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Arte Moreno Will Spend to Get Angels Back to Playoffs

Arte Moreno is quietly one of the best owners in sports. It’s comments like the ones he made to the LA Times that affirm this point. After missing the playoffs for just the second time since he took over the Angels for the 2004 season, Moreno vowed to get the team back to the postseason. The Angels’ owner said to Bill Plaschke “You’re not in the playoffs, you’re not a happy person. I just don’t like losing, and we’re going to make adjustments. It’s going to cost money, but our fans need to know what we’re committed to winning.”

Yankee fans probably understand the feeling, but it’s great to know that your team’s owner cares as much about winning as you do as a fan. I try to catch every single Angels game on TV but the reality is I tuned out the entire last month of the season — there was just no point in watching by then. It was the most disinterested I’ve been in a season of Angels baseball since Moreno took over the team.

Think about it: since he became owner of the Angels, the team has won the AL West five of seven years, won 95 or more games three times, and made the ALCS twice. Even when the team missed the playoffs in 2006, they still won 89 games and finished in second. The 2010 season was the worst of the Arte Moreno era — an 80-82 3rd place finish.

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Angels Change Their Celebration Ways

After losing star first baseman Kendry Morales to a broken leg as a result of a rowdy celebration at homeplate following his walkoff grand slam Saturday, the Angels vowed to change their ways. Manager Mike Scioscia said, “It’s going to change the way we celebrate.” Pitcher Jered Weaver shared the sentiment, “Obviously, we’re going to have to change the way we go about celebrating something like that.” As hard as it is to contain raw emotion and pure joy in moments of success, one had to wonder if curbing their celebrations was realistic. Well, 24 hours later the Angels were tested and proved they were committed to making a change.

Second baseman Howie Kendrick homered twice to beat the Mariners 9-7, including a game-winning walkoff 3-run home run in the bottom of the 9th. When he reached homeplate, there wasn’t the typical mob scene we’re used to seeing but rather a group of teammates ready to hug him once he was done making the round trip. They definitely congratulated Howie and got into it, but things weren’t as wild, crazy, and physical as usual. And you know what? The moment wasn’t any less exciting. Hopefully the Angels will keep winning games and nobody will be hurt during the celebrations. Maybe other teams will follow their lead to avoid having players land on the infamous list.

Sources:
Morales breaks leg celebrating slam [Orange County Register]
Images via KCOP

Umpires Officially Are Screwing the Angels in ALCS vs. Yankees

Mike Napoli Tags Posada, Cano
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Either the umpires here in the playoffs are screwing the Angels or they’ve been instructed to give the Yankees as many calls as possible. The horrible calls to go the way of New York in the playoffs started in the division series with Phil Cuzzi calling Joe Mauer’s double down the left field line a foul ball when it wasn’t even a close call. That was pretty darn egregious. Then it continued in I believe Game 2 of the ALCS when the second base umpire didn’t give Erick Aybar the phantom tag at second when he was trying to turn a double-play. Yes I’ll admit that Aybar never tagged the bag but that’s never been an issue for umps — it’s always been accepted. Unfortunately that call was only small potatoes compared to the two horrendously blown calls by the umps in Game 4.

In the top of the 4th, Scott Kazmir tried to pick off Nick Swisher at second with a spin move. The throw from Kazmir to Aybar was spot on and they easily had Swisher, no doubt about it. Swisher was called safe and he later advanced to third after Jeter was walked to load up the bases. The Yankees should have gone up 4-0 on Johnny Damon’s fly out to left field but the Angels appealed that Swisher left third base early and the umpires gave them the call, ending the inning (see the images at The Replacement Refs via Deadspin). If that wasn’t a makeup call I don’t know what is. Then the very next inning the umpires were up to their same tricks and this might have been the absolute worst call of the series.

Nick Swisher Picked off

In the top of the 5th, the Yankees had Jorge Posada on third and Robinson Cano on second with one out. Nick Swisher hit a grounder to Darren Oliver who threw home, getting Posada caught in a rundown. Mike Napoli chased Posada back to third and tagged both Posada and Cano out (Cano had headed towards third). For some unknown reason, the third base umpire called Posada out and Cano safe. Yankee fans will point to the fact that no runs were scored because of this mistake so it doesn’t matter. Problem is every extra out you give a lineup like the Yankees will kill you. What’s better to start an inning, Melky, Jeter and Damon or Jeter, Damon, and Teixeira? It’s a huge difference when you’re talking playoff baseball.

The Yankees are so good and playing so well they would probably advance to the World Series regardless. Facing CC Sabathia and that murderer’s row is tough enough as is; the Angels shouldn’t also have to overcome the umpires. This is embarrassing.

Angels Need Some to Watch Some of Those Tom Emanski Videos

erick-aybar-maicer-izturis

The Angels are on one of the biggest stages possible and coming close to embarrassing themselves. They’re now down 0-2 in the ALCS to the Yankees and they’ve committed five errors, three in Game 1 and two in Game 2. The most egregious error ended Game 2 in the 13th when Maicer Izturis tried to turn a double play on a ball in the 3-4 hole and he threw it away. I really don’t have that much of a problem with Maicer trying to go to second on that play (they needed both outs desperately) but he needs to set his body up more before making that throw. And how about Chone Figgins? Anyone else notice that if he picks the missed throw up cleanly he can probably get Jerry Hairston Jr. out at the plate? Maybe it’s just me. Figgins also made a throwing error in the 6th on a ball hit by Mark Teixeira. Coupling that with Chone’s 0fer in the playoffs and you could tell it wasn’t his October (until the 11th inning).

