Unless you’ve been living under a rock or just don’t follow sports, you’ve probably been hearing the buzz about the “Japanese Babe Ruth“, Shohei Ohtani, pitcher/designated hitter for the Los Angeles Angels. He had an awful spring training, looking like the pitching he was facing as well as the hitters he was facing while pitching were just going to be too much for him. Talk around the league was that maybe he needed to start the season in the minors to become better prepared for what was to come.
The Angels went ahead and left him on the big league roster and have so far reaped the rewards. After 13 games, Ohtani has a pitching record of 2-0 with an ERA of 2.08. He has 18 strikeouts in 13 innings of work. He also has 8 hits in 22 at bats so far, 3 of which are homeruns. He is doing things that haven’t been done in a long time!
On Tuesday I attended the Angels game in Arlington, TX versus the Texas Rangers and that’s when I realized that there was Ohtani Mania! I was sitting behind the Angels on deck circle as the team was taking batting practice and Ohtani was nowhere to be found. We knew he wasn’t in the lineup so this wasn’t a surprise. After about 20 minutes we noticed that a large amount of Japanese media had set up in front of the Angels dugout and all of a sudden, Ohtani was out taking batting practice!
As soon as he came out, from out of nowhere, a throng of Japanese fans were all around us! It was easy to see that the Angels have attracted a new fanbase because of Ohtani, and everyone there was watching him hit! I know it was only batting practice but I watched him hit a ball further than I’ve ever seen one hit in Arlington, whether in a game or in practice! The Japanese media were interviewing fans before the game and taking pictures galore! I’ve never seen anything like it! When we were leaving the game there was Japanese media outside of the stadium interviewing fans as well. It really shows how much they love Shohei Ohtani!
Ohtani is being talked about as a possible Cy Young candidate as well as a possible MVP! I think it is way to early to be throwing those kinds of things out but what he has done so far is very impressive and I can’t wait to see how the season goes! He also seems to really get along with his teammates and wants to win. With a 10-4 start for the Angels he surely feels that he made the right choice!
If you’ve made it through the first four volumes of this series, then kudos to you and welcome to Volume 5. I’ve finished up the original charter franchises of the American League and got into expansion as well! I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am! This is another volume that includes some really cool and odd name origins and changes as well. You’ll be surprised!
Again if you’ve missed anything, here are links to the previous articles:
On with the show!
The Detroit Tigers– The Tigers entered the American League in 1901 as the Detroit Tigers. They were originally in the Western League, also known there as the Tigers. The Tigers have been to the World Series ten times and won four in the following years: 1935, 1945, 1968, and 1984.
Little known fact- The Tigers are the only team from the Western League to play in their original location as well as under the same name.
Baltimore Orioles– The Orioles started out in 1901 as the Milwaukee Brewers! Why didn’t the Yankees just start here, or stay in Baltimore for that matter?! Anyways, after one year in Milwaukee, the Brewers moved to St. Louis where they became the Browns. The Browns stayed in St. Louis for 52 years until they moved to Baltimore in 1954. They took the name Orioles after the state bird of Maryland. The Orioles franchise has played in seven World Series’ (One while in St. Louis, 1944), walking away as winners three times. They won in 1966, 1970 and 1983.
Little known fact- There was a Baltimore Orioles team that played in Baltimore and called themselves the Orioles, actually there were two! One in each league! The NL team was contracted out of the league in 1899 and the AL team of course, moved to New York where they ended up being the Yankees.
Oakland Athletics– Better known as the A’s, the Athletics franchise started out in 1901 as the Philadelphia Athletics. They moved to Kansas City in 1955 where they spent thirteen futile seasons before moving to Oakland as the Athletics in 1968. In 1973 the Athletics were officially renamed the A’s before shifting back to the Athletics for the 1981 season. The A’s have played in the World Series fifteen different times in franchise history. They won the series in 1910-11, 1913, 1929-30, 1972-74 and 1989.
Little known fact- The A’s use an elephant as part of their logo, seems odd for Athletics right? John McGraw had told reporters that a new owner had a “white elephant on his hands”, when he did the team ended up running with it and within a few years the A’s were wearing an elephant logo on their sweaters!
