The Freeway Series

I remember as a kid being so excited to go watch the Angels and Dodgers square off in the Freeway Series. Back in those days, that was the only time they played each other and even though the games didn’t count, it was exciting to see favorite players from both sides square off against each other. There was something cool about the fact that they would never play each other in a real game unless they met in the World Series. Below is a shot I took as a kid in the 1970’s when Steve Garvey and the Dodgers visited Anaheim.

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Things changed twenty years ago when Interleague Play began in 1997. Starting that year, the teams would square off during the regular season in games that counted in the standings. The Dodgers had pretty strong teams coming into that 1997 season. They had made the playoffs the two previous seasons and had superstars like Mike Piazza, Raul Mondesi, and Hideo Nomo on their team. The Angels had not been to the playoffs since their unfortunate collapse in the 1986 ALCS versus the Boston Red Sox. In 1995, the Angels had a massive division lead late in the season but the team collapsed down the stretch. They recovered enough to force a one game playoff but lost to Seattle’s dominating Randy Johnson. The Angels did have a core of young talent though and several of these home grown talents would eventually become 2002 World Series Champions.

MLB was looking to build natural rivalries based on geographic proximity. The Angels-Dodgers rivalry started with Dodgers fans always touting their team’s postseason successes and major stars. As the years went by, the Angels had a lot of success against the Dodgers. The Angels also became quite successful in the postseason starting with their first World Series title in 2002. True Dodgers fans were left with a bit of a dilemma but most had to root for the Angels to defeat their hated rival San Francisco Giants in the 2002 World Series. Both teams were managed by former Dodger players, Dusty Baker and Mike Scioscia. In 2004, both teams made the playoffs in the same year for the first time. They’ve done so three more times since then in 2008, 2009, and 2014. 2009 was the closest that the teams had come to a Freeway World Series with both teams advancing to the League Championship Series.

Tonight the Angels played the Dodgers in the first game of the Freeway Series in Anaheim. The Angels won 3-2 after being held hitless for the first six innings of the game. I’ll be at the Big A on Friday night to watch the second game of the Freeway Series. Even though these games don’t count, I’m still excited to get out the stadium and see the team and it does bring back memories of those days when it was quite rare to see them play each other. Let’s go Angels!

Anaheim Teams Unite

The Anaheim Ducks started a cross promotion a year ago on February 5, 2016 with an Angels night at Honda Center. Current and former Angels attended the game and participated in the ceremonial puck drop, the Ducks wore Angels jerseys for the pre-game skate, and the evening was Angels themed. They had merchandise available in the team store with a combination Angels-Ducks logo and they sold autographed mystery pucks with an Angels-Ducks logo. I was lucky enough to get Corey Perry and Jakob Silfverberg.

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The Angels then hosted Ducks Night at Angel Stadium on August 16, 2016. The team wore special co-branded jerseys and caps during batting practice. I was fortunate enough to attend batting practice on the field that day. I had won a meet and greet with Jered Weaver because I found a gold ball in the Angels Mystery bag fundraiser.

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My son, wife, Mom, and I on the field for BP at Ducks Night at Angel Stadium.

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Anaheim Ducks Captain Ryan Getzlaf takes in batting practice with his kids.

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The Ducks night promotion at Angel Stadium was really popular. The BP jerseys were turned out really well. There were 2 different hats available. Fitted hats as they wore in BP were available in the team store and adjustable caps were available if you had purchased a ticket using the code Ducks. When the Angels hit a home run, they played Bro Hymn by Pennywise, the song that is played when the Ducks score a goal. The Angels won the game and it was a great night all around.

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The Ducks again hosted an Angels night on January 25th, 2017. Again they offered mystery signed pucks for charity and the team store had an even larger amount of merchandise available. I was lucky enough to attend a meet and greet that night with Angels pitcher Garrett Richards. I also ran into newly acquired Angel, Danny Espinosa. The Angels posted a picture of Danny and I on their blog as well as the below picture of the meet and greet with Garrett (I’m pictured on the right side of the conference table, 3rd person back).

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I asked Garrett if his procedure had been successful previously or if it was groundbreaking and he explained it in detail. So from the sounds of it, as I mentioned in the meet and greet, if everything works out well then this may be referred to as the “Garrett Richards Procedure” in the future, just as they do the “Tommy John Surgery”.

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I was lucky enough to get Ryan Kesler as the mystery autograph. It’s picture below with the merchandise I picked up that night and the program they were giving out. I had my program signed by Danny Espinosa (as pictured above).

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I ran into former Duck Teemu Selanne. Funny enough I happened to see him 3 times in a week time period (also at Watch Party and NHL All-Star Party).

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The Angels will be hosting Ducks Night again this season on Tuesday September 19, 2017. This time it appears they’re giving out a beanie to everyone in attendance. Promo_Items_Photo_Shoot

I’m back!

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It’s been almost 7 years since I posted a blog post here. A lot has happened in that time in both my personal life and with the Angels. I can’t believe my last post was before the 2010 All-Star game and surrounding events occurred in Anaheim!

