Nov 11, 2010

It is always the offseason

Seeing as how I was so looking forward to the end of baseball season because it meant college football, pro football, and Basketball, I think it's only fitting I do a free agency wish list for the Angels.

Living in Northern California not only destroyed my ability to follow the Angels, but it also destroyed my interest in this past season. However, if there were any season that I would be glad to pretend didn't exist, it would have to be last season.

My Angels finished 80-82, 10 games behind Texas for the division lead and one game behind Oakland (barf) for second place. But thankfully 19 games ahead of Seattle (anyone who thought they would win the division was a freaking idiot).

The good news about this team is that they aren't that far off. They have plenty of pieces to contend for a division crown next year. They just weren't able to cope with the freak injury to Kendry Morales. Morales broke his leg on a walk-off home run. He jumped on the plate and SNAP. Season over.

Prior to his injury Morales had 56 hits in 51 games, including 11 homeruns, 39 RBIs, and a .290 average. Needless to say he was by far the best player on the team and without him in the lineup, the Angels look more like a little league team than a division champ.

Next year, Morales comes back to man first base. He suddenly makes the lineup a lot better. Kendrick, Hunter, and Aybar will all see a jump in their numbers. But there are still some holes that can be filled.

Pitching remains a strength for the team. The Angels have a legit 1-2 punch with Jered Weaver and Dan Harren. Throw in Ervin Santana who can be dominant at times, Scott Kazmir who, despite a poor season, has shown flashes of brilliance, and Joel Pinero who is a solid No. 5 starter. The bullpen has some good young arms but no dominant K-Rod type player.

So without further ado the top five free agents on my Angels wish list.

1. Carl Crawford

Carl is an obvious candidate for the top free agent target for GM Tony Reagins and the Angels. He is an aggressive 5-tool player who fits Mike Scioscia's style of baseball. As ESPN's Buster Olney said in a piece about Crawford, "Crawford would be a perfect fit as a No. 3 hitter, because his speed and baseline aggressiveness would match the way Scioscia manages. He could hit third in the Angels' lineup, right in front of Morales and Torii Hunter, and create situations in which those two would see more fastballs."

Couldn't have said it better myself. He is a premiere outfielder who would plug into left field immediately.

I have not coveted a player this badly since Vladdy was a free agent a few years back.

2. Adrian Beltre

Okay, so we have learned that Brandon Wood is not the answer. It really is a shame that the Angels could have flipped him for Miguel Cabrera a few years back. That would have gone down as one of the most lopsided trades in MLB history, but it would have gone the Angels way. Now all we can think is what if.

But now the Angels have need for a third baseman and although Adrian Beltre has been very up and down in his career, I think he would be a good fit in a lineup with Torii Hunter, Kendry Morales, and maybe Carl Crawford. He would be a beast as the third of fourth best guy in a lineup.

Do I think Boston lets him go without a fight? No. But I think the Angels would love to see the Red Sox weakened.

3. Cliff Lee

Do the Angels need Cliff Lee? No. Would it be fun to have him in a rotation with Weaver and Harren? Umm... yes? Plus, the thought of him either going to the Yankees or staying with the Rangers makes me want to cut myself.

For the record I think there is no way he ends up an Angel, its just fun to lust after it.

4. Rafael Soriano

Now I know getting Soriano isn't filling a huge need, but it would strengthen the bullpen, and give the Angels a blue chip closer. Something they haven't had since well before K-Rod went Mike Tyson on his girlfriend's dad.

5. Grant Balfour

Not a big name, but he throws effing hard, he is an Aussie and he is a bad ass. For those reasons alone I would love to see him teamed with fellow Aussie Rich Thompson in the Angel's bullpen. Especially with the deterioration of Scot Shields, there is need for another back of the bullpen guy.

Jun 4, 2010

RIP Coach

I was born in 1985, 10 whole years after John Robert Wooden coached his last game at UCLA, but I have always felt a strong connection with the man.

I talked to my father tonight after learning that Wooden had passed at the age of 99 and my dad made the observation that he was interested to see how much of a connection I felt with the passing of Wooden because he was a generation ahead of me. Yet I got incredibly emotional upon hearing the news that he had moved on.

It is difficult for me to describe, but I was raised to be a UCLA fan. I have pictures of me at almost every age with UCLA paraphernalia. Wooden is really the father of UCLA athletics, not just Basketball.

So being a born and raised UCLA fan, the loss of Wooden feels like the loss of a grandparent. He was more than just a legend.

I had the privilege of hearing Wooden speak a number of years ago. Me and my dad went and heard him at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. Many of the thing we heard were the same stories that Wooden tells in his books and his appearances, but it had an effect on me. I felt honored to be able to hear him speak prior to his passing.

He truly was a teacher in every sense of the word.

The one thing that always struck me about Wooden was how sharp his mind always was. He was a great communicator even late in life. His sayings always made me take a second to really try to understand what he was saying.

The last thing I will say about John R. Wooden is that although many tears have been shed today, including many by me, is that today is actually a joyous day.

On March 21, 1985, 157 days before I was born, Coach's true love, Nellie, passed away from cancer. Nellie was the only girl that Wooden ever kissed. He was extremely devoted to Nellie and even used to visit her grave and write her a love letter once a month since she passed.

Today, after 25 long years, Coach gets to be with Nell again.

In one of his last public appearances, Wooden was asked what he would like to hear God say when he arrives in heaven. Wooden replied, "Well done."

I know that is exactly what he heard just a few hours ago.

