Friday, February 27, 2015

By Ellen Bell, Staff Reporter - 

Homecoming usually happens in the fall, but for me

It's all about the spring.

That's when we get to return to the field, rediscover our team, and reconnect with our passion for baseball.

Spring Training is more than just a month of practice games that don't count.

It's the beginning of our favorite season, when we get to dream big dreams and hope for the best. Last season's disappointments take a back seat to this summer's possibilities. 

At Spring Training..we all get to think that this could be our year.

Every March, Angels fans flood into Arizona seeking their own kind; the other baseball lovers who can't even wait one more month to watch nine innings. In many ways, Spring Training is more than just a sporting event.

It's a family reunion.

That's how I feel every time I attend AngelsWin Fan Fest. I get to see my fan friends, the faces behind the screen names. For many of us, it's the only chance we'll get to hang out, commiserate about where we fell short last year, and talk about the games yet to be played. Think of it as an Angels Support Group: and we all share the same sickness; die hard love for our team.

This year, Fan Fest begins with a Friday Night dinner shared with invited players and sports writers. Front office big wigs stop by and a few minor leaguers are always on hand, happy to meet the fans. I'm sure other past attendees will agree with me when I say that it was doubly sweet seeing Kole Calhoun and Matt Shoemaker's big league successes after meeting them when they were just trying to make the team. 

In fact, I have many happy FanFest memories; meeting Jerry Dipoto,  Tim Salmon and Arte Moreno,  watching Victor Rojas buy the whole line at the bar a drink, and sharing my love of Angels baseball with my 88 year-old Dad. 

But I have to admit my favorite part of the Fan Fest weekend is the Sunday morning, "State of the Team" talk with Tim Mead, VP of Communications. Every year, we congregate at Tempe Diablo Stadium and sit in the sunshine-filled stands, hearing about the organization that we love from an insider's perspective. All while watching the Angels take batting practice on the field in front of us. 

It never fails. I leave Tempe pumped up and primed for another season of Angels baseball.

Why don't you join in on the fun this year? I'll see you there!

To purchase Fanfest '15 tickets today, click here

Friday, February 13, 2015

Rob Goldman, Historical Writer - 

The first time I heard about steroids was years ago, when I was in high school. It was during football season, so I was spending a lot of time inside the weight room. But it was my Baseball coach who pulled me off to the side for a talk. From out of the blue, he turned his discussion to the harmful effects of steroids. He implored me to exercise caution and good judgment if I was exposed to them. Caught a little off guard by his suspicious tone, I couldn’t help but be a little defensive. Does he assume I’m on steroids because I play Football and spend a lot of time lifting weights? My long hours in the weight room had cast a shadow of suspicion on me. I barely knew anything about steroids and certainly hadn’t come into contact with them. I had just turned 16 that summer, and going into my junior year I came back to school almost six inches taller and about 25 pounds heavier. Puberty kicking in, combined with my weight-training work, caused a change in my appearance that was dramatic. Looking back, I realize that my coach had a difficult task in trying to protect me and others from the negative influences out there. I am grateful for his concern and for taking time to explain the harmful affects of steroids to me.

Whenever I speak at an event, the topic of steroids is invariably the most popular subject matter. Performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) like steroids and human growth hormone (HGH) came on to the scene during the peak years of my career. I suppose any book written by a player from my generation is faced with addressing the issue. It’s tough to have played in an era that has so much suspicion and speculation surrounding it. I would like to think that the majority of players were clean, but clearly some aspects of the game changed. Sure, there might have been some whispers along the way, but I guess that most of us were in denial that it was as big of a problem as it turned out to be.

Looking back, I suppose there were tell-tale signs along the way—home-run records being broken, middle relievers unexpectedly throwing the ball three-mph harder, or average utility players suddenly hitting more home runs than they ever had before. At the time, though, we looked at these spikes in performance and rationalized, “That’s just a juiced ball.” Now, of course, we know it wasn’t the ball that was juiced. It was tough to understand to what extent the game was being influenced by PEDs. Was it just the big power hitters? How could it possibly help a pitcher? Of course, new revelations have slowly emerged, revealing that it wasn’t just hitters but pitchers, too. And young guys, old guys, MVPs, and bench players. PEDs weren’t just limited to a few players or even a particular segment of players. Everyone who used them saw a benefit in their performance. It raised the level of play on the field, making it more and more difficult for those who chose not to use them.

