Tuesday, September 30, 2014

By Glen McKee, AngelsWin.com Senior Humorist

The playoffs are finally here and for the first time since Obama was still a rookie, the Angels are back in the playoffs.  Time for the hacks to bust out their “LA Angels of Anaheim of Los Angeles of California of the USA of Earth!  LOL!” lame-assed jokes.  It’s also time for predictions – mine at the end of this – and for an examination of the possible playoff scenarios.  From best to worst, here is what could happen in the playoffs and a helpful probability assessment of each scenario.  If I don’t list it here, it simply cannot happen.

1. Best-case scenario: The Angels beat the Dodgers in seven games in the World Series.  I know, I hear you asking “but Glen, isn’t the best case scenario the Angels sweeping the Dodgers?”  No, that isn’t, because that doesn’t give the Dodgers any hopes to be dashed in the last game, in Anaheim.  To make this scenario even better, imagine CJ Wilson outdueling Clayton Kershaw in Anaheim for the game seven win.  Beautiful, ain’t it?  Dodgers’ fans would be crushed.  There is no scenario better than this.  Probability: slightly better chance of happening than California having better-than-average rainfall this year.

2. Next-best-case scenario: The Angels sweep the Dodgers in the WS.  This is second-best scenario only because the Dodgers would have no hope and the win would occur on their field.  That would still be pretty sweet, but not as sweet as watching the hope slowly drain from their faces at the Big A.  Probability: the same as Kate Upton dumping Justin Verlander and hopping aboard the Glen Train.

3. Third-best case scenario: The Angels beat the Dodgers in six games. I’m sure you’re seeing the common theme in the best-case scenarios: beating the Dodgers.  That in itself would be great but it’s even greater doing it at home, because if it happens in the Latrine the Angels might not get out alive.  Probability: greater chance of happening than of anybody saying Joe West is a good umpire

4. The Angels beat Dodgers in the WS in five games.  They’ll need a police escort out of the stadium.  Probability: even odds with Arnold Schwarzenegger ever again starring in a good movie.  I miss you, Good Arnold.

5. The Angels beat the Nationals, Pirates, Cardinals or Giants in the WS.  The amount of games and the opponent don’t matter in these scenarios.  Winning a WS would be fantastic no matter which team the Angels beat, but the preferred NL opponent would be the Dodgers.  Although you can make arguments for certain matchups having a bit more oomph: beating the Nationals because of Trout versus that one kid everybody used to talk about, beating the Cardinals because of Albert Pujols, or even beating the Giants again.  I’d actually be a bit sad to see an Angels/Pirates WS because the Pirates are fun to root for.  Probability: better chance of one of these happening than there is anybody remembering U2s new album after this year is over.

All of those are variations of best-case scenarios.  What about the worst-case scenarios?  Glad you asked.  There are only a few to care about.

1. The Angels get to the WS and lose to the Dodgers, any amount of games. Self-explanatory. That would suck more than a million jet engines in front of a black hole.  Probability: one percent chance of happening.  If the Angels and Dodgers make it to the WS then that proves the existence of Baseball God and there’s no way, barring a lapse in attention, that Baseball God would let the Dodgers win that WS.  Inconceivable!

2. The Angels don’t advance to the ALCS.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad the Angels ended their playoff drought and also glad it happened in a year without the Red Sox AND Yankees in the playoffs.  However, now that they are back in the playoffs, having it end so abruptly would suck. There’s no other word for it, even with all the injuries to the pitching staff for the Angels.  Wow.  Just imagining it bums me out a bit.  It doesn’t matter who our opponent is, but if it’s the A’s it would suck even more.  Gah.  Give me the willies, thinking of that does.  Probability: even odds.  Playoffs are a crapshoot, every year there are surprise eliminations, blah blah blah.  

3. The Angels get to the WS and then lose.  This is only slightly less bad than the first scenario, but it is pretty bad.  Getting to the WS would fire up all of the 2002 comparisons all over again, and to have the season end differently would make people remember the hell that was 1986 (yes, I know that wasn’t the WS, but yeah).  So close but so far away is worse than not close at all.  Probability: Worse chance of happening than of seeing Tony Romo in a playoff game in 2015.

