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Angels' Season Makes the Crowd Go Bananas

September 01, 2000|T.J. SIMERS

I was standing on the field when the rains came and washed away the final college football All-Star game against the pros in Soldier Field. I was sitting next to Red Smith in Fenway Park when Bucky Dent hit the home run to give the Yankees a playoff win. I was there the night Kareem Abdul-Jabbar punched out Kent Benson in Benson's first NBA game.

But I'm not sure I've ever seen anything to compare with what I witnessed almost a week ago at Edison Field.

The music reached a stirring crescendo as the Angels rolled a golf cart through the right-field gate before the game, emotions obviously running high throughout the place, the cart moving slowly around the entire field as if it were carrying team greats such as Nolan Ryan or Reggie Jackson, the overwhelmed fans rising to their feet in adoring homage, cheering and each enthusiastically waving a white towel.

The monkey seemed to like it.

It had to be very comforting to the primate to watch 30,000 people making monkeys out of themselves.

Many of the Angel players moved to the top step of the dugout to applaud the little guy/gal for inspiring them, the monkey danced on home plate, and while I wasn't there, someone said they saw a tear come to the eyes of Rex Hudler up in the broadcast booth.


THE ANGELS HAVE had a great season, and now that it's over, they can make ready for next year, when they will be favored to win it all.

With 20 of their final 29 games on the road, the main thing now is to make sure no one gets hurt, which means all fielders should be issued full armored gear every time Matt Wise pitches.

Mike Scioscia should already go down as the greatest Dodger manager in history. Sorry, the greatest Angel manager in history.

Scioscia somehow steered the Angels to three more wins this August (11-15) than last (8-21), accomplished with a pitching staff boasting only two active players with more than five wins: Scott Schoeneweis (six) and Shigetoshi Hasegawa (eight).


SCIOSCIA'S A BEAUT. Nothing rattles the guy. You can knock him out, like Jack Clark did in a home-plate collision a bunch of years ago, but the guy's going to hang onto the ball. And that's the way these Angels play baseball.

He also has the gift of gab, which is a nice way of saying he's full of it. You ask him about the standings, and he acts as if he doesn't know which division his team is in. You ask him about watching the scoreboard, the one that looks directly at him through the entire game, and he acts as if he manages with a blindfold on. Come to think of it, there have been some games like that.

Just by happenstance, broadcaster Jon Miller walked in, asking out loud, "Anyone see what Boston did today?" and Scioscia blurted out, "They lost."

We'll find out next year if he knows how to manage baseball when his team is good enough to win a pennant, but this year he has shown the knack of a champion in managing young emerging stars. By remaining calm, even when management took away his only two veteran pitchers, he has consistently kept his team on track despite an unusual number of last-inning wins and last-inning defeats.

Just think if Kevin Brown, Chan Ho Park and Darren Dreifort were pitching for him . . . you know what I mean.


TO THE REST of the world, I just want to say: Remember how crafty Tommy Lasorda can be when he has to be.

Luke Prokopec, pitching for the Dodgers' double-A farm team, was supposed to be on his way home today to pitch for Australia in the Olympics--and maybe pitch against Lasorda's U.S. team.

I'm sure Lasorda, a lifelong Dodger who is still employed by the team while carrying a certain presence and influence around the organization, had nothing to do with the Dodgers calling up Prokopec and adding him to their team for the last month of the season, thereby keeping him out of the Olympics.

Funny how these things happen.


AS PART OF the team's 40th anniversary celebration, the San Diego Chargers are asking fans to select the 10 greatest moments in franchise history.

They might have to settle for eight.


ANDRE RISON HAS been charged with passing $158,000 in bad checks, and will also go on trial next month on felony charges he took $1,000 in recording equipment from a Kansas business.

"I'm a beautiful father, and I've got a beautiful life," says Rison, although Missouri officials reportedly will ask California to garnish his wages for nonpayment of $34,000 in child support.

A few weeks ago he was cited in Wisconsin for giving police a false name after an altercation in a bar.

"I'm not saying I'm perfect," he said. "But I am a Raider."

I couldn't have said it any better myself.


IT'S MY BIRTHDAY Saturday, and if I thought the Bruins were going to give me a victory over Alabama, I'd go and watch.

Instead, I'm going to Las Vegas to get my own gift-wrapped present: minus six points and the Crimson Tide.


UPSET OF THE WEEK: Both Ryan Leaf and Peyton Manning open with losses.


TODAY'S LAST WORD comes in an e-mail from Bill:

"Michigan State's leading offensive player is T.J. Duckett; on defense they are led by T.J. Turner. As F.P. Santangelo can attest, having initials instead of a normal first name is no guarantee of success in sports. However, the right initials seem to make all the difference."

Michigan State is obviously going to be very good, but the job here is not to editorialize--just relay what the people have to say.


T.J. Simers can be reached at his e-mail address:

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