Thursday, November 30, 2006

Can't wait for April!

It seems that being bored and poking around isn't such a bad thing sometimes.

Four short months from now, baseball will return and the highlights of Vladamir Guerrero will stream online just like this one.

Just imagine how many will see if Bill Stoneman and Arte Moreno get a power hitter to protect him in the lineup...

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Big Three, part 2

As a continuation of yesterday's post, "The Big Three part 1," I feel I owe a bit of explanation for making this a two-parter. You see, I tend to get a bit... wordy at times in this blog. On top of that, I also get a bit philosophical in my entries. So, when I set out to do this post, I had no plans of making it a "to be continued" post. I planned to sit down and say what was on my mind, then get on with life.

But alas, I started typing and discovered that I had a lot more to say than I thought I did. I also found that I was getting a bit tired, and as I hadn't written what I had intended to. With that, I could either wrap it up quickly and do a half-assed job, save it as a draft and finish it later, or just continue it later.

I don't particularly like starting off a post and then finishing it in a hurry, leaving much of what I intended to say badly miscommunicated or omitted. And as I haven't been writing much lately, what with there being little Angels news or items to comment on, I felt that something had to be posted yesterday.

Hence the two parts. My apologies.

With that said, I offer up a review of the three sites I use for the majority of my baseball news.

As you have no doubt by now noticed, the majority of links I post on this site come from, and there's good reason for that. Sports Illustrated has long been the preferred magazine for most sporting enthusiasts, with its rich history of beautiful photography, timely publication, and detailed articles, and its website is no different. While most of the news posted at is the same you'll fins anywhere, copied off the AP wire, it's the touches that make the magazine so great that keep me coming back to their website. Nearly every article from the print edition can be found online, and at no cost. Their "Truth & Rumors" section is updated often, drawing from newspapers across the country and keeping the baseball mind occupied in these cold November days. Their articles delve into the world behind the field for the teams, the sports, and the players. And best of all, there is very little you need to pay for. Some articles on require you be a subscriber to read, but these are very few and, for most sports fans, unnecessary for their enjoyment of the site. is the perfect site for your average sports fan. It doesn't choke you with statistics or assume a level of knowledge with the game or its players. It doesn't base its articles or layout on what demographic group it presumes you belong to. And, as stated before, it doesn't require you to subscribe to the magazine to enjoy it.

Sports Illustrated has something for every type of sports fan, but very clearly has a special place in its mission statement for the more esoteric fan. The photography is often chosen for the beauty of the moment captured, not the statistical importance. It's for the fan who goes to a baseball game and appreciates the poetry of the game. The one who allows every sense to indulge once they walk through the gate. The smell of the hotdogs, the way the sunlight glistens off the grass, the sound of a wood bat making contact in batting practice. SI is for everybody, but will be loved by those who look beyond the game.

Hence why all my links lead there.

The Sporting News. Of the Big 3, this one is the Nintendo to Sony & Microsoft, the AMC to GM & Ford. It's the last on the list of popularity, but first in the hearts of its fans. And while the layout of the site and the magazine are quite far removed from the experience at SI, The Sporting News is a site and magazine that should not be overlooked.

Unlike SI, The Sporting News doesn't rely so much on the human interest story. It doesn't have the team of writers publishing articles more akin to literature than journalism. It gives you the facts mixed with a little opinion, and allows you to make your own choices.

The first thing you notice about the web site for The Sporting News is how interactive it is. If you register, you set up your own personalized experience on the site. You have your own blog, your own fantasy sports site, your own personality. Every article on the site, from blog entries to the main news, allows for responses from the community, and allows the community to rate those responses and blog entries.

In other words, it allows full immersion in the web site. is your local sports bar of web sites, and the person comfortable in a sports bar will be right at home here. It's a place to go to debate everything that is sport, and to find compatriots in your fandom and belief. It's a place to be seen and heard. And while it offers little difference in the news posted on other sites, the ability to comment on that news makes this a place to go to gauge the overall feeling of what's happening in the sporting world.

Ah,, the bane of my existence. Everything about this page, magazine, and channel reeks of the "18-to-45 year old male" demographic. Flashy graphics, expectations that the reader's attention span is about three seconds long, and a heavy reliance on fantasy stats and articles really make this the place to go if Maxim magazine is your type of periodical and you can't get enough World Series of Poker.

But the problem lies in what the casual surfer can get out of Nothing. The same news articles pulled off the AP wire are there, free to view by all. But nothing else is. Any rumor, any article written by one of their staff writers, anything but the basic news you can find anywhere requires you be an "Insider," subscribed to their magazine, in order to view.

And as much as I'd love to read Peter Gammons or the occaisional juicy rumor they throw up there, there's no way I'm paying to do so.

I can understand having some extras up there to encourage subscribers and give those who pay a little more, but when they basically make it so you can't access anything on the site without dropping a credit card number, they expect too much.

I don't pay for internet porn. Why should I pay for baseball news?

With that, you have my humble opinions on the three major sports news web sites. As there is little out there in the world of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, I figured it might be worth explaining why you constantly get clickies from

Hopefully, you have no need to wonder any longer.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Big Three, part 1

When the history books are written on the closing years of the twentieth century, we who lived through it will be surprised to see the importance future historians give to the internet. For us, it's simply a tool that has made life easier, opened up new economies, and made it easier to communicate and find information. Future generations will see our primitive network of computers as the start of a new age in human history; the information age.

Already we're forgetting how much work it used to take to come by information. Ten years ago, if you wanted to know something, you had to hunt the information down. You'd have to go to a library or bookstore, open up the encyclopedia, or otherwise search for that you were curious about. Now, it's only a matter of typing it into a search engine.

This is not the major change in human society, though. This change came not from the ease of learning new things. It came from the expanded desire for information that comes from the ease of finding it. In the days of libraries and reference books, a person who suddenly becomes curious about something will often temper that curiosity based on the immediate need for the knowledge. For example, if I were reading an article in Sports Illustrated that mentioned Rogers Hornsby, I may be curious to know more about him. But, if I lack the required literature necessary to do an even rudimentary amount of research into the man, I'd have to go outside my home to get that information. If it's a burning desire to know about Hornsby, I'll go down to the library and search him out or head to the bookstore and buy a book. But if it's just a passing wonder, the amount of work required to get that knowledge will be too much and I will not pursue it.