Minnesota Twins– The Twins franchise is one of the original eight charter American League franchises, they entered the league as the Washington Senators or Nationals. They went by the Senators and used the Nationals as a nickname but in 1905-06 they actually went to just being called the Nationals. The media continued to call them the Senators for the most part and the name eventually faded. The Senators stayed in Washington until 1960 when Minnesota was given an expansion team, when this happened the owner of the Senators/Nationals asked to move his team to Minnesota and give Washington the expansion franchise. In 1961 the Minnesota Twins debuted in the American League. To this day the Twins franchise has played in six World Series and walked away with three World Series championships. They won the Series once in Washington in 1924 and twice in Minnesota during the 1987 and 1991 seasons.
Little known fact- The Senators franchise didn’t use the name Senators on their jerseys until 1959!
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim– In 1961, Major League baseball gave Los Angeles an expansion franchise and although the major league team started in 1961, the Angels name goes back to the end of the 19th century! The Angels name has been passed down through baseball history to be honest with you. When L.A. got the franchise they took the name Angels from the minor league team that had existed there since 1903 and they even had some players from that Pacific Coast League team join the MLB team in its inaugural season! The way the Angels got the name goes back into MLB history, Gene Autry purchased the rights to the name Angels from former Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley who had acquired the Angels from Phil Wrigley, the owner of the Cubs at the time! The name ultimately began in 1892 which gives them the distinction of being the longest running Los Angeles sports team in history! Also added to this is the fact that the name was ultimately passed down from Wrigley, O’Malley and on to Autry. Either way, the Angels started in 1961 in the major leagues as the Los Angeles Angels playing in Wrigley Field in Los Angeles. The following year they moved into Chavez Ravine where they shared the stadium with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
During the 1965 season the Angels changed their name from the Los Angeles Angels to the California Angels. In 1966 they moved to Anaheim and remained the California Angels until they again changed the name to the Anaheim Angels. In 2005 the Angels began to go by the name the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to acknowledge their history.
Little known fact- The St. Louis Browns were granted permission from the American League to move to Los Angeles for the 1942 season, a schedule was prepared as well but when Pearl Harbor was bombed the opportunity faded away.
Okay, so maybe I spent a little bit of extra space on the Angels, so sue me! They are my favorite team!
So seeing as we are one day into the 2013 MLB campaign, I figure it’s time for me to start getting my season predictions out there. As you look at predictions you tend to notice that there are a few theories that people use when making their predictions. I’m going to address what I believe to be the two most commonly used theories.
First you’ve got the homer theory… This is the theory that many fans subscribe to every year because that’s just what you’re supposed to do! “I don’t see anyone over the Angels”, if you “don’t go in with a positive attitude then what’s the point?” I was told earlier when I posted my A.L. West prediction. Now I totally understand this line of reasoning because that’s part of what a new season brings for every team, a clean slate and hope that this year is the year. Also, in this theory you just rate the teams you hate last just because well, you know, they suck and you hate them!
Second you’ve got the “I don’t wanna eat crow later” theory… This is the theory that, in my opinion, fewer fans subscribe to (unlike myself) because like the homer theory there isn’t the amount of hope involved or so it’s taken that way. It basically is a bit more realistic in a sense as well as being apprehensive at the same time. You don’t want to predict that your team does to well because if they don’t you’ll be hearing about it at the end of the year. Of course the homer theory gets to really revel in glory if they are correct though!
I have a lot of hope that this is the year that the Angels are going to go all the way! They’ve added another former MVP and all-star hitter to the lineup as well as get rid of some of the dead weight and they’ve bolstered up the shakiest part of the team, the bullpen. After watching game one and being thoroughly frustrated with the batting lineup, I walked away with a huge sense of satisfaction in watching the bullpen take care of business inning after inning and walking away with a W in the end! As frustrating as it seemed it was well worth it when Iannetta singled in those runs in the 13th inning!
So I’ve said all of that to say this, I’ve got two predictions for the A.L. West. I’m going to give my I don’t wanna eat crow theory first because I tend to be more cautious, but I’m also going to give a homer (what I’d wish for theory as well) theory because that’s just what I’d like to see happen for the team I root for!
