players on each team makes it easier to adjust. Anyway, we’re not quite done. Ozzie was asked whether or not he thinks baseball should create opportunities for minorities, maybe in a similar vein to the Rooney Rule in the NFL. Ozzie’s answer:

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