I haven’t listened to this entire song in … maybe forever. And I’ve realized that the only part we ever hear during Los Angeles sporting events is the “best” part. And by “best”, I mean “least awful” part. I know this might fall on deaf ears, but I’m of the opinion that the song in its entirety is an absolute mess (and I won’t even comment on the video). Lounge-core intro? Check. Calypso interlude? Check. Prog/Space-rock bridge? CHEEEYECK. Ugh. It’s fucking awful.
Los Angeles in 2013 is traffic and traffic and more traffic and missed appointments/reservations and clearing your schedule to do ONE THING because of traffic and some more traffic and no parking and even more traffic. If you had the good fortune of being loaded (with money, coke and booze and limo drivers) in the 80s, I’m sure it was an full-blown party. Now, it sucks all of the balls.
The Week That Was
LAA – 2-4 (Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds as of 8/13: 0.1% … ‘cause it can’t be 0% yet. :/ )
The Angels have lost four games this season in which they’ve held a lead of five or more runs. They have the sixth-highest payroll in baseball, are paying over $10 million to have Vernon Wells suck in a Yankees uniform and have Ervin Santana cut hitters up for the Royals, and are 15 games out of first place in the AL West. Good times. There are none.
LAD – 6-1 (Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds as of 8/13: 98.9%)
On a 38-8 run? 21-4 over their last 25 games? 21-3 since the All-Star break?! Can’t stop. Won’t stop.
Southern California’s Burgeoning Pissing Contest: The Leader In The Clubhouse
I’m just gonna go ahead and emboss “THE DODGERS” into this section of the column. Not only are they playing great baseball, but they’re getting lucky. And while their luck is sure to run out at some point, they’re executing and playing with an air of confidence that I can’t see disappearing in the month-and-a-half remaining in the regular season. (You can’t buy luck, can you?) Their freakish success over the past couple of months is even more impressive when you realize that they’ve done it without Matt Kemp and with Skip Schumaker, Nick Punto, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Juan Uribe.
Box Score Of The Week
LAA – Garrett Richards: 8/12 vs. NYY – 8 IP, 7 H, 2 R, BB, 3 K
A hard-luck loss for a young guy with a ton of upside who should have been a part of the Angels’ rotation all year long (in this humble writer’s opinion). Richards has great stuff – a plus fastball and a plus-plus slider – but hasn’t been set on a consistent path by the Angels since his first call-up in 2011.
He’s gone from starter to reliever to starter, back to reliever, and then back to starter what seems like a hundred times over, and while his results might not reflect the quality of his pitches, it’s probably helpful to set a promising young arm on somewhat of a steady course. The Angels haven’t even come close to doing this with him. Richards has mentioned several times that he prefers starting as opposed to relieving, and why the Angels haven’t shoved him into a #4 or #5 starter role and made him “figure it out” at the big league level (at an affordable price) rather than signing guys like Joe Blanton (demoted to the bullpen) and Tommy Hanson (demoted to Triple-A) for tens-of-millions a year is beyond me.
LAD – Kenley Jansen: 8/8 vs. STL – 1 IP, 1H, 0 R, 2 K
On Thursday night in St. Louis, a single by David Freese put an end to Jansen’s streak of 27 consecutive outs – a hidden perfect game. Eric Stephen of True Blue LA has put together a helpful table that breaks down each of those outs recorded during Jansen’s streak of total domination, with the most impressive part being that 15 of those 27 outs came via strikeout. It’s crazy to think that just a couple of months ago, Brandon League was Mattingly’s go-to guy in high leverage situations. Live and learn, I s’pose.
AL & NL West Standings Update
LAA – 53-64 (4th place, and 15 games behind the first-place Texas Rangers)
LAD – 68-50 (FIRST place and 7.5 games ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks)
Headline Of The Week
From Mike DiGiovanna’s “Josh Hamilton’s season-long slump has the Angels concerned” for the LA Times on 8/11.
Gee, ya think? A five year commitment and $125 million to a guy who’s hitting .223/.280/.411 and who’s been in a funk that goes back to June of last year?
A major league scout on Josh Hamilton’s continued struggles:
“It’s a typical pitching pattern that gets him out — left-handed breaking balls down and away, right-handed changeups down and away,” one major league scout said. “There’s just not a whole lot of adjustments going on.”
You don’t need to be a major league scout to see that. Hamilton’s lack of adjustments has been and is baffling. His at-bats are starting to look like a Vine video – flail at a pitch in the RHB batter’s box, watch a get-me-over cutter or breaking ball, flail at another pitch in the RHB batter’s box and stroll back to the Halos dugout. And it happens over and over and over.
