Sunday, July 10, 2011

Saltzer.jpg picture by chuckster70

By David Saltzer - Senior Writer
Spraying to all fields with some random thoughts about the game . . .

Dodgers Fans

After the Bryan Stow incident, I wrote an article stating that I wouldn’t take my sons to a game at Dodgers’ Stadium. I still stand by that. Even with “show of force” by the L.A. Police and increased security, I still wouldn’t go. My last few experiences up there haven’t been fan friendly—let alone family friendly. Not only is it not worth the drive, the traffic, and the hassle in and out of the stadium, it’s just not worth the experience.

This isn’t, though, an indictment against all Dodgers fans or their team. I took my 5-year old son to see the Dodgers play the Angels in Anaheim. There were Dodgers fans all about. The police in Anaheim did not need to make a show of force. They were clearly there, but, were inconspicuous in nature. They were able to control more by doing a good job than by being overbearing and highly visible.

More importantly, during the game, my son needed to go to the bathroom. When I was walking back, a lady in a Dodgers’ jersey came up to me and told me that as I left my cell phone had fallen out of my pocket and that she had given it to an usher. I thanked her profusely for her responsible act and enjoyed the rest of the game.

If the Dodgers really want to change the perception of their stadium, they need to overhaul the entire in-game experience for the fans. From the music to the in-game promotions to the advertisements, they need to make the whole place family friendly. Maybe then they won’t have to have a “show of force” to control the crowd as the nature of the crowd will have changed.

Trout’s Speed

I’ve been talking with a lot of scouts about Mike Trout and Peter Bourjos. One of the questions that always comes up is which one is faster. My take on it is that down the line, Trout beats Bourjos by half a step. In his first game, he was clocked at 4.0 and 3.9 seconds down the line.

However, my bet is also that going from home to third, Bourjos beats Trout by half a step. Once Bourjos is going, he’s lightning on the base paths.

By and large, the scouts tend to agree on those bets. Maybe we’ll just have to arrange for a race to prove it once and for all. But really, who cares—watching them both cover large amounts of ground in the outfield is treat enough.

Texas Tragedy

If you didn’t hear, a horrible tragedy happened in Texas earlier in the week. Josh Hamilton, the centerfielder, tossed a ball up to a boy during the game. His father tried to catch the ball and fell about 20 feet. He was conscious and alert after the fall but then died in transport to the hospital.

My heart and prayers go out to the boy and his family. But, it also goes out to Josh Hamilton. He didn’t do anything wrong—he was trying to make a boy’s experience more special. I hope that the Texas Rangers or Major League Baseball don’t come up with any rule preventing players from tossing balls up to fans as souvenirs. And, I hope that Josh Hamilton isn’t too shaken up by the experience or that he becomes reluctant to continue to toss out balls to fans.

What happened was a horrible tragedy. We can’t prevent all the tragedies in the world. There’s no point eliminating or restricting the good practice of tossing a foul ball to a kid just because one time a freak accident happened and resulted in a horrible tragedy. If MLB develops new rules preventing players from tossing out souvenirs, then it will turn this horrible loss for one family into a true Texas tragedy for all of baseball.

Missing in Action

Two things have gone noticeably MIA this season. The first was Vernon Wells’ bat at the start of the season. This led to a continuous stream of rants against the front office for making the trade and for Wells being overpaid.

But, ever since Wells has returned from the DL, something else has gone noticeably missing: the naysayers have gone away. No longer are message boards littered with daily rants against the trade. No longer are post-game shows flooded with callers demanding changes in the front office. Winning cures a lot of things.

Since coming back from the DL, Wells has propelled the Angels onto victory. His resurgence has been integral to the Angels success. He has provided the power and the defense that the Angels wanted when they made the trade.

While the naysayers are gone for now, I know that they’ll be back someday. They will find a new issue to harp on—that’s what naysayers do. But for right now, they are hopefully taking a second helping of the crow that they justly deserve.

First Half Awards

If I could give out some awards right now, here’s what I would give:

A.L. Cy Young—Jered Weaver. If I had to have one pitcher in the entire American League start an elimination game right now, it would be Weaver. He is so focused and hiding the ball so well that he is nearly unhittable (as his 0.91 WHIP and .194 BAA prove).

Angels’ First-Half MVP—Mark Trumbo. Imagine what would have happened if Trumbo could not have hit Major League pitching—the entire infield would have no legitimate power. And, when Wells and Hunter struggled, the whole team would have no power. Worse yet, when Izturis was injured, it would have forced the Angels to play Branyan every game. Trumbo is definitely improving as the season moves on. His ABs are getting better. It’s exciting to think of what he’ll do over the course of a full season.

A.L. Gold Glove Outfield—Peter Bourjos. Bourjos’ defense is worth the price of a ticket for any fan. With him in CF, Wells in LF, and Hunter in RF, it’s not surprising why Weaver and Haren are pitching so well: the Angels’ outfield defense is superb.

A.L. Rookie of the Year—Jordan Walden. Not only is he an All-Star, he’s by far the best rookie in the American League. His 19 saves, 2.87 ERA and 1.19 WHIP are legitimate. He should only get better.

Thanks Eddie!

Although Eddie Bane wasn’t in Anaheim to see it, I’m certain he followed Trout’s first game in the Majors. Right now there are at least 23 other Scouting Directors who are kicking themselves for not taking Mike Trout earlier in the draft.

It’s hard to imagine where the Angels would be this year without Eddie. Aside from all the players directly drafted by Eddie Bane, where would this team be without Dan Haren who was acquired in trade for players drafted by Eddie Bane?

As we continue to watch the Angels succeed with so many home grown players, it’s time to once again say “thank you” to Eddie Bane. Not only were his chats with informative, they gave us a glimpse into the future that we will be seeing.
Love to hear what you think!

Listen to "A Fish Like This" Tribute song to Mike Trout's Greatness

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