The internet has changed that.

The need for information is instantly sated with a computer in my home and an internet connection. Without leaving my home, without working, I can fulfill any curiosity I may have about any subject.

Along with this comes a much faster news cycle. No longer do we need to rely on our morning paper or local news when something happens around the world. News is now immediate, hitting your web browser nearly as soon as it happens. And while this is not much of an improvement over the bug news stories like the Kennedy assassination or 9/11, which cause stations to break into their programming schedules with live news, this is significant for news items which are nowhere near as important and earth-shattering.

Like sports, for example.

Though sports news has been made more immediate and instantaneous by 24 hour sports stations like ESPN, the internet has made a sports junkie's life so much easier. Instantaneous updates of live scores and other sports news makes us less likely to rush out and grab the morning paper to see the scores and moves we may have missed the night before. Now, all it takes is a venture to one of my bookmarks, and no longer do I have to wait for the sports section or the next Sportscenter.

Without constant updates from the sports news world, a blog like this would not be possible.

To be continued...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Turkey Day!

Today is a holiday in which we feast with gatherings of family we can stand to be around only once a year. It is a tradition remembering those Pilgrims who crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a rickety wooden box to escape religious persecution and feasted with the Native Americans before stealing their land, infecting them with smallpox, or just killing them and who, it should be noted, were so uptight, stuffy, and sexually repressed that the British threw them out of the country.

In honor of this holiday, I offer up to the readers of this blog the biggest Turkey in Angels History:
Jackie Autry

Here's a test you can use to see if the person you're talking to is a real Angels fan, or simply a bandwagonner: Simply bring up the subject of the photo posted above. If they are a true Angels fan, their breathing will get short and rapid. Their pupils will dilate, their nostrils flair, and as the hairs on the back of their neck as their eyes narrow and they recount to you that in 2002, after the Angels had just won Game 7 of the World Series, and when Angels fans were happier than they ever expected to be, they hauled this succubus onto the field to give the World Series trophy to the Angels that seeing that just about ruined the whole night for them. While no self-respecting Angels fan wasn't a little heartbroken that Gene Autry didn't live to see that moment, we knew that if it weren't for Jackie's meddling with the team in the 1980's we may have had one long ago.

In Orange County, many people will tell you that they don't need to read Genesis 3:6 to get the idea that a woman brought evil into this world. They can make a pretty good point of it through Jackie Autry and Georgia Frontiere.

And any Angels fan who's been here for all the losing seasons as well as the recent winning years will tell you that, as FOX can't seem to broadcast a baseball game without showing all the celebrities in the audience (most of whom just happen to be at the game with great seats AND starring in the new TV series FOX is pushing), nor can they trust the game itself to provide enough drama, so they always try to find a human interest side. And in 2002, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver kept reminding us about "The Cowboy" and how much he loved his Angels.

And to do so, they showed his poor widow Jackie, wearing Gene's trademark white cowboy hat, sitting in the owner's luxury box at the Big A.

If she'd have sat with the fans, she'd have been lynched.

And now, as the "Honorary President of the American League," we have to see this shrew handing the American League Championship trophy to the winner of the ALCS every year. I loved seeing her mispronounce Jim Leyland's name this year after the Tigers won the pennant. And I'm sure it was due to the incredible amount of hate psychically directed to her from all the true Angels fans watching.

So today, I officially declare Jackie Autry as ths blog's "All-Time Biggest Turkey in Angels History."

And, in the spirit of this holiday, I offer up something I am grateful for:

I am very thankful that Jackie Autry is no longer affiliated with this team.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Sigh of Relief

Get ready for highlight reels like this with Gary Matthews Jr. in Center Field for the Angels this season!

I'm not sure why the first instinct any blogger has after not posting for a period of time is to open a post with "Sorry I haven't posted in a few days." I suppose it's just an easy way to start off the creative process and explain the absence of updates. But for a few blogs, though, most are read by just a few people, and the writer is generally the only one with an emotional investment with the blog. Any readers a small blog may have tend to expect that updates are sometimes sparse, and as they don't pay for the services of reading a blog, don't demand much in return.

So no apology from me.

It's time to get a bit excited! After a week of watching the big bats and star free agents sign with the Cubs and hopes of the Angels landing the star power of Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano evaporating in a mist of overspending and an inflated free agent market, the Angels got their first piece of the pie today by signing Gary Matthews Jr. today. The centerfielder, who had a great contract year (stats here) with the Texas Rangers this season, adds the defensive ability we need at center field, and a good bat at the top of the order.

Or, at least he does based on last season.

Pardon me if I don't order my #14 Matthews jersey from the Angels team store quite yet. Sure, he made headlines this year and drew the interest of numerous teams with his free agency this offseason, but thus far there hasn't been much from Matthews to suggest that he's the player we need. He's 32 years old. And he's had exactly one stand-out season, which just happened to be the season before he hit free agency.

And we've signed him for $50 million over five years.

It's not a bad signing. If he continues to play the way he has over the last two seasons, he'll be a valuable asset to the Angels. But throughout his career he's been a journeyman player who never truly broke into the league. And now he's finally hit his stride at 32, and we're hoping that he continues to play just as well.

Sure, we got him for much cheaper than Alfonso Soriano. But I get that feeling once again that I felt with the Autry and Disney Angels. We've passed up on the big star and picked up somebody just to show that we're making an attempt, to satiate the fans. Like in '97, when Mark McGwire wanted to be traded to the Angels and we passed, only to pick up Mo Vaughn in '99 to quell the complaining in the fan base because we knew we could have seen McGwire hit 70 home runs in '98 in Anaheim.

But, I must remind myself that the free agent market ain't over, and that there are trade possibilities as well. And we've now taken care of one of the most gaping holes in our lineup: Centerfield.

As it stands now, the Angels will have Garret Anderson in left, Matthews in center, and Vladamir Guerrero in right, with Juan Rivera at DH and rotating with Anderson and Guerrero. This doesn't offer a cure for the offensive woes the Angels have. Soriano and Aramis Ramirez were so attractive because they had the power hitting ability the Angels need. And Matthews, while a .300 hitter with some speed and great defense, is no power hitter.

