Results tagged ‘ Giants ’

Inspired by `The Greatest’

It’s too bad we can’t have Muhammad Ali come visit us in the clubhouse every day. We might go undefeated!

The Greatest of All Time arrived before our game on Wednesday, and it was like the king of the world paying a visit. There’s nobody like him. He has such a presence, it’s like he’s glowing.

I’ve been around a lot of big stars and celebrities, but he stands all alone. Michael Jordan could walk in and I’d say, hey, that’s cool. But Ali walks in and the whole room comes to a stop. Everybody gets real quiet and just looks at him, knowing you’re in the presence of history.

I’ve met him before. He autographed a picture of us with a little message to me. It’s something I’ll definitely keep for the rest of my life.

When he sat in a chair in the middle of the clubhouse, not far from where I sit between Brandon Wood and Vernon Wells, I was the first to jump up and come over and see him. I’m not shy.

I just told him how great it was to see him again and how much I admire him, that kind of thing. I know he loves to do this. They tell me he really lights up when kids come around and see him. Ali loves kids and ice cream.

One by one all the players came over and shook his hand, said hello. His wife and her sister were with him, and we all talked with them. Very nice, very gracious women. You could see how awed all the players were, especially the young guys. It was like they couldn’t believe Muhammad Ali was actually here.

Ali gave us so much in his life. He’s a man who always stood for what he believed in, and you have to respect that. And he was fearless. He fought ‘em all, from Liston to Foreman to Frazier, toe to toe.

After we saw him, we went out and scored five runs in the first inning and shut out the Giants. We were inspired, truly. It’s not every day a legend like Muhammad Ali, the greatest, comes to visit and you can feel his presence.

Now if only we could bottle that feeling and carry it with us all season . . .

We break camp on Saturday, the veterans, and head back to Southern California for a few days and a few more exhibitions before opening up on Thursday in Kansas City. We’re ready for a big season, I believe. We’re going to be a lot better than last year. I love our chances.

It’s going to be exciting at Angel Stadium, especially with the big 50th anniversary celebration and all the great players from the team’s past showing up to throw out the first pitch and hang out with us. Another season is just about on!
    

Inspired by `The Greatest’

It’s too bad we can’t have Muhammad Ali come visit us in the clubhouse every day. We might go undefeated!

The Greatest of All Time arrived before our game on Wednesday, and it was like the king of the world paying a visit. There’s nobody like him. He has such a presence, it’s like he’s glowing.

I’ve been around a lot of big stars and celebrities, but he stands all alone. Michael Jordan could walk in and I’d say, hey, that’s cool. But Ali walks in and the whole room comes to a stop. Everybody gets real quiet and just looks at him, knowing you’re in the presence of history.

I’ve met him before. He autographed a picture of us with a little message to me. It’s something I’ll definitely keep for the rest of my life.

When he sat in a chair in the middle of the clubhouse, not far from where I sit between Brandon Wood and Vernon Wells, I was the first to jump up and come over and see him. I’m not shy.

I just told him how great it was to see him again and how much I admire him, that kind of thing. I know he loves to do this. They tell me he really lights up when kids come around and see him. Ali loves kids and ice cream.

One by one all the players came over and shook his hand, said hello. His wife and her sister were with him, and we all talked with them. Very nice, very gracious women. You could see how awed all the players were, especially the young guys. It was like they couldn’t believe Muhammad Ali was actually here.

Ali gave us so much in his life. He’s a man who always stood for what he believed in, and you have to respect that. And he was fearless. He fought ‘em all, from Liston to Foreman to Frazier, toe to toe.

After we saw him, we went out and scored five runs in the first inning and shut out the Giants. We were inspired, truly. It’s not every day a legend like Muhammad Ali, the greatest, comes to visit and you can feel his presence.

Now if only we could bottle that feeling and carry it with us all season . . .

We break camp on Saturday, the veterans, and head back to Southern California for a few days and a few more exhibitions before opening up on Thursday in Kansas City. We’re ready for a big season, I believe. We’re going to be a lot better than last year. I love our chances.

It’s going to be exciting at Angel Stadium, especially with the big 50th anniversary celebration and all the great players from the team’s past showing up to throw out the first pitch and hang out with us. Another season is just about on!
    

