Breaking news from FiveThirtyEight.com (and reissued by ABC News): “Mike Trout should have won a playoff game by now.” But is it his fault the Angels have been to only one playoff series since he joined the roster as a 19 year old in 2011 — that was getting swept out in three games by Kansas City in 2014 of the ALDS, where Trout went 1-for-12 with a solo homer.
“Trout has, without question, been the best individual player of the 2010s,” FiveThirtyEight.com also declares. “Over the decade thus far, he leads all hitters in on-base plus slugging and ranks No. 1 among all players — both batters and pitchers — in wins above replacement (with 64.5). But among his peers atop the WAR leaderboard, Trout stands alone with that goose egg under the postseason win column.”
In that same time, Clayton Kershaw is second behind Trout in WAR with 58.5. But to compare, the Dodgers have 31 wins in the postseason during his career (against 30 losses). And no World Series titles, having had ample opportunity to capture such a trophy over the last two seasons.
But for now, FiveThirtyEight’s early preseason MLB forecast projects the Angels to break even with 81 wins, and a 25 percent chance of making the playoffs. “If we assume they’d have about a 45 percent chance of winning any given playoff game, there’s an 85 percent chance they won’t win a playoff game this year either, continuing Trout’s dubious streak through the end of the decade,” the story adds.
A couple days later, FiveThirtyEight.com posted a story calling Trout “a $430 million bargain” after he signed a 10-year extension. “Now it’s up to the Angels to finally build a winner around him,” says the subheadline.
The Angels and Dodgers play two more meaningless exhibitions against each other — Monday at Angel Stadium, 7:07 p.m., and Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, 7:10 p.m., both on Fox Sports West and SportsNet LA – before getting to official business.
That would be:
OPENING WEEKEND SERIES:
* Dodgers vs. Arizona, Dodger Stadium, Thursday at 1:10 p.m., Friday at 7:10 p.m., Saturday at 6:10 p.m., Sunday at 1:10 p.m. ESPN has the opener, but not in L.A. All are SportsNet LA.
* Angels at Oakland, Thursday at 1:07 p.m., Friday at 7:07 p.m., Saturday at 6:07 p.m., Sunday at 1:07 p.m., all on Fox Sports West.
Also on Thursday’s Opening Day:
* Baltimore at New York Yankees, 10 a.m., ESPN
* Boston at Seattle, 4 p.m., ESPN
Also on Sunday:
* Chicago Cubs at Texas, 1 p.m., ESPN
* Atlanta at Philadelphia, 4 p.m., ESPN
Behold the “super bloom.” It has more to do with fields of orange poppies than grabbing a case of new Orange Vanilla Coke and wondering how Villanova didn’t make it to the Sweet 16 to defend its NCAA men’s basketball title.
Anaheim is allowed to blossom as the Southern California home again for March Madness as the West Region decides its Final Four candidate. Top seed Gonzaga has gotten over its West Coast Conference title game hiccup with impressive wins over No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson and No. 9 seed Baylor in the first two rounds.
Now, we’ve got:
West Region at Honda Center:
* No. 1 seed Gonzaga vs. No. 4 seed Florida State, 4:09 p.m., Channel 2 (Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner)
* No. 2 seed Michigan vs. No. 3 seed Texas Tech, 6:30 p.m., Channel 2 (Harlan, Miller, Bonner)
Regional final: Saturday
South Region at Lousiville
* No. 3 seed Purdue vs. No. 2 seed Tennessee, 4:29 p.m., TBS (Brian Anderson, Chris Webber)
*No. 1 seed Virginia vs. No. 12 seed Oregon, 7 p.m., TBS (Anderson, Webber)
Regional final: Saturday
East Region at Washington DC:
* No. 2 seed Michigan State vs. No. 3 seed LSU, 4:09 p.m., Channel 2 (Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill)
* No. 1 seed Duke vs. No. 4 seed Virginia Tech, 6:40 p.m., Channel 2 (Nantz, Raftery, Hill)
Regional final: Sunday
Midwest Region at Kansas City
* No. 1 seed North Carolina vs. No. 5 Auburn, 4:29 p.m., TBS (Ian Eagle, Jim Spanarkel)
* No. 2 seed Kentucky vs. No. 3 seed Houston, 7 p.m., TBS (Eagle, Spanarkel)
Regional final: Sunday
Also in the NCAA women’s tournament:
UCLA (21-12), the sixth seed in the Albany Region, gets no breaks playing No. 3 seed Maryland (29-4) on its home court at College Park, Md. (Monday at 4 p.m., ESPN) for a chance to move into the Sweet 16. UCLA, sparked by senior guard Kennedy Burke out of Sierra Canyon High, comes off an 89-77 win over Tennessee in the first round. Louisville is the top-seeded team in the Albany Region and has already advanced to the regional semifinals. The UCLA-Maryland winner would take on unusual No. 2 seed Connecticut, which has tore through its first two round matchups against Townson and Buffalo. In the 2017 tournament, UCLA was a No. 4 seed and lost 86-71 to No. 1 seed UConn in the Sweet 16.
