Thursday, January 29, 2015

By Glen McKee and Somebody Else

So, the witch is dead Bud Selig is finally done as commissioner of MLB, having made enough money to make Dick Cheney jealous during his run and doing the same for the team owners.  There’s a new guy as commissioner, and we can’t yet remember his name but we assume this is him:

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What we do know about New Commish is that he’s already putting forth some radical (for baseball) proposals: eliminating “the shift” and creating a pitch clock.  For once, we PCPers wanted to be ahead of or at least equal to the curve and give a definitive take on these two issues.

Keep the shift, go for it with the pitch clock and more – Glen McKee

Let me preface this by saying that I generally don’t like the shift.  It’s shifty (hee hee).  Let me qualify that by saying that I do enjoy seeing the shift when it results in David Ortiz grounding out to SS2B; I never get tired of seeing somebody with that level of sculpted facial hair look like a buffoon.
Seriously, look at his facial hair:

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If Ortiz was white, skinny, and riding a fixed-gear bicycle we’d be calling him a goddamn hipster. But he’s Peruvian or something, so we just call him a douchebag.  Anyway, I enjoy seeing him make outs.  Ortiz outs are the tiny marshmallows in my hot chocolate of Boston hate.
All that said, keep the shift.  I say that while hating it because it’s easy to counter.  All you have to do is bunt against it every time.  I know that douchebags like Ortiz are paid to hit HRs, not bunt, but ya know what?  A bunt single is better than an out, every single time.  Spend a few games bunting and getting on base all the time, and teams might just abandon the shift.  Let the players solve this problem.  Plus, if the league prohibited the shift you know that the hipster manager (Joe Maddon, of course) would get his bloomers in a twist and if that happened, MLB would have to respond since Maddon is so cool and making the Cubs relevant to real baseball fans again (and not just other hipsters).  Maybe I hate hipsters too much, but you get the point.  Keep the shift, let baseball figure out how to invalidate it.

When you talk pitch counts, well…

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Obviously, I love baseball.  I love this game even though I understand that if you don’t love it, it’s incredibly boring.  If you disagree with me, try watching a Padres/Astros game from last September all the way through and tell me you didn’t drift off a few dozen times.  If you don’t have a vested rooting interest, this game will put you to sleep.  Nothing puts you to sleep faster than a pitcher with two different pitches shaking off the catcher six times between every pitch.  It’s like the van full of housewives in front you at the In-N-Out taking five minutes to order.  Their menu isn’t complicated!  

Just order something!  I like the idea of speeding up this aspect of the game and making the pre-Madonna pitchers do their jobs like true Americans, with a minimal amount of laziness. 

I also understand that baseball is a game steeped in tradition and whatever else you might want to say to keep this aspect of the game, no matter how lame your argument is. I would concede that point if we can agree to something else which I think is of equal importance: limiting the throws to 1B or 2B between pitches.  One throw over to keep the runner close is fine.  Two throws: eh, OK, I see what you’re doing there.  Three throws is making me itch.  Four or more tosses and I want to beat that passive-aggressive pitcher with a rosin bag filled with nickels.  Two throws max between pitches.  

That’s it.  One to keep him close, two to keep him guessing, and then you have to throw a pitch.  This also includes the bluff move, but instead of giving the batter a ball if the pitcher bluffs more than twice, the baserunner gets to nut-punch the pitcher and is awarded the next base.  I know, baseball players are supposed to wear cups.  It’s a symbolic gesture.  If no other changes take place, I’d love to see the throws and fake throws to base curtailed.  Do that, new commish guy, and you have my attention and my limited loyalty.

Love the pitch clock; hate the shift – Nate Trop

I have to admit, the commissioner of any sport is not someone I think of all that often unless they are caught in a cover-up (Goodell), blatantly taking advantage of a racist being caught on tape being racist and finally getting rid of him (Silver), being all around very bad at your job (Bettman), or finally denying that you knew steroids were a problem in baseball…  Or being too old to understand how instant replay would positively impact baseball.  

