The Week That Was

LAA – 2-5

Weight. Expectations. Crumbling. Get it? (Jokes are always much better when you explain them.)

LAD – 3-4

So much promise. So much potential.

But ultimately, you just end up face down with your face firmly shoved into the Earth’s crust, drowning slowly at edge of a liquid galaxy with your b-hole showing (until you realize that you have a Cuban superhero who you can call to save the day, apparently).

Southern California’s Burgeoning Pissing Contest: The Leader In The Clubhouse

Bah. It’s gotta be Cal State Fullerton again. The Titans breezed through their Regional behind dominant performances by freshman pitchers Thomas Eshelman and Justin Garza, upped their record to 51-8 (SO MANY WINS!!!) on the season, and punched a ticket to a Super Regional showdown against UCLA. With the Dodgers and Angels back to their floundering ways over the weekend, I found myself flipping the channel to Titans’ Regional games more often than not. Bunting and micro-managing is a little  easier to stomach when it actually works (and the guys doing it [1-through-9] seem willing and able to hustle, battle and do whatever it takes to win).

Box Score Of The Week

LAAJered Weaver: 5/25 vs. LAD – 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K on 86 pitches.

The long-awaited return of Angels ace Jered Weaver went as good or better than anyone could have hoped, as he shut down the Dodgers middling lineup through six innings of work. Ernesto Frieri tried in earnest to give the game away (See what I did there?) by giving up two solo bombs on middle-in belt high fastballs to Adrian Gonzalez and Scott Van Slyke, but managed to fan noted grit monger Skip Schumaker to notch his eleventh save of the year.

Weaver’s win led to my favorite postgame interview of the semi-young season, as Mark Trumbo (who had a bomb in the fifth and an RBI sac fly in the seventh inning that proved to be the difference in the game) subtly took the piss out of our favorite cherubic broadcasting superhero, Jose Mota, by referring to two of  “Hosey’s” most notable wordmangles.

Exhibit A:

(I cannot find the source of the “That’s what makes Weaver … The Weave” quote, but I can assure you that it was uttered by Mota on a broadcast, immortalized by Trumbo, and confirmed by C.J. Wilson on Thursday of last week.)

Exhibit B:

(Source: “The old saying”)

Trumbo. The best.

LAD – Hyun-Jin Ryu: 5/28 vs. LAA – 9 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K on 113 pitches.

Ryu took the hill and shoved for nine innings, making the Angels –- who averaged over seven runs per game during their eight-game winning streak (Hello, arbitrary endpoints!) – look foolish in the process. He retired 19 batters in a row during one stretch, showed excellent command and control of all of his pitches, kept the Halos’ hitters off balance with a solid changeup and curveball, and kept his fastball velocity around 93 mph all night long. Needless to say, it was an impressive performance, especially for a guy who was only making his eleventh big league start.

Notable shitshow: Matt Magill on 6/2 vs. COL -  6 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 9 BB, 5 K, 4 HR on 110 pitches.

There are no typos in that line. NINE WALKS. FOUR BOMBS. 110 PITCHES.

Nobody in Major League Baseball had done such a thing since 1916, and Don Mattingly just sat back and watched/let it happen.

AL & NL West Standings Update

LAA – 25-32 (3rd place, and 11 games behind the league-leading Texas Rangers)

LAD – 24-32 (LAST place and 7.5 games behind the first place Arizona Diamondbacks)

Headline Of The Week

Miller: Nerves fray amid Angels’ Struggles” from Jeff Miller’s column for the OC Register on 6/2.

In which the OCR’s resident hack/Diet Simers pre-writes a column, decides to go to an Angels game for the first time in weeks with the hope of stirring shit up and getting some juicy quotes to support his predetermined stance.

 ANAHEIM – Thankfully, you’re reading this.

You’re welcome. I’m only reading it (regretfully) because I’m paid to do so, and because I registered for a free 7-day trial with my sixth fake email address (to get around the stupid OCR paywall) because I have a strong distaste for your writing.

Because Josh Hamilton isn’t.

And neither is anyone else, apparently. (See: Zero tweets, zero Facebook recommendations)

Hamilton didn’t appreciate us asking about the condition of his confidence, labeling an otherwise brilliantly worded inquiry “a bad question.”

Please note that the “brilliantly worded inquiry” is not quoted anywhere within this column.

Sorry, but when the topic is a player who entered this season with a .304 career average hitting .216 after two months, there aren’t any bad questions.

Sure there are, especially when it’s something as assumedly ambiguous and unanswerable as something along the lines of “Why are you struggling?”

Hamilton, however, felt otherwise so he simply let our query sail by, and it’s unfortunate for the Angels that he hasn’t done that with more pitches in the dirt this season.

Poetry.

[snipped because of arbitrary endpoints and small sample size content]

In the span of three pitches, the Angels went from rallying to reeling, and how exactly did this same bunch recently win eight in a row?

