The Ballad of Albert and Corey

COREY SEAGER is one of the Dodgers’ best hitters, but he will be sidelined for as long as a month (Wikipedia).

There’s a lot going on in the area sports world right now, so there’s a lot to take notice of here in Sports Monday.

Albert Pujols and his .198 batting average were shown the door by the Angels. Standing outside, as it turned out, were the Dodgers, who signed the future Hall of Famer to a one-year contract.  It almost seemed that the folks from Chavez Ravine were as – here comes the pun – “off-base” with Albert as the fellas from State College Boulevard have been.

And then Corey Seager is hit by a pitch on his right hand and is out for four weeks or more. Suddenly, there’s a place in the Blue World for a barely-mobile fella who can still go deep.

The Dodgers have had such an up-and-down season. They raced out of the starting blocks and appeared to be coasting toward a second straight World Series title when they tripped over one of the hurdles (metaphorically) and went into a long stumble, losing 15 games out of 20.

But then it looked like that was all over, as the LAD grabbed five of six games. Then Al. Then Corey and his hand.

We’re not suggesting that Pujols is quite a replacement for Seager. But it sure looks like the proverbial Baseball Gods are determined that the defending champs will have to defend that crown very vigorously this time around.

Dodgers schedule: Starting today (Monday) the Dodgers host Arizona for four games. On Friday, the Big Blue is in San Francisco.

Don’t forget Mike, but Oh, Ohtani!

The otherwise unfortunate Angels will again have a candidate for American League Most Valuable Player. Strangely enough, it may not be Mike Trout.

SHOHEI OHTANI (WIkipedia/Erik Drost)

Shohei Ohtani may be stuck with a fourth place team, but he’s moving into the lead – at least for now – as a choice as the league’s most outstanding athlete. As everyone from Kyoto to Anaheim knows, Ohtani is a two-way player who can throw a pitch at 100 miles and hour and hit the horsehide 400 feet.

His ninth inning home run helped the Angels rally to a 6-5 win over the Red Sox on Sunday. It was his 12th round-tripper of the season, tied – along with three other players – for the MLB lead. He’s tied for 10th with 29 RBIs.

But that’s just at bat. As a pitcher he has a 2.10 ERA with 40 strikeouts in five games.

Now, it’s nevertheless going to be hard to top Trout’s performance. Despite a recent slump, he’s hitting .333 with eight home runs. That’s pretty good; he also has a .624 slugging average and a 2.1 WAR (wins above replacement) mark, one of the best in the league.

Angel fans can glory in having two of the best players in baseball –maybe three if you count Jared Walsh with his .338 average and 45 hits – but, darn it, that still makes them six or seven or so players short of being a contending team.

Angels schedule: At home at the Big A Monday through Wednesday against the Diamondbacks, followed by a double-header on Thursday against the Twins. Friday will be a single game against the A’s, also in Anaheim.

Lakers can look ahead now

With LeBron James and Anthony Davis back in the lineup, the Lakers and their fans can look optimistically toward the NBA playoffs. Sunday’s 110-98 win over the New Orleans Pelicans was the team’s fifth straight victory, finishing the regular season with a 42-30 record (tied for fifth in the Western Conference) and a ticket to the play-in tournament Wednesday against Golden State. If the Lakers win, they will face the winner of the San Antonio-Memphis series on Friday.

The Clippers, by the way, clinched fourth in the conference and will play Dallas in a best-of-seven series.

And we quote …

“It was huge for us to come up with this win. I think it shows we can beat any team and get things rolling.” – Shohei Ohtani after Sunday’s Angels’ 6-5 victory over the Boston Red Sox.

“Sports Monday” is written by Pete Zarustica.

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