Saturday, May 21, 2005

Radio Daze - Angels 3; Dodgers 1

Career high 10 strikeouts for Lackey, who apparently pitched well, not that I could see it. Big offense from Jose Molina, with a solo shot and a single that turned out to be integral (even though he was erased on a sacrafice gone bad). Another big hit by Chone Figgins, and once again, excellent relief work held the Dodgers to just one run. That's three in a row for, if I'm not mistaken, only the second time this year. The Angels won't pick up groung, because the Ranger are absolutely demolishing the Astros (eight freaking home runs?). But they've taken the first series from the Dodgers, and that's fine with me.

Now let's complete the sweep and let them know who owns the town, at least on the field.

MLB Begins Annual "Fan Alienation Days"

The Angels and Dodgers meet up again this afternoon at the Ravine at 1:05 PDT. You can catch the game on Fox. Correction, you can catch the game on Fox....if you happen to live somewhere near the West Coast. If you don't, you're stuck watching some other game. I don't live near the West Coast, so I'm stuck watching the Cubs and White Sox. I've made no secret of my hatred of the Cubs, and my general indifference to the White Sox. Suffice to say, this is a game that I normally wouldn't be watching. But if I want to watch baseball, I don't have a choice.

I paid $150 (or was it $130? I can't remember) for the Extra Innings package so that I could watch as many Angels games on my nice new TV as possible. Occasionally, like last night, some asshole at MLB chooses not to show the Angels on Extra Innings, so I paid another $80 to watch those games on the computer. Sometimes, neither team televises the game, so I'm stuck listening to the radio broadcast over the net.

That takes us to Fox. MLB has decided that Fox should be able, once a week, to make fans bend over and take it in the ass. If your team is playing on the national (loosely translated to mean "regional") game, and you're not in the region where it is being shown, you're shit out of luck. Since much of the time the Angels will be the Saturday national game on the West Coast, that means a lot of radio days for me. Which means little to no recaps for you, my loyal readers. So if you click back this evening looking for a recap, blame Rupert Murdoch. That's usually a good strategy for most things that go wrong, I've learned.

Go Angels.

Angels 9; Dodgers 0

This should have been up last night, but I was too damn tired. I had to pack up my office for a move in the morning, I walked 18 holes in the afternoon, sat in traffic for two hours on the way home, and had to watch the game on the computer, so I was pretty beat.

The Angels made the most of their opporutunities, coming up with a bases clearing triple (Figgins would later score on a sac fly), and a grand slam in the two instances where they loaded the bases. They were facing a guy who has struck out fewer hitters than have homered off of him this season. That's not a good stat if you're a pitcher.

Good Washburn was on the mound, throwing seven strong innings before mysteriously coming off the mound after tossing a couple of warm up pitches in the 8th. Apparently just a little tightness, and he shouldn't miss a start.

And Ron Roenicke. Ron, Ron, Ron.....What were you thinking?!?! Vlad was out by a ton while trying to score from first on a Steve Finley double in the fifth. I haven't seen the tape, so it's possible that Roenicke wasn't actually sending Vlad, but rather just waving his arms hysterically from the shock of seeing Steve Finley hit a double. Regardless, Vlad was out by about 15 feet, tried to slide around the tag, and landed funny, as one is likely to do when he's 6'3" and 230 lbs. He's out for the weekend, and maybe longer. Hell, maybe there's a bright side. He hasn't exactly been lighting it up lately. Maybe he takes a week off and recharges, maybe some minor inuries heal, and maybe being in the lineup every day help Rivera heat up a bit. He has two home runs in the last week or so, which is two more than Vlad in that time.

There probably won't be much of a recap of today's game. For the reason, see the post above, unless you're reading this in the brief period between the time this post is published and before the next post is written, in which case you should click back in about 10 minutes.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Friday Random Ten

For the hell of it, here goes.

