A Rocky Week: 4/16

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Hey Halo fans–hope you’re not terribly tired after the crazy game that took place last night just North of Gene Autry Way. While the Angels were playing the Royals in KC, the Anaheim Ducks continued the great play that has our team up 2 games to none in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. “It’s a thrilling time in Anaheim” says Kole Calhoun, an avid Duck fan: “When either of us are in the playoffs we always look to support the other and cheer them on!”  No doubt, the Angels could use some cheering in return as things have gotten a bit rocky for our baseball club. While last week got off to the most amazing start, the last few days haven’t gone so well.  So, after a 6-2 start to the season, the Angels find themselves back at .500 and in the midst of a four game losing streak. Still, after two weeks, the team has shown a lot of fight, passion and resiliency in the face of adversity.  Hopefully, we’ll see a quick turnaround in the days ahead.

As baseball fans observed yesterday, from coast to coast, it was difficult to tell major league players apart, as all wore a number 42 on their back. And, it was odd for Angels fans not to see a man with the number 27 roaming  around centerfield. Yesterday was one of the great days in the long baseball season as we celebrated Jackie Robinson Day. Jackie was the first African American baseball player to play in the major leagues, having come up in April of ’47.  He was a trailblazer, and a role model for all of us, not just because of his fierce determination on the field, but also in the way he carried himself off the diamond. “It’s always special to…have a chance to acknowledge his legacy…It’s fun that we get to do it for a day,” said Cameron Maybin. Robinson’s achievement will never be forgotten even though it is 70 years since he laced up his cleats and took over at first base for the Brookyln Dodgers.

That’s all for now but be sure to check back soon for more thrilling news on our Halo’s as they set off on what we hope will be an exciting season!!

Take Heart: 4/15

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The miraculous comeback win on Sunday over the Mariners followed by a virtual repeat performance on Tuesday against the Rangers had us all feeling excited as we watched some wildly giddy Gatorade drenching’s instigated by Messrs. Trout and Pujols. The three drubbings that ensued however, should serve as a gentle reality check. Baseball is a sport of ups and downs that can break one’s heart. The highest of highs can quickly be offset by the lowest of lows. It was a rollercoaster of a week for us Halo fans but as it’s springtime across America, we can still take heart in the positives of this new baseball season while dismissing the negatives.

Off the diamond, I came upon a story that will melt your heart.

However one measures the all-time Halo greats, Rod Carew will forever be near the top of any Angels fans list. Last year, battling heart disease, it became clear that Carew might not survive to this season’s opening day. Having met Carew a few years back, that concern broke my heart and like fellow fans, I prayed for the man who I discovered while reading his autobiography, experienced a sad and difficult upbringing. A victim of parental neglect and abuse in his native Panama, Carew was fortunate to come to New York and launch a career that would eventually lead to his enshrinement in Cooperstown. Apart from the success Carew enjoyed on the field, Carew has had to deal with some terrible pain. The loss of his daughter Michelle to leukemia brought the most awful tragedy any parent can experience. Perhaps the most memorable impression I have of my first visit to Angels Stadium was in viewing the statue of Carew’s daughter Michelle (standing amidst some beautiful flowers with her beloved pet dog) just outside one of the gates. I’m sure that statue means far more to Carew than the one of him in his famous hitting stance that is situated near Target Field in Minneapolis. Thankfully, Angels fans had their prayers answered this past December when Carew received a heart transplant. In an unusual coincidence, Carew was acquainted with his donor, Konrad Reuland having met him some twenty years back when he was a classmate of one of Carew’s children. Carew sees the donor heart as giving him “a second chance in life,” and will forever remain grateful to Reuland and his family. The amazingly heartwarming story of the association that has developed between the Carew and Reuland families can be found in this link: http://nypost.com/2017/04/14/former-jets-player-who-saved-rod-carews-life-was-lifelong-fan/
I’d urge reading it when the ups and downs of baseball rather than the true significances in life take a foothold in your heart.

An Amazing Comeback Victory: 4/11

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When I tuned in to watch the Halo’s on Sunday, I was aware that April 9, marked the eighth anniversary of the tragic death of Nick Adenhart. Baseball is an exciting game but much of my interest in the sport revolves around the players and the history of the game. It’s terribly sad that Nick never had the chance to really play the game he worked so hard to excel at. He seemed to be something truly special. As I sat down to watch the Angels and Mariners, just thinking about Nick made me feel low. I was also concerned about our starting pitcher, Matt Shoemaker who was making his first start at Angels Stadium since being hit by a line drive last September, which resulted in Matt needing to undergo emergency brain surgery. Shoemaker is one of my favorite players and I have been worried about him the whole offseason. Seeing him pitch in person at Tempe Diablo and following his first start in Oakland relieved some of my anxiety, but no doubt, I was nervous to see Shoe on the Angels Stadium mound facing the Mariners and the player responsible for the injury, Kyle Seager. Many of you might have seen Shoemaker’s touching piece published in The Players Journal that laid out all of the events surrounding his injury and the long period of recovery that ensued. If not, I suggest you grab a look; it’s both interesting and inspiring. Fortunately, Shoemaker’s injury did not affect his performance on Sunday; lack of precision on his pitches did. He simply couldn’t find his groove and by the time I turned off my MLBTV, I was resigned to the certainty that Shoe had lost his first game of the ’17 season. On went the Masters, and I found myself absorbed with Sergio Garcia and his long quest to win a big one. I can’t say the tournament was exciting but it was entertaining. The highlight though came before the completion of the 18th hole and the playoff which followed. Bored by endless commercial breaks, I flipped the television channel to see what ESPN was covering. As I spotted the crawl at the bottom of the TV, it shockingly revealed that the Angels had beaten the Mariners, 10-9. Quickly, I scampered to find out what the heck had happened given that I’d lost all hope when the deficit became 8-1 in the seventh. I guess we can’t expect endings like this too often; I’m also thinking that the Win Expectancy (WE) percent couldn’t have been but a fraction or so above zero, even after the Pujols homer and the Escobar two-run double! Amazingly, Victor Rojas pointed out that it was the biggest 9th inning comeback for the Halos since August 29…of 1986!!! Wow, thirty + years! It’ll be a wonderful memory though April 9 will forever remain a sad day for Angels fans. RIP, Nick Adenhart; I’d loved to have seen you pitch and to have known you.