AL West is best

A lot of people around the game aren’t noticing how good our division, the AL West, is this season. If you look at the records, it’s the best of the six divisions – and it’s not even close.

I’m finally back now, playing again, but I’ve had a lot of time lately to watch games and study things, missing five weeks with the adductor strain on my right side. One thing I’ve seen is that our whole division has been playing some great baseball, whether the media recognizes it or not.

Check it out. After Sunday’s games, the AL West’s four teams are a combined 35 games over .500. The next closest is the AL East, 25 games over .500. That’s a 10-game gap.

Our Angels are 26 over, Texas is 17 over, and Seattle is four over. Oakland is 12 under .500.

The only way you can judge a division is how it does outside its own division, since you’re going to end up .500 playing each other. We’ve beaten up on the AL East, and I think that says a lot about how tough our division has been. We’re 21 games over .500 against the East. Boston is 11-20 against the West, and Tampa Bay is 8-17.

To be 35 games above .500 overall, that’s a division winning percentage of .537. Take all of our games outside the division, and our winning percentage is .553.

After the AL East, the next strongest division is the NL West, 12 games over .500. What that tells me is there’s great baseball being played all over the West. Look at Colorado and San Francisco, leading Florida and Atlanta in the Wild Card race, and Texas taking the lead from Boston for the AL Wild Card.

The NL East is nine games under .500, and the two Centrals are way down. The NL Central is 26 games under .500, and the AL Central is 37 games below .500.

The Yankees and Red Sox get most of the national publicity and attention, but if you put their records together, they’re 140-96. The Angels and Rangers combined are 138-95. That’s close to a dead heat.

I remember watching ESPN last year, hearing guys say that the Los Angeles Angels have the best record in baseball, but it’s because they beat up on a weak division. We beat up on everybody last year, not just the West.

To say we benefit from playing in a weak division, that’s just not true – especially this year. Our record in the division is not good. We’re 15-19. But we’re 23-10 against the AL East, 19-12 against the Central and 14-4 in Interleague Play.

The Rangers, look what they’re doing. Those guys can play. Seattle is hanging tough and still playing well, and Oakland’s playing good baseball with all the young players it has.

West Coast teams just get no respect. Why? I guess because everybody’s asleep in the East when we’re doing our thing.

I’m not in the AL Central any more, with the Twins, so I can tell you that the West is a lot better than people think. And I’m not even bringing up the travel factor, how our teams have to spend so much more time in the air and how that can wear on you over a long season.

The West is for real. Don’t sleep on us. And there’s a ton of great young talent coming up in both West divisions, so it should be wild out West for a long time to come.       

Thinking about the ‘Say Hey Kid’

When you come to San Francisco, you’re in Willie Mays country. This is his turf. You go by the statue of him outside AT&T Park, and it really hits home. This is where he played some of his greatest baseball, one of the all-time best.

It’s almost like he invented the position I play. He was the master of center field, no quesiton about it.It’s his position, and I’m honored to follow in his footsteps.

I had the good fortune to meet him once. It was at the 2007 All-Star Game here. He was The Man that day, walking out on the red carpet, getting that great ovation from the people. It was emotional for everybody. Seeing Willie Mays walk on that field, a tear in his eye, that really got to me. He is loved here, that’s for sure.

When we all huddled around him on the field before the game that day, I shook his hand. He had a tear in his eye, and I remember how thrilled I was when he told me that he liked the way I play the game. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me, coming from where I did in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, a football player who became a baseball player. Hearing the great Willie Mays tell me that, it blew me away.

All I could think of watching him that day was the film of that classic catch he made in the 1954 World Series, his back to the infield, whirling and making that throw. He was known as the “Say Hey Kid” when he was young, and he played center field the way I’ve always wanted to play it, dreamed of playing it. He threw his whole body and soul into the game. I think that’s why he’s always been so admired — that attitude he brought to the game along with his incredible tools.

People always focus on a guy’s power, his offense, but Willie could beat you running the bases, making great catches and throws, doing it all. He had amazing instincts. When you have a five-tool guy like that, you don’t let him go. You keep him, work with him, help him grow into the player he can be.

