October 10, 2005
Which is more annoying? The misinformed national coverage that the Angels receive, or the inferiority complex that afflicts Angel fans?
As the Angels were giving up the lead to the Yankees in game four, Thom Brennaman, whose day job is as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks broadcasting team, referred to the "vaunted" Angels bullpen as the best in the American League. I suppose if Brennaman had not been spending so much time in the National League, he would have known that the Cleveland Indians, and not the Angels, had the best bullpen in the American League over the course of the regular season. And he would have been aware of the fact that the LA of A bullpen had only recently resembled its old self, and only because Kelvim Escobar had moved into the main setup role, moving Scot Shields down into Brendan Donnelly's old slot, and pushing Donnelly into limbo, where he belonged following a shaky post-all-star performance (3.95 ERA, .286 opponent's batting average, 1.50 walks+hits per inning pitched).
I guess when an announcer from Arizona can't stay up late enough to watch your games, it's asking too much from anybody east of the Mississippi to have a clue about your team.
As for the fans of the Angels, the post-game call-in show was the usual collection of hand-wringing souls who were looking for someone to blame and clearly unable to hide their fear of the Yankees. No, it wasn't just Shields' fault that the Angels lost. The Angels had only five baserunners in nine innings. Vladimir Guerrero made a bad choice when he threw home with little chance of catching Robinson Cano, allowing Jorge Posada-- who's not Bengie Molina slow but he's no gazelle-- to reach third base. And Chone Figgins, forgetting that it was "I'm No Gazelle" Posada who was thundering home from third, rushed his throw to the plate on the play that resulted in the third and eventual winning run for the Yanks. It was a team loss to a team that the second-best home record in all of baseball.
So now the series comes back to Anaheim. The Angels have their ace on the mound. The great Guerrero has yet to have a huge positive impact in the series, so you might say that he is due. The crowd will be decked out in red and pulling for them every pitch of the way. This is the home-field advantage that the Angels pushed for over those final three games in Texas, the same home-field advantage for this divisional series that the Yankees felt they lost because the Rangers chose to pull their best players before the finish of the final game, all the while ignoring the fact that they got clocked by the Red Sox 10-1 on that last Sunday.
And why did the Yankees covet the home field? Because they were only 3 games over .500 on the road this season. Because Mike Mussina, in spite of that performance in game one of this series, had an ERA of 5.34, a WHIP of 1.60, and was hit to the tune of a .308 average away from Yankee Stadium (3.52/1.15/.259 at home). As a team, they hit .290 with an OBS of .846 at home, .263 and .765 on the road.
The advantage belongs to the Angels. Remember, this is Yankee dynasty saw its last day a few years ago, or at least that's what Buster Olney would have us believe. The fans have to stop wringing their hands, find something more useful to do with them and make that hard-earned home-field advantage mean something.
Posted by Andrew Torres at 8:33 AM