This signing, though, does make the recent bid for Daisuke Matsuzaka and the rumored interest in signing Barry Zito make more sense. We go have a stacked starting rotation and a deep bullpen (in fact, three days ago the Angels signed right-handed middle reliever Justin Speier), and if Bartolo Colon comes back healthy this year, we'll have an excess of Major-League quality starters. Signing Barry Zito would make the staff better, but wouldn't be the answer we need, as it doesn't matter how great your pitching is if the offense isn't scoring.

But signing Matthews frees the Angels up in one big area: Chone Figgins. Matthews will be the leadoff hitter, an area where Figgins has faltered, batting .267 this year. Figgins will not have to play outfield in '07, and if the roster doesn't change, the Angels have a competent third baseman and good candidate to take Adam Kennedy's batting position at 9th in the order and still field a better team than they had last year.

But, if the Angels can sign Zito or another decent starter, or even trade for one, that frees up a lot fo room in trades. A lot of teams are interested in Ervin Santana, and to be able to package him in a trade with Chone Figgins, the ability to bring in a power-hitting infielder in a trade becomes very likely.

Anybody know of a guy currently playing 3rd base for a club and city that doesn't appreciate him?

Give me a while. I'll think of one.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The genius of my wife

Sometimes, my wife is an absolute genius.

Tonight, we're sitting here talking, and she says the following to me:

"An artist is halfway between insanity and greatness."

Gotta love her. That should be on bumper stickers.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

People will come, Ray

"Baseball is what we were. Football is what we have become."

-Mary McGrory

In about twelve hours from this post time, the biggest college football game of the year will start. Michigan vs. Ohio State, the #1 and #2 teams in the nation, will face off in a contest that is so hyped that stories have appeared in mainstream news about celebrities who are unable to acquire tickets. The hype all week has been akin to the Superbowl, and this is just a regular season game.

Were I writing a football blog, I'm sure I'd be in heaven now. I'd have probably started this in MS Word for easier editing. I'd go through several drafts to ensure not only the complete absence of spelling and grammatical errors, but also to make sure my prose has the correct tone and flow. When finally posted here, it would clock in at a few thousand words and would (in my mind, at least) be worthy of an essay contest, of something you'd see in Sports Illustrated.

But alas, this is a very narrowly focused baseball blog, concentrating on a mid-level club of my passion that is struggling to become one of the big boys in the Major Leagues.

Therefore, I have little to write about.

But right now, I am watching "Field of Dreams." And that's all the reason I need to write tonight.

This movie is a chick flick for guys, a tear-jerker that women just can't grasp in the same way we can. Sure, there are women out there who love this movie, women who are moved by it, women who even count it among their favorites. But while the movie can be enjoyed by all, the experience of it is very distinctly male.

And it could not have been made about any other sport.

This has nothing to do with the father-son angle, or the Iowa cornfield, or any other plot in the movie. It is solely due to the poetry, the lyricism, of baseball. Baseball transcends the boundry between life and art with a fluidity not found in any other sport or game on this planet. And it's hard to say exactly what it is that lends baseball to this predisposition.

I've seen every major pro sport played in this country live. In the 1990's, I went to more NHL games than I did MLB games. My dad and I used to have season tickets to the LA Rams, before they abandoned us for the move to St. Louis and we both quickly learned to hate them as God hates sin. I've been dragged to a couple Laker games at the Staples Center.

With that, I've played every sport. Little League baseball. Pick-up basketball with my friends in high school. Pre-season JV football, before some idiot lost control in the weight room and dropped a 45 lb. weight on my foot from shoulder height. And hockey. Boy, did I love to play hockey. I'm one of the few in Southern California who learned to skate on ice, rather than roller blades. I started playing ice hockey when I was 15 years old, right before it became popular, and continued on and off for nearly 15 years, until my Army injuries forced me to stop. I loved playing hockey.

More, even, than I loved playing baseball.

But of these sports, it is only the baseball diamond that I romanticize. When I went to see the Rams, I didn't dream of running out of that tunnel like Daniel E. "Rudy" Ruettiger. I didn't dream of hopping over the boards at the old Great Western Forum and skating on the ice in front of 16,005 seats, empty or filled, wearing my old CCM Tacks. And I certainly never dreamed of lacing up a pair of Air Jordans and shooting some free throws on the hardwood at the Staples Center.

But there's not a ballfield I've been to that I didn't want to touch the field.

I'm an adult now. I'm thirty-two years old, and even if I had been blessed with the size and talent necessary to play baseball in the Major Leagues, it's far too late to make that a reality. My dreams of pitching a no-hitter, or hitting that walk-off home run in the 7th game of the World Series are long gone.

But every time I enter a Major League park, I feel as though I'm entering a cathedral. I want to feel how spongy the grass is beneath my feet. I want to hear the grinding crunch of the infield dirt as I walk on it, and feel abrasive grit of it as I rub a handful into my palms. I want to step on the first base bag, toe the pitching rubber, run back toward the wall and feel as the grass turns into warning track beneath my feet.

I can't go to a baseball game without having to fight an urge to make a run for it, to see how much of that I can experience before the police tackle me to the ground and arrest me.

And that's just one reason why baseball has a deeper connection to my soul than any other sport.

Would anybody have cared if Ray Kinsella had plowed under his cornfield to build a gridiron? My guess is the audience would have thought he was as crazy (and stupid) as his brother-in-law (played by Timothy Busfield) did. Would it have been a great movie if he had put in an ice rink? Would Terrance Mann (or, in the novel, J.D. Salinger) have come to Iowa to see the basketball court the voices told him to build?

The baseball diamond is the only reason this movie worked. We bought into a magic baseball field spawning long-dead ballplayers from the rows of corn because we know that a baseball field has a magic to it all by itself.

This was demonstrated in "Field of Dreams" by Shoeless Joe Jackson, the Black Sox, and eventually, Ray's dad John Kinsella appearing.

It's demonstrated in our lives every time we walk up a tunnel in our nearest Major League stadium and see the sunlight glinting off the grass and hear the crack of a wood bat hitting a ball.

A few years back, I made a January trip to Baltimore to visit an old friend I served with in the Army. Having never been to Baltimore, I was anxious to see the city, visit Edgar Allen Poe's grave, eat some crab cakes.

