If we've learned anything about Octobers the last few years, it's that the month tests, stretches and hones every aspect of loyalty fandom.
Therefore, to adequately preview the madness that is the baseball playoffs, we've invited some of our favorite writers for each of the eight playoff teams to write about their teams. These will be running all day today and tomorrow, and we very much hope you enjoy them.
Up right now: The Los Angeles Angeles Of Anaheim. Your writer is Mat Gleason.
Mat Gleason, is also known as Reverend Halofan, of HALOSHEAVEN.COM. His words are after the jump.
It is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Gene Autry, so of course the Angels are going to win it all!
In this era of baseball fans putting on lab coats to analyze the numbers before accepting a team's WIN as meaningful, can I just interject that the Angels are gonna win one for the cowboy on his 100th birthday!
Do I sound like a moron yet? Well, at least I am enjoying my team's success instead of doing my math homework. Each year, baseball on the internet gets to be more like doing your taxes; numbers of the past adding up to an unpleasant feeling of wasted opportunities with a lousy payoff in the near future.
The baseball atheists, the Sabr number crunchers, joykillers determined to rid the sport of any storyline not composed on a slide rule, they hate the Angels. Madalyn Murray O'Hair said there was no god, and the SabrMutts say there is no "clutch." These Sabr piss-on-your-parade sourpusses categorically reject any team structured on the belief that the RBI will redeem the baserunner, that a hitter's batting average with Runners in Scoring Position is of significance and that his average with RISP and 2 outs might actually be his most treasured trait as a hitter. These notions are a reverse heresy!
The 2007 Angels are structured antithetically to fashionable statistical analysis models. When ESPN's token Sabr boy Keith Law flat out states that RBI is a meaningless statistic in a chat-tirade against Garret Anderson (within a week Garret had a ten-RBI game against the Yankees), you have to understand that the 2007 Angels are a threat to the cottage industry of pseudoscientific baseball analysis from which Law and his flannel-bedecked crony Rob Neyer write fanboy love letters to jocks disguised as Benjamin Bernanke quarterly reports to congress.
Ask any rational SabrMetric Analyst why Maicer Izturis should ever bat fifth in a major league lineup. Then ask any Dodgers fan if they wish Mike Scioscia was their manager.
Ask the Billy Beane acolytes if all of Joakland's visits to the disabled list negated Billy's statistical acumen for personnel placement.
Then ask how many Angels went on the disabled list in 2007; the answer is 13 players for a total of 18 visits, less than the A's, but not 17 games behind worth.
Asking these and other questions is uncomfortable in these rigid, measured times. Nothing diminishes the seductive allure of OPS like a high average singles team that can steal bases, go from first to third well and score on old-fashioned squeezes. It is enough to force a fan to watch the baseball game instead of the MLB Gameday.
Mike Scioscia's innovative, progressive lineup is backed by a damn good pitching staff. The bullpen is not as reliable as in the past, but Angel fans have been so spoiled that their historically dominant bullpen sinking to the level of bullpen of the decade has been tough for us to handle. We don't self-flagellate like Bahstin or vicariously point fingers in the NY Post, but a blown hold was a rare occurrence in Los Angeles of Anaheim prior to this season.
But you seven other playoff teams better not wait around for the pitching to collapse. The way to beat the Angels is with your pitcher keeping his game on the ground. Let the Angels get two hits an inning, ground into a double play and then pop up weakly. Chien-Ming Wang stands between the Angels and a ring. If Carlos Silva was in the postseason, I would be praying to face any team but the Twins.
Watch, though, as your big game pitcher gets distracted with fast guys on first waiting to steal, then sees that guy go from first to third on what seemed to just be a squibber past a diving shortstop. Just as big stud walks off the mound to catch his breath, they announce Vladimir Guerrero is at the plate - you know, Manny Ramirez with his head on straight, Alex Rodriguez with the successful personality transplant. Can you tell we are praying for Carlos Zambrano to be here in three weeks?
Behind Vlad is a healthy Garret Anderson. Now, the Stat-Street-Boys dislike a man they cannot quickly measure. Garret is far too nuanced for their numbers-eyeballing methodology. Garret does two things with a bat: he hits a fastball well. He is not too good on the curve or the slider and is especially bad on the changeup away. But if you repeat a pitch to him, the 2nd thing he does well is crush the living shit out that pitch.
How can a simpleton like Keith Law be expected to pay attention to subtle, in-game situations like this without the aid of a crunched numerical graph explaining the importance of an offense built around frenzied hitting - the very concept of frenzied hitting does not fit into the cobwebbed orthodoxy that the alleged stat revolution has become.
A statistical analyst at this Angels' postseason campaign is like an atheist at Hannukah - before you crack a beer, tell us again why we aren't the chosen people?