Once I was afraid of dying,
terrified of ever-lying,
petrified of leaving family, home and friends.

Thoughts of absence from my dear ones,
brought a melancholy tear once,
and a dreadful fear of when life ends.

But those days are long behind me,
fear of leaving does not bind me,
and departure does not hold a single care.

Peace does comfort as I ponder,
a reunion in the yonder,
with my dearest one who is waiting for me there.

John Wooden


Jan 1, 2010

Wedding Time Again

As many know, Memorial Day 2008 was spent in Minnesota at a wedding for my good high school friend Colby. Over the coarse of the weekend I did a running diary of the events of the momentous occasion. Well on December 31, 2009 I was in attendance at my former Colorado roommate Chris' wedding to another good friend of mine Karin. I decided against doing a running diary because I would be making the trip alone and I would be spending five days in Colorado and figured there would be too much down time to justify a full running diary.

So instead I have decided to share a little bit about the couple, how they came together, and what I have learned from them. But I must first preface this by mentioning that a lot has changed since the last time I wrote on the blog. The Girly is no longer in the picture, but that's okay. She is still a good friend and I wish her well. She was what I needed at the time but looking back I now realize that us splitting up was for the best.

But enough about me, this is not a post about me, it is about the awesome experience of knowing and being close to Karin and Chris.

Chris was one of the first guys I met at the University of Colorado during my freshman year. He was part of a group of really solid and great guys that I met my second day living in Boulder. To be honest I was a little intimidated by Chris. It's not every day you meet another tall, good looking, athletic, and nice guy. Being human I tend to pick out things that set myself apart from others and Chris was someone who I had a tough time comparing myself too because he seemed to have it all. But after getting to know him a little bit, I realized that I was being foolish. Chris was just a genuine great guy who is that impressive. Once I got over my own insecurities, we became great friends, bonding over sports, video games, and girls. It seemed only natural that we decided to be roommates our sophomore year.

Karin and I got off to a rocky start. Once upon a time I really enjoyed being the center of attention and Karin is similar, and I don't mean that in a negative way. People are just drawn to her. But for some reason we just always butted heads. I thought she was obnoxious, she thought I was a jerk. But sophomore year something clicked. I don't remember exactly what it was but we bonded over some event and from then on we became friends.

It was second semester of my sophomore year when Karin started to have a crush on Chris. Karin started to come over to our apartment pretty often in hopes of hanging out with Chris. Then finally Chris asked Karin out on a date. I remember that she was really excited about it. I believe she even stated after the date to me that she was going to marry Chris. But if you had told Chris that at that point, he would have denied it. Chris actually didn't like Karin. He thought she was a good friend but nothing more. Karin, never one to keep her feelings internal, expressed her frustration about the entire situation with me and our friend Abby. This kept going on for pretty much my last two or three months living in Colorado. Karin like Chris, Chris didn't like Karin, Karin talked to me and Abby in hopes that we could convince Chris that he and Karin were destined for marriage and cute kids.

Then I moved away. I still tried to keep in contact with Chris as much as possible. Karin made sure that we stayed in contact because she needed to talk about Chris with someone who was on her side, because it seemed at this point that everyone else was telling her to move on. I seemed like the only foolish person telling her that if she really feels like that's who she wants to be with, then she should just keep being patient. Who's the fool now everyone???

I decided that I was going to come out to visit and ski in Colorado in January 2005. Chris, Karin, and a bunch of our friends had been up in the mountains skiing the weekend before I came out. And apparently during that trip Chris' feelings began to change. But the didn't manifest themselves until Chris had a full blown screaming argument with one of his roommates who said something critical of Karin. Chris defended Karin like Mr. Miyagi defended Daniel-san from the Cobra Kai on Halloween. It was really amazing to see someone who is so mild mannered have such a strong reaction. I remember being there and feeling that this was indeed the turning point for Chris and Karin.

The started dating pretty much a week later. I was then present for another momentous Chris and Karin moment. The two of them and a few of our other friends took a spring break trip to San Diego and I decided to come and see them. It was on this trip that Chris told Karin that he loved her for the first time. It seemed like Karin's patience was really paying off.

Over time I lost touch with Karin and Chris. But then something history making made me realize that I needed to reach out and reestablish contact with the two of them. I made the discovery that Chris and Karin had been on US Airways flight 1549. The plane piloted by Captain Sully Sullenberger, that crashed into the Hudson River. I had almost lost two of my favorite people without being able to tell them how much I love them both. It was a shocking and startling discovery, but obviously it was nothing compared to what they had gone through.

A few months later I learned that Chris has proposed to Karin. It seemed so fitting. Not even a plane crash could stop what Karin had known for years; she was going to marry Chris Rooney.

And after being present at their beautiful wedding and being able to see how perfect everything was, I have no doubt that they were destined to be together from the beginning. Not everyone believed that this day would come after Chris clearly stated that he was not interested in Karin, but Karin believed the day would come and that's all that mattered.

That is what I have learned from Chris and Karin. If you are sure of something, don't let anything get in the way of that. Don't let negativity convince you not to follow through. Don't let time deter you from your feelings. And don't let outside forces, like a plane crash, to tear you away from what you truly want.

Karin and Chris, you guys are truly an inspiration to me and I know that you will never change. I love you both so much and was so happy to be able to spend your wedding day celebrating with both of you. Congratulations, but lets be honest, this is only the beginning for the both of you. And if the past six years that I have known you both are any indication, then you guys are going to do amazing things in life and I am honored to have two friends like you. Love you both.