Friday, April 10, 2009

More on Yesterday

This is just going to be kind of rambling and bullet pointed. For longer looks at the life, career, and death of Nick Adenhart, try the Rev, or Shane Demmit. They've both done far better than I could.
  • I can't really explain how this hit me, although I suppose it was probably the same for most of you. I actually found out from a friend via email, who's initial message was simply "Holy Crap, Nick Adenhart!" Not having heard the news, I responded with my take on his performance from the night before. He then said "You must not have heard the news..." From that point on, the next three hours were just kind of an unproductive blur, and I can only say that fortunately I had some real work to do to pull me out of it. I'm still shocked, stunned, and I don't know how I'll react when the game starts tonight.
  • I don't want to get too philosophical, but it's weird the way we treat "celebrity" deaths like these. Obviously Nick was the newsmaker, and his death is going to dominate all aspects of this story. But two other people died in that accident, and their deaths are just as tragic. So is the death of Brian Powers, the fan who died from the result of a sucker punch to the back of the head on opening night. Also, here's a tribute to Henry Pearson, a former CSUF catcher who also died in the wreck, written by his best friend (via Deadspin).
  • These sort of freak occurrences always lead to discussions of fate and circumstance. If Lackey and Santana hadn't come down with soreness in the arms, Nick Adenhart probably would have been in Salt Lake to start the season. You can play that game forever, but it never gets you anywhere. I'm not particularly religious, but I can see why people find their faith important at a time like this. It's not pleasant to believe there was no reason for what happened. But life's a crazy game, I guess.
  • There's lots of talk about why we treat drunk drivers so leniently. On the one hand, you wouldn't let someone get liquored up, then let them walk around with a rocket launcher or something, but when a drunk gets behind the wheel, he's essentially piloting a very large weapon. Maybe the reason drunk drivers have the opportunity to be repeat offenders is because so many people have done it. Judges, lawyers, legislators, etc. I would venture to guess that the vast majority of people I know have been behind the wheel when they shouldn't have been, myself included. There but for the grace of God go I, I suppose. And how can we really be tough on people who have made the same "mistakes" that we've all made? I'm not arguing for leniency in the slightest, I'm just trying to get to the root.
  • That said, Gallo should face the stiffest charges allowable. He's a repeat offender, and his actions have taken three lives. In some sense, it's hard to understand the mindset. I'm not patting myself on the back, but in the few times I've driven when I shouldn't have driven, my recollection is that I was HIGHLY sensitive to traffic laws. Not a mile over the speed limit. Stop for an extra second at stop signs, just to make sure. I was so afraid of getting pulled over that I probably felt I was being conspicuous in my attention to traffic laws. Any cop with a lick of common sense would have to figure that someone trying so hard to stay within the rules has to be guilty of something. That doesn't make it right, of course, and if a small child had darted in front of me, my dulled reactions would have put both of us in a world of trouble. Then again, there aren't a lot of kids running around at 3:00 am, but that's neither here nor there. I can't imagine the arrogance of getting behind the wheel while drunk and actually speeding and flirting with red lights.
  • There will probably never be a good time to ask this, but honestly, what do the Angels do now? Who takes that slot in the rotation?
  • I think the last time I felt like this was 1991 when word leaked that Magic was retiring due to having contracted HIV. Just an out of left field punch in the gut that leaves you speechless for hours.
But the games must go on, and tonight the Angels will take the field against the hated Red Sox. I don't know how the players will react. I don't know how the fans will react. I don't know how I'll react. But I can bet that the outcome is going to seem pretty insignificant.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

R.I.P. Nick Adenhart

Tragic news. Nick Adenhart was killed by a driver running a red light after last night's game.

I don't even know what to say.

On what was supposed to be a joyous evening for the organization, there probably (hopefully) won't be a baseball game at the Big A. I think I'll probably always from this point associate the HOF plaques of Chuck Finley and Brian Downing with this incident. Not their careers, of course, but just what was supposed to happen tonight.

