IT HAS BEEN 25 years since the movie “Angels In The Outfield,” a story about a boy praying for the Angels to win the pennant, was released.
Friday night in Anaheim, the Los Angeles Angels lived through a remake.
A REAL-LIFE remake.
Even the most ardent of baseball fans among you probably didn’t see what transpired in that west coast game. I did, and I still can’t believe what I just saw.
If you haven’t heard by now, on the night the Angels played their first home game since the death of teammate Tyler Skaggs, with all players wearing Skaggs’ No. 45 and the name “Skaggs” on their backs, with his face on the outfield wall, movie magic happened, and not very far from Hollywood.
If you saw this transpire in a movie, you would think pure fantasy.
After Skaggs’ mom threw a strike for the first pitch, the Angels, on the eve of Skaggs’ 28th birthday, scored seven runs in the first inning and had two pitchers combine on a no-hitter against the Mariners.
The numerology was scary:
• They scored seven runs in the first, 13 for the game and had 13 hits — with Skaggs set to turn 28 on 7-13.
• They sent 13 batters to the plate in that first inning.
• It was the first combined no-hitter thrown in the state of California since 7-13-1991, the day Skaggs was born.
• Mike Trout‘s first-inning homer went 454 feet.
“You can’t make this up,” Trout, who wore No. 45 in the All-Star Game, told MLB Network after former New Hampshire Fisher Cat Taylor Cole worked the first two innings and Felix Pena the last seven in the no-no. “This is incredible. We obviously loved him and it’s a very emotional night for all of us.”
It was reminiscent of the Yankees rallying to win on the night of Thurman Munson‘s funeral in 1979, with close friend Bobby Murcer the hero. And, says one of the Mariners, of the Marlins after the death of Jose Fernandes.
“I got one thing to say and I said it three years ago and I’m going be done with it,” said Dee Gordon. “If you don’t believe in God, you might want to start. I said it three years ago when I hit the homer for Jose. They had a no-hitter today. Y’all better start. That’s all I got.”
Teammate Daniel Vogelbach: “If that doesn’t give you chills or that doesn’t make you put life in perspective, I don’t know if you have a heartbeat.”
When it ended, the players laid their jerseys on the pitchers’ mound. Skaggs’ jersey hung in the dugout.
It has been 10 years since the Angels endured the death of young pitcher Nick Adenhart. I attended a game at Angels Stadium after that and saw the massive tribute to Adenhart left by fans outside the stadium. The same thing is going on now.
Through Friday, Trout, the best player in the game, was hitting .407 with seven homers and 16 RBIs in the seven games he has played since Skaggs’ death.
“Just an unbelievable game to be a part of,” Trout said Friday night.
Added manager Brad Ausmus: “I feel like it’s partly Skaggsie’s no-hitter.”
A look around
Now we take our weekly trip around the sports world.
• If you’re not paying attention, you have no idea on who’s on what team in the NBA, but know this: the Celtics aren’t as good as they were a few weeks ago but the Eastern Conference has again gotten weaker. What’s going on in the West is ridiculous.
• Listening to the All-Star Game in the car, I heard announcer Jon Sciambi say there were two players on the rosters – Trout and Clayton Kershaw – who would be Hall of Famers if their careers ended today. Sorry, but I have Justin Verlander in that class.
• The Celtics are so impressed with Carsen Edwards in Las Vegas that they’re already signed him to a four-year guaranteed contract. Seems like a ready-to-go backup point guard to Kemba Walker.
• Speaking of that position, Terry Rozier, now in Charlotte, is among the elite at his position, at least according to his agent. “Luckily, people respected what he did enough last year when he was a starter to put some faith in him,” Aaron Turner told The Boston Globe. “People say, ‘Oh, Terry only shot this percentage.’ The Hornets are bringing him in to start. Look at his numbers as a starter. He’s right there with the elite, the (Mike) Conleys, the (Kyle) Lowrys. He’s not far behind Kyrie. He’s elite as a starter, and that’s what they’re bringing him in to do.”
• From the “Hard to Believe” desk, NFL owners, pushing for an 18-game schedule, are suggesting players be limited to playing in a max of 16. It’s a player safety thing. Yes, no Tom Brady for two games. Or Stephen Gostkowski? I have another player safety thing — keep it at 16.
• Coaches’ challenges are now part of the NBA.
• Joe Kelly was welcomed back to Fenway Park Friday night. He said Sox chairman Tom Werner stopped by Dodger Stadium with his championship ring two months ago. No, he wasn’t presented with it in the LA clubhouse but said, “It’s a gorgeous ring. “I love it.”
• Jim Bouton, who passed away at 80 this week, was talking to a bunch of us media types in a hotel lobby during one of the strike situations and told us how the players sought out Marvin Miller. In 1964, the players were getting $11 a day meal money and asked the owners for $17 as a way to start negotiating. The owners told them to buzz off. “And that’s when we went out and got Marvin,” said Bouton. The game hasn’t been the same since Miller came in and beat the pants off the owners almost daily. Miller, of course, SHOULD be in the Hall of Fame.
• Rob Gronkowski, Lindsey Vonn and Dwyane Wade were honored retirees at the ESPYs. Let’s see if that means anything. But Gronk WAS seen catching passing from Tom Brady in a California workout. “Tom needs someone to throw to so, you know, he calls Mr. Reliable Robbie G, the one and only,” the big fella told a reporter.