DON’T WANNA EAT CROW THEORY PREDICTION FOR THE A.L. WEST:
HOMER THEORY PREDICTION FOR THE A.L. WEST:
If you have any comments feel free to tweet me comments, @stepxen or message me… I’m still working on my predictions for the league and other divisions and hope to have them available soon!
If you are a baseball fan maybe you’ve heard of the MLB Fancave, it’s a place where one lucky person is going to spend the entire baseball season and get to watch every single major league game this coming season. In the words of Napoleon Dynamite… LUCKY! They also get to meet players and celebrities and pretty much live the coolest possible life ever for an entire baseball season!
3… 2… 1… GO!
1. Tell me your basics… Name, age, where you live?
I’m Ricardo Marquez, 26, and I live in Covina, CA. Home of old people and where the TV show Roswell was filmed.
2. Why do you belong in the MLB Fancave?
I don’t know if I BELONG in the MLB Fan Cave. I’d say I was born for it. MLB Fan Cave is going to need someone to bring the jokes and bring some posi-vibes to the cave. I think I’m that man that can do all that.
3. Have you ever named a pet with a team reference involved? Example?
I named a bird I used to have “San Diego Chicken”. Really screwed up his personality. I felt bad when he tried to lay eggs.
4. What is your favorite non-sports movie?
Kazaam. Hands down. Proved to me that you could make the worst thing in life and people would still love you. Wait, that wasn’t a sports movie right?
5. Favorite sports movie?
Air Bud Seven Inning Fetch. Actually, Sandlot would be the best. I’d say something like Bull Durham or Eight Men Out but I think I’ve seen Sandlot about a million times. Same for Rookie of the Year.
6. Favorite band/musician?
I listen to way too much music to really narrow down my favorite band but Thrice is pretty high up there. Only band I can legitimately say I’ve seen since they first started. If I get in the Fan Cave I would love to invite them to come play.
7. What is the best album ever made?
Again, too many albums. At the current moment the new Bon Iver and Antlers have been playing constantly.
8. Do you have a favorite comedian?
Rodney Dangerfield. The guy’s delivery was so spot on it was ridiculous he didn’t get any respect in his house. “One time my girlfriend say to come on over cause no one was home. I showed up and she was right. NO ONE WAS HOME!” CLASSIC
9. What is your favorite baseball team?
10. Who is your favorite all time player from that team?
A lot of people think I’m joking around but Chili Davis was probably my all time favorite. Tim Salmon super close second. Chili Davis wasn’t exactly the greatest but he definitely wasn’t the worst. One of the first games I actually remember going to, Chili went like 4-4 against the Yankees. Unreal.
11. What made you become a fan of that team?
My mom did actually. Most of my family are pretty die-hard Dodger fans. My mom kind of steered me the right way. Also, my Little League was the Angels so that pretty much solidify my fandom.
12. If you were stranded on an island what three things would you want with you?
A boat, unlimited supply of gas, and baseball cap. I’M ON A BOAT MOTHA…
13. If you had three wishes (can’t ask for unlimited wishes) from a magical genie what would they be?
To live in the MLB Fan Cave, unlimited supply of pizza on command, and for the Angels to win the World Series at least once every 5 years. Baseball would suck if there was no competition.
14. What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done for someone else?
Like in love or just risked my life for? I work for a Mobile Video Game Co. so one time while working a party, I jumped in the middle of the street to grab a toddler who took off towards a car. That was pretty gnarly.
15. Name the baseball players you’ve met? If too many name top 5…
I’ve met a few but the coolest have to be Tony Gwynn, Stephen Strasburg, Torii Hunter, Jered Weaver, and Rickey Henderson. Although Fred Lynn was super cool. With Henderson, I had to talk in third person to try and get him to sign a card. It was ridiculously funny.
16. Have you ever bungee jumped or went sky diving?
Nope. Never want to. I can’t even get on some roller coasters at Disneyland.
17. What is your favorite vacation spot? Perfect vacation?
Visiting a ballpark would have to be that. Two summers ago, some friends and I have made it a goal to visit every park before we get married or unfortunately pass away so going to a new ballpark is a pretty religious experience. Fun fact, Oakland A’s have quite possibly the funniest fans to watch a game with.