Mental Midgets - A's 6; Angels 4

Nick Adenhart's six scoreless innings should have been enough to win. He escaped jam after jam, usually of his own making, before leaving after 98 pitches with a 3-0 lead. He allowed seven hits, walked three, and struck out five. He tossed two perfect innings, but I was impressed by how he responded with runners on. Last year, he was a disaster when pitching from the stretch. But last night he had to pitch with runners on in four innings, and three times allowed the lead off runner to reach, but still found a way to escape those jams and leave unscathed.

Unfortunately, his team could not hold the lead, and what should have been a nice night for Adenhart turned into a nightmare for the home team. After a solid seventh inning for Jose Arredondo, a Chone Figgins run pushed the lead to four. Scioscia, who would have turned to Shields in the 8th inning of a three run game, left Arredondo on the mound. He allowed the first two runners to reach before Scioscia went to Shields, who struck out Travis Buck, and induced a ground ball to third base from Mark Ellis. Instead of going to third for the sure out, which is what he undoubtedly should have done with a four run lead, Figgins chose to throw home to cut off Jack Cust at the plate. Napoli couldn't handle the throw, allowing Cust to score and Ellis to reach. A wild pitch and base hit later, and what should have been a three run lead was down to one.

Brian Fuentes, sharp in his debut, walked Giambi to lead off the ninth inning. After retiring Buck and Cust, Kurt Suzuki tapped a ball in front of the mound, and a miscommunication between Napoli and Fuentes turned a close play into no play. Nomar Garciappara's single drove in the tying run, and Matt Holliday gave the A's a two run lead they wouldn't relinquish.

I'm not going to revisit the meltdown thread on Halos Heaven, but personally, I place the blame for this game on Figgins. He made a huge mental error when he tried to cut off Cust at the plate, and it led to two more A's runs in the eighth inning, meaning Fuentes had no margin for error in the ninth. Fuentes failed to deliver, but that's going to happen over the course of a season. Poor performances are unavoidable. Mental errors are unacceptable. Gary Matthews, inserted as a pinch runner and defensive replacement, may have had a play on the Garciappara single in the ninth, but it looked like he lost it in the lights, and I'm not sure he would have gotten to it anyway. Make no mistake, I don't like Gary Matthews, but I don't find him at fault here.

Kendry Morales delivered two hits and is off to a solid start this season. Juan Rivera also delivered two hits, and Mike Napoli had an RBI double and a walk in his season debut.

An early test tonight, as the Angels throw jered Weaver, one of their true starting five against Brett Anderson, who is not the former lead singer of Suede.

Monday, April 06, 2009

A's 0; Angels 3

1 down, 161 to go. Nice way to start the season as Joe Saunders showed no signs of a dead arm, going 6.2 scoreless innings. He allowed only three hits, while walking and striking out two. He was probably on a pitch count of about 90. He finished with 93 pitches for the game, 56 of them for strikes. He fell behind a number of times, but generally seemed to find a strike when he needed it. He induced three double play balls, although the Angels infield only turned one of them, or else he may have completed the seventh inning. The A's threatened in the third inning, putting two runners on with only one out. But Jeff Mathis made a great throw to third to gun down Mark Ellis, who was the front end of an attempted double steal. Saunders got Orlando Cabrera to pop up, ending the inning.

The bullpen did its job. Jose Arredondo retired the only batter he faced. Scot Shields recorded his first hold of the season with a perfect eighth, and Brian Fuentes worked a perfect ninth for his first save as an Angel.

The offense pounded out nine hits, two each from Howie Kendrick, Vlad Guerrero, and Juan Rivera. One of Kendrick's hits left the yard, an opposite field blast to right center field over the big wall. For a guy who isn't supposed to hit for a lot of power, he hit the ball a long way. His other hit was an RBI single in the third inning. The newly patient offense looked a lot like the old 'not all that patient' offense, drawing only one walk. They did, however, work quite a few deep counts, and A's starter Dallas Braden was at nearly 100 pitches through six innings.

So far so good. Some opening day jitters, but the Angels won the way they're probably going to win this year. Good pitching, timely hitting, and a shut down bullpen. Now we get to see how the rebuilt rotation really works. Dustin Moseley takes the mound tomorrow against Trevor Cahill.

I Know It May Not Seem Like It...

...But it's opening day, and yes, I'm pretty excited. And yes, there will be Angels content here again shortly.

And Go Spartans!