4. The Angels get to the ALCS and then lose.  Getting out of the ALDS intact would be great, but then blowing it directly after that would hurt.  Not as much as getting to the WS and losing or not even getting to the ALSC, but close.  I’d still consider it a good season if this happened.  Probability: slightly better odds than of the new Bill & Ted movie being funny.  Man, I don’t want to get my hopes up, but…

5. The Angels don’t get to the WS, and either Oakland or the Dodgers wins it all.  Imagine Oakland winning and everybody slobbering all over Billy’s Beane all over again, and all offseason long.  Imagine the Angels not making it to the WS and the Dodgers winning it all.  I’d rather be repeatedly kicked in the nuts by Shaquille O’Neal wearing steel-toe sneakers for an hour straight than have either of those happens, and I’m not exaggerating.  It’s OK, I’m already sterilized, so I wouldn’t be losing anything and after the first kick I’d be numb.  It’s still suck, though.  Probability: even odds with another El Nino happening this year.  

6. The Angels don’t make it to the WS and any other team besides the Dodgers or A’s wins: This is the best of the worst-case scenarios.  If the Angels don’t win and the Dodgers and A’s don’t win either, I’m making the De Niro “ehh, not bad” face.  Sucks, but at least neither of those other teams took the championship either.  I could live with that, kinda like mushrooms on a pizza.  Not what I want, but tolerable.  Probability: much better chance of happening that Trout’s first AB in the playoffs resulting in a K looking.
Of course there are other playoffs scenarios, but none of them really fit into best- or worst-case for the Angels and their fans.  These are the best of the best and the worst of the worst.  As for my prediction: nobody will accuse me of Homerism, other than for constantly using Homer as my avatar on the message board.  I’m going with worst-case #4.  The Angels will have enough magic to get past the first round but their starting pitching will ultimately betray them, and the offense won’t have enough left in the tank to bail them out.  Still a good season, and I hope I’m wrong.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

By Nate Trop and Glen McKee, AngelsWin.com SATIRE Columnist

Nothing says, “We’re out of ideas” quite like a fan mailbox piece.   Errrrrr … we mean … 

Here at the Point/Counterpoint Headquarter locations, in a secret vault somewhere on Edwards AFB and out in the wilds of Wisconsin, we have so much mail piling up that we need to go through some of it.  You have questions, we have the definitive answers.  So without further ado, your mail!

From A. Dodge, Lake Forest CA - “Why aren’t there more Asians on the team?  Conger’s suckiness aside.”  

Glen:   Good question, A. Dodge!  I think it’s because, unlike math, Asians are generally not good at baseball (see: Conger).  Another obvious reason is that Scioscia speaks Spanish and loves the brown dudes, and there’s only so much room for minorities on any team.

Nate:  I think our international scouting has really taken a nose dive over the last few years, with the biggest omission coming from Asia.  The Angels seem to be completely absent from this market. Mr. Dodge, I nominate you to become the new Asia/Pacific Islands scouting director.

From A. Oracle, LONG BEACH STATE, CA!!!!!!!   “Is the bullpen going to completely melt down in the playoffs (of COURSE it is!) and why didn’t Dipoto get some starting pitching before the deadline?”

Nate:  Well, Mr. Oracle, it is hard to say.  There was no way the bullpen could keep performing at the high level they were.  I think they were over used, out of necessity, because of the starting pitching depth issues that the Angels faced over the last six weeks, as well as purely because the Angels won so many games.  You manage your bullpen different in games you can win.  With that said, I think the pen will be fine.

Glen:  Bullpens tend to be cyclical and we’re on a good cycle right now, we just need to keep on riding it.  Grilli is taking the Shields spot of “un-athletic pen guy” and Street is like Percy with fewer walks and stress.  Not much could have been done about the rotation without screwing up the lineup, so we gotta dance with who brung us.  I trust Dipoto will make a few moves in the offseason to strengthen the rotation.

From T. Daddy, Dodgertown, CA – “Do you think the Dodgers will win the WS this year?”  

Glen: I think what you’re really asking is if you should get rid of your Dodgers’ jerseys.  Stay the course, they’ll have some slight worth again soon.

