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My baseball season is over!

Following a professional sports team has its ups and downs. I’ve been a fan of Angel’s baseball for as long as I can remember. For the most part, it hasn’t been rewarding because we rarely put a competitive team on the field. We had an average age of one playoff appearance per decade until recently, when we’ve always been looking for gold. The Angels’ crowning glory was in 2002 when Tim Salmon and the rest of the Halo lifted the trophy and trotted around the Big A when we beat the San Francisco Giants in Game 7.

2008 had high hopes for Gene Autrey’s team. Yah, I know he died and no longer owns them, but you know he still watches at the Jumbotron in the sky. On a side note, Artie Moreno has been a great owner and has helped market the Angels much better to any of the previous owners, including the Disney machine. Anyway let’s go back to baseball. We ended 2007 with solid pitching, good shots, and one of the best bullpens in the majors. But those pesky Red Sox beat us again and Artie knew we were missing some pieces. With his wallet open, we signed Torii Hunter and in a surprise move we swapped Orlando Cabrera for Jon Garland. In hindsight I think this was a bad trade even though Garland ended up winning 14 games, he had a striking 4.90 era. For those of you who don’t follow baseball, 4.90 is terrible. The public will never know the real reason behind the trade, however, I have a feeling that Orlando was not loved by the Angels organization and they wanted to get rid of his attitude.

Top 5 Angel Highlights of 2008

  • Signing Torri Hunter
  • See Saunders and Santana mature as pitchers
  • Calling José Arredondo
  • Change of Casey Kotchman for Mark Teixeira
  • Have the best record in baseball
  • K Rod save log

Top 5 Angel Lowlights of 2008

  • Justin Speier’s fall from great to just bad
  • Gary Matthews Jr couldn’t justify his $ 50,000,000 contract
  • Hear K Rod complain about his contract
  • Injuries to Izturus and Kendricks near the end of the year
  • Losing to the Red Sox again!

Los Angeles was solid all year. We had the best or almost the best record during the whole year and we did not enter big pickets. We also had our share of injuries, but most teams have the same issues and must rely on the bench and minor league players. The Angels have an excellent scouting department and we have some almost ready for primetime players on our double and triple A teams. Most notably, José Arredondo, soon to be a closer, Brandon Wood, soon to be our shortstop o third baseman every day, and Kendry Morales. We also mentioned Sean Rodriguez, Ryan Budde and a couple of pitchers who supplied very well when asked. The best move the team made all year was trading Casey Kotchman to the Atlanta Braves for the amazing Mark Teixeira. Tex brought gold glove fielding along with a solid bat to the center of the lineup. It lived up to his expectations and filled a void around Big Daddy Vladdy.

But having the best record in baseball means nothing if you don’t win the playoffs. Although Tampa Bay was tough all year, I would have preferred to see the Angels play the Rays rather than the Red Sox. We beat Boston for the year with an 8-1 record, but they have our number during the playoffs. So why did the Angels fall to the Red Sox again this year? In my opinion, our defense was the main culprit. There were some plays that, had they been made, could have turned the tide, instead they dropped balls and the failure to convert a crucial double play got us in. Also to blame was the inability of the bottom of the order to get the men on base and a very suspicious suicide squeeze attempt in game 6 that cost us a chance to propel the race forward. I’m not really sure how a major league player can miss a bunt, but Erick Aybar did it and the Red Sox nailed Reggie Willits in a run down that gave the Red Sox hope. Angles manager Mike Scioscia bet and lost on that decision. I’m sure the talk radio lines blew up blaming Mike for losing the game. However, I blamed the batter who should have done whatever it took to hit that ball.

I’m not glad we didn’t go further, but I wasn’t devastated. I think the teams’ victory in the 2002 World Series will hold me back for a decade or so. I was in Game 7 against the Giants and believe me, having almost 50,000 people as fanatical as me cheering for the same team was a once in a lifetime experience. And at least I’m not a fan of the Cubs!

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