• From our pal Dave Laurila of Fangraphs: “Christian Vazquez came into the season with 10 home runs in 999 career plate appearances. So far this year he has 15 home runs in 276 plate appearances.”
• Yankees manager Aaron Boone on getting Luke Voit back Saturday: “It was good to see him walk in with all his bags and his muscles this morning.”
• Friday was the 22nd anniversary of Roger Clemens returning to Fenway with the Blue Jays and staring up at Dan Duquette after striking out 16 in eight innings.
• Al Horford at his welcoming press conference in Philly: “The opportunity to play for this type of organization, for this city, was something that I really had to consider and look at … I feel really good about our future.”
• Gray vs. Gray. That was the pitching matchup in Denver Friday night. Jon Gray‘s Rockies edged Sonny Gray‘s Reds 3-2. Both starters pitched seven strong innings. Neither got a decision.
• Memphis’ Andre Iguodala on not going to the White House to celebrate with the current resident, when he was a member of the Warriors: “We don’t want to feel like we’re supporting something that we don’t believe in. We have certain beliefs. If it’s something that we feel like we’re not aligned with, or we feel like we can’t help or try to change any type of way, we try to stay away from it.”
• Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe appeared on Jimmy Kimmel the other night. Talking about the money gap problem, Kimmel asked, “Shouldn’t you be paid MORE than the men?”
• Same topic: Spotted at the Connecticut Sun game Friday night were two people wearing “Rapinoe/(girlfriend Sue) Bird 2020” T-shirts. You can find them online.
• Marcus Morris? Two years totaling $20 million to play for a good team in San Antonio. He backs out and signs a one-year/$15 million deal with the Knicks, who have compiled enough NBA players to be competitive but also have at least two power forwards ahead of him on the depth chart.
• I don’t recall an official announcement telling us there’s a new bowl game, but the ACC announced an agreement to appear in a Fenway Park bowl game (still unnamed) from 2020-25.
• Dolphins TE Chris Herndon, who had a career-high seven catches against the Patriots Nov. 25, has been suspended for the first four games of the new season after a DUI. The Pats visit the Dolphins in Week 2.
• Edwards after experiencing this week’s California earthquakes: “Not to be dramatic, but I really thought I was about to die.”
• Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on why Larry Bird was the toughest player he even went up against: “This muscle here, the one between his ears.”
• OK, I admit it. I enjoyed the Home Run Derby. The split screen was distracting, but it was fun.
• Celtics coach Brad Stevens on Walker: “Boston’s a special place, it’s a special place to play and we’re excited about it. And he’s a neat guy so I’m looking forward to having him on board.”
• With the retirement of Matt Cullen, Zdeno Chara, who turns 43 in March, is now the oldest active player in the NHL.
• Baseball players’ chief Tony Clark on Mookie Betts: “Mookie should be a household name. Mookie should be a one-name guy.”
• Stevens on Kyrie Irving: “I don’t fault him one bit for choosing to follow whatever he wants to do. That’s his right. I enjoyed Kyrie, I like Kyrie and I wish him nothing but health and success.” And on Horford: “We loved Al, we wanted him back. Again, it’s his choice. He can go do what he wants to do and there’s a lot of factors that end up helping these guys making those decisions. But he’s a heck of a player and did a great job here in the three years he was here.”
• As homers keep flying out of ballparks at a record pace, commissioner Rob Manfred insists nothing has been done to the baseballs. Clark says, “I believe the ball suddenly changed. And I don’t know why.”
• Winner Peter Alonso on his Home Run Derby approach: “Basically it doesn’t matter how much jelly you have in the jar, it’s about how well you spread it on your English muffin.”
• Sore losers? An LA coffee chain has banned Kawhi Leonard from its locations after Leonard signed with the Clippers. Last we checked, the Clippers also play in LA. Oh, and Paul George is banned as well.
• Leonard reportedly tried to convince Irving to go with him but the Irving/Durant bond was too strong to break.
• Celtics rookie Grant Williams on trying to improve his 3-point shooting: “It’s not only important for my development, but it’s important for this team. Being able to space the floor for guys like Kemba.”
• Finally, Ty Law, headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, expressed his appreciation to both Brady and Peyton Manning for letters of support they sent on his behalf. “It was awesome. (Brady) was my teammate and I had a lot of respect for him,” Law said on the Adam Schefter ESPN podcast. “We’d had a lot of competition and you know, we’re both Michigan guys. I think by him going out of his way to do that on my behalf, I’m so thankful that he did because he didn’t have to. Peyton Manning wrote a letter as well. It’s not getting as much (publicity) as that one, but Peyton Manning did the same thing. When you get great quarterbacks — and no one can question the greatness and careers they had to be able to do so — and say hey, they feel that I’m worthy of doing that, I think that’s awesome.
“It was great. I competed against him at a game level,” he added. “That was the opposition, but there was always a mutual respect to play him and Pro Bowls as far as on the same team, but to play against each other and go at each other all the time and be covering his top receiver. He beat me, I got some on him, so it was cool when you’re talking about the elite, the best, to feel that way about you as a player and that kinda validates you personally.”