Nate:  Is Puig better than Trout?  Are RBIs a good stat?  Should the wins leader win the Cy Young Award?  The answer to all of them is $#*@ NO!

From F. Grimes, Springfield, MA … or IL … or wherever – “Does Mike Trout really eat at Subway?”

Nate:  If you believe in Jared’s amazing weight loss then I think you have to believe that Mike eats at Subway.  There is no other explanation for his body transformation from last season.  You have to wonder though, how does Jersey Mike’s feel about their advertisement on the left-center field wall when Mike is showing up on TV every day representing Subway?  I bet they thought they were so lucky.  “OMG!!!  The Angels have the best player on the planet and his name is Mike and he is from Jersey.”  Then Subway was like, “$money!!!”   And Jersey Mike’s was like, “WTF?!?!”

Glen:  He’s certainly eating a lot of something.  

From T. Dawg, East Coast, USA – “With the new car smell wearing off of Mike Trout, what up-and-coming Angel gives you that feeling like when you climbed the rope in gym class?”  

Glen:  I’m saving my Angels’ broner for whatever starting pitcher(s) Dipoto brings in during the offseason.  He did well with keeping Richards and getting that dude we lost to TJ surgery (you know, Kunta, lives upstairs).  I’m eager to see what he does this year.  I think there’s still some magic left in his wand.  (If you know what I mean.)  

Nate:  It has to be Shoemaker.  That beard is an aphrodisiac of epic proportions.  In fact, the Angels should start bundling replica beards with his jersey.  It would be the best selling jersey in history.  I would buy seven so I would have a beard for every day of the week.

From S. Stradling, In-N-Out, CA – “If the Manager of the Year voters don’t choose Scioscia, then they aren’t real fans, right?”  

Glen:  Yes!  Or no.  Check with me after the playoffs because my answer may change.

Nate:  You would have to figure he is in the top three.  In the end, I think us “real fans,” who never doubted his ability, are going to be disappointed.  You have to give it to Yost or Showalter.  Like it or not, those two managers have done more with less.

From T. Stoddart, Fort Collins, CO – “Is Jason Grilli the most attractive baseball player of all time?”  

Glen:  I don’t know about that, but I do know that if he was in the band Chase, he’d certainly score the most babes.

Nate:  I do enjoy a good beer belly, but there is no man on the planet who gives my heart flutters like my man Aybar.  I love that ugly tobacco stained mug of his.

From K. Olbermann, Doucheville, North Korea – “Who is the best player of the last 5 million years?”  

Glen:  Aw Jeet Jeet Jeet Jeet!  

Nate:  We all know it is Mike Trout.  I have a question for you, Mr. Olbermann, “are you the most annoying sports reporter of the last 5 million years?”

From J. Mathis, Miami, FL – “How can I hack Mr. Dipoto’s cell phone for compromising pictures so I can get my starting job back?”  

Nate:  Um, that is illegal.  We’re an upstanding organization here, not the NSA.

Glen:  Dude, you already have Scioscia’s hack.  Not that you need it, but yeah.

M. Napoli, Boston, MA – “Can you please tell Scioscia that CERA is a false stat?” 

Glen: OK Mike, I know you’ll be familiar with this scenario:  Say you have an old conquest that you accidentally gave your real phone number to.  She was great for a night, but then she kept calling and texting you and never got the message, even after you didn’t respond for a month.  She’s probably deteriorated a lot in the intervening few years and getting back with her, while tempting from a nostalgia standpoint, is ill-advised at best.  What I’m saying, Mike, is that you are that booty call. Please delete the Angels from your contacts and move on.  

Nate:  Mr. Napoli, we have heard this argued quite a bit.  I still believe that CERA can be an important and revealing stat.  The only time it is unfortunate is when it is used to start Mr. Mathis.

And there you have it.  Thank you all for the great questions, and please keep them coming!  (If you know what I mean.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

This week we celebrate our 10th anniversary with an interview with long time member, Brandon. "B" has been as active as they come in the way of forum discussions for many years, has participated in many of our events and even represented us well with a Media Credential to cover the Angels (more on that in our interview below). Gibson is a great story teller and good guy to catch a beer with at the ballpark or your favorite pub. 

Let's dig right in and get to know Brandon Gibson better, in this week's member appreciation post. 

