Baseball BeatOctober 19, 2009
Personal Thoughts on the League Championship Series
By Rich Lederer

Going into the League Championship Series, I was hopeful that one of the three (out of four) possible outcomes would come to pass. As an Angels and Dodgers fan, I wanted to see a Freeway Series more than anything else but would have settled for an Angels-Phillies or Dodgers-Yankees World Series as well.

Three games into the NLCS and two into the ALCS and things aren't looking so good for this Southern California native. Perhaps today will be the beginning of a much-needed turnaround for the locals.

Sensing that my heart leaned more toward the Angels than the Dodgers, my friend Alex Belth asked me last week why that was the case. I responded via email with the following answer.

My Dad covered the Dodgers so I grew up a Dodgers fan. When he went to work for the Angels the year I turned 14, it was hard for me to change my allegiance. I never really did, although I started following the Angels much more closely over the years. I was fortunate to be a Dodgers fan during the Koufax years and an Angels fan during the Ryan years. The Dodgers were obviously much better but Ryan and Tanana (and great seats in the press box or behind home plate) were an offsetting inducement that was hard to pass up.

More recently, I have grown fonder of the Angels, primarily owing to the change in ownership of the Dodgers. I liked the Dodgers when the O'Malleys owned the club. I was not a fan of the FOX era at all and have not warmed up to the McCourts. The constant turnover, including the firing of Paul DePodesta, has rubbed me the wrong way. In the meantime, I believe Arte Moreno and Mike Scioscia are great. The Angels seem to have a style, if you will, and it grows on you as a fan. The fact that the ballpark is closer to my home and easier to get to, as well as into and out of before and after games, is a huge plus, too.

The clincher was buying season tickets (along with three other friends) BEFORE the 2002 season. Having those seats on the club level during that special season and being there for most of the playoff games, including Games 6 and 7 of the World Series (the latter with my daughter) was terrific. I also have a longtime friend who has front row tickets behind the Angels dugout, and I have been his guest many times over the years. Put it all together and it has become much easier and more fun to cheer for the Angels than the Dodgers.

I'll be in those front row seats this afternoon, rooting for Jered Weaver and the Angels to win Game 3 of the ALCS. I'll be the guy wearing the red Angels shirt and hat. LOL.

With a hat tip to Alex, former Yankees catcher and current YES analyst John Flaherty provided the following take on Weaver this morning:

Weaver could be the ace of this staff in that he has the best stuff overall. Good fastball which is pretty straight. Nice, big, sweeping ’slurve’-type breaking ball and a really good change. What makes him tough is that he really hides the ball so well. He throws across his body so much that he is real deceptive, especially for the righties. His numbers at home are fantastic and the only downside is that he gives up a lot of fly balls – which might be dangerous against the Yankee line up. I like him in that he is confident, almost cocky, out on the mound.

That is a very fair description (although a bit generous in suggesting that Weaver "has the best stuff overall"). Flaherty knows Weaver better than most and about as well as I know him.

Weaver has a much better record at home (9-3, 2.90) than on the road (7-5, 4.78) and has pitched better in day games (5-1, 3.23) than at night (11-7, 3.90), but the extreme flyball pitcher will need to keep the ball in the yard for the Angels to win this game. Unfortunately, the ball travels much better at Angel Stadium during the day than the evening. This fact alone could negate Weaver's favorable home and away splits against a powerful hitting team like the Yankees.

For Weaver to be successful, he will need to command both sides of the plate and change the eye level on occasion (as Jered did when he struck out Big Papi on a 93-mph heater up and in while taming the Red Sox last week). Look for Weaver to change speeds and use his "go to" changeup often against Johnny Damon, Mark Teixeira, Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano, and Melky Cabrera, and perhaps even Alex Rodriguez. As Flaherty and the stats say, it's a "really good" one with excellent arm action and a 9-10 mph difference in speed from his fastball.

It's less than two hours to game time. Time to head to the ballpark.


Helluva ride. Who saw Jeff Mathis coming? Angels playing tough. Despite numerous errors on the basepaths, they kept coming back for more.

Well, you got to see a hell of a game. For you, joyous. For me, not so much.

The Aceves over Robertson decision will be remembered. Ouch. Beaten by Jeff Mathis.

I really thought the Yanks had this one. I was happy to see them hitting HRs against Weaver (who looked like he had very good stuff last night), and Pettitte seemed to be rolling. One bad pitch to Vlad, ineffective Joba...

Then Posada ties it and I think "ok, they're going to do it AGAIN!" Abreu getting thrown out on the bases after Coke failed (again) seemed to set it all up. And then Mariano (despite the throwing error). You understand why we worship him. That was nuts. Bases juiced, nobody out, some of the Angels best hitters up, and he gets out of it.

And still they lost, on a double by the backup catcher. Even though removing Robertson was a bad move, Aceves has to be able to get Mathis out. Talk about putting a pitch on a tee! Sigh.

Good recap, Rob. Many of my sentiments while watching in person. Bad baserunning by the Angels. Poor decisions by Girardi. Yet great series overall. Can't wait for Game 4 to begin.

Great analysis going in, Rich. Glad to have you on our side of the Angel-Dodger divide. Looking sharp on TV yesterday too. It gives me comfort to see you there. I hope you're going again today. If so, we sure could use another win, if you could pick that up for us.

I was rooting for the Dodgers, but Congratulations to the Phillies and I hope they win the world series.

I'm always fascinated why people become fans of certain teams, especially people in SoCal, the Bay Area, Chicago, and New York where they get two teams to choose from.

The Angels do have style. I think if I moved from New York to another city that had both an American League and a National League team, I would prefer the American League team, but I'm not sure why. I think its just greater familiarity with the American League. But I'm more impressed with the Angels, As, White Sox, and Yankees organizations than with the Dodgers, Giants, Cubs, and Mets organizations, the AL teams just seem more functional and more consistent with their strategies.