Because baseball is weird and unpredictable?

It’s amazing really how a lineup with so many accomplished, dynamic individuals can continue to come together and produce results so thoroughly unproductive and unentertaining.

If by amazing, you mean “frustrating” for players and fans alike, I think we can agree here.

There was a time not long ago when Pujols was being celebrated as maybe the greatest right-handed hitter ever. Now, he’s batting .248, toiling in near obscurity and already has been replaced in those “best-ever” discussions by Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera.

Cabrera is 30, and in his prime. Pujols is 37 33 and due to decline (although maybe not this quickly).

[snipped because of another small sample size citation and an obvious quote from Scioscia]

Traditionally a streaky hitter, Hamilton was asked if it ever has taken him this long to figure out things at the plate.

“Never. Ever,” he said. “From the first time I picked the ball up till now, no.”

He’s being honest. So let’s grill him for it.

So, at that point, would a question about his confidence seem inappropriate? Hamilton decided it was.

He was then asked if he was certain that, by season’s end, his numbers would be where they historically have been.

No mention of how said question was worded, the tone with which it was asked, or the (assuming it was Miller who asked it) track record of the troll who posed it.

“Well, I can’t predict the frickin’ future,” Hamilton said. “Do you want me to say ‘I suck’ and go sit in my locker and never try to do it again?”

Bravo. I’m assuming that being asked about why you haven’t been as good as you used to be EVERY GODDAMNED NIGHT gets a little old after, oh … I dunno, maybe two days? It’s been two months. I can’t speak to the work he’s doing (or not doing) to try to figure things out, but I’m fairly certain that his struggles are wearing on him mentally. It has to. Regardless of his salary. Do you want to suck at anything you do? No. End of story. Dude is probably losing his mind. Having a gaggle of beat writers and radio/TV folks shove their phones/mics/MP3 recorders in his face after another rough game isn’t massaging the process, it’s exacerbating it.

And I get that these beat writers and reporters have a job to do and stories to write, but why not ask about the process (he’s going through to right the ship) instead of the results? Not only would that be more constructive and fascinating (to most), but it’d probably feel less accusatory and condemning than whatever the hell Jeff Miller is trying to do for the OCR.

And for once, an Angels player didn’t answer a question with something predictable and dull.

It was an interesting postgame Sunday, a postgame that included pitcher C.J. Wilson telling another reporter, “Not to get all kindergarten on you but that’s a pretty dumb question.”

If you’re gonna try to call these players out on their shortcomings, you’d better not get bent when they call you out on yours.

At least the Angels were consistent for a change. They handled the media as cleverly as they handled the Astros.

Gah. What a dick.

In this space Sunday, we argued that the only way the Angels would return to relevance this season would be through their pitching.

We still feel that way but, for the record, that column was written with the idea that the Angels’ grossly overpaid hitters eventually would prove to be less overpaid and not nearly as gross.

ZING.

Yeah, if this were Monopoly, the Angels would be lapping the Astros. Over the course of his contract, Hamilton will average $25 million annually. Houston’s payroll this season is $26 million.

Bud Norris is the highest-paid Astro drawing $3 million. That figure would make him the 15th-highest paid Angel.

Unfortunately for the Halos and their fans, baseball isn’t a board game, although, when facing the Astros, the Angels’ offense has turned baseball into a bored game.

A BORED GAME?!

(I can’t even find a facepalm jpeg that is worthy.)

And now the players are growing weary answering the same old questions about the same old performance, and Josh Hamilton is promising not to read our analysis.

Oh, woe is you! Go write a joke book, dork.

The bad news for him: The reviews can’t change until the results do. Trust us.

How ‘bout we flip this and ask Jeff Miller, every night for the next five years, why he sucks at his job and when (and if) he’ll get better?

Quotes Of The Week

LAA

From Mike DiGiovanna’s “Angels’ Mark Trumbo a utility player unlike others” for the LA Times on 6/1.

 “I don’t know in history of many cleanup hitters who play first base, left field, right field and DH,” third base coach Dino Ebel said. “That’s a lot, but he’s doing well, and he seems to enjoy it. Wherever the team needs him, he’s gonna post. That’s where it starts. He has a great attitude about it.”

Mike Trout, and/or the struggles of Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols have gotten far and away the most attention around the league as far as the Angels are concerned, but Trumbo has quietly been the most consistent player for a struggling Angels squad. He leads the team in HR and RBI, is second in 2B, RS, OPS and WAR and is doing all it without an everyday position. On a team that is seriously struggling to find consistency, he’s been a constant – regardless of where they put him in the field – and has put together an All Star-worthy first half for the second year in a row. It’s time to start giving the man his props, y’all.

LAD

From Grant Brisbee’s“Dodgers call up Yasiel Puig” for McCovey Chronicles on 6/3.