  • "Asleep at the Trigger" - Autolux
  • "A Night Like This" - The Cure
  • "I Can't Find Time for the Time" - Jesus and Mary Chain
  • "Open Heart Surgery" - Brian Jonestown Massacre
  • "Strike" - Destroyer
  • "The Queen is Dead" - The Smiths
  • "Heaven Adores You" - Earlimart (my particular 'song of the moment')
  • "Hit Rock Bottom" - the Dandy Warhols
  • "You Don't Send Me" - Belle and Sebastian
  • "Uncertain Smile" - The The
That's the list for this week. Back to baseball this weekend.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Super Furry Animals tracklist

While I'm on the Pitchfork kick, apparently they've got spies. They report that SFA will have a new album out in the US on August 9th, a full week before it's released overseas, which is a lot better than the nine months that Rings Around the World took to get to Plymouth Rock. According to the article, there is more band participation in the writing and singing this time, building on the non-Gruff "Sex, War, and Robots" from Phantom Power. So I supposed that's bad news for the "All Gruff All the Time" crowd. But I'm looking forward to it. Plus, Gruff just released a solo album, so there's always that. Tracklist:

01 Zoom!
02 Atomik Lust
03 The Horn
04 Ohio Heat
05 Walk You Home
06 Laser Beam
07 Frequency
08 Oi Frango
09 Psyclone!
10 Back on a Roll
11 Cloudberries
12 Cabin Fever

I'm guessing the last track isn't a cover of the Wonder Stuff song off of Contruction for the Modern Idiot.

No word yet if Bunf's hamster will be making an appearance.

Explanation, Please

Pitchfork Media, the best site on the web for indie news, reviews, and interviews is curating the Intonation Music Festival this summer in Chicago. It figures to be a terrific event. Two days of affordable live music with acts as diverse as.....well, screw it. I really couldn't care less about some of the acts on the list, so let's just keep it to the good ones. The Wrens, AC Newman, Broken Social Scene, and the Decemberists lead off the good bands. I guess Les Savy Fav and Xiu Xiu are OK, but I really haven't gotten into them yet. At one time, the Fiery Furnaces were on the bill, but they've magically disappeared. And it appears that gremlins have gotten hold of some of the other details as well. To wit, the following was posted at Pitchfork on April 5th:

The gates will open at noon each day, and there will be no advance tickets (which means no dealing with the evils of Ticketmaster or scalpers). Admission will be $10 at the door and certain proceeds will go to benefit the Chicago Park District's after-school music programs. The park is located at 1419 W. Blackhawk St. Stay tuned to Pitchfork and the websites below for more information and updates to the lineup.

Sounds simple enough, and a bit of a maverick way of going about selling tickets. Only 1o bones per day, and all at the gate! No service charges! Kudos, Pitchfork. But then, somewhat curiously, this appeared just a few days ago:

Tickets are on sale for Pitchfork's Intonation Music Festival. We will be rocking Chicago's Union Park on Saturday, July 16 and Sunday, July 17. Tickets are $15 per day, and a limited number of $22 two-day passes will be available, as well. For ticket information, visit the Intonation Music Festival website by clicking here.

Hmm. Tickets are on sale, yet the event doesn't begin until July 16. That sounds like an advanced sale to me. And tickets have magically risen $5 per day. But hey, don't fret, because if you act now, you can get a two day pass for $22, saving $8 in the process, right? Not so fast, my indie friend. Yesterday I purchased my $22 two day pass. Only, to do that I had to make the purchase online. And guess what. After a $3.50 shipping charge, and $3.50 service charge, I save a whopping $1. That should be enough to buy perhaps an ounce of water at the festival. And for the record, the location changed as well, from fairly convenient Pulaski Park over in the Wicker Park area, to less convenient Union Park in the West Loop, or whatever the hell they call the area west of the West Loop.

Now, this is all gonna seem like whining, and it is to a certain extent. I can't deny that. But like I said, it's not like I won't go. There's at least three bands that I REALLY want to see, and $29 for that is more than reasonable. What gets me is the fact that there's no explanation. I understand changes in the lineup. Bands are added, bands drop out, etc. But geez, a 50% increase in price with no explanation. From no advanced sales and "We're doin' that all for you" to advanced sales and service charges.