AngelsWin.com: When and how did you first come to AngelsWin.com?

Brandon Gibson: I came over with the mass migration from ESPN. I'm a life long Angels fan and after the WS and a new owner, that was looking to spend money to keep a winner, I got real interested in following up to the minute moves and rumors and back in 2003 the community there, that ended up here, seemed to beat the major news outlets to stories. So I was able to follow closely that Carlos Beltran rumor that never happened. 

AngelsWin.com:  What keeps you coming back to the site?

Brandon Gibson: The community and access/breaking news of moves or team dealings. Between ESPN, but mostly here, it was my first message board experience so I really took to being an active member, for better or worse. Because we have a friendly community aspect that gets into our personal lives at times or outside of the team with commonalities, I have had the privilege of so many member interactions with everything from serious events likes weddings and charity events to casual get togethers like poker/Vegas trips, beer tastings, or viewing parties. I've created life long friendships because of the site and it feels like talking Halos with your buddies or family members on a daily basis. 

AngelsWin.com:  What have been some of your favorite articles and threads?

Brandon Gibson: Man, where to begin with this one. The group process of the 50 greatest moments in Angels history was beyond cool and memorable. More for the experience, but the chance to represent Angelswin during a day game and be a part of the media for a day was a blast. Doing those articles/"at the game thread" with Victor Rojas, Orlando Merced, and the board that were fun.

As for threads, there were countless. I think everyone agrees "Common Courtesy" is tops. One of my first memorable threads was Adam doing a whole story about a gift exchange with some dude at work that gave him The Manchurian Candidate. I chimed in and we became buds after that. Others include "furniture sex", Kelvim Escobar tripod thread, I started a thread messing with Google called "Black guy.....stole my bike" that lead to all of us messing with Google and letting it finish sentences. There was also a graph website that had graphs for song lyrics among other things...that was a long gem. 10 years wiser I like the Soccer Forum and movie threads the most these days. 

AngelsWin.com:  What in-person events have you attended from AngelsWin.com (Spring/Summer Fanfests, Charity Golf, Charity Softball)?

Brandon Gibson: Just about everything. I was there at the first softball event, first viewing party, first Fan Fest, first poker get together, first golf event, all the events at Throwbacks. The website has been absolutely great in people simply proposing an idea and making it happen, no matter how big or small. The only thing I haven't done is Spring Training. My favorite to this day is the playoff viewing party in 2009 where we finished off the Red Sox. We packed it to be standing room only and one of my favorite sports memories was Vlad hitting that single up the middle and there was an initial gasp by everyone then the place absolutely erupted like I've never seen or heard before. While I was cheering with Hot Damn as everyone was jumping up and down, I feel a hand on my shoulder and it's Blarg pulling himself up onto the top of the bar and jumping up and down. It was one of the most ballsy things I've seen done, but everyone was so elated no one cared to tell him to stop which makes it awesome. Then champagne went everywhere. 

AngelsWin.com:  Why is AngelsWin.com your internet home for the Angels?

Brandon Gibson: The access and professionalism on the back end of the site to have the relationships we do here is second to none. I was lucky enough to experience it first hand, but even having things like players or family members come around is just great for the fan experience here.....it's really just more than a website to discuss lineup changes and trades. Plus, aside from viewing parties or going to games with members here, on random weekday games simply hopping into the chatroom to watch games in real time with other Halo fans like we would at any other event is sweet. You really get an experience here opposed to just another message board. Oh, and after many, many years I found out Riley Breckenridge of Thrice was not only an Angels fan, but someone I would chat with a bunch here! 

AngelsWin.com:  In your opinion, what is AngelsWin.com’s best feature: the articles, charitable events, game-day chat, message boards, Fanfests, podcasts, etc?

Brandon Gibson: Tough answer because you can make a case for any and all features. I'm partial to the chartiy events we have done over the years and the impact that has had. The first inception of the game day chat was a blast that I liked to moderate back then.....it was all the people I went to games with or viewings, but we were in the comfort of our own homes. These days I really enjoy the more bountiful articles, mainly the saber stuff. Ironically, I was against playing games on paper but through the site, even being a math guy, grew to appreciate what a small collective here bring in terms of numbers and player classification. 
Ligther Side

AngelsWin.com:  Where do you live and what do you do?

