battle of la smaller

Anthem of the week. Here we go.

The Week That Was

LAA – 4-2

“We’re in this together, guys. We can do anything as a t-”

Oh, fer cryin’ out loud.

LAD – 2-3

“Check out this shiny new toy we done got. It’s a Puig 66 and it’s gonna ch-”

Dadgummit.

Any time that either of these teams seem to have any momentum – whether it be in the form of wins via excellent pitching, phenomenal offense or continually freakish output by a guy named Puig – they invariably tumble back into mediocrity. The Halos rattled off eight wins in a row and followed that up by going 4-10 over their next 14 games (arbitrary endpoints and small sample-size, AHOY!) Every time it seems like they there’s the slightest shred of momentum for either team, they do their best to forcibly shove your face right back into the festering failure pile that is their existence. Aside from the Halos eight-game streak two weeks ago and PuigMania, there has really been nothing get excited about. No highs, no lows … just a flatline of bleh since early April.

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

The Angels, by the slimmest of margins. I guess? I mean, at this point, being the leader in the clubhouse here is like being the (insert: “valedictorian of summer school” cliche). There isn’t much to hang your hat on here. They took two of three from a skeleton crew of Yankees, and on Monday night, they steamrolled whatever the hell the Mariners are pretending to be, 11-3.

It’s late June. Both teams are eight games under five hundred. PARDON ME WHILE I WATCH MY BLOOD BOIL.

Box Score Of The Week

LAAHowie Kendrick: 6/15 vs. NYY – 3-for-3, RBI, BB

The line itself isn’t jaw-dropping, but his month of June certainly is. Going into Sunday’s game against the Yankees, Kendrick was hitting .500 in June (.500/.556/.625, with a HR, 6 RBI and 3 2B) and raised his OPS almost 70 points. He’s fifth in the AL All-Star voting and has absolutely no chance of beating out Robinson Cano for the starting nod because YANKEES FANS, but he’s put together an amazing first half of the season. After years of talk of him having the potential to be a .330+, batting-title-winning hitter, this might actually be the year that he does the former. This heat chart which covers most of June (via Mark Simon of ESPN) is downright ridiculous.

LADRonald Belisario: 6/12 vs. ARI – 0.2 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 0 Ks, and a loss.

This meltdown came the day after the much-publicized brawl between the Dodgers and D-backs (which I won’t bother you with the play-by-play details of exactly what happened because it’s been covered ad nauseam at this point, but will say that it was as ridiculous and unproductive as most baseball brawls are), and moments after Belisario said (re: the bad blood), “I don’t think it ends there.” So, instead of focusing his frustration (which manifested itself as him freaking out like he was on PCP during said brawl) on getting back on the mound the next day and shoving strikes, getting outs and being an effective reliever, Belisario got back on the bump and tanked. Whoops.

AL & NL West Standings Update

LAA - 31-39 (3rd place, and 10 games behind the league-leading Oakland Athletics)

LAD – 29-39 (LAST place and seven games behind the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks)

Headline Of The Week

Dodgers’ bumbling, brawling enough to spoil a columnist’s vacation” from (SURPRISE!) T.J. Simers’ column for the LA Times on 6/13.

In which, our troll overlord poses a question in the lede, never answers it, and waxes pathetic about whatever the hell he’s on about again. (Mind you, this is a scribe who has trolled his way to a potential sitcom that is kinda/maybe/supposed to be about your dad if he were a sports-loving, curmudgeonly, shit-stirrer who got paid to write weekly columns about local teams for one of the bigger newspapers on the planet. Sounds riveting, does it not?

Anyway. To the column!

I am supposed to be resting after a trying week of golf in the Lake Tahoe area.

Sounds miserable.

But my blood is boiling, the Dodgers are infuriating and so why do we let our youngsters watch baseball?

The Dodgers being an injury-riddled, underachieving pile of awful sounds like a perfectly good reason to question such a thing.

[snip]

The Dodgers are winning, and everyone knows they will win if they don’t bring in Brandon League, except the team’s manager.

League bombed out as a closer in Seattle, which is why he’s now employed by the Dodgers.

“Hi, Jack? It’s Ned. We’ve seen League bomb as a closer in Seattle. We’d like to sign him. And in the future, if you have other closers who bomb, we’d love to sign them to. This is what we do, apparently. T.J. Siimers has deemed it as such.”