I just wish I could have seen him play live. Everybody I’ve talked to who saw him says he was the best, that the brought so much energy and passion to the game that it had an impact on everybody. That’s what I try to do, play the game aggressively, without fear of failure. A young guy like Sean Rodriguez comes up and sees the way I play, hopefully that shows him that you should play aggressively, go first to third, not worry about making a mistake. You have to be bold and believe in yourself to succeed in this game.

I got to know Preston Gomez after I signed with the Angels, and he’s someone we all miss, like Nick Adenhart. Preston was in the game for about 60 years, and he always said Willie Mays was the greatest player of them all.

One of the best compliments I’ve gotten was when Preston told Lyle Spencer of MLB.com, just before he had that accident after leaving Spring Training in 2008, that I reminded him of Willie Mays in some ways. He told Lyle that it was not just the way I played center field and hit with power and ran the bases, but the way I work at my game, trying always to get better. I’m learning new things all the time, and I think I’m better now than I’ve ever been, because of the knowledge I’ve been able to pick up and apply to my game.

One thing Preston told Lyle that I especially appreciate is that I have a positive impact on my teammates. He said I was one of the best leaders, and it would show in the work ethic of my teammates. If that is the case, it’s something I’m tremendously proud of, because nothing is more important to me than playing the game right and being an example for the younger guys coming up.

When you think about it, being compared to Willie Mays in any way is an honor. Coming from a great and respected baseball man like Preston Gomez, that is something I’ll always cherish. 

    

Thinking about the Say Hey Kid

When you come to San Francisco, you’re in Willie Mays country. This is his turf. You go by the statue of him outside AT&T Park, and it really hits home. This is where he played some of his greatest baseball, one of the all-time best.

It’s almost like he invented the position I play. He was the master of center field, no quesiton about it.It’s his position, and I’m honored to follow in his footsteps.

I had the good fortune to meet him once. It was at the 2007 All-Star Game here. He was The Man that day, walking out on the red carpet, getting that great ovation from the people. It was emotional for everybody. Seeing Willie Mays walk on that field, a tear in his eye, that really got to me. He is loved here, that’s for sure.

When we all huddled around him on the field before the game that day, I shook his hand. He had a tear in his eye, and I remember how thrilled I was when he told me that he liked the way I play the game. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me, coming from where I did in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, a football player who became a baseball player. Hearing the great Willie Mays tell me that, it blew me away.

All I could think of watching him that day was the film of that classic catch he made in the 1954 World Series, his back to the infield, whirling and making that throw. He was known as the “Say Hey Kid” when he was young, and he played center field the way I’ve always wanted to play it, dreamed of playing it. He threw his whole body and soul into the game. I think that’s why he’s always been so admired — that attitude he brought to the game along with his incredible tools.

People always focus on a guy’s power, his offense, but Willie could beat you running the bases, making great catches and throws, doing it all. He had amazing instincts. When you have a five-tool guy like that, you don’t let him go. You keep him, work with him, help him grow into the player he can be.

I just wish I could have seen him play live. Everybody I’ve talked to who saw him says he was the best, that the brought so much energy and passion to the game that it had an impact on everybody. That’s what I try to do, play the game aggressively, without fear of failure. A young guy like Sean Rodriguez comes up and sees the way I play, hopefully that shows him that you should play aggressively, go first to third, not worry about making a mistake. You have to be bold and believe in yourself to succeed in this game.

I got to know Preston Gomez after I signed with the Angels, and he’s someone we all miss, like Nick Adenhart. Preston was in the game for about 60 years, and he always said Willie Mays was the greatest player of them all.

One of the best compliments I’ve gotten was when Preston told Lyle Spencer of MLB.com, just before he had that accident after leaving Spring Training in 2008, that I reminded him of Willie Mays in some ways. He told Lyle that it was not just the way I played center field and hit with power and ran the bases, but the way I work at my game, trying always to get better. I’m learning new things all the time, and I think I’m better now than I’ve ever been, because of the knowledge I’ve been able to pick up and apply to my game.

One thing Preston told Lyle that I especially appreciate is that I have a positive impact on my teammates. He said I was one of the best leaders, and it would show in the work ethic of my teammates. If that is the case, it’s something I’m tremendously proud of, because nothing is more important to me than playing the game right and being an example for the younger guys coming up.

When you think about it, being compared to Willie Mays in any way is an honor. Coming from a great and respected baseball man like Preston Gomez, that is something I’ll always cherish. 

    

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