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Fryer: Angels paying price for some early decisions

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Touring the sports world, here and there ...

•When reviewing the Angels' disappointing season, don't overlook the what-to-do with Mark Trumbo situation of spring. Take it from a guy who saw Trumbo play plenty for Villa Park High that it seemed unlikely Trumbo had the hands needed to play third base in Major League Baseball. What if the Angels had stayed with Trumbo at first base and used the Albert Pujols money on an offensively strong third baseman and on bullpen needs?

•Pujols is going to finish with career-lows in home runs, walks and batting average. His RBIs figure will be the second-lowest in his career that began in 2001, and his strikeouts total will be his third-highest. Expect Pujols to bounce back with a huge 2013.

•Since 1990, NFL teams that start 3-1 make the playoffs 65 percent of the time. The San Diego Chargers are 3-1. The Chargers often defy percentages, and expectations, too, whether those expectations are high or low.

•Tie-breaking procedures already are worth noticing in the NFL. To break a tie within a division or for a wild-card berth, the first step is head-to-head results between the tied teams, and the second is best win-loss percentage in games played with the division. The Chargers are 2-0 in the AFC West with a big Sunday night game this weekend against New Orleans and ex-Chargers quarterback Drew Brees. Southern California's other favorites, the Raiders, are 0-2 in the division and 1-3 overall.

•That there are only three undefeated teams in the NFL – Atlanta, Arizona and Houston – tells how difficult it is to win consistently in that league. Not many people would have predicted those three would be the undefeated teams going into Week 5.

•Ran into Washington Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa, Mater Dei alum, in February at the neighborhood pub where Espinosa declared the Nats would be great this season. The response was a condescending, "Digging your enthusiasm, kid." On Monday, Washington clinched the National League East championship.

•Buzzy Yokoyama is healthy and thriving for the Orange Coast College football team. Yokoyama was named SCFA Southern Conference player of the week for this past weekend's effort against Grossmont, against whom Yokoyama had eight receptions for 67 yards and two touchdowns and 96 yards in kickoff returns in a 49-31 road loss for the Pirates. Yokoyama dislocated his kneecap two years ago, shortening his junior year at Newport Harbor, transferred to Mission Viejo for his senior year and missed a couple games there because of an ankle injury.

•Santa Ana College won an important football game over the weekend with a 33-20 victory over Saddleback. Josh Webb, county player of the year a couple of seasons ago at Garden Grove, had five receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown. In the Southern Conference standings, Grossmont is 2-0, Fullerton is 1-0, three teams – Orange Coast, Palomar and Santa Ana – are at 1-1, Saddleback is 0-1 and Golden West is 0-2.

•Opinion columnist George Will prides himself as being a baseball aficionado, but in one of his more recent slap-arounds of President Barack Obama, Will wrote that Frank Robinson had a "distinguished career" as a manager. Robinson's lifetime winning percentage as in 17 seasons as an MLB manager was .475, and his teams averaged a fifth-place finish within their divisions. Sure, Robinson did not have an abundance of top-shelf talent on those teams – but neither do the 2012 Oakland Athletics.

•Robinson is at or near the top of the list of great players who were not as great as managers. He is the only man to be named most valuable player in the American and National leagues, and he had the ability to deliver dramatic moments. He homered on his first at bat as an Angel in an afternoon season opener at Anaheim Stadium in 1973, and in his first game as Cleveland Indians player-manager in 1975 homered in his first at bat in a "that's how it's done, son" moment.

•Robinson, a basketball teammate of Bill Russell at McClymonds High in Oakland (and a longtime Lakers season-ticket holder in the baseline seats at the Forum), won the Triple Crown with Baltimore in 1966. Carl Yastrzemski won it with Boston in '67. And it's taken this long for someone like Miguel Cabrera of Detroit to threaten to do it again.

•Actually, Cabrera would follow Robinson in winning the Triple Crown outright. When Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown in '67, he tied the late-great Harmon Killebrew of the Twins in home runs, with 44. Yaz batted .326 and drove in 121 runs in leading Boston to an unlikely American League championship.

•In '68, Yaz won the American League batting title with a shockingly low .301 average. Two aftershocks: The pitcher's mound was lowered in '69 from 15 to 10 inches; and the designated-hitter position was created in the AL four years later.

•Greatest manager names in baseball history: Lip Pike and Pants Rowland. Rowland managed the White Sox from 1915 to '18, including a World Series championship in 1917 (the Black Sox scandal happened in '19), and was president of the Pacific Coast League in the 1940s when the PCL was quite close to being a third major league in baseball. Pike managed in the 1870s, with the Cincinnati Reds and the wonderfully named Troy Haymakers and Hartford Dark Blues.

•Another great name for a baseball manager: Cookie Rojas. He was fired as Angels manager late in the 1988 season, when the Angels were 75-79. Yes, he's the father of Angels play-by-play broadcaster Victor Rojas.

•Horse players have a hard time figuring out Slim Shadey. Shadey was shaky this summer at Del Mar, where in the Eddie Read Stakes he went off as the second choice at 9-5 and finished fifth in the race won by Acclamation. This past Sunday at Santa Anita, Slim Shadey was second choice at 3-1 and won the John Henry Turf Championship by 21/2lengths, a nice preview of that might come when he runs in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita on Nov. 3.

•General admission tickets for the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita, Nov. 2 and 3, are available at breederscup.com/tickets. It will be the sixth time the Breeders' Cup will be at Santa Anita. The 10-race card Nov. 2 starts at 11:15 a.m., with the Nov. 2 schedule of 12 races starting at 10:05 a.m.

•"On its face, it's the best talent I've been around. Whether that translates into winning a championship remains to be seen." No, that was not an Angel player quote from March. It was Kobe Bryant talking about the Lakers on Monday.

•Bryant declared Monday, "It's my team," when discussing the Lakers. Well, yeah. Bryant's salary this season is $28 million, and his boss, Coach Mike Brown, makes $4.5 million.

•Do you make six times the pay of your supervisor? Didn't think so.


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