He’s a fine relief pitcher, but not a closer, so why are the Dodgers using him as a closer?

If by “fine”, you mean “awful” and yeah … that’s actually a really good question.

Are they that intent on finishing last? Is there some provision in the Guggenheim/McCourt deal that has McCourt making the calls to the pen?

Posted by DOgd3rPhan69 on the MLB.com message board, or written by a tenured L.A. sports columnist? You decide.

[snip]

How does anyone who is on vacation go to bed after watching the Dodgers throw a game away? Might as well watch “Criminal Minds” or “The Bachelorette” if wishing to encourage nightmares.

“If wishing to … “

[snip]

So there I am watching the Dodgers again on Tuesday night when former Dodger Cody Ross gets nicked on the hand when Zach Greinke comes inside with a pitch. OK, it happens.

Puig comes up a short time later, and he looks like he can hit anything. No human has ever been able to do that. Maybe Ted Williams was the best, but he was only successful four times out of 10.

The Diamondbacks pitched him high and inside Monday night, and the Braves did the same.

Arizona pitcher Ian Kennedy not only goes high and inside but nails Puig in the face. Kennedy is having a terrible year, which means he hasn’t been hitting his spots, but why do I think he did in this case?

Yeah. Why do you think he did? Tell us. Throw some insight into this wordmess.

I tell the wife someone on Arizona’s team is going to get hit now because baseball players are macho stupid like that.

She’s grading papers written by her fifth-graders and I wonder why she’s never asked me to speak to her class about writing? I can’t tell you how many people have suggested I write just like a fifth-grader.

Ah, nevermind.

Arizona comes to bat and Greinke throws behind Miguel Montero, the ball hitting Montero. Montero shows a rare flash of maturity for a major league player. He takes a step toward Greinke, but then moves to first base.

Then Greinke picks up a bat. Greinke may be the Dodgers’ second-best hitter next to Puig, and Kennedy goes head hunting.

Now this is where baseball purists and hypocrites unite in how they explain what just happened. The purists will tell you it’s up to the players to police the game, these hypocrites then explaining there is no place in baseball for head hunting.

It’s assault. Pure and simple, kids. A guy has a ball in his hand, and when he throws at someone he is assaulting their good health. There is nothing to admire in such potential brutality.

A few inches off and a player might spend the night in a hospital or lose his opportunity to make millions if there is further damage.

Do a similar thing outside the ballpark, go vigilante on someone and the cops are called.

Fans love it, and consider it show of toughness. But where is the nobility in pitchers taking turns trying to hit the guy on the swing sitting in a water tank?

So. Many. One. Sentence. Paragraphs.

Andre Ethier reacted like an athlete should, kids. They hit Puig, and he hit the ball out of the park to help beat them.

That’s right, kids. When your teammates are being put in danger, just hit a homerun. IT’S JUST THAT EASY.

Didn’t we learn anything watching “West Side Story,” always a chance a rumble isn’t going to go right?

It’s 2013, right? Let’s reference a musical that came out in the 60s.

The column ends roughly four sentences later (after a brief rant about the failure of Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire to track down and bear hug Yasiel Puig amongst the mess of manhood on the field that night) without an answer to the question posed in the lede. The answer to which, I guess, is that we let our youngsters watch baseball because it’s baseball. In many ways the battle on the field is a microcosm of life, and watching baseball with a child and explaining what happens in each individual battle (from AB-to-AB) or extracurricular battles (read: brawls) will prepare that child for real life. So … T.J., we should let our youngsters watch baseball because it’s the best game on the goddamned planet and explaining the nuances (and arguable shortcomings of something like a brawl) will better prepare them for real life. No?

Quotes Of The Week

LAA

From Mike DiGiovanna’s “Struggling Angels in it for the long haul” for the LA Times on 6/13.

Mark Trumbo, on the mindset that the Angels need to be in at the moment:

“At this point, it’s about trying to do the small things right and understanding that even if we do a lot of them, we’re not going to be in first place for a while,” utility man Mark Trumbo said. “It’s a pride thing. Everyone wants to be part of a winning organization, to be labeled a winner, a player people can count on.

“You always want to win the World Series, but at the same time, there are lots of other motivators. Being a resilient team, one others don’t want to play, is equally important, not only for now but down the road.”