Now that he is finally gone, I keep reading that Selig is the greatest commissioner in the history of American sports and while this isn’t a list that I could really contribute to but I got to thinking about it, he had 20 years of continuous labor peace which is more than most commissioners could say.  He did that by basically giving the players anything they wanted, and also turning his back to the steroid explosion of the 90s.  I don’t necessarily have a problem with this, the players are the stars of the show, and they are who the fans go to see.  The steroids issue is an issue because it does taint the history of “America’s pastime” and it is unfortunate to see guys like Barry Bonds and Arod in the history books ahead of names like Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth.

On the other hand, while all other sports were embracing technology and using instant replay to help keep the refs out of it (except the NFL… there is another flag on the play!) baseball lagged well behind.  I know all Angels fans lament the infamous AJ Piershi… err the alleged dropped ball call in the 2005 ALCS by Doug Eddings.  Things like that leave fans with the feeling of being screwed with their pants on.  A couple years ago we finally got replay on… only HR boundary calls.  Finally this last season we got a challenge system that brought the game to a total standstill.  Nothing beats watching Scioscia run out to the ump; make sure he is facing the dugout making small talk with the ump.  “Hey blue, how is your day?  I am just standing here for my allotted 30 seconds to see if Dino gives me the choke sign or grabs his junk.”  Seriously the sign for no challenge was the choke sign.

Anyway I may be nitpicking a bit.  I give Selig a pass; the sport is more popular than ever, the teams seem to have very good owners outside of maybe South Florida and previously LA.  With that said, on to the “improvements” that our new Commish is proposing.

I won’t spend much time on the pitch clock, I totally agree with what Glen said.  Games take forever and pitchers who labor and take forever on the mound make the game unwatchable.  Sitting through a ten minute ten pitch ab featuring CJ Wilson and Lefty McSlappyhitter nobody has ever heard of is the baseball equivalent to a root canal.  Anything to keep the game moving would be great.  That includes the stopping batters that step out between pitches, readjust their batting gloves, smell the bat and grab their willy.  I rarely watch a whole game now because of how slow it moves.

Moving on to the shift, I have to disagree.  Baseball is exciting when the defense makes a great play, players get a clutch hit or a pitcher gets a huge strikeout.  It is not exciting when Albert Pujols grounds out to the third infielder on the left side.  In fact the only people that it is exciting for are the stats boffins that get all hot and bothered…  “Ooh a pop up to short right field and the runner on first is doubled up, for those of you keeping track at home that goes as a 6-3 double play.”  Get it ‘because the SS doesn’t normally play in RF.  Come on!  I can totally appreciate the tactics of it and the risk involved but this totally ruins the fan experience of the big ground ball RBI single through the right side.  It isn’t about tradition, it is about excitement.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

By Glen McKee and Nate Trop, - 

If you love baseball and you’re as old as we are here at PCP headquarters – somewhere between 30 and 50 – then you’re probably familiar with the Peanuts comic strip and Charlie Brown’s love of baseball.  Angels fans can relate to Chuck’s eternal struggles on the mound as they mirrored the Angels for so many years.  Charlie Brown was like the Joe Blanton of comic strips, without the “successes” that Blanton had.  From those Peanuts strips came the concept of “hero or goat.”  Charlie Brown would be on the mound in a crucial situation and would give himself a pep-talk, saying he would be either the hero or the goat.  He always wanted to be the hero, but this would inevitably happen:

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…followed by this:

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Man, there was such a period of greatness for that strip and these panels just hint at it.  But we digress; back on topic.  Every year there is a hero and there is a goat.  It’s easy to pick a potential hero when Mike Trout is on your team, and as much as we love the easy way out here at PCP headquarters we’re gonna look for the stealth hero.  It’s also easy to pick a potential goat when Josh Hamilton is on your team, but we’re not above that  - one of us almost has to pick him.  It’s low-hanging fruit.  With that in mind, here are our PCP picks for the heroes and goats of 2015.

Glen McKee 

Hero: Erick Aybar.  This was easy for me because Aybar is my hero every year.  Are you kidding me?  Mike Trout doesn’t even come close.  Has Mike Trout ever put his weenie in a hotdog bun to entertain the locker room?  Aybar has.  That’s the breadstuff that heroes are made of.  Has Albert Pujols ever had dreadlocks, or a grill?  Aybar has.  Aybar is like Liam Neeson in the “Taken” movies, except he’s smaller, ethnic, and has put his weenie in a hotdog bun.  I guarantee you Liam Neeson has never done that (insert foot-long bun joke here).  

