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MIKE DOWNEY

This Series Features Two Homesick Teams

August 01, 1994|MIKE DOWNEY

A baseball series will be played this week at Anaheim between the California Angels and the Seattle Mariners--neither of whom want to be there.

The Angels dislike the abuse they have been receiving at home.

The Mariners have no home.

You talk about tragic. I figure by week's end, both teams will be pouring their hearts out to Oprah.

Several Angel players have gone on record recently saying that they are sick of being booed by their own fans. A coach, Rod Carew, agreed in a TV interview last week that often the Angels prefer playing on the road because of the way they are treated at home.

Funny, but here I always thought Anaheim Stadium fans were among the friendliest and most patient in baseball. But apparently to the players it is about as warm and cozy as the Bates Motel. I never noticed that it had turned into their personal field of screams.

I never realized that the Big A had become. . . .

Halo Hell!

Unluckily for the Angels, who haven't been held hitless for several games now, their scheduled trip to Seattle for this week was canceled because the Kingdome roof up there is crumbling. Several heavy ceiling tiles fell, causing Seattle's management to close the stadium indefinitely and search for a new place to play.

It used to be the only things falling on your head in Seattle were raindrops.

Were they more creative, the Mariners would make use of their hardship and appeal to their fans to come out to the Kingdome anyway. You know, for promotions like:

--Look Out Below Night!

--Guess Which Inning a Tile Falls on Ken Griffey and Win Dinner for Two!

--Free Construction Helmet Night!

--Doubleheader with Red Sox and Amish Roof-Raising Between Games!

--Lucky Concussion Night!

Instead, the poor Mariners must travel on and on, like the Flying Dutchman or Charlie on the MTA. They are now the American League's permanent floating visiting team. Their life is one long baggage claim. They wear gray wherever they go. I sure hope each guy has more than one road uniform or else Seattle's laundry bill will be enormous.

Mariner management proposed that the team play its home games in Tacoma, at a park apparently more fit for games involving Charlie Brown and Snoopy. It is a minor league park, so it is understandable why the Mariners would feel right at home there. They already use an 18-year-old shortstop who could still be eligible for American Legion ball.

The proud Angels, however, said they would rather be in a coma than Tacoma. They said the park only held something like 9,000 fans--which you would think would be plenty of seating for an Angel-Mariner game.

So, once again, Seattle caved in.

OK, agreed Mariner management, nobody has to come up here, ever again. Tell us when and where you want us. California, Texas, Massachusetts, we don't care. We will pile up that frequent-flier mileage and take the whole team to Rio de Janeiro after the season! They don't even check professional athletes in customs down there!

Meantime, the Angels have consented to play them in that mean old place, Anaheim Stadium. Mortal combat between the two worst teams in the American League.

The Angels provide a wonderful family atmosphere. There are characters in funny, furry costumes roving through the stands. There are funny sounds coming over the loudspeakers, like train engines and slide whistles. It's a happy, happy ballpark. It's like going to a baseball game at Chuck E. Cheese.

So, boys and girls, moms and dads, please don't boo. It makes the Angels so very sad.

Their record at home is 20-34. If things don't perk up, they may pick up the whole team and move to Baltimore or St. Louis or some needy place.

It isn't the Angels' fault that pitchers pitch perfect games against them. They are so depressed over how they get treated at home that they barely have the strength to pick up a bat. Maybe they could make themselves feel better by dumping a popular player or manager, but, well, it's like that Texas pitcher Kenny Rogers says, you got to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em.

As for the Seattle-Tacoma Mariners, please, don't boo them, either. One thing I never do is boo the homeless.

Let's simply rejoice in the fact that no Seattle announcer ever had to say: "Here's the 2-2 pitch to Griffey, going for his record-tying 61st home run, and it's a long drive! Way back! Going! Going! Gone! A home run for Ken Griffey Jr., who circles the bases, waving to the fans, rounding second now and. . . . Oh, my God! Junior has been hit by a ceiling tile!"

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