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!
Welcome to the final installment of MLB team name origins! I am a huge baseball fan and these names, what and where they went through to get where they are is in my opinion a really interesting subject! The more that I read about these teams and some of the names that they have had, the more that I can’t believe some of them! Well, it’s time for the finale, Vol 6. Hope you enjoy it!
If you’ve just stumbled upon this, here are the other five articles:
We ended Vol 5. with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim as the first expansion team in the American League so we’ll start with the other team that entered the league in 1961:
Texas Rangers– After the Washington Senators moved to Minnesota where an expansion team had been granted, the second version of the Washington Senators was born… The team spent eleven years in Washington D.C. before again leaving the area. When this second incarnation of the Senators moved to Texas and the Rangers were born for the 1972 season the fans of Washington for a second time in twelve years were livid! The Rangers have played in two World Series, winning none.
Little known fact- The first three managers of the Rangers (after their move to Texas) are all in the Hall of fame. These three managers are Ted Williams, Whitey Herzog and Billy Martin!
Kansas City Royals-In 1969 the Kansas City Royals entered the league as the third expansion franchise in the American League after the Kansas City A’s, who came from Philadelphia, bolted for Oakland for the 1968 season. The Royals have been to two World Series, winning it all in 1985.
Little known fact- George Brett, the Royals most well-known player, is the only player in major league baseball history to win a batting title in three different decades. He won the batting title in 1976, 1980 and 1990.
Seattle Mariners-The Mariners came about as a result of a lawsuit. When the Pilots were purchased and moved to Milwaukee, the state of Washington, the city of Seattle and King county filed suit against MLB for breach of contract and prepared for the team they knew was coming. In 1977 the Mariners opened up their rookie season in Seattle.
Little known fact- The Mariners are the only American League team without an appearance in a World Series.
Toronto Blue Jays– The Blue Jays entered the league in 1977 as the first Canadian team in the American League. They are named after the bird of the same name and are nicknamed the Jays. They have been to two World Series’, winning back to back in 1992 and 1993.
Little known fact- The Blue Jays are the fastest American League expansion team to win a World Series.
Tampa Bay Rays– In 1998 Tampa Bay got a baseball franchise, the Devil Rays. They kept the name Devil Rays until 2008 when they shortened the name to the Rays. The owner of the team described the team name as “a beacon that radiates throughout Tampa Bay and the entire state of Florida”. Pretty neat if you ask me… The Rays have played in one World Series, in 2008.
Little known fact- The San Francisco Giants were a last-minute decision from being sold and moved to Tampa in 1992.
In my opinion, the older teams have a much more interesting name history but either way, another one will be coming at some point…
Who do you think will have the next team name change?
Who do you think will be the next current team to relocate?
Which will be the next city to get an expansion team and do we really need one?!
As you’ve read through this list, and for me as I’ve put it together, you’ve probably thought some names were crazier than others as have I. I am going to make a top ten list of the weirdest baseball names that have been out there for MLB teams so be thinking of yours and make a list and see how if you match up with mine!
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!
It’s funny how much of a difference a few months can make for a guy’s likability. I live in Texas and although I’m no Texas Rangers fan, I can admit when a player is good and heck, I can even say nice things about them too. I can respect a person’s core values as well whether or not I care one bit about the team they play for as well.
I found it very interesting when I was stunned with the news that Josh Hamilton had signed a deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. My first thought was to think about some comments I had heard from some fellow Angels fans and what I imagined the next things I’d hear from both sides and it led me to this conclusion, most sports fans are very predictable and regardless of the circumstances that a player leaves under, the new opposing fans won’t be very nice about it.
This time one year ago, all the way through about midway through the season, here in Texas Josh Hamilton was golden (well for the most part). He was on a historic tear through the American League and was virtually uncontainable. Then a curious thing happened, Josh quit caring. Well maybe that wasn’t it, he just lost interest, got bored, went into a horrible slump… Whatever you call it the love affair that was Josh –n- Texas started to lose its appeal, and fast. With the missed catch at the end, the lazy chase after the ball and the random booing which ended being a lot more than random we all kind of saw the writing on the wall for Josh, we just didn’t expect the next stop to be Anaheim!
Before last season started for Josh he had a relapse with his demons and while some people felt for the guy and appreciated his owning up to it others took the opportunity (as lots of people do) to kick him while he was down. I remember seeing people just dogging Josh, I mean really dogging him, and I mean dogging him in a way that almost made me embarrassed that we were breathing the same air. Talking about his relapse with alcohol and just poking fun at the guy and saying things that really shouldn’t be said about other people (regardless of which team they play for). And being an Angels fan trying to defend him? Forget about that… I got cussed out trying to stop that, what a shame, what an embarrassment. Some people have no couth and that’s unfortunately just how it goes sometimes.
So anyways, Josh Hamilton signs with the Angels in December and here’s where the story gets funny… I mentioned that sports fans are predictable, right? Yeah so Josh signed with the Angels and the same people who were saying the things that people should never say about other people, these people wouldn’t let you speak ill of the man now! He’s an Angel now! Leave him alone! I hope he doesn’t have any more relapses. I hope he’s conquered his demons. The EXACT OPPOSITE of the things said by the same people! HYPOCRITES!
Oh yeah, on the other side of the coin, I mentioned that sports fans are predictable, right? Well anyways, now the same fans that were defending Mr. Hamilton and hoping for his well-being sounded like the same people that a few months before had practically prayed for his demise! All because he “quit on the team”, was “a traitor” or whatever other lame excuse they could find. Of course, in the midst of all of this Josh decided to talk about how he felt that the DFW area was more of a football town (when the Cowboys were winning it sure was) and how real fans wouldn’t boo, etc… Now I am sure that Josh understands the predictability of sports fans and knows what will happen when he arrives (when we will see the silent treatment vs. the boo the heck out of the guy square away)
All in all, sometimes I’m embarrassed that a person will allow which sports team a person plays for to define the humanity and caring that we should feel for fellow people in general. The curious case of Josh Hamilton is this, a year ago Angels fans despised him while Rangers fans adored him, and now the opposite is mostly true. It’s funny how things can change so quickly in a few months! We’ll get to see the full aftermath in Texas this Friday when Josh returns as an opposing player, the villain… The predictability of sports fans will rear its ugly head again.
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!
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…