I hear all you nay-sayers out there nay-saying me by saying “yeah, that’s all great and stuff but what’s Aybar gonna do ON the field to be a hero?”  Fair question, that.  This is sort of a career year for Aybar.  Two years left on his current deal, which means next year he’s gonna be in the “Howie Kendrick position.”  There are a lot of ways I could go after that last sentence but I’ll stick with what I actually meant: he’s a good/very good player with a reasonable contract, and he has a definite possibility of being traded after this season (which will break my heart, but I’ll soldier on).  He knows he needs to put up good numbers, perhaps even a career year, to increase his trade value and his chances of ending up on a better team.  I predict he’s gonna avoid his usual slow start and surprise us right out of the box, and he’ll actually minimize the dumb baserunning errors (I said minimize, not eliminate) that drive us nuts.  In short, he’ll put it all together this year and I’ll shed a tear when he’s not starting for us at SS next year.  I’m gonna enjoy him as much as I can this year.  RIP in advance, Erick.  I knew ye as well as I needed to.

Goat: Mike Scioscia.  Mike had a very good year last year, for the most part.  The Angels put up the best record in the regular season and that counts for something.  According to my stats from last year, over 75% of the time when I questioned his judgment I was wrong, as opposed to an average of 35% over the previous four seasons.  Congrats, Scioscia!  You have the begrudging approval of a lowly baseball blogger.  I’m sure this made your day.

Now that the niceties are out of the way, I fully expect him to return to form this year.  Why?  Well, last year he was playing for his life.  Rumors were strong at the end of the 2013 season that either Scioscia or Dipoto would go, and they both pulled a performance out of their hoo-hahs that reminded us of why they were hired in the first place.  Dipoto has continued that hot streak, and since I have to pick somebody to suck and I’m saving Hambone for my writing partner, it’s time for a Scioscia regression.  As always when I predict something bad about the Angels , I (90%) hope that I’m wrong and I hope that Sosh manages like he did last season, with the exception of the playoffs.  You can do it, Scioscia!  I sorta believe in you.

Nathan Trop

First, Glen just got married - Mazel tov!  Second, let’s get this straight; Glen is old, a lot older than I am, so he has a better and subsequently worse (because he is so old) memory of the Peanuts comic strip.

Hero: Mike Sc… Hah I couldn’t even finish typing it.  I think the hero will be Huston Street.  Street came in and made an immediate impact on the team last season and propelled the Angels to the best record in baseball, locking down what was a surprise strength for the team - the bullpen.  For the Angels to be successful again this year they will have to have a dominant bullpen and Street will have to have a very high save percentage.  The Angels are poised to go into the season with a young back end of the rotation and an aging Weaver and a basket case in CJ Wilson Mazda or CJ Fullcount or CJ Walk or whatever he is called now.  I think they will have fewer leads going into the late innings and because of that it will be even more important that they preserve the leads they do have to lock up the W.

The pen lost a few key performers from last season, on and off the field.  They lost Kevin “buddy Jesus” Jepsen and his gigantic parody of a head and also Jason Grilli and his beer belly.  They will be leaning on the likes of Mike Morin, Cam Bedrosian, Cory Rasmus, Fernando Salas as well as a couple new comers in Tropeano/Heaney.  You also have to figure that a couple of those guys will be starting at some point during the season.  What does all of this mean?  Well first of all even though it is the off season I remembered all of these names without having to Google the roster, and also that I am not so sure I spelled Tropeano correctly.  It also means that the pen is very young, and potentially very good, but the most important part of the pen will be the two old guys (like Glen) anchoring the back end (like Glen) – Smith and Street.  I think Street has another dynamite season and also signs an extension with the Angels before the whole thing is over making him a hero to the fans.

Goat:  CJ Wilson Mazda.