As depressing as it is to read that as a fan of a team that was picked by most folks to win the AL West, those quotes are spot-on. That perspective needs to be there. That it’s there in the clubhouse, is somewhat comforting. And after all the hemming and hawing about the Angels losing Torii Hunter as a leader and that loss being detrimental to the team, Trumbo’s quote proves that – even though they might not have a “media” darling or outspoken leader on the squad – they have guys in uniform who are focusing on the right things. That’s contagious.

There’s no question in anyone’s mind that the Angels’ first-half performance has been disappointing, (and the “one game at a time” quote is as tired as any baseball cliche), but a team doesn’t dig out of the kind of hole the Angels have dug themselves without focusing on individual games, individual battles, individual responsibilities. It’s taking care of the pitch-by-pitch, out-by-out, inning-by-inning duties that help a team climb out of a hole. Worrying about the larger picture (as grave as it may appear) does nothing to move a club forward.

So, this is a hat tip to Trumbo for being eloquent about the team’s approach given the circumstances. I find a quote like his to be far more encouraging and enlightening than the typical, “We’re taking it one game at a time” or “This is a marathon, not a sprint.”

LAD

From Stephen Petrella’s “Dodgers have mixed reactions to suspensions” for MLB.com on 6/14.

Belisario (again) on the feud between the Dodgers and D-backs:

“Everybody knows that it’s not over.”

And thus, we all wait with baited breath until the Dodgers face the D-backs again. Listen … fighting is dumb. Especially in baseball. Sure, shit got entirely out of hand on Tuesday night at Chavez Ravine.  And sure, “unwritten rules” this and “unwritten rules” that, but throwing at people’s heads is dumb, and throwing old men over dugout railings is dumb, and Hall-of-Famers (and/or should-be Hall-of-Famers) clenching and throwing each other to the ground is dumb, and rookie phenoms punching a player as inconsequential as Eric Hinske in the face is dumb, and putting several multi-million dollar assets in danger (again) is dumb, and … gah. It’s all so … dumb. I suppose I could handle a steel cage match of grit between Nick Punto and Willie Bloomquist, but when benches clear and bullpens empty and coaches get into the fray, and “HOLD ME BACK, BRO!!!” moments are scattered all over a baseball field because one or two idiots did something stupid, it turns baseball into something meatheaded, gross and classless. I’m all for dosing a guy in retaliation for something that was done in poor judgement, but it needs to be done in the right way (read: between the numbers or in the ass) and it should end there. It didn’t “end there” on Tuesday, and it was a bummer (and entirely unproductive for both teams).

(OK. Maybe I lied about “bothering you with play-by-play details of exactly what happened”.)

DERP Of The Week: Mike Trout

TroutDERPjune

INVISIBLE LEFT CROSS TO THE JAW

SciosciaFace Of The Week

smosh

What caused this version of SciosciaFace?

  1. HOW CAN I WORK BRENDAN HARRIS AND/OR J.B. SHUCK INTO THIS LINEUP?!
  2. Did I miss an opportunity to bunt? (Please say no. DAMNIT … PLEEEASE SAY NO.)
  3. Can my bullpen hold a nine-run lead in the seventh inning?
  4. DON’T ANSWER THAT.
  5. Nothing. Nothing at all.

MattinglyFace Of The Week

mats3

Matt-O-Lantern status: Feb. 27.

Who Controls The Future

The Angels wrap up a four-game set against the rudderless Seattle Mariners. Joe Blanton takes a seat – and rightfully so – for this trip through the Halos’ rotation. Jerome Williams will start in his place.

Then, the Halos play host to the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have put together yet another impressive first half of the season (and will undoubtedly tank their way to another sub-.500 season in the second half) in an interleague weekend series.

And the Dodgers will head to the Big Apple to battle a Yankees lineup that looks more like a triage unit than a traditional Yankees cast for a two-game set in the house that ALL OF THE MONEY built.

Then, Los Doyers get effed squarely in the ass by MLB schedulers and make a cross-country overnight flight to San Diego to take on the Padres in a four-game weekend series at Petco Park that could get a little wild on Saturday afternoon. (See: Greinke) And, whoa … the Padres have the best record in baseball since April 23rd (30-19). HOW?! Look at this depth chart. Seriously … how?

Until we meet again … let’s just expect nothing at all and be happy with whatever the hell happens, because it’s the third week of June and these teams are just WHAT THE … THIS IS NOT WHAT WE SIGNED UP FOR.