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Watching some of the New York/LA game tonight at a friend's house, we were commenting back and forth about how annoying a lot of the Angels' players are, from Figgins' ridiculous hot streak to Anderson's overratedness to Willits' paralyzing reluctance to swing the bat to Rodriguez's insufferably theatrical celebration. It seems like every time you look up, the Angels are doing something obnoxious.

Then it dawned on me - the Angels might have a lot of annoying players, but right now, we're the annoying team. I know about Arizona and all that, but at least in the American League, we're the team that seemingly doesn't have a right to be where it is. We're the team that nobody can figure out, the team that no one saw coming and the team whose success by and large remains a mystery, even to us. We're the team with the .500 rotation, a bullpen of nobodies, a big money first baseman hitting .209, and a cleanup hitter with an ugly, awkward swing. Our sexiest bat is a singles hitter who takes annoying to a whole new level, our #2 RBI guy's been with eight teams in nine years, hardly anyone in the lineup can take a walk, and there's been little indication that the GM or field manager are anything other than borderline incompetent. This team is a pest, a pest that refuses to die off despite a trio of extended losing streaks. I talk all the time about how the Angels' maddening success gets on my nerves, but at least it's easy to understand why they are where they are. At the moment, they (and the Yankees) have every right to be perhaps even more annoyed by us. We're that team that no one understands. And I feel a little dirty when I say that I finally get how fun this can be.

Biggest Contribution: Raul Ibanez, +23.6%
Biggest Suckfest: Ichiro, Jose Vidro, -5.1%
Most Important At Bat: Ibanez homer #1, +17.4%
Most Important Pitch: Redmond double, -9.7%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): +11.2%
Total Contribution by Position Players: +36.5%
Total Contribution by Opposition: +2.3%

(What is this chart?)

Once again I've got nothing to put here, since I dashed out of the house for good in the third inning once it was 7-1. It was nice to see Matt Garza throw more flat pitches than I've ever witnessed before in my life, and in so doing going from one home run in 44 innings to five in 46.2. He clearly wasn't on top of his game, but at this point in the season, I don't care - it all counts the same in the standings, and I'll take whatever I can get as we kick off a murderous three weeks. I fear that Horacio bought himself more time that he doesn't deserve, and that Richie earned Broussard another all-expenses-paid week-long trip to the bench, but right now I just have to have faith that things will work themselves out as they should, because otherwise I'm going to come off as sounding far too pessimistic for a fan of a 70-52 ballclub. I'll save that blog identity crisis post for another day, when it isn't one in the morning.

The Angels won (rats!), but the Yankees lost (wee!), which - when combined with the 9-4 victory - boosted our playoff odds from 34.9% to 42.9%, with a season-best 28.1% shot at the Wild Card. Win again tomorrow and we're pretty much guaranteed to have our best odds of the year. I wish that NY/LA series would never end.