“When things are feeling good and you’re not getting results, people want to find a specific problem, like I’m swinging at pitches out of the zone, I’m impatient, I’m moving my hands, my head,” he said. “Mine is thinking too much. When you start looking for a problem, it creates problems. That’s where we’re at.”
Uh … how do you fix a problem if you don’t identify it?
Guy: Hey, man. M’car’s broken.
Mechanic: What’s wrong with it?
Guy: Dunno. It’s just broken. It’s all outta sorts ‘n whatnot.
Mechanic: K’s it your brakes? Transmission? Carburetor? Anything in particular? I need a little direction if I’m gonna get in there and f-
Guy: Hey, man. I can’t think about it. It just makes it worse.
Mechanic: Yeah, but I can’t fix it if I d-
Guy: Lemme pray on it.
Mechanic: O … Kaaaaay.
In a perfect world, you’d imagine that Hamilton and the Angels coaching staff have tried everything humanly possible to try to break his streak of ineptitude – cage work, tee work, soft-toss, video, days off, psychologists, vision tests, prayer, etc. (But it’s possible that they haven’t.) That nothing has worked has got to be immensely frustrating.
The above quote makes me think that it’s possible that Hamilton might be resistant to instruction or suggestion and is content to just “pray on it” and trust that things will work themselves out. I might back that method if the slump had been going for a month and a half, but not a year and a half. There’s a level of accountability that needs to be reached here, and it’s not happening. He’s gonna have to shake things up at some point, because it seems like God’s busy with things more important than Josh Hamilton’s baseball career at the moment.
Quotes Of The Week
— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) August 11, 2013
To put it mildly.
Uribe's foot on the base http://t.co/osPi0eIP8Y
— yasielpuig (@YasielPuig) August 10, 2013
I know, I know. This is not a “quote” per se, but I think it speaks volumes about how healthy the Dodgers’ clubhouse is at the moment. Sure, winning can right any clubhouse, but the fact that an established guy with a hefty contract (Gonzalez) is goofing on a role player who consistently looks like someone just shit on his couch (Uribe), and result is being tweeted by a rookie (Puig) probably means that there no divides in said clubhouse. Winning has a ton to do with it, but it’s also a testament to the leadership and camaraderie that Dodgers coaching staff has built and fostered.
DERP Of The Week: Yasiel Puig
LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 10: Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts as he is intentionally walked during the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Dodger Stadium on August 10, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
FUCK THE WALK. DESTROY THE BALL. Indeed.
SciosciaFace Of The Week
Before we begin, I must admit that this is not a new SciosciaFace, but it is undoubtedly the consummate SciosciaFace. It hosts disdain, utter frustration, contempt for co-workers, the visage of a man squeezing out a stubborn (and possibly viscous) trouser cough, and so much more. So, let’s begin … shall we?
What caused this version of SciosciaFace?
- Mike Butcher always dialing the wrong number when he calls the ‘pen.
- This. Probably.
- The Angels bLOLpen just blew another five-run lead.
- He’s just singin’ the chorus of your favorite song.
- Nothing. Nothing at all.
MattinglyFace Of The Week
This is … uh … not the way we drew this whole Matt-O-Lantern thing up, you guys.
Who Controls The Future
For Josh Hamilton: THE LORD.
For the Angels: The guys who can stomach what has become a viking funeral as they trudge their way through the rest of the regular season, knowing that basically nobody’s job is secure? Scioscia could (and probably should) get canned – see: four straight years of missing the playoffs with elite talent and a plus-sized payroll. The coaching staff (Mike Butcher, Rob Piccolo, etc.) is always on thin ice when things are sour. And anyone who isn’t Albert Pujols, Hamilton, or Mike Trout (all immovable for a variety of reasons), should probably be a bit leery of Arte Moreno going full-blown Donald Trump-style and breaking out the “YOU’RE FIRED” hammer once this mess of a season comes to a close.
They’re in dire need of pitching and prospects and have very little leverage in the trade market. SOMEBODY (likely beloved and appreciated by Angels fans and who is also affordable with upside) needs to move if this team wants to right the ship. Things can and will get worse if they stay the course as currently constructed.
For the Dodgers: Health. (Or the Lord, I guess.) Barring a few major injuries, this team is bound to get stronger on paper with Kemp and Hanley Ramirez returning, and while their luck will probably (probably?!) take a turn for the worse, they don’t really appear to have a single weakness at this point. The starting pitching has been nails, the bullpen is lights out, and they find ways to cobble together runs even when they shouldn’t. The only concern would be them getting complacent as they pad their lead in the NL West and not being totally sharp as they head into the playoffs. I’m not sure if I can see that actually happening though.