18. What do you do for a living?
I work for Games2U. It is a Mobile Entertainment Co. for parties whether it be celebrities, private birthdays, camps, etc. Pretty rad job. I get paid to have fun. Although it’s only part-time, it pays my booze funds.
19. Do you cry when you watch movies?
Last movie I cried in was Field of Dreams last week.
20. Most people have a musical guilty pleasure… What’s yours?
Ha you’re probably going to find some weird stuff on my iPod. Janis Ian and Wham! are two that make my friends go “Uh what dude?”
21. If you had to change your name, and there were no limitations except a first, middle and last name, what would you change it to?
The Artist Formally Known As Rick
22. How do you feel about zombie movies?
They rule. Whether they are amazing or terrible, always fun to watch.
23. Which is your favorite Looney Tunes character and why?
Taz. My uncle actually had Taz tatted on his calf and reminded me of him when he would have Boxing Matches. Unfortunately he passed away in ’96 so Taz is a sentimental character.
24. Have you ever traveled outside of the continental U.S.? If so where?
Only place outside of U.S. is Mexico. My dad sides lives down there. And no, they are not part of the cartel.
25. If you make the Fancave, what are your plans for after the season ends?
I actually have no clue. Hopefully it brings up some writing gigs or the Angels offer me a job in their communications/social media department. I would love to work for the Angels Organization but realize so do hundreds of thousands of fans.
26. What do you think is the most unbreakable record in baseball?
Probably Barry Bonds home run record. Tainted or not, that record is untouchable and remarkably insane to get. Kudos to Bonds. Sorry about the ’02 loss bro! ha.
27. Tell me your feelings on Pete Rose… Does he belong in the Hall? Be specific.
Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame. A lot of baseball purists want to crucify the man but people have done a lot worse in life. Yes, stupid decision to bet on the game while you’re playing, but it’s technically the same as some players playing in Fantasy Baseball leagues.
28. What is your most prized baseball memorabilia?
Most recently a signed Torii Hunter ball I got a few weeks ago. Unless I get a Chili Davis bat or ball signed then that is gonna be high up there.
29. What do you prefer, pitchers duel or slugfest? Why?
Slugfests for the win. Mashing balls over the wall is probably the most exciting thing in the game! They even have fireworks for it. Unless you can get an M-80 going off after every strike out then Slugfests are the better of the two.
30. Have you ever milked a cow?
Yes and I was absolutely awesome at it.
31. Ever have a near death experience?
I’ve been in a few. Actually, every time the McRib comes around and I eat one I feel like I’m in a battle to fight for my life.
32. Which major league team do you most despise and why?
Probably the Yankees. I respect the team and can’t dismiss all they’ve done for the sport and the amazing talent they have/had but come on, you can’t just buy a championship. Rangers are slowly creeping up.
33. What’s the best baseball nickname ever?
Hammerin’ Hank or Sultan of Swat are probably the best.
34. Which of the Muppets do you most relate to? Why?
YES A MUPPET QUESTION!! I’d say Fozzie because we both have the cheesiest jokes and are terrible at our comedic craft. Although, Statler and Waldorf (two old guys) have quite possibly the best jokes out of the bunch.
35. What’s one question I haven’t asked that you wish I had asked?
How do I keep my six pack with all the food I eat.
36. How do you react to a flying cockroach? Or a huge spider? Ultimately, do you scream like a girl or are you totally manly when seeing a huge insect?
I scream in my head then get that thing out of where I’m at. Bugs scare me.
37. If you will, pick one best pitcher and one best hitter in major league baseball…
Oh man. Tough one. Ruth vs. Williams comes up to mind right away. I mean, Ruth had some solid numbers and he pitched for four years. So who’s to know how monstrous his numbers could have been if he had hit those four years instead. Ruth for batting and probably Roger Clemens in terms of pitching.
38. Rally squirrel or rally monkey?
Rally Monkey. And I hate that thing. He’s helping the Angels out!
39. Better signing, Tigers getting Fielder or Angels getting Pujols? Why?
40. Best baseball hairdo, 93 Phillies type mullet or Oscar Gamble/Coco Crisp afro?
41. Best baseball manager ever?
I could easily say Connie Mack, Casey Stengel, or Joe McCarthy, but for some weird reason I want to say Tony La Russa. Maybe it’s cause of that miraculous season he had with the Cardinals and the way he left on top but he holds that spot for me at the moment. Mike Scioscia needs to win one or two titles and I’ll give him that coveted spot.