But more than anything, I wanted to see Camden Yards. The grass was brown, we were the only people walking the brick street between the stadium and the B&O Warehouse where, in the summer on 1995, the numbers switched from "2130" to "2131" as Cal Ripken Jr. became baseball's ironman against (you guessed it) the Angels.

I was amazed at how narrow the alley was. I always envisioned it as a wide street that separated the stadium from the offices, but it's a rather narrow pathway. I loved the little brass plaques embedded in the ground for every home run hit out of the stadium on the right field side. I pressed up against the bars, trying to squeeze myself through like Robert Patrick in "Terminator 2" as I stared in at the empty ballpark. And though it had been more than three months since a game had been played there and would be a few more before the season began again, the faint echoes of the crowds, the muted cracks of Louisville Sluggers, the distant calls of hot dog vendors, they all rang distantly in my ears.

A few blocks away was Ravens Stadium, and I didn't care a bit.

"Ray, people will come Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won't mind if you look around, you'll say. It's only $20 per person. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they'll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come."

-Terrance Mann (James Earl Jones)
"Field of Dreams"

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Daily Reposting of an article

Yes, I know. For those three or four people who check this every day, or the one person who checks in three or four times a day, I'm not doing much but putting links to articles on here. But you gotta give me a break. It's a REALLY dry period for baseball news, and if you're trying to dedicate a blog solely to one medium-market team that's trying oh so hard to be a big-market team, the news at this time a year is thinner than cabbage soup in a refugee camp.

But, with that, our old friend John Heyman at is mentioning our Angels in his rumor column again. I got a bit excited, as the article talks about the Red Sox looking to trade Manny Ramirez, and I thought that would be a good topic for an article here (it would be). Instead, it was just another rehash of how Arte Moreno wants promised something big, and how the Angels are making a move for Soriano, and how much trouble we're going to have pulling that one off.

I'm going to be a lot happier when we finally make a deal for somebody. Whether we sign Soriano or trade for Ramirez, I'll feel a bit better with big bat we need.

And I'll have something to write about...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Matsuzaka Mania UPDATED!

OK, so it was officially announced that the Red Sox did indeed make the highest bid. And that bid was in the amount of $51.1 million.

Makes me wish I had stock in Japanese baseball teams...

Matsuzaka Mania!

Well, as is wellknown across baseball by now, the Boston Red Sox have won the Daisuke Matsuzaka derby with a reported bid of $45 million. That's right. Forty-five million dollars.

Just for the rights to negotiate a contract with him.

I've never seen Matsuzaka pitch, except on Sportscenter or other news programs shoing a few clips of him in the World Baseball Classic or striking out batters in the Japanese league. Therefore, I have no real reason to believe or doubt the hype surrounding him.

But something just doesn't sit right with me in this situation. It's going to cost the Red Sox upwards of $100 million to sign him.

Is it just me, or does that seem a lot of money for an unproven prospect?

Sure, he's no high school kid, no Brien Taylor (hopefully). He's had a few years of professional baseball.

But the Major Leagues are a lot different than those in Japan. The players are bigger, stronger, faster, better than those across the Pacific Ocean. The best in the world play on the thirty Major League teams. The level of competition is much higher.

And while he may be a very talented pitcher, it's an awful big gamble when you're putting up $75 million to $100 million for three seasons for a pitcher who has never thrown a ball with Bud Selig's signature on it.

Which is why I'm happy that the Boston Red Sox won the bidding, since we apparently made a run at him.

Do the Angels need an unproven $100 million pitcher? Nope. I'm hoping our bid wasn't to make a serious run at Matsuzaka. I'm hoping it was to drive the price up a bit, make him more expensive to the team that eventually lands him. Or for possible trade bait.

I guess I'm just hoping that we didn't enter the bidding because the Angels are trying to be like the Yankees.

It seems that we're on the path to simply throwing money at all our problems. And while signing free agents can be very beneficial to a ballclub, if Arte Moreno is just throwing money around to bring prestige and respect to the Angels, something is very wrong.

Especially as the strategy hasn't worked all that well recently for George Steinbrenner.

But then, maybe I'm underestimating the Red Sox. Perhaps they're not in this to get one up on the Yankees. Maybe they're a bit smarter than that.

The whole posting system for Japanese players seems a bit funny to me. The Red Sox put in a bid for around $45 million just for the rights to negotiate a contract with Matsuzaka. Once this bid is accepted, they have 30 days to negotiate a contract.

And if they can't come up with one? They get their money back.

So, suppose you're Theo Epstein, the Red Sox GM. Your biggest rival in the AL East is the Yankees, and you know they're desperate for pitching and have endless piles of money to throw at it. When Matsuzaka comes up, you know the Yankees will try to get him.

With that, what is there to lose in going after him? I'm sure Epstein is seeing the dollar signs in signing Matsuzaka. The advertising money brought in when the Mariners signed Ichiro Suziki turned into a gold mine. There are Japanese ads in Yankee Stadium for Hideki Matsui. Tour groups used to bring Japanese tourists to Dodger Stadium when Hideo Nomo came here in the mid 90's.

But also, he's keeping a potential Ace out of the Yankees lineup.

And with that, what does he have to lose? If he fails to sign Matsuzaka, he gets every penny of that $45 million back.

Hell, he could even sabotage the whole thing just to keep him out of a Yankee uniform for 2007. He could tell Scott Boras that he's not willing to give Matsuzaka more than the league minimum, in which case Matsuzaka will be pitching in Japan for another season.

Perhaps I've seen too many Oliver Stone movies.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

And we're off

Last night at midnight the deadline to file for free agency passed. And with that, let the bidding begin on what promises to be a hectic and expensive free agent market.

I was hoping to write this entry with a bit of excitement and a lot of hope, but it isn't going to start that way. But alas, Aramis Ramirez signed a five-year deal to remain with the Cubs. I really wasn't expecting this one. As late as yesterday it was reported that he'd turned down a 5-year deal with the Cubs, and that the Angels were prepared to make an offer as early as today.

Power at 3rd base is something we can desperately use, but power is the imperative word. And while what many think was the best fit for the Angels in the free agnet market is now gone, there are others out there.

Soon enough we'll see a big signing and/or big trade bringing a big name to tha Angels.