So to recap:

Lineup = Excellent
Location = I can't complain
Price = Still quite reasonable
Changes = I can live with them
Lack of explanation = What the fuck?!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Amazing! Angels 2; Indians 1

Of course, I mean that somewhat sarcastically. I'm a lot less shocked that the Angels had 20 in a row set down than I am that they actually scored two runs.

I can't comment a whole lot on this one due to the whole "being at work" thing, but the numbers more or less speak for themselves. Two somewhat tired lineups after last night's marathon (at least, it seemed like it lasted about seven hours). Bartolo apparently had it going, and Westbrook was facing the Angels, so both pitchers gave up very few run scoring opportunities. Shields was tremendous yet again, scoring fantasy points for my bench (thanks, Angels).

Four and Two on the current road trip, with three to go in LA. Hell, 4-5 would be susccessful, so the rest is pretty much gravy. But after that article in the Times today about how the Dodgers are big cry-babies, I'd really love to shove it up their ass for a couple of games.

Day off tomorrow, so I'll try to come up with something that alienates half of my six loyal readers. Hey, I get more hits from google and technorati when I post something about music.

Addendum to previous post Re: Scheyer

I'm just gonna say this once, unless the urge strikes me to say it again and again, which it probably will. For two consecutive years, Bruce Weber has FAR exceeded expecations at the University of Illinois. He exceeded expectations at Southern Illinois for a few years before going north to Champaign. The dude can flat out coach. While people may have convinced themselves, then tried to unconvince themselves, that Scheyer was the be all and end all of the 2006 class, the truth is that he wasn't. He's a very talented player who deserved all of the accolodes that he's received, and will probably have a solid career at Duke. But the bottom line is this: Bruce Weber is going to get who he is going to get, and he's going to turn them into winners. It's what he does. He just wins. He takes what he has, and he exceeds expectations. He's done it again and again, and as long as people doubt him, he's going to keep doing it.

Weaver, Scheyer: Ain't Gonna Happen


The Angels have roughly a week to sign Jered Weaver, but with each passing moment, the signing looks less and less like a possibility.

"It doesn't look like it is going to get done," Stoneman said. "If it doesn't happen, then it doesn't happen."

Pretty much sums it up. Meanwhile, 3,000 miles aways sits about $5MM of Angels' investment, patiently waiting to make his way across the Gulf of Mexico to the USA. The minor league draft is a little over two weeks away. Apparently major league rules prevent the Angels from drafting Weaver again, although I suppose it would be pretty funny if that were to happen.

In the meantime, what looked like solid pitching depth in the minors is struggling this season, and the one prospect who has been living up to the hype just proved on a national stage that he's still a couple years away. This whole thing has been a fiasco from the start. The Angels are a week and a half away from having nothing to show from both the first round AND the Morales signing. In the meantime, they're major off-season acquistions are barely hitting over .200. Paul Byrd appears to be coming around, and he may be the only saving grace of the 2004-2005 off-season. The less said about all this, the better, it would seem.


Glennbrook North Star Jon Scheyer chose Duke yesterday over the University of Illinois. On one level, I can't blam the kid. Supposedly he's been a Duke lean since he was 14, and one fantastic season by the Illini isn't going to change that. On the other hand, his high school coach is Bruce Weber's brother, who ran the same system that turned Deron Williams into a lottery pick and made Dee Brown and Luther Head NBA material. Kids go to Duke and don't get better. Honestly, Elton Brand has been the best pro produced by Duke in recent years, and if he had been two years older, he would have gone straight to the NBA. I don't wish injury upon him or anything, but there'd be some serious Schadenfreude if he either a) turns out to be so good that he pulls a Livingston and goes straight the NBA, or b) just really, really sucks at the college level. But damn, that is going to be one uncomfortable season next year at GNHS.

Weber has already received a commitment from one top prospect (Semrau) and is in on several others (Sherron Collins, Brian Carlwell, etc.). This is a young Illini team, and if they can land a couple of blue chippers for that 2006 class, they could be competing for a national championship when those kids are sophomores playing alongside Calvin Brock, Sean Pruitt, and Brian Randle.

