The Major League Baseball season has started its second half, and CV Weekly’s Brandon Hensley wanted to talk about it. Joining him for a discussion is guest writer Kim Villa, a local resident and do-everything member of Montrose Church. Kim is a die-hard Angels fan, while Brandon bleeds Dodger Blue. The two recently shared their thoughts on what is happening with both teams, while looking ahead to the fall. (Note: players’ stats are as of July 19.)
Brandon: Kim, welcome to the pages of the CV Weekly. I’m excited to have someone else to talk sports with. Let’s start with your Angels. Here they are at the break, 11 games out of first in the AL West, nine games out in the wild card. I’ll be honest; I haven’t seen as many Angels games as you have – if it’s not the cast from “Angels in the Outfield,” then frankly, what’s the point? – so can you tell me why this team is still struggling into late July?
Kim: Inconsistent pitching, injuries and cold bats continue to plague the Angels to this point of the season.
Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson are the only returning starting pitchers. Wilson is leading the club (nine wins) after being out for eight weeks with a broken elbow (on his non-pitching arm). Weaver has struggled tremendously (3-5). Jason Vargas (6-4), who was acquired from Seattle in the offseason, was just getting his game going when he went on the DL and Joe Blanton is a miserable 2-12 (5.53 ERA).
Injuries to Albert Pujols’ and Peter Bourjos’ have affected the Angels’ offensive attack. Bourjos is in the midst of his second stint on the DL.
Similar to Pujols’ first season with the Angels last year, Josh Hamilton has been plagued with a cold bat. Hamilton’s .224 batting average, 14 home runs, 18 doubles and 39 RBIs have not met the expectations of Angels fans.
Brandon: Joe Blanton, wow. I’m sure I don’t need to bring up the fact that last summer Blanton was a Dodger and Zack Greinke was an Angel and that those situations have reversed, but I just did anyway because it’s fun to think about. Hamilton’s home run total is okay, but that average … he’s like Adam Dunn reincarnated. How excited were you when the Angels signed him, and how are you feeling now?
Kim: Sometimes I feel like the curse of the Angels is that they release a player who then goes on to have phenomenal numbers elsewhere (Vlad Guerrero, Mike Napoli, for example) and when we pick up that big name player just off a remarkable season we don’t get the same production (is it necessary for me to bring up Pujols last year?). Trust me, I have thought the exact same thing about Greinke and Blanton, which is extra hard to swallow because it’s the Dodgers.
I like what I have seen lately from Josh but I’m afraid that in combination with the poor pitching it might be too little too late.
Brandon: But Josh looks really good in that shampoo commercial. That has to count for something! If I were an Angels fan I think I’d still be okay with having Josh, because when he’s on, he’s really on.
Miracles do happen, though, so give me your thoughts on how the second half plays out. I know you go to a lot of games. What’s the mood like around the stadium? Is the fan base still behind manager Mike Scioscia?
Kim: I will agree with you about Hamilton – he is good enough that I’d rather have him on the team than play against him. And I’m not a fan of the shampoo commercial! Too contrived for me!!
It is probably too late to make a run for the playoffs. Acquiring a pitcher later this month would be great but I’m not holding my breath.
Fortunately, going to Angel Stadium is an enjoyable experience win or lose. Everyone has an opinion and it seems like one segment of the fan base wants to get rid of Scioscia and another thinks (owner Arte Moreno) is star struck and hasn’t gotten much for the money he’s put out for big name players. Maybe I’m naive but I think players and their position coaches are ultimately responsible for their production, not the manager.
Brandon: I’ll give your team credit – it’s gotten to the point where I never count the Angels out of anything. Before we run out of room, let’s talk about the Dodgers.
If you had told me in March they’d be 47-47 at the break, I’d probably hole up in my house with the lights off and waste the summer away by playing Nintendo 64. Okay, fine, I’ve been doing that anyway.
But considering the unbelievable amount of injuries they’ve endured, I’m very hopeful they’ve now turned it around, just 2½ games out in the NL West. And how about that Yasiel Puig! Do you have Puigmania yet? Or are you disgusted every time he says or does anything — because he’s just so gosh darn arrogant – that you can’t stand to watch him?
Kim: I wouldn’t say I have “Puigmania” – he is a Dodger after all – but I do think he is an incredible player. To jump into the big leagues and make such an impact is a big deal (like Mike Trout). I hope he can stay grounded in his quick rise to fame (like Mike Trout).
I like Clayton Kershaw and, given our pitching deficits this year, I’m a little envious. I like what they’ve done to the stadium. Of course, I love listening to Vin Scully. I am happy that the Dodgers organization as a whole has risen above the debacle that last season was and moved on to just playing baseball.
Brandon: Hopefully we can have a Puig vs. Trout rivalry for years to come. I used to think Matt Kemp was the future, but I don’t know when he’ll ever be healthy again. Thank God Hanley Ramirez finally came back and is actually hitting better than Puig since June. Adrian Gonzalez is about as consistent as can be, so I really like our lineup. The big question for me is can Greinke stop instigating brawls every time he pitches enough to be a dominant No. 2? Him and Kershaw would be an almost death sentence for the opposition in October. The bullpen, sans Brandon League, has settled down after a rough start.
It’s been 25 years since Kirk Gibson and the amazing ’88 team. That’s long enough.
Kim, you have two beautiful, successful daughters, a great home and sparkling reputation. What do I have? I need this.
Do you have any final thoughts as we wrap this up?
Kim: Honestly, I love the rivalry between the Angels and Dodgers so I am happy when both teams are having some success and the head-to-head games are competitive. At least one L.A. team in the postseason would be nice – hopefully that team is wearing red.
Brandon: The numbers on the front of the Dodgers’ jerseys are red, so I agree! I’m glad we can both end this on the right note.
Thanks so much, Kim. Best of luck the rest of the way.