Today, I have a better understanding of why the threshold for determining power hitters changed during the middle of my career. When I first came up to the big leagues, if a player hit 30 homers and drove in 100 runs he was labeled a power hitter and ended up one of the top 10 hitters in the league. I fell into that category my rookie year, and continued to perform at that level during the bulk of my healthy playing days. I always prided myself on taking care of my body by getting my rest and sticking to a weight-lifting program both in and out of season. This was “performance enhancement” as I understood it, and it paid off for me. Something began to change, though, in the late ’90s. I kept up my typical production, but I was moving down the list of top hitters instead of toward the top. Typical power-hitter numbers of the past couldn’t even land you in the top 10 anymore! That bar was raised from 30 to more than 40 home runs over a short period of time. On the top end, there were guys hitting 50, 60, and in 2001, a new record of 73 home runs. A major-league record that stood for over 50 years was suddenly broken by three different players in a five-year span.

I began to rationalize that my own decline was due to some of the injuries I had developed. So when I started feeling healthy, I always wondered why I wasn’t benefiting from the so-called “juiced ball” that people talked about. It didn’t seem to be going any farther for  me—actually, it was becoming more difficult for me to do what I was accustomed to doing in the game. My perceived lack of production really started to take a toll on me mentally. In 2001, after my first shoulder surgery, my drop off in production almost put me over the edge. Now, I realize I was fighting more than just myself. The playing field was becoming more and more unbalanced for those who tried to play it the right way.

Looking back at the late ’90s you can see that it was a new era of competitive advantages and rewards. The growth of the game raised the financial stakes to astronomical heights for those that could separate themselves from the pack. The financial incentive outweighed the risk of any potential side effects from PEDs. Like anything else in society, the lust for fame and fortune trumped what was legal, moral, and healthy. For some players, it was too tempting an opportunity to pass up.

Of course, I realize that as long as baseball has been around, there have always been those that have found a way to take advantage of the system and not get caught. There have always been individuals who have pushed the envelope. But corked bats, pitchers using foreign substances, and scuffing the ball were pretty much the extent of what constituted cheating. I believe that using steroids goes way beyond those other forms of cheating. Steroids made players become more than nature intended them to be, dramatically elevating their performance level. It created an unhealthy culture in the game that screamed, “Get on the program or get left behind!” It was a perfect storm for abuse, and Major League Baseball, as well as the rest of the world, got blindsided. Who could have anticipated the bodybuilding phenomenon, fueled by steroid use, would manifest itself in professional baseball?

I have always been determined to never compromise my faith or my principles. I always relied on my God-given talent when I took the field. So the idea of using PEDs to enhance my performance was
a line I chose not to cross. As I became more aware of the problem of steroid use, I discovered that for some players it wasn’t all black and white. Some of them were guys I respected on and off the field, players who were truly faced with career-jeopardizing decisions. To them, it wasn’t about becoming the league MVP or signing a huge free-agent contract. It was about trying to keep a job when you know your competition is on the juice, or because you’ve endured a career-threatening arm injury, or simply trying to stay in the lineup while hurt in order to fulfill your contract obligation. I would never make a blanket statement about steroid use. But to truly comprehend the difficult moral and ethical decisions these guys struggled with, I guess you have to put yourself in their shoes. It’s easy to condemn steroids, but the pressure to perform at a consistently high level is tremendous. Faced with losing the job, I can better understand their rationalization.

The game seemed to change overnight in the steroid era. I can understand the baseball purist leading the charge for the past legends of the game. There has been talk about changing the record books
and putting asterisks next to some players’ names. I wouldn’t endorse it. I don’t think there are any realistic answers for dealing with the inflated numbers of this era. Where can you draw the line of certainty? We will never know. As names continue to come out, it will be up to the fans to determine the historical significance of each player’s production during this time.

In the future I am confident the game on the field will return to normal levels of play. The hard lessons learned through the so-called steroid era have developed new measures for testing and have raised public awareness as to the dangers of the drugs. Our national pastime is in a much better place today to protect the long-term interests and health of its players and the game. But, like many of you, I have to wonder: On a level playing field, where do the great players of my era stack up against the history of the game? Are they even superstars without steroids? We may never know. One thing I do know is this: My 299 home runs don’t compare much with the great home run
hitters of the game, but I’m proud of each and every one of them.

