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Exclusive: 2015 Angel Stadium Giveaways

October 22nd, 2014

 

In order to push back at the cloud of baseball sadness that’s hovered over Southern California the past two weeks, the folks in marketing have given us a exclusive first look at five of the Angel Stadium promotional giveaways for the 2015 season. Sure, the promotions are a bit on the unorthodox side—one might even say they’re not real!—but there’s nothing here that Bill Veeck wouldn’t have marketed the hell out of.

Without further ado:

 

AlbertAnkleWeights

 

Albert’s Ankle Weights – April 16

When I was six, what I wanted more than anything was to “Be Like Mike.” But as I was a four-foot-nothing kid with the coordination of a horse on ice, I decided my best was to focus on being like Mike in non-basketball arenas. My first-grade teacher was a bit taken aback at my insistence on placing wagers on classmates’ test scores in the days before an exam, but eventually came around when I assured her I was good for the watermelon Jolly Ranchers I’d promised, and that I was just doing what the catchy song on TV told me to do. I lost a lot of candy that year.

In the same vein, most of us will never swing a baseball bat like The Machine, but we can sure as heck learn to run like him. Available to the first 20,000 fans in attendance, the commemorative Albert Pujols Ankle Weights don’t just slow you to a snail’s pace, their patented Shin Splinters™ also dig into your leg on every step to ensure you aren’t without Albert’s signature look of pain and agony as you go about your day. You think taking short, strained breaths with pursed lips is a weird thing to do while running? You won’t after five minutes in Albert Pujols Ankle Weights! And if you’re not afflicted with a chronic hitch in your step after a week, we’ll give you a second pair free, no questions asked!

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TroutMike

Not to scale, and not too scaly.

 

The Trout Mike – June 8

The only thing better than a good pun is a bad pun that lingers in your mind for weeks, like an earworm of equivocality. These puns begin life painfully unfunny but somehow become less and less reprehensible the longer they stay in your mind, to the point where you eventually find the wordplay amusing and decide to share it with a friend or family member. This is a huge mistake, without fail. BUT, I’ll be damned if that friend or family member doesn’t think back on it at some point and smirk. And that’s all you can ask for, right?

With that in mind, we introduce the Trout Mike. A vintage microphone of the piscine persuasion, this battery-powered and bad-pun-inspired collectible has speakers built right into the tail so that you can provide amplified play-by-play or color commentary to any occasion. Whether it’s creeping people out at the park or pranking friends into finding the nearest white courtesy phone at the airport, the Trout Mike will be your MVP. You thought your co-workers didn’t like you before? Man are they gonna hate you now.

Note: Please, for the love of god, don’t use your Trout Mike until you leave the ballpark. Two broadcasters is more than enough. Let’s be better than TBS.

2014 Highlights: The All-Star Game

October 21st, 2014
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Mike Trout was indeed wearing his speckled Nike Lunar Vapors when he hit this triple that scored Derek Jeter.

Previously, on 2014 Highlights: The Arrow Game, The Sweep, The Streak

Angel fans were disappointed that Garrett Richards didn’t make the 2014 All-Star team and that Erick Aybar, who should have been a starter, simply squeaked in as a reserve player only after an injury opened up a spot on the roster, but all of that resentment was soothed over and then some by Mike Trout, who picked everyone up with his spectacular performance.

The Angels’ center fielder followed Derek Jeter’s first-inning double by hitting an RBI triple off of Adam Wainwright to right field.  Yasiel Puig could not handle Trout’s bullet off of the wall, and Trout was off, hitting speeds of 20.9 mph — Usain Bolt hit 23.3 mph on a straightaway in his world-record 100m dash — as he headed for third.  Trout easily beat the ball into third base, then scored the second run of the game when Miguel Cabrera hit a home run to left.

Trout hit the ball hard again in his next AB, driving a deep line drive off of Alfredo Simon in the third, but it was tracked down by Carlos Gomez.

In the fifth inning, Trout came up to bat against Pat Neshek with the game tied 3-3.  Mike squeaked a double just inside the third-base bag to drive in Derek Norris with what would turn out to be the game-winning RBI.  The double also moved Alexei Ramirez over to third, allowing him to score on Jose Altuve’s subsequent sac fly.

All in all, Mike Trout had his hand in four of the five runs the AL scored that night, despite playing just five innings.  The Kansas City Royals should remember to thank him for home-field advantage in the World Series the next time they meet up with him.

Trout’s stellar performance earned him the All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award, making him the fourth Angel to claim that title — Leon Wagner in 1962; Fred Lynn in 1983; and Garret Anderson in 2003 are the others. Trout is now 4-for-7 in three All-Star Games with three extra base hits, a walk, a stolen base, and one really nice Corvette.

Hey, ma!  Look what I won!

