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Friday, April 15, 2005

THE BATTLE FOR CALIFORNIA, PHASE ONE
Tonight the Angels begin a three-game series against our enemies to the north, the Oakland Athletics.

Tonight features a match-up of disappointments, as Bartolo Colon faces off against Barry Zito. After his ERA jumped by over a run between 2003 and 2004, Zito has been hit hard in his two starts in 2005, and carries an 11.57 ERA into play tonight. In his 9 1/3 innings, he's only struck out three guys, and given up six walks. Three balls have also been hit out of the yard.

I haven't seen either of Zito's starts this season, but in past years, when I've seen him struggle, it's been because he either (1) can't get his fastball over for strikes or (2) can't get his curveball over for strikes. As devastating as his curve can be, a major leaguer can hit it if he knows it's coming. And though his cut fastball has some lively movement, it's not thrown all that hard (relatively), so a batter can lay off the curve and tee off on that fastball.

Zito's struggles last year were primarily due to his giving up more home runs than usual; he allowed a career-high 28 dingers last year, after only allowing 19 in 2003. The three he's already allowed in 2005 demonstrate that he has yet to solve the problem.

All of that said, and while I've never been a particular fan of Zito, he's obviously a far better pitcher than a 11.57 ERA, as long as he's healthy.

Colon, of course, you know about. His awful most recent start, against Kansas City, wouldn't be too frightening in isolation -- any pitcher can have a bad day. But given how his disastrous first half in 2004 is still fresh in our minds, seeing Colon melt down in so familiar a fashion was a bit scary. This is the kind of game wherein Colon needs to step up. I feel like I say that a lot, but it's true a lot ...

... the LA Times brings us the strangest news of the day. Apparently, Father Time (Steve Finley) has given The Punter a pouch of, um, something, that ... does ... something. Let's just quote the paper:

Finley said the pouch is called a balance necklace, made by a company called Layers of Light International. According to the company's website, the pouch contains a "Fusion Formula" of minerals designed to "achieve alignment of body, mind and spirit" and to "address the electro-pollution, toxic vapors, scars, surgeries and traumas to the skin by organizing the quantum nature of man."

...

"There's an actual science to it," insists Finley, who has used innovative techniques to become one of baseball's fittest players. "It's not voodoo."


The Layers of Light website, fittingly called www.lolinternational.com, proclaims this raison d'etre: "To promote peace and transform humanity by empowering individuals to achieve higher consciousness and sustained wellness."

I'm all for these things, though I don't really understand how putting rocks in a pouch around your neck accomplishes them. But I was never a scientific mind, so what do I know? There's a lot of talk on the website about "electromagnetic fields" and "energy" and such, and I have to admit I don't know thing one about either thing. If it works for these guys, so much the better, and if Finley can slug over .500 and Erstad can can keeps his OPS in the mid 800s, I just might shell out for a pouch of scientific rocks myself.

Comments:
Maybe that pouch is what caused him to completely misjudge a fairly easy (for a "gold glover") fly ball that cost us the game the other night.
 
Or maybe he would have missed it worse without it ...

... is it just me, or has Finley not come close to any ball hit in front of him this season? And he seems slow to the gap, too. So far my observations have backed the numbers, not his GG-winning rep ...
 
Completely agree about the defense of Mr. Finley. He has looked wreched out there. The play in Texas with the bases loaded was huge and he completely blew it.

Going back, coming in - he looks every bit of his 40 years.

He better hit....
 
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