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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.


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:


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

Halos Claim Two Outfielders From D’Backs

October 8th, 2014

The Angels officially kicked their offseason into gear Tuesday afternoon. It was only first gear, and the clutch stuck a few times before they could get it going, but it’s still technically forward motion so I’m writing about it. What got the motor running were the waiver claims of D’Backs outfielders Roger Kieschnick and Alfredo Marte, the fourth and fifth players to make the direct trip from Phoenix to Anaheim in the last 11 months.

I fully expected the special relationship between the Angels and D’Backs to end when Kevin Towers got shit-canned last week, and I surmise it still will. We should probably consider these moves as the dead cat bounce of the relationship, especially since they were more of yard sale buys than anything else:

Dipoto: “Hey there, long time. How much for the Kieschnick?”

D’Backs: “Eh, it was our dad’s. Just take it. <pauses> <sees LaRussa in the distance, signaling to an empty bullpen> <sighs> “And you know what? As long as you’re here, you may as well take this Marte, too. We never figured out how to get it to work, but you might have better luck.”

Dipoto: “Uh, alright. Thanks, I guess.”

Angels Send Eight To Arizona Fall League

October 7th, 2014

The Arizona Fall League begins Tuesday, and the roster for Angels’ affiliate, the Mesa Solar Sox, includes eight of the club’s more promising prospects. The dudes:


  • Trevor Gott
  • Chris O’Grady
  • Mark Sappington
  • Nate Smith
  • Kaleb Cowart
  • Cal Towey
  • Eric Stamets
  • Chad Hinshaw

The AFL is designed for players who are either near big league ready, or desperately need some playing time after an injury-plagued season. It can also be used for teams to evaluate players for potential 40-man roster spots, or to showcase potential trade chips.

Each of the prospects the Angels have offers some intrigue, with some of them being high-ceiling/low-floor types and others low-ceiling/high-floor types. Today we’re going to break down each prospect.

Royals Sweep Angels Out of Playoffs

October 6th, 2014

Were any of us really expecting any differently? After letting Games 1 and 2 slip away at home, the Angels handed the ball to C.J. Wilson to save their season, a proposition Angels faithful have dreaded for months. The proceedings went according to plan: Wilson allowed three runs and didn’t survive the first inning, putting lesser relievers in position to hold the Royals at bay. That didn’t happen, as Kansas City scored eight runs on their coronation night, two more runs than the Angels scored in the series.

I think we all knew in August the Angels playoff chances were doomed with the season-ending injuries to Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs. Had those guys been healthy, Wilson doesn’t start a game this series. But really, I don’t think having those guys in tow would have mattered. The Angel offense was dreadful all series. They finally showed signs of life on Sunday against Royals ace James Shields, collecting eight hits in the game. Mike Trout and Albert Pujols homered, but like Chris Iannetta and David Freese in Game 1, there were no baserunners to celebrate with them at home plate. That was the crux of the problem for the Angels in the series: if runners were on base, the batter became helpless. In the three games, the Angels were 2-for-25 with runners in scoring position, a figure that will doom any club in the postseason.

Before the playoffs, I wrote that I preferred the Angels play the Royals in the ALDS and I still feel that was the correct call. The Royals are a good team capable of beating anyone but I’m not sure they played above their skill level. They played Royals Baseball, struggling to hit in the first two games but taking advantage of defensive miscues and playing their own sparkling defense. The vaunted 2011 farm system, once known as the Best Farm System Ever but now only referred to that in the ironic sense, delivered on the biggest stage — Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas both hit a game-winning homer, and both added an insurance home run in Game 3. But other than four home runs from the two players on the club that can actually hit home runs, the Royals more or less played to type. The Angels did not. The Angels played sloppy defense and didn’t score runs. The starting rotation, the glaring weakness on the club, was only a problem when Wilson took the ball. Jered Weaver and Matt Shoemaker were great in their starts, and if I knew before the series that Weaver and Shoemaker would combine to allow three runs in 13 innings, I would have assumed the Angels were up 2-0.

In the last seven seasons the Angels have now entered the playoffs with the best record in baseball twice and have a 1-6 postseason record to show for it. The Red Sox were probably the superior team in 2008, that Angels club buoyed by close wins and Francisco Rodriguez’s single-season saves record. The 2014 Royals are not a better team than the 2014 Angels, but that hardly matters now. Kansas City was better over a three-game stretch, and the Angels are again the victims of randomness in the playoffs, just as they were beneficiaries in 2002. Since 2004, the Angels have now been swept out of the playoffs three times, four if you want to count the gentleman’s sweep in the 2005 ALCS. Is that randomness? Poor managing? Poor playoff roster construction? All?

With an old roster that wasn’t really an improvement on the 2013 team, I figured the Angels didn’t have a prayer to win the AL West. My hope was they’d somehow sneak into the wild card and then some magic would happen. Winning 98 games and a division crown is still a great achievement. The best we can hope for is the Angels get another crack in October 2015 and that the dice roll their way.

Here’s some other random thoughts on Game 3.

Angels Stumble To The Brink Of Elimination

October 4th, 2014

There is no joy in Millville — mighty Casey has struck out.

Just before this series started, the Angels and Royals must have had a meeting where they secretly agreed to go all Parent Trap on us because for the second straight night, it was the Angels who looked like an inexperienced wild card team that just squeaked into the playoffs and the Royals who looked like they were the owners of the best record in baseball.

This game was a carbon copy of Friday night’s — the Angels had a great performance from their starting pitcher, an outfield blunder led to a precious Kansas City run, the Angels hitters were stymied by Royals pitching, the Royals put on a succession of fantastic defensive plays, and KC finished the game off with a home run in extra innings.

The media tried to get us to worry about him and his oblique muscle, but no need — Matt Shoemaker was awesome.  He hadn’t pitched in a game in 18 days since he felt that pull in his side, and he did have some control problems in the first inning when he had trouble getting his high fastballs down into the strike zone, but he worked it out and went six strong innings with six strikeouts and no earned runs.

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