Friday Gourmet, Wine & Angels: Let the Wild Interleague Rumpus Begin

Now that was the way to come back from a bad couple of weeks. Nine runs on ten hits to beat the Braves 9 to 0. Ervin Santana pitched a complete game, four-hit shutout and was just plain nasty, striking out seven and walking no one, throwing both his slider and breaking ball for strikes. Not a single Brave made it to second base. It was beautiful.

Our bats were back and the rookies in particular were in fine form. Mark Trumbo had a fantastic game with a couple of stellar plays at first, a three-run homerun and two additional hits, finishing a triple shy of the cycle. Alexi Amarista went hitless but continues to impress in the field with several great plays and one leaping catch that did not look possible…until he did it. Hank Conger had a great night behind the plate and Peter Bourjos (okay, technically no longer a rookie, but only just barely) was able to put those quick feet to use yet again in center and on the base paths, with one hit, one hit by pitch and two runs scored.

The veterans were not left out of the fun either. Torii Hunter, Alberto Callaspo, Erick Aybar and Bobby Abreu all had hits. Torii had a great night in right field and even managed to make fun of his own blunder against the Mariners. He pretended, quite convincingly, to lose the ball in the twilight on a routine pop-up before catching it effortlessly, but not before frightening Santana, Bourjos and Mike Scioscia. Well played Torii! We were cracking up over here.

 Oh, and I have decided that Ervin Santana is Hobbes. Outside of the game, he is charming, funny and downright sweet seeming in interviews. The term affable comes to mind. Much like the warm fuzzy side of Calvin’s imaginary companion. On the mound with his game face on, however, Santana’s face settles into an intense predatory smile and, though his eyes are completely hidden in the shadow of his cap, I always expect them to glow from underneath, like Hobbes in pouncing mode with the opposing team’s batters in the role of the unsuspecting Calvin just home from school. I love it!

So, this week’s Friday Night Ritual (wine, “gourmet” dinner and the Angels game) spread: grilled turkey and brie sandwiches topped with apples, pickled red onions and baby greens tossed with homemade balsamic vinaigrette and accompanied by Rio Seco’s (the baseball winery) MVP reserve, a flavorful Cabernet, Cab Franc and Merlot blend perfectly themed for the evening. It was delicious but, even better, it was a great game! Keep it up gentlemen, this could be the beginning of a wonderful trend!

*    *    *    *    *

I realize that I am in the minority on MLBlogs, but I actually like Interleague play…and not just because the Angels usually rock it. I understand it’s not traditional. I understand that many of the rivalries are manufactured. I understand it can lead to uneven match-ups across a given division, but I don’t care. It’s just plain fun to watch the kind of crazy scenarios we played out as kids – the Angels catching balls against the backdrop of Wrigley’s ivy, the Dodgers dealing with the green monster – come to life.

Part of my attitude may come from the fact that Interleague play developed during the period of my baseball discontent and self-imposed exile from the sport. I didn’t watch it develop like the rest of you. I just checked back into the game in 2004 and *poof* we have Interleague play now. I am enough of a purist that, when I came back to baseball, I hated the new three division league structure, I hated the addition of wild card teams to the playoffs and I hated the whole stupid pitch count thing, but I enjoyed Interleague play. Go figure. Incidentally, I have come to accept three divisions and wild card teams, though it happened slowly and grudgingly, but I still do not like pitch counts and overspecialization among pitchers at all.

14 Comments

Of all the young players you mentioned, Trumbo, Conger, Boujos and Amarista, I like Conger the best. He’s got all-star written all over him in my opinion.

Ron

http://strictlycubsbaseball.mlblogs.com/

Ron – I think Conger’s something special too, a potential future team leader on top of it. Though I’m getting a kick out of all of the Angels “kids” this season. I think the future of the team is in great hands with these guys.

– Kristen

Like you, I was originally against the 3 divisions and WCard. Now I like it. In fact, I would love to see MLB add two more teams for a total of 32 teams and then create four 4-team divisions in each league.

Russel – I think adding more teams would be fun, especially if it allows MLB to expand into baseball starved markets. With 32 teams I wouldn’t have a problem with a realignment as you suggest and expanding the post season accordingly, it would just make sense at that point. But I am not so keen on the addition of a second wild card team talk that’s being bantered about now.

– Kristen

Good call on the pitching overspecializations… we really need to be paying “set up guys” $12 a year? Really? That spread made me slobber, by the way, and I just finished eating breakfast! I’m never going to like interleague. I feel like it was a thing they threw in to bring in new fans… like hockey and the shootout… I just don’t dig it.
–Jeff

Jeff – Thanks for the compliments to my culinary experiments. I get why you don’t like Interleague. I think they did throw it together to bring folks back to MLB in the years after the strike. But this old fan wound up liking it anyway. :)

– Kristen

Kristen,
Got to tell you, the AL West is going old school. Looking like nightly gunfights, bar brawls and maybe a few dancing girls will be needed to get these boys up and out of that .500 trough.
Interesting, or is it a dash of parity that frist to last is seperated by less than a full game right now? Good for baseball, bad for the old ticker.
Great series so far against those ATL boys. Showing the Southern avengers that SoCal also has strut and might.
Hope you scalp them today.

Rays Renegade – I think that the AL West is going to be a bare knuckled brawl right up through September. I’m trying to get in more aerobic workouts so my heart can take it, LOL. I’m out of town this weekend, so I missed today’s game, but it sounds like we sent ‘em home with buzzcuts at the very least.

– Kristen

I don’t mind the chance to see people I wouldn’t normally see. And, I still get a kick out of watching the AL pitchers come up to bat.

Because I am 12 years old on the inside.

Those aren’t the sum total of my thoughts on interleague play (I’m pretty sure I *could* have a well-thought out discussion about the pros and cons – and when I lived in NYC, the subway series energy was hard to beat), but it’s really what it all boils down to in the end.

-Keleigh

http://keleighannah.mlbogs.com

Keleigh – Still 12 years old on the inside, I like that! I think we’re all still 12 years old on the inside around this sport and it’s wonderful. Hey, I like watching our pitchers hit too…or rather come up to bat. Rarely do they actually hit but when they do it’s extra fun.

– Kristen

I just got done commenting on another blog that I enjoy interleague play too! Let’s unite as the minority. Honestly, its the first series I look for when I see the Pirates schedule for the first time. I like the American League matchups to see somebody new. Opposite of the Angels, Pittsburgh lays an egg in interleague, but I still love to watch and support it.

http://pittpeas.mlblogs.com

Matt – Yay, I’m not alone! I look for the Interleague match-ups almost first myself…and I usually wind up with tickets to two or three of the games. It’s fun to see guys you almost never get to see.

– Kristen

Kristin,
What I don’t like is that the Dodgers only get to see the NL East once in each park. I can do without the interleague. Also, why is it that the Dodgers in all of the Inter league existance, they have never gone to Yankee Stadium? They seem to matchup the same teams in interleague. Four game series of Interleague is too much. Dodgers have already faced the Tigers, Angels, WhiteSox and the Twins before so why the same teams. I can see facing your cross town rival.

Emma, that is wierd that the Dodgers have never gotten to Yankee Stadium. Having an uneven number of teams between the AL andthe NL does create some scheduling issues but that is wierd regardless.

– Kristen

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