My Time With The Angels

Alright, so maybe I don't know the whole team, but for the first time in my life I actually know a player on the Los Angeles Angels. I have to say, it's pretty cool to see a guy I went to high school with make it to the big leagues.

In 2003, I was a freshman in high school and Angels pitcher Daniel Stange was a senior. He also played basketball in high school, and I'm pretty sure he was just out there because he needed something to do before baseball season started. At the time, I had no idea he was such a good baseball player, but I learned pretty quickly.

Stange seemed like a nice enough guy. I only talked to him a few times during the basketball season, as we weren't on the same team, and I'm sure he had better things to do than to talk to some dumb freshman. He was probably thinking about baseball as well, and he had a lot of time on the basketball team's bench to think about it. Baseball was obviously his sport.

Stange hasn't had the best start to his MLB career. When he came up with the Diamondbacks a few years ago, I can remember seeing Alfonso Soriano hit a huge bomb off him.  Just like that, he was back down in the minors. Since then, he's bounced around to a few teams, but I think he's finally found a home with the Angels, a team in desperate need of relief pitching.

It must be nice to get called up and find a high school teammate there to greet you. Dane De La Rosa is also from Elsinore high school, which is were Stange and I went. I was surprised to see two kids from my high school in the big leagues; who knew we had that kind of talent?

Back in freshman year, I saw a lot more of Stange once baseball season started. He always seemed to be hanging around the baseball field. One day, I was throwing a bullpen session right next to him, and he gave me a few tips. I kept thinking, damn, this guy throws hard.

He had just finished up, and I had a few more pitches left to go. He was watching and telling me a few things to work out a kink in my mechanics. I threw my last pitch, and he looked at me and said to throw one more. I threw one more, and he said the same thing. I was more than a little confused.

I kept thinking to myself that I was doing something wrong, and it turned out that I was. I was just missing the strike zone, and Stange somehow noticed. Knowing that I was more of a basketball player, he reminded me that when you finish shooting around, you always want to make your last shot so you can finish on a positive note.

I guess I hadn't thought about it, but Stange said pitching is the same way. Always end on a positive note by making a good last pitch and ending with a strike. To this day, that simple advice has stuck with me.

I know I don't have some crazy story about partying with a guy on the Angels, but it's still a cool feeling to know that I've taken meaningful advice from a major league player.

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