It's not often that you win 2 out of 3 games from a division opponent and you leave the weekend with sadness, but that's how I find myself today. I was seated out in left field for Saturday's Mariners-Angels tilt. A game that should have been known by Halo fans as the Kendry walk-off grand slam game, but will instead be known by all of baseball as the Day the Walk-off Celebration Died.
I'd like to tell you that I was there for the dramatics, but unfortunately over 7 innings of blistering sun, I was broken down by the whinings of wife and child and we headed for the parking lot and a chance to return to home with a refreshing pool and a few cousins to play with. I would have loved to have been there for the excitement of Kendry circling the bases and high fives with strangers, but watching your best player carted off the field just minutes later would have made it all for naught. Oh yeah, did I mention that Kendry Morales is clearly the best player on the Angels team now. It's not even close. I couldn't come up with an offensive player right now who is even close to his level. Saturday the Angels ran out a team with only two players hitting over .255. One, Torii Hunter was injured by a pitch hitting his hand early in the game, the other is now not likely to play until September at the earliest.
It's been a rough season for the Halo faithful. Year after year we are pounded in the offseason by sabermetricians and their ilk who tell us how bad our team is and how this is the year the Mariners or A's or Rangers will overtake us and leave us forever in the dust. Year after year we quietly fume and then yell out, "What now?!" on September as our squad flies another division championship flag. Of course the what now is quickly followed by "Ugh" as we're taken out by one of the big boys from the AL East. So when the Angels got off to a rough start eerily reminiscent of last year, I quietly observed and knew the boys would turn it around. What has seemed like a team with one foot in the grave for the last two months, now may be laying down with dirt shoveled on top of them. The one saving grace, the boys play in the AL West, a division that at the moment does not host a dominant presence. In fact, as of today, the Halos only find themselves 2 and a half games out of first.
2.5 games is nothing...until you realize that we may be treated to two months of Robb Quinlan seeing significant time at first base. Never a good sign when a player who you let walk is unable to get a sniff from another team and then ends up playing a significant role for your team. Maybe Quinlan will recapture the magic of 2006. Or not.
Oh and did I mention the Angels hit another walk-off home run today? Yup, I'm sure you saw it. In what may the most closely watched non-celebration of all-time, Howie Kendrick crossed home to a placid group of teammates all trying their best to avoid any physical contact with him.
So 2 days, 2 walk-off homers against a division opponent, 2.5 games back of first place Texas and I have a knot in my stomach.
Hmmm, I need to look for some positives.
1. Chone Figgins is hitting under .200. Sure, his replacement Brandon Wood has been horrible this season, but at least we're not paying him 8.5 million to suck.
2. John Lackey has an ERA approaching 5 and the worst WHIP of his career.
3. I've attended three baseball games this year. Two in Anaheim, one in San Diego and all 3 of them have been decided by walk-off hits by the home team. That has to be some sort of record. Put your money down on the Angels July 4th, when they'll almost certainly beat the Royals via walk-off.
4. My sun burn from yesterday's game has already started to morph into a sweet tan.
5. The AL West stinks. Every single hitter in our lineup is currently underachieving and outside of Weaver and Santana, the starting pitching hasn't been much better. If even a few players can start turning things around, we may be able to hang in there.
6. Most importantly, after all of the heartache of the weekend, my 4 year-old daughter informed me today that "All the other teams are stupid. That's why I like the Angels". I couldn't have said it better myself.
Card of the Day: Vern Den Herder 1975 Topps #404
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