42. Best era of baseball?
43. What is your favorite Sunday paper cartoon of all time?
Marmaduke. HES SO CRAZY!
44. Ever had a baseball make you cry from sadness? If so explain…
I did. I actually made a video about it and it’s up on YouTube.
45. What is the grossest food you’ve ever eaten?
Cow brains. That was gross. Don’t ever eat that.
46. What’s your favorite NFL team?
Dolphins. I thought this was a baseball interview! ha
47. Favorite NBA team?
Don’t follow NBA too much but I was a fan of the Clippers for a few years back before they got Paul. Terrible team but I liked them.
48. Have you ever been to a World Series game? If so when?
Nope. I would love to though and this MLB Fan Cave is giving one of us the opportunity to go to whoever won. Would be pretty amazing to get that far.
49. What is your biggest pet peeve?
People at stadiums who get mad when you cheer the team on. Get your face away from the iPhone and enjoy the game buddy!
50. Last question, name the one thing you’d bring to the fancave better than any of the other 49 remaining applicants out there now…
Probably some creativity. I have a ton of sketches I’d love to do or questions I want to ask some of the players that would visit. Positivity and fun times.
Give me your closing statements…
I like turtles. No seriously, thanks so much for letting me answer some of these questions and your support with all the MLB Fan Cave finalists. Lets get an Angels fan in the cave and into Yankee Territory. They always come to the Big A, it’s time one of us gets sent to their home! Follow me on Twitter @iBlogBetter and be sure to go vote on MLBFanCave.com. PARTY!
To vote for Ricardo for the MLB Fancave, go here… http://mlb.mlb.com/fancave/index.jsp?content=vote#fbid=AMTZoPdj1Q4
2011 was declared by Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon to be The Year of the Napoli…
We all remember it well, Juan Rivera and Mike Napoli to the Blue Jays for Vernon Wells… Then within a few days Napoli was wearing Ranger blue. We’ve all heard about how bad of a trade it turned out to be for the Angels with Wells having a very off-year and Napoli having his season of all seasons, and of course Napoli performed like a beast in the playoffs when it mattered. He was throwing out runners, hitting homer’s, he was doing it all. He was destined to be the World Series MVP had the Rangers pulled it out.
I always enjoyed Mike Napoli as an Angel, I paid little attention to his overall stats, but to the power that he displayed even with his limited playing time in Anaheim. Over the end of last season and into the playoffs Angels fans continued to see and hear how well he was doing (even against us) and had to wonder why on earth did we get rid of this beast?
Here’s why it didn’t seem so bad at the time…
Mike Napoli had his breakout year in 2011 with the Rangers, he did things that he had never done before. He became more disciplined at the plate with a higher rate of walks and less strikeouts too. He had more home runs, more doubles, more rbi’s, more hits, hit 82 points higher, walked 16 more times and struck out 52 less times in 84 less at bats.
When we traded him to the Blue Jays we traded a guy with a lifetime batting average of .251, in 2011 he batted .320! Sixty nine points higher than his average… Then you compare his post season stats, in three post seasons with the Angels he had a batting average of .226, in 2011 with Texas he batted .328! One hundred and two points higher!
As far as the myth that he wasn’t a sound catcher, just looking at a couple of things like caught stealing percentage (31% with Angels compared to almost 37% with the Rangers) and a fielding percentage no lower than .986 at any given time shows that he was a competent defensive catcher.
One last thing that I think played a part in all of this was a kind of revenge factor. There were many things said about the fact that Mike Napoli wasn’t a sound defensive catcher and had issues hitting with RISP, so I think Napoli left with a vengeance ready to prove that he was much more than that as a player. He brought it to the Angels in a way that hadn’t been seen since way back in 2010 (yikes!) against the likes of Vladimir Guerrero… And the rest as they say is history!
When you look at but a few of the miscellaneous stats comparing Mike Napoli now, to Napoli then, it doesn’t seem like such a no brainer to include him in that trade. And don’t forget folks, we still had Jeff Mathis! Just kidding, just kidding!