© Always an Angel, Playing the Game With Fire and Faith By Tim Salmon with Rob Goldman, Triumph Books, 2010

Thursday, February 12, 2015


By Glen McKee and Nate Trop, Senior Hangout Forum Correspondences -

A lot of big news stories have been happening the last few days, but if you check the Hangout Forum on, the biggest news is evidently that Jon Stewart will be stepping down as host of The Daily Show later this year.  And the liberals cried big liberal tears, the likes of which they usually reserve for oppressed spotted banana slugs or for when their bong rip goes down the wrong chute.  As soon as it was announced that Stewart would announce he was stepping down (every major announcement is now preceded by an announcement about the announcement) speculation about his replacement began.  There’s plenty of that speculation on the AngelsWin thread, so we’re gonna rip that off for a quick article but we’re going to ignore that and give you our PCP top choices for this prime job.

Take your pick of these excellent choices – Glen McKee

First off, a confession that is probably unnecessary: I love the The Daily Show, even though I don’t get to watch it much anymore.  My favorite part is inevitably the first segment; the pre-taped bits with the correspondents are mostly boring and predictable.  Stewart is what makes the show for me and at this moment I can’t imagine what it will be like with somebody else as the focal point, but I assume it will move on.  

Now, let’s get the obvious yet impossible choices out of the way.  John Oliver would be the clear favorite, except that HBO has a lot invested in him and he’s doing great with them.  That ship has sailed and I’m sure Ollie loves his current gig.  Unless it tanks in the next few months, he’ll be staying with HBO. 

Another impossible choice is Tina Fey.  She has a flourishing career doing other things and probably wouldn’t want to embrace the grind of a four-times-a-week broadcast.  That’s a huge commitment. Give it up, nerds who think she’d sleep with somebody like you.  Neither one will happen.  Sorry to crush your dreams but you need to focus on the real possibilities.

As for the actual candidates, let me throw a few names in the ring.  First, and my favorite dark-horse candidate, is Chris Hardwick.  I know, I know, the MTV date guy?  The Talking Dead guy?  Yep, that’s the one.  Don’t forget, Jon Stewart got his start with an MTV talk show and when he took over The Daily Show a lot of people were shaking their heads.  Hardwick already has a successful show on Comedy Central, @ Midnight, so he’s in-house talent.  He has some crossover appeal from his Talking Dead show.  His Nerdist podcast demonstrates his interviewing skills, with over 600 episodes and a wide spectrum of guests.  His stock is rising, he’s easy on the eyes (confirmed by my bride), he works hard – he’s got a lot of eggs in the right baskets.  Don’t overlook him.

For my second choice, how about a broad?  First off, let’s get Samantha Bee out of the way.  She’s hard enough to take in small doses, just imagine the show being centered around her.  Meh.  Kristen Schaal is a possibility – once again she’s in-house, she’s been with the show for a while, and she’s married to a longtime writer for the show.  I just don’t see her as having a wide enough appeal to run the show, but I could be wrong.  Jessica Williams is an intriguing choice.  Young, good timing, once again easy on the eyes (confirmed by me), and she’s black.  That’s a couple of check-boxes right there.  She’s also on the channel already so it wouldn’t take much to give the show to her.  I’ll put her down as my second choice.

My third choice and my biggest dark horse (really, no pun intended) is Wyatt Cenac.  Who?  He’s this guy:

He was already on the Daily Show for a while and when he was, he was one of the best correspondents (if not the best).  He’s evidently available, he’s urban (read: black) and he’s edgy (read: still black).  I think he’d be a great choice.

For the record, Cory Hinkle already made who I think is the best suggestion (goddammit Hinkle, quit stealing my thunder!) – Joel McHale.  Tip of the cap to Cory, but I just wanted to present some other options.  Over to you, Nate.

A few more choices – Nathan Trop

I, like Glen, do not regularly watch the Daily Show.  I do however really enjoy Stewart’s opening monologue and though I do not consider myself a liberal, and don’t always align myself with his politics, I really enjoy how he can highlight the absurdity of our government, the politicians, and the news outlets that cover them.  In a day and age where all interview questions are vetted and pre-approved, he still manages to ask hard hitting questions and truly seems to care about the answers he gets and the points he makes.  He and the writers of the show have a very keen ability to both be serious and funny at the same time without, for the most part, beating a dead horse.  In my opinion the person that replaces Stewart has to be funny but also incredibly intelligent and witty.  It doesn’t seem like there are many people out there with that level of talent and intelligence.  I also agree with Glen that I could not take Samantha Bee or Jason Jones, those two are lifers on the Daily Show only because they are not very funny or talented.  Without further adieux, here are my candidates:

John Oliver – I won’t spend much time on this one, if you wanted to continue the Daily Show as is, John Oliver is the only choice.  Of course he is a super star on HBO right now and rightfully so.  I don’t see HBO letting him go and I don’t see him wanting to leave.