Plus, UCLA will be very good for the next few years (especially in 2006-2007), so any rebuilding by the Illini will be tempered by the inevitable success of the Bruins.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Well, that wasn't altogether unexpected

Not what one would call a shining debut. Santana went 4 innings, allowing 6 earned runs on 8 hits, 3 walks, and one strike out. Ben Broussard and Travis Hafner hit home runs, with Broussard's completing a cycle in the first inning after Grady Sizemore tripled, Coco Crisp doubled, and Hafner singled. He was not getting the benefit of a large strike zone, forcing him to work behind early, and he paid for it. He has excellent velocity, and appears to have a good breaking pitch, but he needs to work on the movement on his fastball.

Coincidentally, his former namesake has also been very disappointing tonight. Johan Santana allowed three runs in the first inning of the game between the Blue Jays and Twins. That's bad news for the Guzzlers, as I rely on big points from Santana every week. I'll be lucky to get ten out of him tonight.

Kevin Gregg showed that the Angels were really no better off going with option B, coming in and giving up 2 runs on 3 hits in his first inning (it's the top of the 6th as I write this). The offense hasn't really come through in clutch situations so far. Of course, as I write that, Molina drives in a run while McPherson gets himself thrown out at on a close play at third base. Not a good night for the rookie, who also struck out on a pretty bad check swing call.

It becoming increasingly apparent that the team that won five stragight was an anomoly. They're back to being the team that can't win more than two straight. This is going to be a very frustrating season. Fortunately, the rest of the division is crappy too.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Angels 3; Injuns 1

Excellent effort by Paul Byrd, despite an uncharacteristic three walks. Solid defense behind him again for the most part, until Chone Figgins botched a double play grounder in the 8th (behind Brendan Donnelly ). Figgy just ain't right lately. His fielding has been a bit suspect, and he hasn't had a hit in about six years. But once again, the pitching and defense picks up the sluggish offense.

The contact play, which has been oddly successful this year, had a 50/50 night, accounting for a run in the 6th, but also accounting for an out just one batter later. It was a weird baserunning game for Vladimir Guerrero. He got doubled off an a line drive in the fourth, made a nice play to get to second on the bad-hop/error by Sizemore in the sixth, got cut down at the plate on the contact play in the sixth, then stole a base in the eighth which eventually led to an insurance run. You take the good with the bad, I guess.

Excellent work from Scot Shields again, who sits on the Guzzler's bench. Francisco Rodriguez looks like he'll be sidelined for at least a few days, pending the results of an MRI.

Dear Angels,

If you're going to sit a player down for a while, please make these decisions on Sundays, so that I adjust my fantasy roster accoringly. Failure to do so cost me 33 points tonight (depending on what happens in the Rangers/Sox game).


One thing I noticed about Shields tonight is how quickly he works. I don't
necessarily mean that in a Mark Buehrle way, but rather, the amount of time he takes to get rid of the ball from the time he starts his wind up is very small. He's like the anti-Nomo. I wonder what sort of affect that has on hitters, especially when you're bringing it at 95 mph. It's a quick, smoothe delivery that doesn't provide a real timing point for the hitter. It's something I've never heard discussed, so I could be completely off the wall with this, but I noticed it for the first time tonight, and if that didn't help him, then he sure is doing something right, because he made Hafner and Crisp look foolish.

Three and one start to the road trip. Quite frankly, if you had told me they'd go 3-6 on this trip, I would have been pleasantly surprised, so maybe they can take a couple more and head back the Big A on the heels of a successful trip.

Tomorrow is the kid against the failed prospect. Scott Elarton was supposed to really be the man a long time ago when he came up with the Astros. I don't know if the time in Colorado screwed him up, and certainly injuries have played a part, but he's never really panned out (of course, these are the famous last words before his two hit shutout tomorrow). Ervin "don't call me Johan" Santana takes the mound for the Halos in his major league debut. I know I'm looking forward to it.

Okkervil River Setlist Update

See this post for details. Props to Vicki Heather (man, I'm dumb).