But not this morning.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Thank You, Bud Black

As is all over the internet by now, Bud Black has been hired as the San Diego Padres manager, replacing Bruce Bochy.

You have a good club in San Diego, and I'm glad we're not in the same league, as it would be quite bittersweet to root against you. I'm sure you'll be a success down there, and it'll be much easier to find an excuse to see a game at Petco this year.

Thank you, Bud. Thanks for taking a group of pitchers nobody had heard of and turning them into one of the greatest rotations in baseball. Thank you for making Francisco Rodriguez the best young closer I've ever seen. Thank you for making Bartolo Colon a Cy Young Award winner. Thank you for making John Lackey an ace. Thank you for everything.

But especially, thank you for your part in the 2002 World Series Championship. It couldn't have happened without you.

Thank you for making this such an amazing time to be an Angels fan.


Well, OK, it's a bit too late to remind people to get out and vote. Whichever way you lean politically, I hope you voted yesterday, and you gotta admit it's gonna get a bit interesting in Washington for the next two years.

Because we had a national election yesterday, I feel that this is the perfect opportunity to talk about voting. And, to show how good I am at the segue, I'm going to give my opinions on voting as it pertains to baseball.

There are more than a few types of voting in baseball, but I'm going to concentrate on two: All-Star and Hall of Fame.

Baseball is the American sport, and as such it makes sense that at least one aspect of it is democratic. I don't feel that the fans should have equal representation when team decisions need to be made. For example, I wouldn't want a community vote whenever a free agent needs to be signed, nor would I want a poll to come up on the Jumbotron asking fans to text their vote for who's going to replace the starting pitcher from the bullpen. But the All-Star game is a game for the fans, and the tradition of allowing fans to vote for the starters is a time-honored tradition.

There are many arguments against this, but the one I hear the most (because my dad makes it) is that it's a popularity contest rather than a true All-Star roster. It's true that we fans tend to elect the same people over and over again, even when we probably shouldn't. As aging stars move past their prime, it's hard for us fans to let go of their youthful exploits on the diamond, and we keep voting them to the team.

But that argument is flawed in that it assumes the All-Star Game is truly played by a roster that is all stars, as in the best players at their respective position. It is not. It is a roster of fan favorites, regardless of skill. Those who argue for skill above stardom would have you believe that an All-Star movie featuring only Academy Award winners would be automatically more satisfying than one starring actors and actresses never likely to be nominated, much less win one.

While the analogy may be a bit outdated, I'm sure that the majority of movie-goers would much rather see a film with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone than most anything you could get a bunch of Oscar winners to sign on for.

The point of the matter is that it takes more than stats to get elected to the All-Star team, as it should. Cal Ripken Jr. was a perennial All-Star not for his stats, but because of the intangibles surrounding his streak, his attitude, and the love fans had for him.

But this does not mean that the (hypothetical) rookie from the Devil Rays that nobody outside of St. Petersburg has ever heard of who is tearing up the league doesn't deserve a slot on that team and a chance to shine on a world-wide stage. This is why we have the reserves, which the fans DO NOT vote for.

The problem with that, though, is that as it stands now, the manager of the All-Star game picks them. Other than the eight starting fielders and, when held in American League parks, the Designated Hitter, the manager who led his team to the league championship, to the World Series, the year before. So, in Pac Bell Park next year, Tony LaRussa and Jim Leyland will manage All-Star teams of players (mostly) hand-picked by them.

While this is supposed to be like the Electoral College of baseball, a last-chance opportunity to correct the mistakes and ommissions the fans make in their voting, it is usually far from that. The most recent example was last year, when Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen filled the roster with many of his players, most of whom will never have a chance of attaining the popular vote of the fans.

This is a problem for me, as I don't want to see the All-Stars plus Ozzie's Stars. I want to see a true All-Star game. So how to fix this?

What, you think I have all the answers? Don't you think that, if I did, I'd already have an office next to Bud Selig's?

No, of course not. They never listen to people who, though they may make sense, don't own baseball teams.

And I'm done antagonizing the two or three readers I have, so at this point I say "Just kidding" and offer the suggestion I have.

OK, so you have the starting rosters of the All-Star game. It's perfect as it is. It lets the fans, we who pay the bills, have a say in the game. It gives us a sense of attachment to it, a reason to tune in. There's already the requirement that each team must be represented on its league's roster, which ensures that even though the Royals may have no All-Stars on their squad, they have one on the All-Star team.

With that said, is there a way to get better diversity to the All-Star teams, to ensure a better representation of players? Perhaps the players themselves could vote on the second eight, or the managers of every team in the league vote on them. Or limit the number of players from one team (other than those the fans vote for). I'm sure this is a subject that, if addressed, will be subject to countless hours of meetings between the owners and players of MLB. Perhaps it's better just to leave it the way it is, as it's just one game per year.

While I'm unsure about fixing something that may not even be broken, the Hall of Fame voting never ceases to piss me off. After being retired from the game for five years, a player becomes eligible for Cooperstown enshrinement, pending a vote by his peers. And by "peers" I mean "sportswriters."

How fair is that? Are sportswriters truly the best judges of players? These are a group of people who make their living critiquing the work of others. In Hollywood, the biggest award show of the year is the Academy Awards. The "Critic's Choice" awards or whatever the hell they are don't get a prime-time live broadcast, as nobody really cares what the critics think. We know they're out of touch with the average movie watcher, so the Oscars get the big show.

And who votes on the Oscars?

The same people who get nominated for them.

Perhaps that's how it should be in Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame. Rather than putting the entire fate of a player's potential Cooperstown enshrinement in the hands of the press, perhaps the people who actually played the game should get a say. Suppose there's a player who hates the press (I know, BIG stretch of the imagination) but is well respected by his peers and has the stats that would normally put a player over the top. If the press truly doesn't like him, he may not get enshrinement when he deserves it, if at all.

And it may be easier to pallate not having Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame if those living members and eligible players (more than 10 years in MLB, I believe) didn't want him there.

Sure, you have the Veteran's Committee, but that doesn't kick in until twenty years after a player retires. A lot of deserving people have gotten into the Hall of Fame because of the Veteran's Committee.

For a good example of this, ask your local sportswriter why Bert Blyleven isn't in the Hall of Fame. Keep in mind that the man played on crappy teams his whole career. 287 wins, 3,701 strikeouts. He's the only player with more than 3,000 K's not in the Hall of Fame. Well, except for those who are still active.