Brandon Gibson: I live in Southern California. I guess I fall under the category of entrepreneur/self employed. I have my hands and cut my teeth in Real Estate and have created, owned, or managed projects from data storage, alternative medicine, investing/venture capitalist, and healthcare is my main focus these days. Funny thing is because of this site I have  been fortunate to help others here and even reconnected with an old business associate through the site events that I started working with on a project of theirs. 

AngelsWin.com: Why are you an Angels fan?

Brandon Gibson: Local/hometown team and just grew up rooting for them. It's been a very rewarding experience going from the early 90's to a World Series to consistent success and expectations to succeed. Going through the 90's as an Angels fan you wouldn't ever think we would be competing yearly like we do now. 

AngelsWin.com:  What was your first Angels game that you remember? Who’d you go with?

Brandon Gibson: I had gone to a few random games as part of playing Little League, but my first memory was I had a neighbor across the street when I was young that kind of acted like an older brother. My parents left for vacation and asked him if he would watch me for the weekend, he did and that first night he took me to the batting cages, then to get and Angels hat, and to the game that night against the Rangers where my most vivid memories were a fan climbing the left field foul pole and some random dude in front of me heckling Otis Nixon as he kept yelling that the base path lines would disappear if he ran the bases.....I think some of the older dudes will get the heckle. 

AngelsWin.com:  Who have been your favorite players? Why? Any great stories or interactions with them?

Brandon Gibson: Tough question. I remember players in my early days like Wally Joyner or Jim Abbott, but my first favorite player was Jim Edmonds. I'm partial to five tool type guys like he used to be, Garret Anderson used to kind of be one, and now we have the luxury of Trout. My first interaction I remember was getting a California Angels ball signed by Troy Percival and Mike James at a game while trying to get Edmonds around '94 or '95. I'm fortunate to have a business relationship with Jason Brennan of Angels Talk from years past, so I've been in situations of meeting front office people or running into players. A pretty unique one is we used to have season seats in front of Vlad's family suite and through that I had a family member that dated Vlad's cousin. This meant after games we would go with the family down through the tunnels and visit the players leaving the clubhouse and hangout in the parking lot after. I also got to hangout with Vlad a few times, dude likes his rum.

The funniest one and a good board joke is Chuck allowed me to represent the website with a press pass years ago, but it was complete last minute because it was a day game that the regular reporter couldn't make. I've never been remotely close to this position and am a mere fan, but take the job seriously of getting the site content....but have no clue what I'm doing. Luckily, when I get there I run into Jason Brennan and Eric Denton who give me a mild run down of how things work, but I don't have clubhouse access so I am not with them to follow around. I'm actually kind of lost in the tunnels but see Mickey Hatcher throwing BP to Kendry Morales, I figure this is a good time to take a pic for the site. Like a dumb rookie I take the pic, but the flash is on and goes off during the pic. I do the apologetic face/ hands in the air thing of apology while Hatcher looks at me like he wants to kill me, but Kendry actually starts posing, totally hamming it up for the camera and motions for me to take another. Hatcher jokingly tells him to stop messing around and I head off. During the day time BP I'm on the field, but the players avoid the media like the plague and we are only allowed to talk to them or go to certain areas based on what they do to let us know they are open for questions. Victor Rojas sees a rookie struggling and calls me over to chat, we both have ties to Kansas City so we chat it up and I tell him why I'm there, but have no clue what to do. He let's me interview him but is super cool in working with me (I wasn't sure what to expect and prepped to ask players questions, so I flew by the seat of my pants with him) and letting me work through the jitters and questions. Later was the second BP when the fans are in the stadium, so access is a little more limited, but I still get to hangout in the dugout. The bullpen coach comes out and I interview Orlando Merced. We go through some questions for the site but then get to talking casually as I remember him on the Pirates in the 90's. He appreciates that I remember and we talk about his playing days. Then the players start coming out and I think this is my last chance to get a player for the site. Kevin Frandsen sits next to me and I ask him but he shakes me off. The other bench guys come out and then out walks Jered Weaver. Me having no shame and willing to talk to anyone walk up to him and ask if I can ask some questions for the site, he replies with, "I'm pitching today, bud" and the bench guys kind of chuckle at my expense and I kind of just walk out of the dugout with my tail between my legs  and up to the press area above the Diamond Club. 