The only excuse for the Angels is that the Yankees committed three errors including botched grounders by Jeter and Cano on easy plays, suggesting the crappy weather conditions affected everyone. Even if the conditions have been awful, all the Angels’ mistakes from Game 1 can’t be excused. How can you make that many screwups? Erick Aybar and Figgins let a popup drop between them after Juan Rivera had made a throwing error in the 1st, Torii Hunter wasn’t able to field a Jeter hit to center, and John Lackey threw away a pick off attempt. This was the exact same charade put on by the Angels in Boston last year in Game 2 where they made two errors and let a popup drop in center that allowed a rally to happen. The Angels couldn’t hit CC Sabathia in Game 1 but didn’t give themselves a chance to win with all their mistakes. In Game 2 they couldn’t hit with runners in scoring position and got some bad calls from the umps but it was their fielding errors that directly cost them the game. Arrggghh, so frustrating. Good thing is it’s a best of 7 (which only means they have two games to commit more errors!).

The Dragon Has Finally Been Slain

angels celebration

I suppose I could just let the picture tell the story because it is worth a thousand words but I’ll supply a few since I have the chance. I have wanted to talk about this series so many times but I kept my mouth shut — maybe for the same reason players don’t talk to their pitcher in the middle of a no-hitter. I can’t even tell you how much pain the Red Sox have caused Angels fans over the past five years. High hopes crushed year in and year out. Winning 100 games only to see the effort go to waste with three losses to the Red Sox. Seeing a team score runs during the regular season only to be shutout by Boston’s arms. Going head to head only to see the bullpen blow it or a reliable starting pitcher get smacked. Yet the Angels did to the Red Sox the exact inverse of what had been done to them three straight times.

This time around it was Boston that was unable to hit in the first two games. This time around it was Boston that got shutout and held to eight hits over two games despite having several talented hitters in the lineup. This time around it was Boston’s reliable, dominant closer who got lit up in the most improbable fashion. The Angels beat Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, and Jonathan Papelbon to sweep the series — one of the most potent playoff threesomes of all-time, given their history. Talk about a monkey off someone’s back, this was a freaking elephant lifted. To provide you with some more perspective on the sweep, Jonathan Papelbon had never given up a run in the playoffs prior to blowing Game 3. Never! Paps had a 0.00 ERA and 0.62 WHIP in 26 playoff innings until the Angels got to him on Sunday. The Angels were down to their final strike before rallying to take the lead. This is a new team and a new era and the curse has finally been broken.

Now, before I get too damn giddy pissing my pants, I have to caution that in this bizarro playoff world that the Angels beat the Red Sox, that means their recent run of dominance over the Yankees could come to an end. This is one team down of hopefully three, but it was probably the biggest. What a relief.

The .300 Club Angels Roll Along

The Angels may have swapped out Maicer Izturis for Howie Kendrick at second base on Wednesday night, but the .300 club still had a strong showing. Entering the game, every Angel starter except Kendrick had an average of .300 or better. By the end of the game, catcher Mike Napoli’s average had dropped below .300 after he went 0-for-2 with two walks. Mr. Lonely Hearts will now carry a .298 average into his next game. Still, it’s pretty incredible that the Angels could field an every-day lineup of nothing but .300 hitters. Heading into the season, you would have figured Vladimir Guerrero and Bobby Abreu were near locks to reach that mark, while Chone Figgins and Howie Kendrick were likely to surpass it. That the Erick Aybars, Juan Riveras, Torii Hunters, and Mike Napolis are also hitting .300 is just a statement of how well the Angels are hitting the ball right now. In the case that Napoli has dipped below .300 for good, here’s a screen capture for the ages, from Tuesday’s game.

Angels .300

It was the first time since 1930 that had happened. I will definitely savor that moment because the chances of it happening again are very slim. The only thing better than having a lineup full of .300 hitters is having a lineup full of .300 hitters in late September and October, and said lineup does not have to face Red Sox pitching.

Angels Are Not Signing CC Sabathia

They’re just blowing smoke, playing the game. See, the Angels’ real target is Mark Teixeira — he’s the one that really beefed up their team and rounded out their lineup. Adding Sabathia would just make the Angels pitching heavy but still leave their lineup vulnerable. Sure, he’s a nice addition for any club, but not a legitimate target for the Angels. So why all the rumors and reports floating out there? The Angels and Tony Reagins want people to think they’re interested in Sabathia because it helps them. Let’s go over the process here:

    1. Boras wants monster deal (10 years) for Teixeira, needs lots of bidders
    2. Angels willing to offer Tex big deal, but not 10 years
    3. Boras/Teixeira waiting for better offers
    4. Angels drop rumors they want Sabathia to try and make Yankees overspend
    5. Yankees panic, bump up offer to Sabathia, leaving less money to offer other free agents
    6. Market for Teixeira comes back to earth, he now decides between 7 year $150 million offers from Angels, Yanks, Red Sox and maybe another team

See, the whole thing is part of a plan by the Angels to help themselves out. Everyone’s just waiting around for a player to sign before everything else gets decided. And don’t forget, the Angels still have to extend John Lackey whose contract is up after this season. Expect them to pour around $90 million over five years into Lackey, just like the Cubs did with Zambrano. How could they afford to extend Lackey AND sign Sabathia without addressing their offense? They can’t, which is why they’re not signing CC.