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I just Googled Smith and Street and found out I am older than both of them, don’t tell Glen… Back to CJ Wilson Mazda – It blows my mind that he also likes racing cars.  He must be the slowest driver on the track… “Oh no I got within two hundred feet of that other car, I better slam on the brakes to avoid any sort of risk!” Nothing about him pitching is enjoyable, he takes forever between pitches, and he never attacks hitters and is always behind in the count.  After the game he does an interview with his stupid hair and says something like “I have to get better, blah blah blah improvement blah blah blah.”  
After three seasons now we know it is all lip service.  He still throws too many pitches and ultimately puts the bullpen and the Angels in a bad spot every five days.  I think that if a couple of the kids the Angels picked up in the off season pitch well, CJ is a prime candidate for one of those phantom DL stints because of “arm fatigue” to keep him out of the rotation for a while.  Especially if Richards comes back healthy and dominant like he was last season.

Friday, January 9, 2015

By Geoff Stoddart, AngelsWin VP of Marketing & Communications is pleased to announce that tickets for the 2015 Spring Training Fanfest Dinner are now on sale!

To purchase your tickets, please go to:

Upon going to the site, you will be given the opportunity to purchase your ticket(s) and select your meal option.  A limited number of Early Bird ticket rates are currently available, so buy your tickets now before they’re sold out!

After you have completed your Fanfest Dinner purchase, you will receive a confirmation email.  The email will include copies of your tickets (which you’ll need to print out and bring to the Fanfest dinner), along with instructions for how you can take advantage of special discounted room rates at the Tempe DoubleTree Hotel.  

Over the past several years we’ve been honored to welcome members of the Angels organization, their broadcast teams and sports reporters to our dinner events.  Guests have included Arte Moreno, Jerry Dipoto, Kole Calhoun, Matt Shoemaker, Tim Salmon, Victor Rojas and Tim Mead to name just a few.  In the coming weeks, we will being announcing the names of special guests who will be attending this year’s event*.  Be on the look out for these announcements!

All of us at look forward to seeing you, your family and friends at this year’s 2015 Spring Training Fanfest!  Don’t wait until the last minute … purchase your tickets today!!!

Go Angels!

* Note:  Special guests from the Angels organization, their broadcast teams and sports reporters come to the AngelsWin Fanfest on their own time.  From time to time, guest’s schedules change and once confirmed attendees are not able to attend.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

By Geoff Stoddart, AngelsWin VP of Marketing & Communications

In less than a month and a half, the boys of summer will be reporting to Tempe, AZ for the start of Spring Training. We at could not be more excited for the return of Angels baseball and for our annual Spring Training Fanfest. Every year our events continue to get bigger and better, and this year will be no exception! We are working closely with the Angels organization to put together a weekend you won’t forget. 

In the coming days, we will be providing information on how you can obtain tickets for the AngelsWin Spring Fanfest Dinner. At that time, we will also provide you with the ability to obtain discounted hotel room rates at the hotel where we will be holding this year’s event.  Please be on the lookout for those announcements.

There is one slight change that we will be making to this year’s Fanfest Dinner event.  In years past, we’ve held the dinner event on Saturday nights.  This year, we will be holding the Fanfest Dinner on Friday night, March 13th.  (That’s right!  We’re tempting fate and having it on Friday the 13th!!!) You may be asking, “Why move it to Friday night?”  It’s a very fair question.

As you know, over the past several years we’ve been honored to welcome members of the Angels organization, their broadcast teams and sports reports to our dinner events. Guests have included Arte Moreno, Jerry Dipoto, Kole Calhoun, Matt Shoemaker, Tim Salmon, Victor Rojas, Tim Mead and members of the media to name just a few. Our goal is always to give the organization an opportunity to get up close and personal with their fans, and (of course!) visa versa. The Angels have an organizational event planned for the night of the 14th which would prevent them from attending our event. In our conversations with the team, it was determined that the best course of action would be for us to move our event to Friday night.  So … there you have it.

We hope that this one day change will not adversely impact your plans or ability to attend the Spring Training Fanfest Dinner. We are looking forward to another sellout crowd and want you to be a part of it! Oh and for those wondering, our dugout talk with Tim Mead will continue to be on Sunday, March 15th, despite the team playing on the road that day. We will also reveal the names of our special guests that will be attending our dinner event over the course of the next several weeks.

So stay tuned for further details on when you can purchase tickets for the event and when discounted hotel room rates will be available.

Go Angels!

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