I’m back? What’d I miss? Anything? Anything at all?
In a way, the answer to that is “no”. The Angels are actually worse off than they were when I’d left them for dead back in mid-June. When I left for tour they were 11 games back, mostly impossible to watch, and now they’re 14 games back, entirely impossible to watch and wholly infuriating.
On the other hand, the answer is “Yes. Lots.” Apparently the Dodgers can’t lose now? Wonderful. They went 21-6 while I was on the road. 21-6! Apparently throwing money at things only works if you throw ALL OF THE MONEY at ALL OF THE THINGS (and if people get healthy and Hanley Ramirez rediscovers the cheat code that he had in 2009).
As it turns out, you can’t just throw ungodly amounts of cash at big-ticket Free Agents without addressing glaring needs in your team’s rotation and bullpen. Weird how that works, eh Arte Moreno?
Before we jump back into this mess, I must extend a massive thanks to my man Ian Miller for showing just how much of a hack I am by writing fantastic Battle Of The Bay columns in my absence. Not only did he keep you all thoroughly entertained, but he took the template I cobbled together over the first 13 weeks of the season and made it much better. The bar has been raised. I just hope I can reach it.
The Week That Was
LAA – 2-5 (Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds as of 7/30: 0.5%)
The season is a lost cause, the trade deadline is looming, Albert Pujols is all but done for the rest of the year – and probably should have been shut down sooner, for what it’s worth – and unless the club wants to gut themselves of their most valuable and in-control assets (Trout, Trumbo, Bourjos) they have nothing to trade (except for Scott Downs, apparently). The basic conundrum is broken down here by Jim Bowden, but after the Halos’ collapse on Sunday, Ken Rosenthal was reporting that Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar (both affordable and on somewhat short-term contracts) could be available. The problem is that there isn’t a soul in the Halos’ depleted farm system who could step up and fill either of their shoes. Sigh.
LAD – 5-1 (Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds as of 7/30: 85.1%)
DESTROYER OF BASEBALLS. NEGLECTOR OF BASEBALL ETIQUETTE.
(And who cares about players exuding happiness via bat flips and slides into home? Not this guy.)
Southern California’s Burgeoning Pissing Contest: The Leader In The Clubhouse
I mean … it’s not even a question any more. Is it? One team is a fertile, turgid mass of baseball riches and success, while the other is the baseball’s version of the target market for Viagra ads.
Box Score Of The Week
LAA – Ernesto Frieri: 7/23 vs. MIN – 0.1 IP, 4 H, 5 R, IBB, HR
Frieri took over for Halos in the top of the tenth inning with the score tied at three, and proceeded to give up two singles, a run scoring double, an intentional walk (to load the bases) and a grand slam to rookie catcher Chris Herrmann of the F***KING TWINS. A truly Marmolian effort.
You’d think an outing like that would have me – or any Angels fan, really – chucking anything within reach at the TV, or cursing, or kicking the family pet, but instead … I just laughed. A sad little chuckle, a misty-eyed guffaw, punctuated with a “Welp … “ as I turned off the tube and decided to go something far less masochistic, like slamming my genitals in a car door. Repeatedly.
Honorable Mention: Ernesto Frieri: 7/29 vs. TEX – 0.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 HR
I can’t even.
LAD – Clayton Kershaw: 7/26 vs. CIN – 8 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, BB, 8 Ks
Just Clayton Kershaw doin’ Clayton Kershaw sorts of things … like having a MLB-best qualified 1.96 ERA and 2.97 xFIP, which rank first and eighth (respectively) in MLB among qualified starters.
AL & NL West Standings Update
LAA – 48-56 (4th place, and 14 (!!!) games behind the league-leading Oakland A’s.)
LAD – 56-48 (FIRST place and 2½ games ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks)
Headline Of The Week
“T.J. Simers’ Future With L.A. Times Likely To Be Decided This Week” from Ben Koo’s column for Awful Announcing on 7/27.
It’s turns out that The Troll King’s™ six-week absence from the pages of the Times might a “paid suspension”. Apparently, Simers has been knocking heads with Times editor Davan Maharaj for a while, which is shocking to exactly no one. The horribly shot and entirely unfunny “T.J. Simers’ daughter shoots free throws with Dwight Howard while grumpy dad barks insults from the sideline” video – which was rumored to be a sneak peak a forthcoming sticom from Mandalay Sports Entertainment – is rumored to have been the final straw.
As of Tuesday morning, Simers hadn’t been canned. And for the sake of this section of the column, I really hope he isn’t.
Quotes Of The Week
From Mike DGiovanna’s “Angels slugger Albert Pujols is likely to sit out rest of season” for the LA Times on 7/28.
“This is a big blow to our team right now,” said Scioscia, whose club has scored 38 runs in its last 13 games, an average of 2.9 per game. “We’re going to have to mix and match and get more creative, and hopefully we can start to come alive offensively. We have to keep moving forward.”
I get the sentiment here, but I’m not sure I’d classify the loss of 2013 Albert Pujols as a “big blow”. The Albert Pujols of yore? Sure. But the guy has been slightly above-average 1B/DH (1.4 bWAR) this season, and a guy who can’t really play in the field or run a sub-5.0 to first base since spring training. Yeah, I guess that’s semantics argument to some extent, but Pujols has been painful to watch this season (especially on the station-to-station baserunning side), and to act like losing him is the final nail in the coffin on what has been a mostly pathetic Halos season is to ignore that he’s been a shadow of himself … uh, since they signed him.