Names like Schilling. Clemens. Johnson.

You know, losers like that.

Something really needs to be done about the Hall of Fame voting. There is no reason why baseball players can't do the job as objectively as sportswriters.

All I know is that, were I a sportswriter with a Hall of Fame ballot, I'd either vote for them all or toss my ballot into the wastebasket. And that decision wouldn't be made on a year-by-year basis, either. I'd do that for every ballot I received.

The sportswriters get the Cy Young, the MVP, Rookie of the Year already, plus others.

Let the baseball players decide whom among them should be immortalized.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


When I finally made the decision that I was going to write this diary and started looking around at various other sports blogs and bloggers, I came across a page chronicling the journey of a few guys across the continent a few summers back when they had visited every Major League park (and many Minor Leagues, too) in North America.

Aside from letting me know that there are a lot of Simpsons fans in Albuquerque, I read something that just didn't sit right with me.

Of course, I had to go right to their comments on the Angels. As I read through their words and ratings, I was struck by a quote they made. In writing about the ingame entertainment at Angel Stadium, they say "[T]heir 'Calling All Angels' intro video gives you the feel that this team has a lot of tradition when in fact they do not" (Crappy video here).

My first reaction was to get indignant, and self-righteously think to myself Well, obviously they know nothing of the Angels. Then, I thought the better of it and sighed as I realized they were right, to an extent. We really are lacking an aura of history around this club.

But then I started thinking about it more, and I thought Well, how many teams really do have a lot of tradition? Sure, you think about historical baseball, and the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers spring right to mind. But then you have a team like the Phillies, who have been around for over 120 years and have exactly as many World Series Championships as we do. Of all the expansion teams from 1961 on, only the Mets, Blue Jays, and Marlins have more World Series Championships than we do, and each of them only beat us by one.

As I thought more, I began to wonder what makes a team have tradition and history, and the concept was really too intangible for me. As an Angels fan, I love my team's history. Our history of mediocrity. The blown ALCS in 1979, 1982, AND 1986. We gave Nolan Ryan a place to develop into the greatest pitcher of his generation. And, of course, the 2002 World Series, a championship that was like screwing a sex symbol: We'd always dreamed of it, but we never expected it.

With that said, every ballpark you walk into is filled with history. The players who have taken a field, the asses that have sat in the seats, the announcers and writers that have given the game a voice in the press box. And while a Yankees fan may scoff at an Angels fan using the words "Tradition" and "History" to describe our club, it doesn't take away what has happened on our field and with our team.

(Just ask any Yankees fan how well that "Tradition" or those 26 World Series Championships have helped them in the 2002, 2005, and 2006 ALDS...)

With that, onto the whole point of this post.

Any Angels fan has at least some idea of the history of the team. A new fan may not know much more than we won the World Series in 2002, while the memories of some obsessive fans can be quite scary with the facts and stats they can recall. But regardless of one's knowledge of the team and happenings on and off the field, there's always something more to learn.

A few pics of our beloved "Big A" under construction

The Angels (and Mets) were Major League Baseball's first expansion teams in 1961. After playing their first season in Wrigley Field in Los Angeles and four years in Dodger Stadium, they moved into their own brand-new home, Angels Stadium, in 1966.

So this coming season will be the 42nd the Angels have spent in Orange County. The stadium has since seen three versions (the original, the 1980 NFL retrofit, and the 1997 retrofit) and three names (Anaheim Stadium, Edison Field, Angel Stadium), and the Angels have had four names in that time (Los Angeles Angels, California Angels, Anaheim Angels, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim).

Forty-two seasons. Eighty-one games a year in the stadium (less in those annoying strike-shortened year).

That's a lot of history.

Mickey Mantle played in Anaheim Stadium. Think about that next time you're there. "The Mick" stood in the same batters boxes (he was a switch hitter, afterall) that the Angels stood in during the 2002 World Series. He patrolled the same Center Field that Chone Figgins did this season, and in the last few years of his career played at the same first base (well, the position, not the actual base) that is used today.

He hit four home runs at Anaheim Stadium, though back then there were no bleacher seats and apparently went into an executive or player parking lot. Three of them were hit in 1968, his final season, when he had only 18 total. While Mickey Mantle was not known for being a fan-friendly guy (especially after he retired and as evidenced by the signed baseball pictured above*) and probably would have been throwing back bottle after bottle of Budweiser in the clubhouse than playing at Anaheim Stadium, nonetheless part of the mythology and history of Yankees #7, "The Mick," happened at Anaheim Stadium.

*While I cannot personally vouch for the authenticity of this autograph, it was sold through, a company whose reputation hangs on the authenticity of the items it sells.

Box Scores of Mantle's Home Runs at Anaheim Stadium:

August 7, 1967
April 18, 1968
June 16, 1968
August 12, 1968

And while most of us remember Hank Aaron on the Milwaukee and then Atlanta Braves, he played the last two years of his career with the Milwaukee Brewers, where he DH. And, as it turns out, Hank Aaron not only made baseball history, but set the Major League Home Run record at Anaheim Stadium on June 16, 1976 with his 749th home run. Of course, he broke his own record a few games later when he hit #750, but for a while the all-time home run record was set against the Angels at Anaheim Stadium.

Hank Aaron hit 755 home runs in his career, the most of all time. And while Barry Bonds may break that record in 2007, while Aaron's record still holds, one of those home runs, a small part of that history, was hit at the stadium where we go to see our beloved Angels.

When it comes down to it, team tradition and history may be important, but are vastly overshadowed by the tradition and history of baseball itself.

Teams may fold, Major League Baseball itself may dissolve, but so long as there are children in this country and this world, so long as there are adults trying to recapture their youth, there will always be baseball.

For it is they that are the carriers and teachers of that history.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Stove Heats Up!

It's edging on winter here in Southern California. Last week we set our clocks back. At night, it's getting too cold to keep the window in the bedroom open. And the baseball free agent market is heating up.