One thing that drives me crazy about sports is waiting… Waiting for the season to start, waiting for the game to start, waiting in line for the bathroom or concession stand at the game, waiting in line in your car to exit the stadium parking, waiting for free agents to decide where they want to play, waiting to see what is going to happen in your division before the season starts, waiting for the pitcher to quit waving off the sign! Way too much waiting going on in baseball!
So right now there are two things Angels and Rangers fans are waiting on: one is are the Rangers going to come to an agreement with Yu Darvish, two is if the Rangers do or don’t sign Yu Darvish are they going to sign Prince Fielder? That’s the $200 million question right now amongst fans of both teams.
Living in Texas I have some Rangers fans that I talk to and they just want this deal to be done. They realize that they need pitching more than hitting, they also realize that adding Prince Fielder can make up for a certain lack of pitching. There is nervous tension among real Rangers fans right now and there is also noticeable tension amongst Angels fans too.
Let’s take a quick look at what the Angels have done this off-season so far:
1. Traded Tyler Chatwood for Chris Ianetta (catching help)
2. Traded Jeff Mathis for Brad Mills (minor league guy)
3. Sign LaTroy Hawkins (bullpen depth)
4. Sign Albert Pujols (much-needed bat in the lineup)
5. Sign C.J. Wilson (shoring up the rotation)
6. Re-signed Jerome Williams (shoring up the rotation)
7. Extension for Howie Kendrick
In other words, the Angels have done a lot to improve their ballclub this off-season. Yet even with all that the Angels have done you’ve got fans freaking out because the Rangers might sign Fielder and/or Darvish…
Here is what I think, there is no reason to freak out whatsoever. The Angels kept up with the Rangers until late in the year and still had a shot at the playoffs up until a few games were left. We’ve added all of the above, one of those things that we added just happened to be the ace of the Rangers staff and while they’ve made some moves as well they haven’t made up for the loss of Wilson. If they add Darvish they are adding an unproven pitcher at least at the MLB level. If they add Fielder they are getting one of the best players in the game, a proven clutch hitter that would destroy the Ballpark in Arlington.
Let’s just say the Rangers add Fielder and Darvish, it’s like us adding Pujols and Wilson except for Darvish not being a proven MLB commodity just yet. They’ve kept pace with what we’ve done if they add Fielder, not to mention that they already had a pretty awesome lineup already.
I think we’ve done enough to make the playoffs this season, whether it be by winning the West or getting in on the Wild Card (or two) I think next year we won’t be left in the dust. So quit freaking out and get ready to enjoy the ride! Have some faith in your team and enjoy the ride because the West is going to be wild this year!
No concrete predictions here, just observations…
Imagine this, you show up for work at your job, you’ve got an important job and there is some pressure but it’s definitely not the be all end all important job in your department. The guy who handles the job with all the pressure has been making costly mistakes and people talk about them needing to move you into his position but you know your boss has a history of respecting people and their positions, he isn’t going to just disrespect your peer and promote you… It could happen but given your bosses history it’s a long shot.
So less than a week into a year when you think your role at work is defined your boss calls you into his office and says Jordan, Rodney isn’t working so you are going to take over his job effective immediately.You still have to sit in the same office with him all the while knowing that he can’t be happy that his failure has so quickly thrust you into his job, not only that but now you are performing a job that comes with much more pressure than what you were doing before… Add in the fact that you are a rookie at what you are doing?!
How do you think you’d respond?
Jordan Walden is going to be the Angels closer on opening day 2012, a big change from where he entered 2011. When Walden showed up at training camp in 2011 he was a set up guy. So he surely didn’t have the mentality of the closer.This year? Gotta imagine he’s in a different place with a new attitude. He has a full season of closing under his belt now. He will be reporting for work on day one knowing what his role with the team is. He will know that his boss trusts and believes in him. He will also know that he has to be on top of his game.
The expectations for the Angels are going to be high this year. With all the off-season acquisitions there will be a target on their back. Teams will be gunning to make them look like fools. Teams will want to show the Angels that you can’t buy a title. All the Angels have to do is show up and play their game. They have a great infield, a great outfield, an outstanding pitching staff and a bullpen that is going to have to answer the call…
Will Waldo the man of the year? Is he going to come in with that killer instinct?
I think he will.