Hey, ma! Look what I won!

 

2014 Highlights: The Streak

October 20th, 2014
Kendrick

Howie Kendrick, temporary clean-up hitter extraordinaire.

Previously, on 2014 Highlights: The Arrow Game; The Sweep

Entering September, the Angels’ second-half record was solid (26-16) but the offensive juggernaut that carried them through the season’s first three months and change was nowhere to be found. The team that averaged an MLB-best 5.1 runs per game in the first half was managing only 3.8 a game post-All-Star break. Strong pitching allowed the Halos to gain ground despite their impotence at the plate, but with Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs out for the season, the bats would have to come alive in September if the club wanted to secure the AL West title.

Does 86 runs in 10-game span qualify as coming alive? I feel like it might.

After two milquetoast losses to Astros to begin the month, the Halos put in their Game Genie and went into god mode for nearly a fortnight, mashing their way to a 10-game winning streak. The team averaged almost nine runs a contest during the stretch, never once scoring fewer than five runs and only twice plating fewer than seven. When laid out in a row–5, 7, 8, 14, 12, 9, 8, 7, 11, 5–their runs read more like hit totals than anything else. The streak matched a number of franchise records, including consecutive games (8) with 7+ runs, and consecutive games (6) with a margin of victory of four or greater. In just 10 days, the team raised its second-half scoring average by close to a full run, up to 4.7 per game, and extended its division lead to an uncatchable 11.

On the micro level, Scioscialism was in full effect during the streak. Nine Angels had at least five hits over the 10 games and six guys had 12 or more knocks. The team batted .329/.392/.541 overall in the stretch, and no player with more than four ABs failed to tally at least one base hit. Howie Kendrick was the team’s fearless leader on offense, jumping into the clean-up role and batting .500/.532/.795 with seven extra-base hits in 47 plate appearances. No one else came within seven hits of Howie, who managed to raise his OPS by 44 points. That’s not easy to do in September.

I suppose one could make the argument that the Angels peaked too soon with their early September rampage, but that kind of assumes the team has some level of control over when they play well and when they don’t. I think everyone involved would have loved to have had The Streak coincide with the start of the playoffs, but baseball just doesn’t work like that. (Unless you’re the Royals, of course.) No, The Streak didn’t catapult the Halos to a second World Series championship, but it did propel them to their first division title since 2009 and all but guaranteed they would finish the year with the best record in baseball. No reason one can’t wish for a better October outcome and also appreciate the awesomeness of this particular feat. The second-longest winning streak in franchise history deserves its day in the sun. Now if only we could convince MLB dot com to create a 10-minute montage of The Streak’s best moments.

***

One #SadFact for the road: All but the first game of The Streak were won sans Josh Hamilton. The idea the Angels needed his lagging bat in the lineup during the ALDS was already pretty ludicrous. When you add the fact that arguably the most productive offensive stretch in franchise history was ostensibly achieved without him just three weeks earlier? Looks real bad, Bob.

Up Next: The All-Star Game

2014 Highlights: The Sweep

October 18th, 2014
The exact moment the Angels stole the A's mojo.

The exact moment the Angels stole the A’s mojo.

 

Previously, on 2014 Highlights: The Arrow Game

Let’s set the stage. The Angels have spent the last 14 days dancing between two games back and two games ahead of the A’s in the AL West. Oakland has faltered some in the month, but still holds a +61 run-differential advantage (!) over the Halos and remains the consensus Best Team in Baseball. On one side, a rotation ace has just been lost for the season; on the other, two new aces are adjusting well to the pitcher-friendly confines of the Coliseum.

It is the final four days of August, and the Angels are hosting their division rivals for four games. Anything other than a sweep for the Halos will preserve the back-and-forth status quo. No one expects a sweep. Against the gauntlet of Sonny Gray, Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija, and Scott Kazmir, the most anyone is asking for is a split. Anaheim has swept Oakland only once the last three seasons, and not in a four-game set since 1997. The odds, they are long.

And yet…

The opening contest is a battle, with the Halos squeaking out a 4-3 win in 10 innings, but the rest are more or less a cakewalk. The Angels flat out dominate. Oakland scores just one run in the final 31 innings of the series, going 29 frames scoreless at one point, and is shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since 2006. Weaver outduels Lester, a desperation bullpen experiment outduels Samardzija, and Shoemaker outduels Kazmir. The Angels waltz to the sweep, expanding their division lead to a full five games and increasing their odds to win the West by a full 31 percent, from 61% to 92%.

