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Angels Are Rushing to Get Their House in Order by Tonight


Consider planning major league baseball's version of a wedding for 45,000 guests. Throw in a dose of uncertainty, the usual first-time jitters and figure the whole event will be documented by about 600 journalists and viewed by millions across the nation.

Don't forget decorations, fireworks, entertainment and food. These are just some of the details that staff of the Anaheim Angels and Edison International Field are rushing to complete before the American League Championship Series against the Minnesota Twins resumes tonight with the first of three games in Anaheim.

"We're absolutely ramped up," said Robert Alvarado, the Angels' marketing and promotions director. "We're working a mile a minute to get things done."

Alvarado is trying to arm every fan with a pair of inflatable, red plastic ThunderStix to slap together. That would be easy if the Angels had a warehouse full of the noisemakers. But these were ordered only after the Angels upset the Yankees, and the ThunderStix are coming from China--a distinct problem considering the 10-day lockout at the Los Angeles-Long Beach ports that has had cargo backed up for days.

"You've heard of the slow boat from China?" Alvarado said. "We didn't want to risk it. Our vendor is actually hand-delivering them. He's getting on a freight plane, flying into LAX, coming straight here on Friday. We're barely going to make our window."

Those are just the freebies. Tim Fisk, general manager of Facility Merchandising Inc. can barely keep the team store stocked. He even had to have a new service counter built to accommodate more cash registers.

Rally monkeys are the hottest seller--roughly 5,000 were purchased during the two home playoff games against the Yankees. Now there is a whole new collection of playoff T-shirts, caps, baseballs, pins and pennants.

"As fast as they unload the stuff, we're delivering it up to the [store] door," Fisk said.

Inside the stadium, workers are whizzing through the halls in golf carts, talking into walkie-talkies. Beepers buzz, cell phones ring.

A casual observer might not notice the changes, but there are many. Red, white and blue bunting circles the stands. The tops of the dugouts have been painted, then repainted--first to say "American League Division Series," then updated to read "American League Championship Series." Groundskeepers are mowing fresh patterns and carefully imprinting a big "A" into the grass.

"We're really busy and we're pulling our hair out, but it's a really fun kind of busy," said Jenny Price, party planner and human resources manager. "We'd rather be doing this than standing on the sidelines watching some other team."

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