I was lucky enough to attend all of the events with my son and even caught an HR ball from David Ortiz during the Home Run Derby and he was the winner of the Derby.

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On the subject of All-Star Games, I just attended the NHL All-Star Game and events a week and a half ago with my son at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. I also was able to take him to the 2016 MLB All-Star Game and all of the events in San Diego.

I’m not sure why I stopped posting so long ago but I’m hoping to get back on regularly. There are so many moments I could have and should have posted about during my 7 year hiatus. My last post occurred just before I started working at my current company. A few of the things I should have covered:

Attended Mike Trout’s MLB Debut on July 8, 2011

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Hung out for a bit with Mark Trumbo and Peter Bourjos at Paul’s Cocktails in the City of Orange. My friend Mike owns the bar and told me to make sure they had a good time. I let Mark take a bottle of Patron. I got some grief about that one!

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Was first person Mike Trout signed for at Rookie Hazing on Sept 11, 2011

My son and his Little League Team were State Champions in the 2012 season. They were honored on the field at Angel Stadium and presented with a plaque by Kole Calhoun.

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The excitement of the Albert Pujols signing in 2012. I was right about the season being fun but it was because of Mike Trout putting it all together that year. He became the second Angels player to win a rookie of the year award. The first being another player with a fishy name, Tim Salmon. I think we need to get a rookie with Bass as his last name next!

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In 2014, the Angels finally made it back to the postseason. I was featured in an AP photo and in one shot by Kevin Sullivan for the OC Register (showing David Freese spraying us with champagne).

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Sadly their postseason run was a sweep by the red hot Royals. I was afraid of them after their comeback win in the one game playoff vs the A’s. Both games in Anaheim went to extra innings but the offense was held down. Mike Trout didn’t have a hit until the third game when he hit a home run in his first at bat. That would be his only hit of the season.

In November of 2014, I had met Albert Pujols for a second time. I had him sign a game winning hit of his from Dodger Stadium when he drove in Mike Trout with a hit off Kenley Jansen in the 9th inning on June 11, 2012 as the Angels beat the Dodgers 3-2. The ball has a Dodger Stadium 50th anniversary logo and I lucked out and found it in a $10 bucket of clearance baseballs. My friend Aaron Jacoby shot the images below:

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In summer 2016, we stayed at the Grand Hyatt in San Diego during All-Star Week and the players actually stayed at the same hotel as us. The Red Carpet Parade to the stadium for the All-Star Game originated at our hotel. During the parade, Mike Trout and his family threw out baseballs to the fans. I was lucky enough to get one and it was signed by Mike Trout. What a cool and classy thing to do. The best player in baseball on and off the field!

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I’m sure I’m missing a lot of other events but I’ll call it a post with this last link. The image at the top of the post was shot by Kevin Sullivan for the OC Register. They published a Fan Friday feature on me in 2016. You can view the post here.

Mr. Angel

Today I was able to attend a luncheon at the O.C. Register with Tim Salmon. Tim hosts a luncheon for the sponsors of his golf tournament and the directors of the charities that are involved. The O.C. Register is one of the sponsors and hosted the event. They had a table for Register Insiders. Tim spoke, held a Q&A, and then signed autographs/posed for photos. Below is a photo of Tim and I at the event.

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Tim provided us all signed copies of his new book “Always an Angel: Playing the Game with Fire and Faith”. He spoke about what he has been up to lately. He’s been coaching his kids in sports and he went back to college to finish up his degree. He also discussed the process of writing the book. The version of the book that we received is the revised version. He wasn’t happy with the initial release. He said there were too many typographical errors that were missed in the editing process.

Tim said that he will finally be playing in his first all-star game this year. He’ll be participating in the Celebrity Softball game during the All-Star festivities at Angel Stadium. He said he is quite nervous because he participated in the Pepsi Softball Charity game held during the offseason years back. It was quite difficult for him to wait on the ball and according to him it was like the cartoons where they swing 3 times and they’re out before the ball even gets there. That being said he is still looking forward to the event.

I asked him if he found it odd to see Garret Anderson in a Dodgers uniform. He said last year is when it was really odd to see Garret in another teams uniform for the first time. He said that it was a very interesting offseason and that a lot of the older players couldn’t really make the money they were seeking. Garret was looking to play full-time still or he may have been able to land the same role he did as an Angel instead of being a Dodger.

It was a great event and I got several things signed for my collection. At least the Salmon event was something positive going on that was Angels related today as the Halos themselves lost their seventh consecutive game. Hopefully things turn around quickly or the only thing we’ll have to look forward to in Anaheim this year is the All-Star Game.

Opening Weak

Well the season began a week ago today. It was quite a thrilling start. I was on the field to hold the flag for the National Anthem with my wife and several friends. We were holding the flag closest to the infield near the center of the flag. The flyover flew directly above us and was quite breathtaking.

