Friday, October 30, 2009

No Bang, Some Whimper

Right around 9:02 local time Sunday night, my productivity, social life and relationship all experienced sudden spikes in their immediate and long term prospects. Yes, the Angel season came to an end with the feeble strikeout of a bench player (an overpaid one at that), a rally in the top of the eighth having been negated by two inexcusable errors in the bottom of same. As disappointing as it was, in some ways it was a relief; even though they pushed it to Game 6, the Angels never seemed right in this series, and it went beyond just getting beat by a better team. Many of the players looked nervous at bat and in the field, and manager Mike Scioscia, as much as I love the guy, consistently over-managed by putting in the wrong pitcher or hitter at strange times. The Yankees may have won anyway, but it would have been nice to see the Angels play to their capabilities. 

Oh well. Only one team's fans are truly happy by the end of the season, and while I'm not among them this year, it was a good ride. The Angels had to deal with the sudden death of young pitcher Nick Adenhart in the season's first week, and it became a rallying point rather than a crushing blow. Obviously nothing can make up for what happened to him, but carrying Adenhart's memory and jersey with them all year was a nice tribute.

The offseason will begin immediately after a World Series I can't make myself care about much, and the Angels have some important players to re-sign or let go, and repeating success at a level even close to this year isn't guaranteed. Something tells me they'll be right there again, though, and with a little more luck maybe at this time next year I'll be writing about a championship. In the meantime, I've chosen to vent some of my frustrations of the last series in song form. Specifically, to the tune of Billy Joel's "Don't Ask Me Why."

Playoff games make Scioscia feel the heat,
He goes with matchups way too much,
Removes best players for some lesser-skilled,
But they don't come through in the clutch.

Pinch-hit for Mathis,
Maicer Izturis,
Mike, tell me why!

Monday, October 26, 2009

After Months of Waiting, Something Came

Following up on a previous post, the supergroup made up of Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones, Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl, and stoner rock guitar virtuoso/Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, Them Crooked Vultures, have finally announced a release date for their debut. And now they put the first whole song out there for our rabid consumption! My kneejerk review: better than sleeping with a Ninja Turtle. Check it out below, and then wait patiently for three more weeks until the record arrives on November 17.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

He Should Have Had His V8

Just because it makes me laugh:

Just When I Think I'm Out...

I just wrote about baseball on Friday, but with the playoffs going on it's taking up pretty much all of my attention, so as long as the Angels are still in it, expect to read about it here. Before I was focusing on the thrill of a big win in a playoff game, and just generally feeling very confident. Well, then the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees started, and the Angels promptly took a dump on my hopes and dreams. Playing in the cold and wet of October on the East Coast, they looked terrible in Game 1 on Friday, losing 4-1, and only marginally better the next night. But what really made Game 2 tough was the excruciating way in which they lost. After battling back from a 2-0 deficit and forcing extra innings, the Angels finally took a 3-2 lead in the 11th, needing to get only three more outs to come back here to Orange County--wait, so they don't play in LA, you say? Shut up, I respond--tied at one game apiece. Instead, the first batter in the bottom of the inning hit a homerun to tie the game, and the Yankees went on to win in thirteen innings, and I immediately went out and clubbed some baby seals to cope.

Needless to say, I was a bit disheartened heading into yesterday's Game 3, knowing that a loss would essentially end the season (it's a best-of-seven series, but almost no one comes back from 3-0), when they were so close to tying the series. And this game didn't start well either, with the Yankees getting on base, hitting solo homeruns seemingly at will, and the Angels failing to get anything going against the Yankees starter, Andy Pettitte. But then something funny started happening: the Angels started hitting. After Howie Kendrick hit a solo homerun to cut the lead to 3-1 in the 5th, diminished power threat Vladimir Guerrero came up with a runner on and two outs in the 6th, representing the tying run. And wouldn't you know it, he hit it out! Suddenly the Angels had new life, and I started believing again. The next inning Kendrick hit a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly, giving the Angels a 4-3 lead. They just might win this thing! Of course, the Yankees promptly tied it with their fourth solo shot of the day, and next thing I knew we were headed for another extra inning game.

In the bottom of the 10th, backup catcher Jeff Mathis came to the plate, and I sighed exasperatedly. He's a great defensive catcher, but can't hit worth a damn, and I figured he was an automatic out. In fact, on Saturday night I spent a fair amount of time arguing about how bad he is with someone at my friend's house where I was watching the game. She defended him vigorously, but I stuck to my guns. Could there be any doubt, then, that he would hit a double to lead off the 10th yesterday? The Angels ultimately wasted a bases loaded opportunity to win the game, and I immediately went into sulk mode, assuming the Yankees would score, go on to win, and the Angels would be swept out of the series after two consecutive heartbreakers. But somehow the Yankees came and went in the 11th, and with two out in the bottom of the inning, Kendrick (easily the Angels' most important player in this game) came up and hit a single. Mathis strolled to the plate, and I found myself in the strange position of believing in him after all the team's best hitters had been failing. Seconds later he hit almost the same exact pitch to the same exact spot out in left field, Kendrick raced around from first base to score the winning run, then leapt into the air in celebration just as Mathis was rounding second. The Angels poured out of the dugout, I jumped up and down in front of the TV, my dachshund did his dachshund sitting up trick in reaction to my jubilation, and there was much rejoicing.

And now I'm hanging on every pitch again, knowing that the Angels have a chance to win this thing. The odds are stacked greatly against them, needing to win three of the next four, but they're much better off than if they had lost yesterday. And if this season offers me no more good days, I will at least have the crazy batshit happiness of that image of Kendrick in the air with Mathis in the background. Caring so much about this may be irrational, but some things don't have to make sense.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Pains of Being Red at Heart

Oh, baseball, you cruel and wonderful sport. People who don't like the game often cite "boring" at the top of the list of offenses, and I can at least understand that reaction, but how anyone could find playoff baseball boring is beyond me. The elements of the game that can seem to take too long now have an amplified importance; every pitch, swing and catch can be game and season changing in a way the regular season just can't match. And let's be honest: regular season accolades and accomplishments are great, but eventually you want your favorite team to win a championship. 

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pearl Jam at Gibson Amphitheatre, 10/6/09

I already reviewed Pearl Jam in my Outside Lands post below, but I saw them again on Tuesday night, and something special happened that I just have to write about. I've mentioned before that I came of musical age in the early 90s, and not surprisingly Pearl Jam was a big deal, but at that same time I was obsessed with a video by another band, Temple of the Dog