The Los Angeles Angels Have That Winning Feeling.

Steve WaverlyContributor IJuly 2, 2009

ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 1:  Nelson Cruz #17 of the Texas Rangers steals second base against Erick Aybar #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the fourth inning at Rangers Ballpark July 1, 2009 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Baseball’s a funny game. A beautiful game. 

And the really great thing about it is its length - 162 games. The cream rises to the top. The playoffs, sure, anything can happen. Especially in the first round, which is too short. Should be seven games. Come on, after six months of grinding it out, you can be eliminated in the equivalent of a weekend series? Three lousy games? Ridiculous.

But not in the regular season. In the regular season you have to earn it. A hot streak, a hot pitcher, a missed suicide squeeze - that won’t do it for you. You have to gut it out, and be better than the other teams. Period.

Which is why the Angels are back in first place. Finally. It feels like it’s been an entire season already.

And hey, there was a moment there when they were sinking and the Texas Rangers were rolling and things could have turned into 2010. This season could have been lost. Still could be, of course. More than half the season to go.

But it doesn’t feel like it. It feels like finally, the Angels are starting to play like the team that hit the century mark last year. Actually, I hope they’re not that team. I hope they’re better. Don’t want to see another first round exit (would somebody PLEASE beat the Boston Red Sox in the east!)

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They’re still iffy on power, despite the recent surge. Still iffy in middle relief. Still a cold spell away from the annual ‘fire Hatcher’ chant.

But they’re playing better.

Lackey looks like himself again. Vladdy seems ready to get hot. Aybar’s playing smart. Rivera is ready. Napoli’s swinging at pitches down the middle of the plate instead of taking them for strike three. And Fuentes looks pissed off enough on the mound to be a shut down closer. Hell, it’s almost time to get giddy (don’t though, that always leads to a losing streak…)

One concern, though. They tore it up against the National League, and as I’ve stated before, the Angels are the best National League team in the American League.

Hopefully the wins will carry over to league play.

Something tells me that this time, they will.