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Pitcher of Tomorrow...TODAY!! (link)

Rob McMillin reports on an release by the Arkansas Travellers that Ervin Santana has been called up and will start on Tuesday against the Injuns. Major League Baseball confirms. It goes without saying that Tuesday's start will be the most anticipated of the young season. At least for me, in which case I guess it goes *with* saying, because if it's not anticipated for others, than that kind of blows the whole "goes without saying" thing.

Santana has pitched pretty well this season after struggling through injuries last season. To date, he's posted a 5-1 record in seven starts, and a 2.31 ERA in 39 innings, with 32 strikeouts and 15 walks. He's got a WHIP of 1.26, he's allowed only two homers, and opponents are hitting just .234 against him. As I posted yesterday, he was held to 30 pitches in his last start in anticipation of this call up, so he should be rested. I'm a little surprised by the strikeouts, as he's always been a high strikeout guy. I would have expected about 10 more than he has, but I'm not complaining.

He looks like a happy dude. He should. You're in the big leagues, son. Make the most of it.

Late to the Live Blogging

Because it's still too cold to play golf, you, the lucky readers, get to witness the result of live blogging today's game. I had to clean the kitchen, however, so I'm starting in the third inning.

  • Wow, this inning has had everything. A walk, a bunt that puts pressure on the defense, good baserunning, some help from the umps, and some timely hitting. An RBI single from the OC, a bases loading bunt from Rivera, and Bengie with a three run double. Six runs in one inning. I repeat SIX RUNS IN ONE INNING. Hell, that's more than I expected on the enire road trip. That may actually be enough for Lackey.
  • Note to the Tigers broadcasters: Nope, Nate Robinson didn't discover anything in that last start against Texas.
  • Bad throw by Cabrera, but a nice turn by Kennedy to get the double play. It sure is nice to have him back at second base.
  • Kotchman upate: 10 for his last 15. Three more hits yesterday. He appears to be getting back on track. His average is back up to .270 after his horrendous start.
  • WOW! That ball was absolutely hammered by Rivera. I'm beginning to feel a bit more comfortable abou this game. 9-0 Angels in the top of the fourth. Seriously, he crushed that ball. It would have been a homer in the old configuration.
  • Double play to end the fourth. I have a hard time on double plays like that one. Was it a great play, or was it just a great job of fixing screw ups? It reminds me of the Ichiro catch about which I recently wrote. Certainly Erstad did a great job. Kennedy made a great turn on another tough play, but made a bad throw that Erstad had to fix. Let's just call it even and two outs.
  • Carlos Guillen gets thrown out stretching a double into a triple. Good call. He looked out at full speed, but if you slow it down on TiVo, it's even clearer that he's out. So what do the Tigers' broadcasters say? One needed one replay to say he was safe, the other needed two. So when they slow it down and watch it again, a frozen frame showing the glove on the leg before the foot hit the bag "Well, it's really close". Whatever fellas.
  • Lackey with another strikeout. Six strong innings, one run allowed. Lost in the hoopla over the inept offense has been the fairly decent work by the starters. Keep it up, guys.
  • Two Tigers hurt in this game. One is on a fantasy team of mine. That's not good.
  • Dallas drew a walk. Normally not of note, but he did a good job fouling off some tough pitches and keeping the at bat alive, then he laid off a very tough pitch. Good sign. Sometimes when guys foul pitches off, they get in that swing, swing, swing mode. Dallas, of course, starts out in that mode, so when he can lay off a tough curve ball down and in, that's good to see.
  • 113 effective pitches for Lackey. He tired a bit at the end, but he was solid throughout. Another quality start, and for once, the offense chipped in to help him out. Good job, John.
  • Stop the presses!! Kevin Gregg threw a wild pitch!! Will wonders never cease?
  • Nook Logan is given a base hit on a ball that was totally booted by Kennedy. What the hell have happened to the expectations from major leaguers when every single routine grounder is all of the sudden a "tough play" where booting it shouldn't be an error?
  • 9-3 final score. Not necessarily a good job of ham-n-egging it, but a win is a win, and they needed this one. Good start to the trip. Let's see if they can keep it going in Cleveland.