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AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES

Fox Confident This Series Won't Be a Hound

Network executives are enthusiastic about Angels' appeal and the potential World Series story lines.

October 14, 2002|Larry Stewart | Times Staff Writer

There was a lot of enthusiasm around the Fox television studios in Los Angeles on Sunday after the Angels clinched their first World Series trip.

"This is fantastic," Fox Sports Chairman David Hill said moments after the Angels' 13-5 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

"Phenomenal," is how Fox Sports President Ed Goren summed it up.

They are confident that their network, which will televise the World Series beginning Saturday, has a hit on its hands.

Maybe they can call it "Fox and the Monkey," not to be confused with the 1981 Disney animated film, "The Fox and the Hound."

"The Rally Monkey lives," Hill said. "I love the monkey."

Hill and Goren said it doesn't really matter who the Angels play in the Series -- San Francisco, which leads the NL championship series, three games to one, or St. Louis. They believe the Angels have captured the nation's fancy.

"How wonderful it is in these times of high-salaried professional athletes to see the purity of a bunch of guys just playing for a ring.

"Just 14 days ago this was a small-market, low-revenue team. Now we've got a big-market, high-revenue team. Cinderella is going to the big dance. People love underdogs."

Goren used his wife, Patti, as an example of how the Angels have affected people.

"Patti is not huge baseball fan, but after attending Friday night's game her reaction was, 'Wow!' "

Said Hill: "With the Angels you've got fresh young players who are so exciting and play as the consummate team. Viewers have learned to expect the unexpected with this team.

"Going into the postseason the question was, would Los Angeles embrace this team? We now know Los Angeles has embraced this team and I believe the whole country has as well."

Television ratings provide some evidence. The last two games of the American League championship series got better ratings than comparable games in the same time slots last year.

The overnight rating for Game 3 between the Angels and Twins on Friday night was a 7.4 with a 12 share. The overnight rating for Game 3 of the Arizona-Atlanta NL series last year was a 7.1/12.

Game 4 of the AL series this year got a 6.9/12, compared to a 6.3/11 for Game 4 of the NL series last year.

Another good sign is the L.A. ratings are going up as the postseason progresses. Game 3 got a 17.5/32 in L.A., Game 4 an 18.7/36.

Fox executives also are excited about the World Series story lines.

"When it comes to the Angels, there are so many story lines we need a seven-game Series to get them all in," Goren said. "Or maybe an eight-game Series."

And new ones keep popping up. How about a 190-pound second baseman, a Southern Californian, hitting three home runs in a postseason game?

The Rally Monkey will no doubt be one of the stories, even though there may be some bah-humbug types who don't like the little critter.

"If the series between the Angels and Twins had gone one more game, we were going to have a monkey in our pregame show studio," Hill said. "Since we'll be doing our pregame shows on site during the Series, I don't know if we'll be able to do that."

The Rally Monkey was created in June 2000 when a couple of members of the video crew at Edison Field decided to put a clip of a bouncing monkey on the scoreboard. The clip came from the 1994 movie "Ace Ventura, Pet Detective."

The Angels rallied to win the game that night, and soon the Angels got their own monkey, the white-faced capuchin featured on NBC's "Friends."

So NBC will have a minor role in this Fox-televised Series.

And of course Disney, which owns the Angels as well as ABC, will have a major role.

That's just one of the strange twists that make this World Series so intriguing.

Another is that Fox owns the Dodgers. And the Dodgers once employed Angel Manager Mike Scioscia.

If the Giants end up in the Series, there are more twists. They are managed by another former Dodger, Dusty Baker.

And the Giants' star player, Barry Bonds, epitomizes today's high-priced athlete.

Some people might want to call such a Series, "The Angels and the Devil."

If the St. Louis Cardinals manage to make it to the Series, there is another story line.

Fox's Joe Buck, who will announce the Series with Tim McCarver, is the son of legendary Cardinal announcer Jack Buck, who died in June.

However things turn out, Fox has one more wish.

"If it is a seven-game World Series, that would be ideal," Goren said.

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