STARTING POINTS: Angels trade of Morales a mistake

POINT ONE: One less Angel in the outfield

OK, so Kendrys Morales was a DH/first baseman, but the movie wasn’t called Angels in the Infield, or Angels in the On-Deck Circle, so please allow me my forced wordplay. While smart money seemed to be on eiher Mark Trumbo or Peter Bourjos being the Angel player jettisoned because of an overloaded lineup, it was Morales instead who was shipped to Seattle for above-average starter Jason Vargas. The move makes a lot of sense in the simple trade-from-your-strength-to-improve-your-weakness idea, but there’s something about it I don’t like. Morales seemed to me like the dream player to anchor that power-center of the lineup. Someone to make you afraid to pitch around Pujols or Hamilton, whoever bats fourth. Trumbo’s second-half slide has me concerned that he can’t be that guy for a whole season. A “professional hitter” like Morales is just what the doctor ordered in that spot. And with Trumbo behind Morales, wow. Now instead of “wow” the Angels’ lineup makes me say “not bad.” There’s a difference. Vargas is certainly a competent innings-eating arm, but he doesn’t excite me as a possible postseason dynamo. Tough lefties are nice to have though. I guess put me down for not loving this trade, until I’m proven wrong. Good news for Angels’ fans is, I am wrong a lot.

POINT TWO: Historic Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers have quietly (unless you sit near me) built their record to 19-6 with a franchise-best 11-game winning streak. They are beating good teams on the road, crushing bad teams at home, and just playing all-around great team basketball on both ends of the court. They look so title-worthy, that a rumor about Phil Jackson coming back to coach is probably out there somewhere. There’s not really much more to say that I haven’t already blabbed about in this blog, but I just wanted to revisit them to give them a shoutout for their franchise record. The NBA record winning streak of 33 in a row by the 1971-72 Lakers, is safe … for now.  Stay tuned. Actually you don’t really have to stay tuned. They’re not going to win 33 in a row, but they are pretty darned good, I think everyone would have to admit at this point.

POINT THREE: Story of the year poll a bummer

The AP conducted a poll of the top 10 sports stories of the year, and the takeaway from the results is that it was a sad year in the world of sports. Most of the top 10 stories, really have nothing to do with sports. At least not the good stuff, anyway. For the record here are the top 10 stories as voted on by U.S. editors and news directors:

1. Sandusky/Penn State

2. Lance Armstrong doping

3. Saints bounty-gate

4. NFL concussions

5. The Olympics (Hey, actual sporting achievement finally)

6. College football playoffs will happen

7. Replacement refs

8. Giants win Super Bowl after being 7-7 late in season

9. Pat Summitt retires

10. Peyton Manning’s successful return.

So the final tally is only three of the 10 have to do with achieving something athletically on the field — Olympics, Giants, Manning. The rest are either scandals, embarrassing occurrences or in the case of Pat Summitt an emotional retirement. The ball’s in your court 2013, please, just run with it, don’t do any of the embarrassing things 2012 did with it.