Don Mattingly on Puig and expectations:

“You don’t want to build him up to where it’s impossible for him to live up to all the hype,” cautioned Mattingly.”

That makes sense. You wouldn’t want to burden a young player by expecting him to be a world beater or comparing him to a player who had one of the best seasons in the history of b-

“But you saw with the Angels and Mike Trout last year, he came up and things completely turned around with what he brought to the table. It’s unfair to say that happens here, but he could make a big impact.”

Oh.

In his piece, Grant put it far better than I ever could (as usual), writing:

“Now, I’m not saying he’s going to be Mike Trout. I’m just going to mention his name, but if you want to make the connection, hey, that’s on you. That would be totally unfair to expect even if it could really, really, really happen.”

I hope the Dodgers never fire Mattingly, based on his entertainment value alone.

Note: Just before this column was submitted, Puig finished his debut by going 2-for-4 and doing this to end the game …

(Via Mike Petriello)

DERP Of The Week: Chris DERPuano

DERPuano
I’m not even sure where to start with this one. I’m wavering between trying to wrap my head around the fact that Chris Capuano is so goddamned swollen and shredded (and #moist), trying to look past the violations of The (read: my) High Sock Code™, and helplessly trying to avoid the fact that he looks like might have just struck someone out and is shaming them by pantomiming a blow job.

Let’s dissect my wavering in order.

1) Maybe I’m alone here, but I had no freaking idea that Capuano was as big as he is. I pictured him as a lerpy, spindly, gangly left-hander, but he’s actually built like a CrossFit ogre who you might see running through a park half-naked in Vibram Five Fingers shoes, wearing a weighted vest and carrying a suitcase full of sand in each hand. Dude is put together. (He’s also glistening like he bathed in Hawaiian Tropic Tanning Oil before taking the mound, aaaand … he also has “dork calves*”.)

*Dork calves are a phenomenon that I noticed in high school. There was an alarming number of really unathletic dudes (think D&D-playing, black trench coat-wearing, KMFDM, Bauhaus and/or viking metal playlist-having, impossibly pale tweens) who would bounce around campus on their tiptoes in black tights or skin-tight jeans. And because they bounced and pranced in such a manner, they’d have ridiculously huge calves … like the kind of calves that show up in all caps on a scouting report. I found it freakish and fascinating, and still do.

2) The High Sock Code™ is as follows:

  1. If you’re six-feet or under, high socks are MANDATORY.
  2. If you’re over six feet and not built like Christian Bale from The Machinist (or Chris Sale), you cannot wear high socks.
  3. Why? Because you end up looking like a hulking older brother who was forced to wear his little brother’s Little League jersey.
  4. Sorry, tall guys. Enjoy commanding a room as you enter it, being imposing, being able to dunk a basketball, etc. Let us borderline midgets enjoy something exclusive … even if it’s only socks.

3) Uh, I mean … that’s kinda what it looks like, right?

SciosciaFace Of The Week
sowsh
What caused this version of SciosciaFace?

  1.  SHIT, I DUNNO. MAYBE GETTING SWEPT BY THE ASTROS?
  2. Halos pitching coach Mike Butcher challenged him to cup fart and do a faceplant in it.
  3. He’s just savoring yet another fruitful harvest of mucosal gudge from his faceholes.
  4. In case you missed it the first time … GETTING SWEPT BY THE ASTROS?!
  5. Nothing. Nothing at all.

MattinglyFace Of The Week

matt-o-lantern

Jack-O-Lantern status: June 4.

In Matt-O-Lantern’s defense, your face would probably look like that too if you had to pencil Nick Punto, Skip Schumaker, Luis Cruz, Ramon Hernandez, Juan Uribe, Scott Van Slyke, and pitchers like/or who actually are Matt Magill into your lineup every night because your top-tier players were either on the DL or so inexplicably awful that they needed to ride the pine for a spell. They’ve put 14 players on the DL, and sent a player to the DL 17 times through the first two months of the season.

Who Controls The Future

(Note: There will be no predictions this week because predictions are dumb … especially my predictions.)

The Angels will try to recover from getting steamrolled by the Astros as they play host to the Chicago Cubs (23-32) for a quick, two-game set.

Then the Halos spend a weekend in Bawston to battle the fawkin’ Sawkz (35-23) who have been hawtah than anyone evah coulda expected and sit atawp the gawddamned AL East. This should end well.

And the Dodgers will wrap up a three-game series against the San Diego Padres (26-30), before they play host to (and presumably, get pummelled by) the Atlanta BARVES (35-22)

Until we meet again … just do whatever the hell it is that you do. But take a night off. Skip a game (or seven). Watch some college baseball. The stakes are higher (at this point) and the play (assuming you’re not an alumnus of any of the colleges/universities involved) is far less stressful, and a bit more rewarding … because no matter who wins, you win.