They’re telling us that Santa Anita race track plans to reopen on Friday. We’ll see. In the wake of 22 thoroughbred deaths since the day after Christmas, the track has been shutdown since March 3.
“The horse deaths at Santa Anita, and the subsequent rule changes, have roiled the sport, leaving far more questions than answers and creating an uncertain future in an industry that employs many thousands of people, from the very highest income brackets to the very lowest,” Tim Layden writes recently in Sports Illustrated.
Then there’s a column this weekend by Norman Chad, the syndicated writers based at the Washington Post who often goes tongue in cheek but perhaps got a bit serious about this one: “Horse racing is dying. It should be dead. (Boy, do I hit the ground running with a sports humor column, or what?) I say this not in response to 22 horse fatalities at Santa Anita racetrack since Dec. 26, I say this because horse racing would not exist without the involuntary participation of its four-legged athletes.”
The California Horse Racing Board needs to approve the re-opening Thursday. If so, the San Luis Rey Stakes will go Friday. Meanwhile, it’s about five weeks out to the Kentucky Derby …
With eight games left, the Clippers (44-30) have climbed to the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference after their fifth win a row and 10th in their last 11, at New York on Sunday, and could switch places with Portland at No. 4 (a key component for home-court advantage) and even get to the No. 3 hole after this week if more things break their way.
First, their own four-game schedule coming up as they finish a four-game roadie:
* At Minnesota, Tuesday at 5 p.m., Fox Sports West
* At Milwaukee, Thursday at 5 p.m., Prime Ticket
* vs. Cleveland, Staples Center, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
* vs. Memphis, Staples Center, Sunday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
Oh, also this week for the eliminated Lakers (32-41), who just snapped a five-game losing streak:
* vs. Washington, Staples Center, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., TNT
* At Utah, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN
* vs. Charlotte, Staples Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
*At New Orleans, Sunday at 3 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
The one-and-only USC vs. UCLA regular-season series that counts in the Pac-12 standings takes place this weekend at Dedeaux Field on the USC campus – Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 4 p.m., all on the Pac-12 Network. When they met a couple weeks ago at Dodger Stadium, the Bruins improved to 11-3 with a 7-5 win capped off by a two-run double in the eighth inning from freshman Matt McLain.
UCLA remains ranked No. 1 in the nation by D1Baseball after winning three games last week.
The rest of the week:
* UCLA (17-4), 5-1 in P12): at Loyola Marymount, Tuesday at 6 p.m.
* USC (8-14, 2-4 in P12): at Long Beach State, Tuesday at 6 p.m.
* Loyola Marymount (14-8, 5-1 WCC): vs. UCLA at Page Stadium, Tuesday at 6 p.m.,; at Portland, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m,. Sunday at noon
* Pepperdine (12-8, 4-2 WCC): at Cal State Fullerton, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; At Pacific, Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.
*Cal State Northridge (12-13): Big West opener at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.
* Long Beach State (3-19): vs. USC at Blair Field, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; at Cal, Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.
* Cal State Fullerton (11-10): vs. Pepperdine at Goodwin Field, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; Big West opener vs. UC Santa Barbara at Goodwin Field, Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.
* UC Irvine (15-4): vs. San Diego at Anteater Ballpark, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; Big West opener at Hawaii, Friday and Saturday at 9:35 p.m., Sunday at 4 p.m. The Anteaters are ranked No. 21 in the latest D1Baseball.com poll.