The Angels clinched their third consecutive AL West title last night in an 11-0 rout of Texas. After clinching extremely early in September last season, the Angels faced a tougher road after playing terribly against the Rangers this year, but rode a strong middle third of the season to another division championship and a third consecutive berth in the postseason against the Boston Red Sox. The game itself was easy to watch...Kendry Morales turned a pair of 3-6-3 double plays and hit his 33rd jack of the season, Ervin Santana pitched a complete game shutout, and Bobby Abreu was a homer short of the cycle.
I mentioned my distaste for divisional championship celebrations (see miscellany, below), and maintain my position on the matter. But with the number of people claiming the Angels' celebration of their victory by dousing Nick Adenhart's jersey with beer and champagne was distasteful, I have to disagree. Nick was, and remains, a part of the Angels, an inseparable member of the team. If he had been in that clubhouse, he'd have been doused in alcohol. And to the team, he was in that clubhouse, he contributed to the divisional championship, and he deserved the celebration he earned.
To say it's in bad taste because he was killed by a drunk driver is like saying it's poor taste for a football team to honor a player who died on the field by playing football. It's nonsense. Adenhart didn't kill himself drunk driving. He was killed by a drunk driver.
Needless to say, watching the team run out to the wall to take a photo in front of Nick's picture was touching, and another reminder in a season of tragedy that this is, still, just a game.
From a baseball persepctive, the upcoming Angels/Boston series poses a couple interesting questions. First of all, will Mike Scioscia be dumb enough (again) to choose a 3-starter format? The Angels have better pitching than the Red Sox if they use 4 pitchers, not 3. Second, is he smart enough to use Ervin Santana in high leverage situations, including the ninth inning of one-run games, or will he give games away via Fuentes as proxy? And finally, can the offense act like they did in June and not like they did in September? The key to winning in the postseason is not, as is always said, pitching. Or at least it isn't for the Angels. The key is runs. Scoring lots of them will win this series.
Prediction: If the Angels win game 1, they win the series. Otherwise, it's a long road back to the playoffs in 2012.
A bit of miscellany:
I typically scroll through my Google Analytics account at some point after the daily numbers register at midnight. The traffic numbers for this blog are remarkably consistent, usually between 10 and 15 unique visits per day, and somewhere around 300 visitors per month. There's been a couple days where I've had 25-35 visitors, usually when I get linked by the Rev over at Halos Heaven.
Much to my surprise, I open up Analytics last night and see 80 unique visitors in a single night. Intrigued, I plow through the data and find that all the traffic came from a single referring site: sports.yahoo.com
...interesting. So I head over to Yahoo! Sports, search for "In Play, No Outs," and find this story. Check out #12.
Pretty cool. And it really makes you think about what the Internet has done for communication in general, and moreso in the amateur writing field. Ten years ago, my never ending rants on bullpen utilization and Northeastern sporting failures would have sat in my head and annoyed the people around me instead of "enthralling" a small group of devout readers.