This is starting out to be an interesting offseason, and part of what is making it so is Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Japanese pitching phenom and MVP of the World Baseball Classic last spring. He and his "gyroball" (a pitch thrown, supposedly, like a football) are expected to make a big splash in the Big Leagues, and it is rumored that it will take a bid of $20 - $30 MILLION just for the right to negotiate a contract with him. His initial contract may cost the team he signs with up to $100 million. That's an awful lot of money for a guy who has never thrown a pitch in the MLB.

And thankfully, the Angels have taken themselves out of the running for him. It's not that I have that North American prejudice about baseball players. In the last decade, all those preconceived ideas about Asian athletes have wasted away with not only the success Hideo Nomo, Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui and dozens of others have had in Major League Baseball, but the fact that you now see players with "Nguyen" on their jerseys in the NFL, and that Yao Ming is a star with the NBA's Houston Rockets.

It's not that I fear he won't be the star everybody thinks he'll be, either. Everything about the guy shows he's the best pitcher on the market this winter, even with Barry Zito, Roger Clemens, and Andy Pettite declaring free agency.

It's that we don't need another starter, particularly one that will cost us $100 million. And the problem is that, with the record-setting year and the money coming in from revenue sharing, this could really blow up out of proportion. This could very easily turn into not just another bidding war for a great prospect, but a "whose dick is bigger" contest between owners, whether they need him or not. And while it never hurts to have another starter, with a pitching-deep team like the Angels, it's a waste of money.

For this same reason, I'll be upset if we bid on Barry Zito. Sure, Zito had some great years with Oakland, but considering that we had fine pitching in all of 2006 even without ace Bartolo Colon, do we really need to spend that money on a free agent lefty who has shown noticeable decline the last three seasons?

The answer is no.

But we desperately need hitting.

And thankfully, there's a bunch of sluggers this offseason who have declared free agency or are appetizing trade bait.

We're mentioned twice in today's "Truth & Rumors" at The first mention is about a slugger we're NOT interested in (unless nothing else pans out and he's still available): Barry Bonds.

You know, now that I get into that, I feel it's something that is going to require its own post. So more on Barry later.

But for the second item in "Truth & Rumors," it's nice to see that Adam Kennedy is leaving on good terms. Howie Kendrick is a good young player and should fill in nicely for Kennedy at second base. It's a shame to see "AK" go, but at least it's on good terms.

God speed, AK. I hope you find success wherever you land (probably St. Louis. They love ex-Angels.)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

2002 Remembered, part 3

It was an odd feeling going into the World Series before Game 1. The Angels were underdogs in the Fall Classic, which wasn't a surprise considering nobody outside Orange County thought that Anaheim was a favorite to win.

For years, it had been the modus operendi of myself and most Angels fans to expect the worst. The Angels were almost expected to choke in any opportunity they were given to reach for greatness. The All-Star game was the benchmark, the milestone where, once the Angels reached it, would indicate a continuous downhill slide into the cellar. This was never more evident in 1995, where they led the American League West by 11 games in August, only to blow it and force a tiebreaker (which they lost) with Seattle. And any playoff berths they may achieve were doomed to failure, with Donnie Moore's blown save in the 1986 ALCS being the biggest example of that.

During the 2002 World Series, I heard much about "The Curse of the Cowboy," in other words, that it was Gene Autry that cursed this club. I don't ever remember having that feeling. I can remember going to games with my buddies in the late 80's and early 90's, where talk would inevitably turn to "how cool it would be for the Angels to win one before Gene Autry dies." We hated Jackie Autry because she married her way into control of the team, and as unconcerned about winning as opposed to making money. When Dante Bichette was traded for Dave Parker, we nearly gave up. But all this was mere talk; wishful thinking. We never expected the Angels to make it all the way, and were happy just to have a Major League team so close to us. The Red Sox had the Curse of the Babe, the Cubs the Curse of the Billy Goat. We just sucked. But we still loved our team.

So if any curse was on my mind in the World Series as Game 1 started, it was the one being put on it by Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. As an Angels fan, I'm used to bad announcing. Hell, we have Rex Hudler, possibly the worst color commentator since Reggie Jackson and his "BABOOMBA!" home run call made me turn off the TV volume and turn on the radio back in the early 90's when he called Angels games. But Buck and McCarver... This World Series is what made me start hating them both. From the pregame show, you could tell who they were pulling for, especially McCarver, and it wasn't the scrappy small-ball clubled by Mike Scoscia...

But announcers on FOX aren't expected to be clones of Vin Scully, and though Joe Buck shares DNA with the immortal Jack Buck, the apple fell pretty far from the tree, and any words out of his and McCarver's mouths were inconsequential as the game started and the World Series had finally come to Anaheim.

There are only a few moments from that series I remember as they happened. I don't recall much of watching Game 1, other than I watched it with my dad (who, for some unknown reason, was rooting for the Giants.) Looking at the box score now, I remember the home run by Bonds in his first World Series at bat, and the two by Troy Glaus. But it's only the trivial fact that I remember, that the Angels lost the first game of each series that year, not the game itself.

Game two I should remember, as the Angels won it 11-10, but details of the game escape me. I remember the shot of Tim Salmon reacting to Barry Bonds' home run, mouthing "That's the farthest ball I've ever seen hit."

Game three was won by the Angels, and I remember at that time thinking that we might actually be able to do it.

Game four was won by the Giants. No memories of that.

Game five I have two memories of. First, I'll never be able to forget J.T. Snow pulling Darren Baker, San Francisco manager Dusty Baker's three-year-old son, out of the way at home plate. Fox had spent much of the postseason showing the children in the Giants' dugout, showing what a "family club" the Giants were, trying to pull on America's heartstrings and get them to root for the Giants. I remember thinking that seeing so many children in the dugout was ridiculus, that a three-year-old bat boy was not cute, but dangerous. Then it was proven when J.T. Snow damn near killed Darren Baker.

The Giants went on to beat Anaheim 16-4 in Game 5, but I wasn't there to see it. Sometime in the 6th or 7th inning, I'd had enough. I could only stand to see my team getting beat so badly, then I'd had enough. I remember thinking that it was over, that our first trip to the World Series was doomed and that the Angels had once again crashed and burned, only this time dragging millions of people behind them with the promise of hope. I walked out of my dad's room, convinced that he was the bad luck, and spent the next two days expecting the inevitable defeat when the Halos got back home to Anaheim.