I also have trouble understanding how something that has apparently been a lingering issue for almost 10 years hasn’t: a) been fixed, given his access to elite medical care, or b) been enough of a “red flag” so that a team would avoid signing him to a 10-year $240MM contract. But here we are.
From Dylan Hernandez’s “Dodgers’ Zack Greinke disappointed over Ryan Braun’s behavior” for the LA Times on 7/26.
Greinke, on former Milwaukee Brewers teammate and noted PED user/liar Ryan Braun.
“The main thing is, yeah, he lied to us,” Greinke said. “He forced us to lie for him, threw people under the bus in order to help himself out and didn’t care, blamed others for his mistakes, and it’s just a lot of things you don’t expect from people.”
And Greinke wasn’t done there …
“Not even talking about the player. It’s just the person. Just the fact that he was willing to use anyone that got in his path. The closer you were to him, the more he would use you. It’s just disappointing that a human being could be like that.”
Early in this series of columns I mentioned how big a fan of Greinke I am, not only because of his baseball abilities, but because of his outstanding interviews. Reporters either get the Grienke who makes it seem like they’re trying to pry answers out of a 10-year-old who set the front lawn on fire, or that they get the talkative, brutally honest, maybe-a-bit-of-oversharing Greinke who has no problem verbally mauling a former teammate who kind of always seemed like he had the parts and makeup of an elite-level douche. I’m glad Greinke had the stones to light him up in the press.
DERP Of The Week: Random Pantsless Idiot
Two security guards tackle a man who ran onto the field during the ninth inning of a baseball game between the Los Angeles Angels and the Minnesota Twins, Wednesday, July 24, 2013, in Anaheim, Calif. The Angels won 1-0.
I was at this snoozefest of a game, and while hijinks of the Field-Invader-type don’t (and shouldn’t) get much play on TV and radio, the general public should be notified that this moron absolutely got his ass handed to him by Angel Stadium security. The initial takedown (by the security guard in the Angels BP lid) was solid, followed by a rear mount and a decent headlock/armbar. Said takedown was followed up with a flying shoulder strike from the security guard’s tag team partner (the one with his face buried in the turf), and punctuated by some mildly violent manhandling by one or two other security guards and a member of the Anaheim police department. Well played, gentlemen.
Note: If you’re gonna rush the field, maybe doing it in loose-fitting pants and a pair of Sperry topsiders isn’t the most practical wardrobe selection.
Bonus DERP: Hank Conger
(via Chuck Richter of Angelswin.com)
BECAUSE THE ANGELS
**SciosciaFace Of The Week
What caused this version of SciosciaFace?
- “You talkin’ to me? Well, I’m the only one here. Who the fuck do you think you’re talkin’ to?”
- ERNESTO FRIERI’S PANT-SH**TING EXTRAVAGANZA
- Joe West, probably.
- “Maybe retiring to a life of golf, lasagna and red wine isn’t such a bad idea after all.”
- Nothing. Nothing at all.
MattinglyFace Of The Week
The Matt-O-Lantern has been cryogenically frozen and put away for darker, less-successful days, it’s been replaced by Donnie Baseball’s shit-eating grin. In four short weeks, his visage has done a full 180º from a rotting pumpkin corpse to a blissfully bronzed cherub.
Who Controls The Future
In my absence, Ian taught me that posting projected starters is a mostly futile effort. It’s not all that informative, nor is it interesting reading or fodder for ranting, so …
The A’s just buried the Angels in a four-game series. The Halos taking three-of-four would have been reason to hope that things might take a turn for the better in the second half, but after closing the series out with three losses, taking the the woe-is-us loss of Pujols narrative for the remainder of the season, and the potential fire sale rumors, there’s really not much to be chipper about in Anaheim of Los Angeles. The A’s look (inexplicably) solid, the Texas Rangers look more than decent (and eager to add pieces at the deadline), and there’s no question that the Rays or Red Sox are going to do whatever they can to snag a Wild Card spot depending on who falls short in the AL East.
Now, the Halos have to deal with those same Rangers in a three-game set to start the week and a four-game home series against the wholly disappointing (yet dangerous) Toronto Blue Jays. Godspeed, you Halos. God. Speed.
The Dodgers are finally close to operating on all cylinders (sans Matt Kemp), have incredible momentum, and play in a division that could best be described as “almost completely shitty”, so if you’re a waffling So Cal baseball fan and are looking for a truck to attach your bandwagon to, I’d suggest latching on to Magic Johnson’s money bucket ASAP and enjoying the ride from here on out.
They’ll host the 2003 Yankees (Soriano!) for a two-game series, and head to Wrigley for a four-game set against a Cubs team which I’m pretty sure is hellbent on making its fanbase wait another century for a World Series title.
Until next week…
For Angels fans (and to be sung to the tune of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame”)
Let’s root, root, root for the home team,
If they don’t win it’s F***CKIN’ WHATEVER.
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,
And why the f**k do I watch this bullshit?”
For Dodgers fans … just keep gloating. It’s VERY attractive.