Saturday, April 15, 2006

Angels 2; Orioles 3

Didn't see this one. I'm sure it was available on the computer, but I have a qualifying round for the Illinois State Mid-Amateur Championship in a little over a week, and I needed to get out and practice. The good news is that in my first real round of the year, I fired a 74, and that's with a double bogey on the last hole when I inexplicably decided to play conservative. I did string together a stretch of three holes where I was four under par (birdie, eagle, birdie), so that's a good sign.

As for the game, it's my understanding that the Angels still refuse to play defense. When you don't score a lot of runs, it's imperative to keep the other team from scoring some of their own, and refusing to play defense is somewhat incompatible with that. The ace is on the mound tomorrow, and if I could choose one guy to help us salvage a game, it would be Lackey. Let's hope he starts like he finished his last game.

Angels 5; Orioles 6

Second 6-5 loss of the season. Santana looked a little ragged actually. Not many walks, but he had trouble finding the zone at times, and got tagged for three homers. The bullpen, which has been hit and miss so far, was miss tonight, with Shields blowing the save in the 8th, then giving up the walk off homer in the ninth.

On the bright side, the Angels took advantage of the wind to unleash their power bats, with Anderson, Rivera, Kennedy and Mathis getting in on the action. Mathis' came with two out in the ninth to extend the game an extra half frame, so that's a positive sign that he can perform under pressure.

As for today, it's another day with a lot of hockey, so it appears I won't be getting this one on TV, which means it's computer or nothing.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Kings officially done

Just for the three people out there who held out hope, the Kings were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs tonight. The death blow came before they decided to not try to beat Phoenix, so the fact that they got their assess kicked by the pathetic, yet demonstrably superior Coyotes was more or less meaningless. So instead of doing a long post mortem, I'm going to bed.

But please don't let that stop you from enjoying this wonderful excerpt from an episode of Gimmie Gimmie Octopus.

"Kure Kure Takora" everyone!

Sean Avery - done with the Kings

According to this article in the Times, Sean Avery will no longer play for the LA Kings, this season or next. This ends a tenure in which he was twice the most penalized player in the league.

Avery has always been the type of player of whom people said "I hate his guts, but I'd love to have him on my team." And frankly, that was the feeling of most Kings fans this season, as was evidenced by the quick selling "What would Avery do?" T-shirts. But as the team's fortunes went south, so did a lot of the patience with Avery, no doubt accentuated by the fact that he took a lot of penalties on a team that simply refuses to try to kill them.

Avery set career highs this season with 15 goals, 24 assists, and 39 points. He's only 26, and if he can rein in his emotions, I think he could be a hell of an NHL player. Hell, even if he can't, I think he has the skating ability and talent to be a 30 goal scorer at some point in his career, maybe better. But his act wore thin on management and apparently some of the guys in the locker room as well. He was dismissed from practice for refusing to perform a drill, then getting into an argument with Mark Hardy. Not to defend Avery, but maybe if more people stopped listening to Hardy, they'd be able to kill a power play every now and then.

One thing's for sure. This is going to look like a much different team next year. Unfortunately, they're probably not going to look much better. As for Avery, there will be takers, and I fear he'll turn into a productive offensive player as he matures. I'm right on the fence on this one, but I'm leaning more toward "sad to see him go" than "good riddance".

Blown out. Rangers - A lot; Angels - not so much

Pretty much over by the fourth inning or so. Cabrera's boot at second led to a bunch of runs. The Angels had a chance to get back into this one when they loaded the bases with no one out, but Robb Quinlan swung at a 3-1 pitch that was probably a little high and popped it to right, driving in the only run the Angels would get back. By the time they scored again, the pitching staff had given up 11 runs, and the fans had given up hope.

The Angles have now allowed 12 more runs than they've scored, and they're a game over .500. That's the early season for you. Off day today as the team heads to Baltimore for three, followed by Minnesota and Oakland.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Rangers 4; Angels 5

While last night's game showed us what to expect from the 2006 Angels, tonight's game was an homage to the 2002 Angels. Kept in the game by an adequate performance from Jeff Weaver and solid work by the bullpen, the Angels offense pushed across just enough runs to win their second straight over the Rangers without the benefit of a home run.

This game wasn't on Extra Innings, as there were a plethora of NHL games to be shown, none of which featured the Kings, which is a good thing when you're recovering from an illness. Anyway, it's tough to follow those games, so I can't really speak intelligently to how Weaver looked. He obviously looked great to Hank Blalock, who tagged him twice.

After getting down by three runs, tonight's rally twins, Darin Erstand and Casey Kotchman, got the Angels back into the game with back to back doubles. Both would eventually score. The two struck again in the ninth, with the ever patient Erstad drawing a lead off walk, followed by Kotchman's single. Although Jeff Mathis failed to get the bunt down, Adam Kennedy came through with a game winning double as the Angels handed Frankie Cordova another last inning loss.