Tina Fey – Glen already mentioned that she would be a slam dunk.  She is funny, insightful and very intelligent.  We know that she is a great comedy writer and producer, which is very similar to Jon Stewart.  Unfortunately, like Jon Stewart, she also has two young kids and probably would balk at spending four to five days a week grinding out shows.  We also don’t know how she would be in a hostile interview or really in any interview.  Still, I think if you want to continue the show but give it a new identity, she is the top choice.

Stephen Fry – For those of you who aren’t familiar with him, he is a British gentlemen who has hosted various chat shows on the BBC and occasional specials on BBC America.  He is a highly respected, very intelligent, well spoken, insightful and funny man.  He is of course British and from what I know, outside of some specials, not that familiar with America and especially American politics.  He is also gay and an atheist, which I am sure would turn off some viewers and potential interview candidates.  If I got to pick a replacement, he is who I would pick.

Jessica Williams/Wyatt Cenac/Asif Mandvi/Rob Riggle – Four Daily Show correspondent alums that are all funny and seemingly capable.  I think if Comedy Central has a list of candidates they are probably all on it.  Probably in the safety net/stop gap zone if they got turned down by all their top targets.

Christopher Titus – I can’t believe I am suggesting this.  Up until recently I really couldn’t stand him.  He seemed a little scummy and not really funny, but he has grown on me.  For one thing he is a standup comedian and huge history buff.  I am just not sure how much of his schtick is really him and how much is an act.  Still, he can be funny, smart, has never been arrested, is a family man and devotes a lot of his time to charity.  I think he would work.

Derek Waters – For those of you who don’t know who he is, he is the host/producer/writer of Drunk History a very funny show on Comedy Central.  That checks off all the boxes right away.  I don’t know how strong he is on current events but he is obviously a history buff.  I think he is ripe to take on a bigger role and be the face of Comedy Central if they went this route.  I think he would do a great job and provide an easy transition from Jon Stewart.  Also, if you have not seen Drunk History, check out a few episodes, it is very funny and you learn from it too!

I think there are many other names out there, some Glen mentioned like Chris Hardwick, who I don’t think would leave his Walking Dead Empire.  Joel McHale is a strong option, but I’m not sure how well he’d do with the serious stuff.   But he seems insightful.   I have heard Russell Brand’s name but he is too dopey and annoying to me.  He seems like a smart dude but maybe too many personality quirks.

Whoever it is, I hope they can continue on where Jon Stewart left off.  That is a lot to ask but I think we as a country need it as long as our political system continues as it is.  I guess we will always have John Oliver.  If you haven’t been paying attention to his show, do some Googling and You Tubing. He has been spectacular.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 is pleased to announce that we have successfully transitioned the website into a corporation. While for many of us it seems like not too long ago that we were just a fun message board to talk Angels baseball, we’re now in our 11th year, and continuing to grow. We’ve grown into so much more than we ever imagined when we started out, and we’re excited about our future.

Last year, celebrated our 10th anniversary and honored many members in our community. As part of our celebration of our first decade, we took a look at the decade ahead to see how we could ensure our future. One big step toward securing our next decade became very clear; we had to transition the website into a corporation so that it could outlive any one person involved with the website. wants to be your permanent internet home for Angels baseball, and 

So, what does this mean for you, the website’s community? In most cases, you won’t notice any difference. We’ll be the same community you’ve come to love and enjoy. We will still provide the content, message boards, and Fanfests that you’ve come to expect.

But, for those of us who do the work behind the scenes, it means that there is a mechanism in place for continuing all that we have accomplished. It means that we’re in this for the long-haul, and are looking at how we can continue to be your internet home for Angels baseball.

We’re proud of all that we have accomplished here at Now is the time for us to continue to grow and this is one big step forward for us. We look forward to continuing to see you at all our events and on the message boards.

AngelsWin Media

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