***

I honestly cannot remember another important regular season series ever going so well. I wrote a bit about the catharsis the sweep brought right after it happened, and reminiscing about it nearly two months later still brings with it a wave of endorphins. It was the pivotal point of the season for both teams: the Angels turning upward, into the best team in baseball; the A’s spiraling downward, into a near-full collapse.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of The Sweep. After it, the Angels needed to simply be mediocre down the stretch to take their first division title in four years. (They weren’t, of course, but that’s a story for another day.) They entered September an MLB-best 86-56, with 12 of their next 13 coming against sub-.500 opponents. With any other result in the series, who knows how the rest of the season plays out. Maybe the A’s aren’t so deflated for the stretch run, and maybe the Halos don’t click until it’s too late.

There were a lot of great individual moments in the series — e.g. the bullpen shutout, Coco Crisp robbing then dropping Chris Iannetta’s home run, Matt Shoemaker extending his scoreless innings streak — but my personal favorite was the obliteration of Scott Kazmir in the series’ final game. I don’t typically take pleasure in the pain of others, but Kazmir falling to pieces anytime he has anything to do with his former club is just too good not to revel in.  The southpaw allowed just 1⅓ innings on the day, and is now the not-so-proud owner of a 22.10 ERA against the Angels over three starts the last two seasons; he has not made it through the fourth inning nor allowed fewer than five runs in any of the three outings. I’m don’t know what kind of psychological hold the Halos have over Kazmir, but it sure makes for some fun baseball.

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Up Next: The Streak

 

2014 Highlights: The Arrow Game

October 17th, 2014

Mike Trout scores the game-tying run . Fernando Rodney is sad.

Ed. note — Now that everyone’s had ample time to wallow in despair about the quick end to the season, we thought it behooved us to turn the focus back to positive things. More specifically, to the year’s best moments, which we’ll tackle a day at a time. Andrew Karcher gets things started with a former Angel getting some ol’ fashioned comeuppance.

 

My favorite moment of the 2014 season is a demonstration of my pettiness. I’m going with the “Arrow Game,” a game that gave the Angels a series win over the Seattle Mariners but mostly just served as Fernando Rodney humiliation.

The win was important for the Angels, taking the series from a division rival in the first series following the All-Star break. But what sets this game apart is that it played like a brilliant two-act revenge fantasy given that it came against Fernando Rodney, one of the more hated Angels of the last decade. He wasn’t good when he was here, and he was a bit of a cock about it while he was here and since he left. It hasn’t helped that after Rodney left the Angels, he turned into one of the better relievers in baseball, most notably in 2012 when he posted a 0.60 ERA in 74-2/3 innings for the Rays. That’s the lowest ERA of ALL TIME for a pitcher with at least 50 innings. He also developed an arrow-shooting post-save celebration, as if he’s the Robin Hood of Douchewood Forest. I’ll give Rodney bonus points for creativity, but I admit the arrow-shooting rankles me for some reason.

rod22

The tl;dr version of that paragraph: Rodney was a bad Angel and holds a grudge against the franchise for demoting him from closer even though he sucked, he’s now good and has a pretty obnoxious celebration. Also, the hat. The crooked hat irritates some people. Now, let’s set the stage for the July 20 game.

Trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Efren Navarro led off with a single against Joe Beimel. After Beimel retired Grant Green, Lloyd McClendon brought in closer Fernando Rodney to try to lock down a five-out save. Rodney successfully extinguished the Angel rally and prematurely grabbed his air bow-and-arrow and, um, fired (?) into the Angels dugout before the game was over.

Then, the gif to end all gifs. Mike Trout drew a walk to lead off the bottom of the ninth against Rodney. Next up, Albert Pujols doubled in Trout to tie the game. UNLEASH THE ARROWS:

pujols_trout_arrows_tumblr_c956b2ll

There’s a lot going on in that gif. For one, Pujols and Trout are firing arrows at each other, so maybe they don’t really know how arrows work. Pujols goes above and beyond, even grabbing his shirt to take the place of an arrow. His motion is calm and deliberate — he is a very rich man, so it’s not unreasonable to expect that he could have an archery field (lane? lawn?) on his estate. Pujols is not above flipping bats or admiring home runs, so this bit of gamesmanship isn’t necessarily out of character for him.

But look at Trout! His mechanics are a mess. It looks like he’s pulling an arrow out of his neck. His shot is very rushed, but he gets bonus points for making the same sort of “pew” noise that kids do when they’re shooting each other with imaginary lasers. Trout shows emotion on the field, but never this extreme. Rodney can do that to a man.

The Angels ended up winning the game later in the inning, but that was gravy. Seeing Fernando “Katniss Everdeen” Rodney trolled by the Angels’ best hitters was victory enough. The best part: no benches cleared, no bean ball war incited, no talking heads bemoaning the thuggery of today’s players. (Imagine if Yasiel Puig did this! We’d still be getting fresh hot takes.) Just a pure, unfiltered visualization of trash talk.

Up Next: The Sweep

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