AngelsWin.com:  How do you survive the offseason?

Brandon Gibson: The offseason is actually my favorite time of the year. I feel like we all watch the same games, same slumps, errors, or game winning homeruns so I don't comment too much during the season because there isn't much to add that hasn't already been said about a poor pitching performance or specific play that we all don't see. But during the offseason we seem to get pretty creative and it gets exciting with trade rumors or free agent signings. I get into the comings and goings of the club. Off the site, I'm really into all sports and grew up a lot of them at high levels, so I follow other sports or participate myself. Outside of that I'm big into my friends and family time. 

AngelsWin.com: What’s one thing you’d like everyone in AngelsWin.com to know about you?

Brandon Gibson: Ironically, I think too much has come out during the years, whether my fault or others haha. I'd like to think I come off more casual and joking, I hope that comes off and that I don't take much too seriously. I'm always there for charity events, putting together events, helping people personally, or supporting or promoting other peoples ventures from the site. I hope that part of my character is seen opposed to what I think of people that overly complain :)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

By David Saltzer, AngelsWin.com Senior Writer

For so many years, Angels fans could only dream of saying that. Every spring, we’d go to Angels Stadium filled with hope. Every September, on a Sunday, the reality sank in: Baseball was done for the year. The last home game of the year had been played, the last out had been recorded.

Then 2002 happened. And, for nearly a decade, it seemed that every year, Angels fans could say it. It almost became rote.

Like the rain in California, the inevitable drought came. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then prolonged absence nearly breaks it. It has been too long since we’ve been able to say those six magical words.

For many, the post season is validation for all their time spent in the summer. It’s their “reward” for passionately following a team through the ups and downs of 162 games.

For others, it’s a chance at glory—to see something special happen for their town, their team, their community. It’s a chance to say “I was there, and I was a part of it.”

For me, though, it’s something else: it’s a chance to extend that hope from spring for a few more weeks into the fall. Although fall is my favorite season of the year, it is a bit bittersweet because it always means the end of the baseball season. And, it means that it will be another 4 months until I can hear that sweet sound of a ball hitting a bat, the pure joy of baseball chatter, and the thrill of listening to an inning of baseball.

Like many, I go into a bit of a depression brought on by baseball withdrawal. Sure, I enjoy good football games, and have fun at hockey games, but neither is the same as baseball. I’m always happier at Angels stadium than at any other sports venue.

Today was the Angels’ last regular season home game. I took my sons to the game because seeing the last out of the season is a tradition. But, unlike so many years in the past, the game wasn’t a melancholy occasion; instead there was joy amongst the fans.

Thanks to events earlier in the week, there was a buzz in the crowd—a feeling of hope. Even though the Angels lost the game to the Rangers, the fans were upbeat and buoyant.

Angels fans are a family. We know each other. We take care of each other. We get to know the people who sit around us and work at the stadium. We take pleasure in seeing the kids in the row ahead of us grow up. We feel old when they are so old that they are bringing their kids to the stadium. During the season, we may go to eat lunch or dinner before a game with our Angels family or celebrate with drinks after an especially good game. We share the ups and downs of the season over countless conversations during the games.

On so many occasions, the last game of the season meant saying goodbye to all those friends. It was like the end of a good long visit with family—you wanted it to last a bit longer, but knew you had to go. There would be the hugs goodbye and the ever present “see you next year.”

But today, that wasn’t the case. Today, hope remains strong. The regular season may be over, but the post season is yet to come.

As my sons and I walked out of the stadium, we heard it over and over again. From one fan to another, and from fans to stadium employees, it almost sang out: “See you in the post season” meaning there’s still more Angels baseball to come this year. We still have more time to enjoy our baseball family. The last out of the season has yet to be recorded.

So as the final week winds down, and the Angels play for home field advantage, I will be happy because I know one thing—I will see you all in the post season.

Friday, September 19, 2014

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Watch this amazing video put together by our friends at the MLB Network, on the Angels Path to the Postseason.

Congratulations to the Angels and all of their fans worldwide!

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