A Thrilling Opening Week: 4/9

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What a roller coaster of week it was as the thrill of baseball returned after a long and dreary winter. There is much uncertainty surrounding the Angels this year as many new pieces have been added and an old friend, Jered Weaver has moved on to San Diego. Perhaps the biggest change this season comes with the addition of starting leftfielder Cameron Maybin. After a difficult spring, Maybin has had a solid opening in the regular season, so, let’s hope that Cameron is the answer to our long-time leftfield woes. Remember though that this is only year two of Billy Eppler’s reign so we are likely to see further changes ahead, especially since much salary space will soon be cleared. Optimistic that the Halo tradition of poor starts to open up the season might be something of the past? Let’s hope!

The strong pitching performances by Southern California natives Ricky Nolasco & Jesse Chavez have been a pleasant surprise, and the true yeoman’s work by our underrated bullpen that is currently missing veteran Huston Street have played a big role in our 4-2 start.

We have also been treated to timely hitting, a team .277 average with two outs, led in great part by another SoCal native Danny Espinosa, whose 3-run blast in Oakland capped a big ninth inning comeback a few days back. Danny grew up a big time Angels fan, and no doubt his father, a season ticket holder for the past twenty years, must thrilled see his son don the red A.

Important HALO items to be on the look for:
-We have been saved by the Tommy John gods once again as the MRI on Garrett Richards’ right arm revealed that his elbow was sound, and that the bicep strain he is suffering from will sideline him for only 2-3 starts.
-Huston Street appears to be progressing well from a strained lat sustained in early camp and hopes to begin throwing this week! With the closer’s job appearing to now belong to Cam Bedrosian, Street might become an important middle inning reliever.
Halo fans, all looks well for now on 2000 Gene Autry Way as baseball season is finally upon us!!!

Light Up The Halo:4/8

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It was not “just another Halo victory,” as Rory used to say; it was the first home victory of the season, and it felt great to watch from my new season’s seat. Now, I could check with our friends at Statcast as to exactly how far my seat was from home plate, but I’m not quite sure how to open an account with them. You know, those guys have established some impressive algorithms for determining exact distances, speed, and all the other stuff they seem to measure, but for now, I’m going to rely on the less precise efforts of my pals at Google to establish where I’ll be situated for the remainder of the Spring and all Summer long. Give or take a bit, it appears that I’m located about 2,784 miles from the East Orangewood exit off CA-57 that leads to the ballpark on Gene Autry Way. Not too shabby, huh! And can you guess who might be seated next to me on MlbTV.com for each and every game this season? Would you believe it’s none other than Gooby, Victor Rojas, Jose Mota and Alex Curry! OK, so I can’t exactly see the glow from the lit up Big A, but believe me, I can feel it every time it radiates red.
Last night’s home opener was a joy to behold. Cameron and the Calhounsta going deep! A big W for Jesse! Some beautiful gems that we have come to take for granted from Simba the shortstop! The atmosphere in the stadium must have been amazing, but the view from afar was surely as wonderful to me!

On The Road/Heading Home:4/6

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Well, it was a mixed bad up in Oakland as we split the season opening series with the A’s. The good? Simmons-6/15, Cron-4/11, Calhoun-5/15 and Mikey-5/16! The not so good? Maldonado, Espinosa, and Pujols were a combined 5/38! The frightening—Garrett Richards coming out of game 3 and scaring the hell out of all of us because his elbow may turn out to be his achilles heel. Richards will be medically evaluated tomorrow. Pray for Garrett! Finally, the hopeful — Maldonado’s cannon arm, Espinosa’s clutch game winning HR and 5 RBI, and some nifty relief work by Alvarez, Bailey, Bedrosian, Petit, and Ramirez.

The home opener is tomorrow night with San Bernardino County native Jesse Chavez set to take the mound against the winless Mariners. It poured here in New York today. It never rains in Southern California. May there always be blue skies ahead!

Angels Across America: 4/2

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To Angels Fans Everywhere!

Whether you live in Anaheim, Orange County, L.A., or anywhere within the State of California.
Whether your clock operates on Pacific, Rocky Mountain, Central or Eastern time.
Whether your home is East or West of the Great Divide.
Whether you are situated up North near Great Lakes or down South alongside the Gulf of Mexico.
Whether you reside within or without the Continental United States.

Win or lose, in rain or shine, in good times and in bad, in joy and in sorrow, in season and out.

We at Angels-Across-America are with you to join in our love for baseball and our beloved Halos. We’ll share stories and photos, treasure our history, laugh together, enjoy some fun, and stand united. Regardless of where we live–across America or beyond, our hearts will forever be joined as Angels, always.

And, whether we make it to the classic in the Fall, or fall somewhat short, we can together look forward to next January when Vlad becomes the first of our family to enter the Hall of Fame.