I'm not sure the Angels have the offense to do this on a consistent basis. In fact, I'm sure that they don't, so it may be a long year for the rally monkey, but he's off to a great start. Weaver did what the Angels signed him to do, and that's give the team a chance to win. With the A's losing, the Angels draw even with the A's at 5-3.

Your fun stat for the day: It's early, but all four AL West teams have allowed more runs than they've given up. In the Mariners and Rangers case, it's due to them not being very good. In the A's and Ange;s case, it's due to each of them getting slaughtered once by the Yankees, who are 3-4 despite outscoring their opponents by an average of two runs per game.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Rangers 2; Angels 5

This is pretty much the way they draw them up for this Angels team. Timely hitting, excellent pitching, good defense, and win by a couple of runs. All seven runs were scored with two outs, and the Angels did an excellent job of answering the Rangers two first inning runs with one of their own in the bottom of the first, followed by three in the second. The unsung play of the game was Adam Kennedy's hustle in the bottom of the second to beat out a double play. It extended the inning and was followed by Chone Figgins' RBI triple, Orlando Cabrera's RBI single, and Vlad Guerrero's RBI single (which extended his hitting streak to 37 straight against the Rangers).

Those four runs were all John Lackey would need (though they added a fifth). He fantastic following a first inning hiccup which saw him Walk Mark Teixeira with two out, which Phil Nevin followed with a homer. From there he settled down, allowing only those two runs on four hits and walk, while striking out eight. Almost as important, of the 12 batters who made outs by putting the ball in play, nine of them did it on the ground. These are the kind of starts that Angels fans and fantasy owners expect Lackey to put together on a more consistent basis this season. He did it against a heck of an offensive lineup, and one that has had his number in the past.

As for the defense, it was excellent as well. Cabrera, Kennedy, and Kotchman combined for a double play ground out by Michael Young. Kotchman himself turned in the defensive play of the night when he stabbed a hot shot by Hank Blalock with one out in the seventh. They completed the game without commiting an error, which is an encouraging sign after committing nine in their first six games.

Jeff Weaver goes tomorrow against Rick Bauer, who didn't start in his only appearance this season. It doesn't look as if it will be on Extra Innings, so it will probably be a computer night. A lot of people picked the Rangers ahead of the Angels this season, so it would be nice to open up a little teensy bit of daylight with a series sweep.

The Weekend

So obviously there have been no recaps of the games this weekend, Saturday because my out of town guest and I watched most of it at a bar, and Sunday because I didn't see much of the game due to playing in a golf tournament with said out of town guest. A breakdown of my weekend:

  • Early morning - drive to airport to pick up out of town guest.
  • Late morning - watch TV
  • Early afternoon - get lunch, head to Golfsmith to kill some time
  • Late afternoon - go back to Golfsmith so that out of town guest can buy a new driver
  • Night - head to bar to get dinner and beer
  • Early early morning: Wake up about 10 times during the night due to mystery illness
  • Early morning: throw up about three times with what appears to be food poisoning
  • Late early morning: throw up in my car as we arrive at the golf course, painfully hit golf balls on the driving range in a brave effort to soldier on despite illness
  • Late morning: Despite illness, lack of glycogen, and severe lack of sleep, drill a three wood about 240 yards to about 15 feet on the 6th hole of the day to set up a birdie, getting us to -5 through 6 holes (it was scramble format*).
  • Noon or so: We birdie our eigth hole of the day, getting us to -7 through 8.
  • Couple hours later: Birdie our 15th, 17th, and 18th holes to finish -12 on the day.
  • Hour or so later: Celebrate our first victory in three years of playing in this tournament, try to eat solid food. Go home, fall asleep watching Masters.
So that's kinda why I didn't post anything yesterday. I was pretty out of it, yet still managed to hit the ball fairly well.

As for our team, well, it was a total team effort. You win scrambles one of two ways: 1) Everyone on the team is playing well, or 2) everyone is playing OK, but someone always steps up to hit a clutch shot when you need it. We won the second way. Whenever we needed someone to put us in the fairway, or knock one tight on the green, or to make a big putt, someone always came through. It's very satisfying to win a tournament like that when everyone on the team makes major contributions. Two years ago we shot -6 in decent conditions and finished in the top half of 36 teams. Last year we played in brutally cold weather, shot -6, and finished somewhere in the top ten. Yesterday, conditions were terrific. Sunny all day, in the mid 50s most of the day. Under those conditions, I'm a little surprised that -12 held up, but as it turns out, we won by two shots. The $100 gift certificate will come in handy, seeing as how I spent $150 on new pants and new windshirt after throwing up on myself.

Anyway, enough about this for now. There will be plenty of golf talk as the amateur events start to roll around (I try and qualify for the Illinois State Mid-Amateur in two weeks). Back to Angels blogging beginning tonight.