Tuesday, July 10, 2012
All-Star spotlight shifts south and west
By Mark Saxon
Remember when the All-Star game was mostly a Red Sox-Yankees get-together?
This season, 12 of the 36 players on the American League roster play for the Angels or Texas Rangers. It helps, of course, that the AL manager the past two seasons, Ron Washington, gets to load up with his own guys (eight this year) and has a good feel for the AL West talent pool.
But it's also probably something of a bellwether of the shifting demographics in this league. The most vibrant rivalry -- at least in terms of pitting the two best teams against one another -- very well may be Angels-Rangers. The only question is whether the rest of the country realizes that, particularly since most of the Angels home games start after 10 p.m. on the East Coast.
"I think we're kind of making a push to get some of that notoriety over here," Jered Weaver said Sunday. "I think that's good to see, but I still don't think you can take anything away from the East Coast. They're still pretty much the popular group."
Mingling the Angels and Rangers will make for a happy reunion or two. C.J. Wilson will see his former teammates. Weaver likely will get to work with Mike Napoli, his catcher in the minor leagues and for five seasons in Anaheim."We won't have to go over pitches or anything. That'd be sweet," Weaver said.
It could also, however, make for some awkward moments. Napoli and Wilson have been in something of a cold war since spring training, when Wilson tweeted Napoli's cell phone number as a prank. And, frankly, the Angels and Rangers aren't exactly bosom buddies. The Angels have seen the Rangers take over the AL West the past two seasons and they're determined to get it back.
"It's a pretty heated rivalry, I guess. Just being the competitors we are, it's kind of tough to go in the same clubhouse with them and look them in the face," Weaver said."You've got to push that aside, swallow some of your pride and chat a little bit, I guess."