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The game itself proved to be a great one as well. The team looked great and Matsui was a hit. He even had a group of fans holding up signs in right field that spelled “Matsuiland”.

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Below is an image my son snapped of Matsui hitting his home run on Opening Day.

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We had great seats and a great time at Opening Day. Below is a photo of us in our seats.

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Unfortunately there weren’t many other victories on the homestand. We were part of the Angels’ Guiness World Record for largest gathering of people wearing fleece blankets. I was also at the only other victory on the seven game homestand. It was an exciting walkoff by Matsui against the A’s but it shouldn’t have needed to be won in that fashion. Our bullpen has looked quite shaky after a great initial start. So the Angels start the season 2-5 and next play three in New York.

If it weren’t already bad enough that the Angels will travel the most miles of any team in the majors, they also have to witness the Yankees championship ring ceremony. I think the schedule makers were a bit cruel to our beloved Halos.

On a more positive note, my wife won one of five All-Star Fan Fest Golden Tickets that were hidden in 5 different locations on April 9th. They have posted video at http://www.allstargame.com. Click here for a direct link. Here is what she won with the Golden Ticket:

  • 4 tickets to all 5 days of All-Star FanFest, which will be held from July 9, 2010 to July 13, 2010 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California
  • Vouchers for 20 Holiday Inn Priority Passes, each of which enables the holder to proceed to the front of the line of certain FanFest attractions.
  • Vouchers that can be redeemed at FanFest for four (4) hot dogs and four (4) twelve ounce soft drinks.
  • A voucher that can be exchanged at the 2010 FanFest for a baseball autographed by Torii Hunter.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Baseball is back! The season begins tonight as the Red Sox host the defending World Champion New York Yankees. Unfortunately I think the Angels were a Fuentes 0-2 pitch away from being the defending World Champions this season. If Fuentes would have done what most little leaguers are instructed to do on an 0-2 count instead of giving A-Roid a pitch that he could clobber, the Halos would have come back to Anaheim for 3 games with a 1-1 split in New York. The Halos former closer Francisco Rodriguez would always throw his slider in the dirt on an 0-2 pitch. How I would have loved to have seen him doing that instead of Fuentes grooving one. My son even commented “I wonder who misses who more, Frankie the Angels or the Angels missing Frankie”.

Tomorrow night is the Angels season opener so it is time to move past what could have been last season. Opening Day is a special day for every team (well maybe not the Pirates, j/k). Tomorrow I’ll be participating in the flag ceremony on the field as I’ve done for many years now. It is a tradition carried on by the friends and family of my high school classmate Steve Ambriz. He was an Orange City Council member that was tragically killed by a driver under the influence on May 25, 2006.

I’ve got a five day weekend to celebrate the start of the season. I attended the two preseason games in Anaheim this week. On Thursday, my mother took me into a suite for Wells Fargo for the game against the Padres. We got autographs after the game from former Angel David Eckstein. On Friday, I had a tailgate with a classmate that I’ve known since elementary school. My son got a ball at the game which he was quite thrilled with.

I’m looking forward to the 2010 season. I was disappointed that the Halos let Lackey go. He has such a great pitching mentality. He is quite a gamer as illustrated by his reluctance to leave ALCS game 5 last year. I think the Halos made the right decisions with regards to Vladimir Guerrero and Chone Figgins. Figgins has been a complete disappointment in the postseason and he is now on a team where it won’t matter 🙂 I am excited to see what Brandon Wood can do this year and hopefully Kendry Morales can meet or exceed what he did last season.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on my blog so there are a couple of offseason things that I want to update. In January, my friend Tom Duino ‘s wife Kathleen baked him a cake for his birthday. It is quite an impressive cake so I had to share it.

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Another event that happened during the offseason was a visit to our little league fields from my favorite Halo player, Darin Erstad. Darin spent a couple of hours going to all of our fields and meeting with all of the players. He had signed photos that he handed out and he signed everything that the kids brought for him to sign. He posed for photos and everyone really enjoyed his visit. It was pretty amazing that he took the time for the kids and I couldn’t believe he brought 350 autographed photos for all of the players. They were all signed with his name and an inscription of “’02 WS Champs”. He also was kind enough to bring me a bat that he used when he was on the Angels. Darin is as great a guy off the field as he was on the field. Below are some photos from that day.

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2010 Angels Promotional Schedule

I received a copy of the 2010 Angels Promotional Schedule already. There are some great promotions for the upcoming season. Some of the more interesting include a couple of bobblehead nights (Aybar, Saunders, and a Kids Angels Snoopy bobblehead), a Torii Hunter Gold Glove figurine, an Angels garden gnome, an Angels candy jar, an all-star banner, and an Angels fedora. The kids get some pretty interesting giveaways that are strictly for kids including a pool raft, a Rally Monkey soap dispenser, an Angels pillow case, a camouflage hat, and an all-star jersey.

I created a PDF of the promotional schedule and it also include the 2010 season schedule for the Angels on page 2. Click here to download it.