Game 6 is why I don't remember much about the prior five games in the 2002 World Series. I watched it in my room, on my television, with my bored-but-feigning-interest girlfriend (now my wife) beside me. I watched as Russ Ortiz pitched 6 1/3 amazing innings, shutting us down and leading the Giants to the inevitable San Francisco victory as they led 5-0. Then, with one out in the 7th, Ortiz gave up back-to-back singles, putting two men on base. Dusty Baker then came out of the dugout, and did something incredibly stupid: As he pulled Ortiz, he gave him the game ball. Right there, on the mound at Anaheim. In front of everybody.

I was apoplectic. At that moment, if I had any psychokinetic powers, Dusty Baker's head would have exploded right there on the field, seemingly without reason, in front of 45,000 shocked fans.

But I saw it. Which means that everybody in that dugout saw it too. And the Giants paid for it.

With two on, one out in the bottom of the 7th inning, Felix Rodriguez was brought in to pitch to Scott Spezio, who after fouling off a seemingly unending string of pitches in one of the most excruciatingly suspenseful at bats since Kirk Gibson in the 1988 World Series, parked one.

I cried.

I don't say that in an exaggerated manner to show the emotion I had while watching that at bat. I say that in a literal sense. I cried. Not teary-eyed, not a single tear of happiness. I broke down into sobs, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I broke down into sobs for a few minutes, because right then I knew. We were still down 5-3, but I knew at that moment that the Giants were not walking out of Anaheim with a World Series trophy.

The Rally Monkey showed its worth, as the rally continued into the 8th, where Troy Glaus doubled off ace closer Robb Nen to drive in two runs and lead the Angels to the greatest comeback from any team facing elimination in a World Series game.

They should have given us the trophy after Game 6, because there was no way we were losing Game 7. It was almost anti-climactic. San Francisco was demoralized after the Game 6 loss, and when Troy Percival took the mound in the 9th, I was counting the strikes until the third out. And with 2 outs in the top of the 9th, that fly ball into center field landed in Darin Erstad's glove, and I jumped up, raised my arms, and screamed.

The Angels, MY Angels, were World Champions.

The Yankee Captain

As much as I try or want to keep this blog and my entries related to the Angels and myself, sometimes circumstances prevent me from doing so, such as this postseason, where baseball was focused on the teams that actually made the playoffs, and this offseason, where baseball news is going to be sparse, and Angels news hard to come by.

Thankfully, though, this blog is first and foremost about me, so I can talk about whatever I want.

And today, that subject happens to be Derek Jeter.

I've only talked about Derek Jeter briefly on this blog. I've always thought he was a hell of a player with tremendous heart, and is the epitome of Yankees baseball.

But lately, my opinion on him has changed. And it's all in the wake of A-Rod's tumultuous year in 2006.

On today, Phil Taylor posted an article titled "Jeter's No MVP" that, for the first time I've seen in the media, brings up many of the points I've been making about Derek Jeter's responsibilities and cuplability in Alex Rodriguez's problems this year. He does a good job in pointing out how very un-captain-like Jeter has acted toward the troubled superstar since A-Rod arrived in New York in 2004.

But Phil Taylor doesn't go far enough, in my opinion.

Mr. Taylor neglected to mention one huge point in his article. He brings up the lack of public support Jeter has shown A-Rod in the midst of his bad times in the Bronx. Derek Jeter has not given one word to the press in support of the man who may be the greatest player to ever take the field. Mr. Taylor says that Derek Jeter "has never been too much of a talker," but he forgot that, when it has been necessary, Derek Jeter has been fiercely defensive of his teammates, as was evident by the unwavering public support he gave Jason Giambi in the midst of his involvement in the Balco steroids scandal.

If Derek Jeter can come to the defense of an acknowledged juicer, why can't he say a few words of support, or show anything more than a cold shoulder, to Alex Rodriguez, whose crimes are only a lack of confidence and a slump?

And I also feel he glossed over the transition A-Rod made from shortstop to third base when he became a Yankee. If you look at the five years prior to Rodriguez coming to the Yankees, A-Rod has a better fielding percentage at shortstop than Jeter does. With that in mind, if Derek Jeter wanted to show his stripes as the captain of the Yankees, he would have made the move to third or second, allowing the better player to field the position of shortstop. I know a lot of people will argue with me (if I had a lot of people reading this, that is!), but a captain is supposed to be selfless, and were Jeter altruistic in his leadership, he would have recognized that allowing A-Rod to play SS would have made the transition to the Yankees much easier, and he would have been much more comfortable. This alone could have made those jeers Rodriguez has faced in New York the last few years never have happened.

But ultimately, these points are moot, as Jeter has shown he is more of a brand-new 2nd Lieutenant with a god complex than a true captain.

In April 2001, Alex Rodriguez and his agent, Scott Boras, were interviewed in Esquire Magazine. In this article, Rodriguez said the following about Derek Jeter:

"Jeter's been blessed with great talent around him," Alex says. "He's never had to lead. He can just go and play and have fun. And he hits second—that's totally different than third and fourth in a lineup. You go into New York, you wanna stop Bernie and O'Neill. You never say, Don't let Derek beat you. He's never your concern."

After the article appeared, the friendship A-Rod and Jeter had ended. Apparently, Rodriguez flew to Michigan (or wherever Jeter lives in the off season) and made a tearful apology to Jeter, but was treated coldly. Jeter has apparently never let go of that, and holds a grudge still to this day.

For Derek Jeter to act like that shows what a spoiled child he truly is. Holding grudges over something as silly as, well, the truth (A-Rod was saying that Jeter lacked power) shows what a piss-poor captain Derek Jeter is.

It's too bad Bernie Williams is done in New York. His quiet confidence and leadership through action would be much better than the spoiled 4-year-old they have there now.

Of course, I must mention that I do disagree with Phil Taylor on the main part of his article. I feel that Jeter had an MVP-caliber year in 2006, and more than the others on his list deserves that trophy. He stepped up and produced every day, and were it not for him the pressure of all the injuries, the aging pitching, and the demanding public and New York press would have cracked the Yankees right down the middle. So, when the voting results are announced and Jeter is named the AL MVP, I won't be surprised a bit, and I won't say he didn't deserve it.

But if he had acted like the captain he's supposed to be, he may have been able to add a World Series MVP trophy to that.