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It's an All-California Series, but Fans Are Worlds Apart

Rivalry between Angel and Giant lovers heats up faster than you can say rally monkey.

October 15, 2002|Geoffrey Mohan and Stan Allison | Times Staff Writers

The San Francisco Giants facing off against the Anaheim Angels in the World Series, made possible by a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night, will be about so much more than sports.

For the fourth time in history, an all-California series will offer the opportunity to dissect the Golden State and line up its parts along lines both mythical and real.

It will pit fog versus smog, cioppino versus chile verde, politically correct versus politically conservative, Web-surfing versus wave surfing, and the Grateful Dead versus Los Lobos.

The rest of the country will have to get on the bandwagon or sit it out, as one fan put it.

"California World Series: Deal with it," read a sign in Pacific Bell Park as the Giants celebrated.

But the real quandary, the tug-of-war with deep moral implications, is saved for the dispirited Dodger fan. To wit: Does hatred win over indifference? Is it OK to drop a haughty disdain for the Halos of Orange County, just to feed a hatred for all things Giant?

Likewise, can Dodger-haters up north project their rivalry on a Dodger substitute?

"Anaheim's never been on the radar, but it'll be just as easy to hate them," Ricardo Perez, 31, a businessman and lifelong Giants fan, said in the Royal Exchange bar in San Francisco's financial district.

"They represent the same problem," added Nicholas Meyer, 30, a San Francisco native who recently moved back to the Bay Area from Los Angeles after living here three years.

At Lefty O'Doul's, a Giants mecca in San Francisco's Union Square, three Mason conventioneers from the San Fernando Valley watched the game with bemused detachment. But they admitted they relish the prospect of an all-California series.

The last one -- San Francisco vs. Oakland in 1989 -- didn't count, insisted Ken Chew, 63, a wedding photographer from Winnetka. "That's not all-California," he said. "That's just the Bay Area."

If there weren't enough nuances for rivalry and revenge, many Angels fans rooted for the St. Louis Cardinals, but not because they seemed like an easier mark. It was solely for the prospect of bringing back to Anaheim two former Angels now playing for the Cardinals, then beating the stuffing out of them: Jim Edmonds, who was traded to St. Louis in 2000 for Adam Kennedy, and Chuck Finley, the Angels' winningest pitcher.

"I would love to see Chuck come in," said Scott Brown of Fullerton, who fantasized about being "the loudest heckler he's gonna have."

It was not to be. Instead, the Angels will get the taciturn Barry Bonds, who was raised in Riverside, and fellow Riverside native Dusty Baker, the Giants manager. They'll get J.T. Snow, son of Rams great Jack Snow, who went to Los Alamitos High School.

The younger Snow started in the Angel organization and will face Tim Salmon and Troy Percival, two of the guys with whom he came up through the minors. And while he hasn't said as much, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia, an ex-Dodgers catcher, may relish matching wits with former teammate Baker.

"Whoever they play, I don't care -- my dreams have come true," said Heather Pone, 28, of Orange, who would have preferred the Finley/Edmonds revenge scenario.

Bonds, who will make his first World Series appearance in his storied 17-year career, said the rare matchup -- which pairs two wild-card teams for the first time -- is deserved by both teams.

"The Angels are a good team," Bonds told ESPN. "They've played well, that's why they're in the World Series. We've played well, that's why we're in the World Series."

Dave Irvin, 28, of Fountain Valley, had a rare, unemotional reason for wanting San Francisco: "I think their lineup isn't as deep or as strong as the Cardinals'," Irvin said. "I don't think the pitching staff is as good as the Cardinals'. All you have to do is walk Barry Bonds and you get through that lineup."

Whatever. That's not what it means to attorney Brian Coolidge of San Francisco. "Four words: bastion of conservative Republicanism," the 28-year-old said of Anaheim.

Neil Palmer, 24, a British transplant and Web developer, stabbed at the heart of the Disney-owned team: "What's next, the rally monkey on ice?" he said. "We're going to drown the bastard in blood."

Raul Soto, a bell captain at the Fairmont Hotel, quietly contemplated the dramatic potential at Lefty O'Doul's. "It will be a good series . . . . Then, everybody's expecting an earthquake."

Indeed, during the last all-California matchup, a 7.0-magnitude tremor rippled through Candlestick Park during Game 3 of the Giants-Athletics series on Oct. 17, 1989. The Loma Prieta quake killed 67 people, and forced a 10-day postponement of the game, won by the A's en route to a four-game sweep.

Twice before, the Dodgers and A's squared off in a World Series, with the Dodgers winning in five games in 1988 -- a series best known for Kirk Gibson's pinch-hit home run in the ninth inning that won the first game. The A's won the other matchup, in 1974.

Even before the opponent was decided Monday night, fans lined up at Edison Field, oblivious to signs posted there that the series was sold out.

"I'm just hoping that same miracle atmosphere that's happening on the field is going to happen out here so we can get some tickets," said Johnny Ramirez, 36, of Rancho Cucamonga, one of hundreds of fans who swarmed the stadium.


Times staff writers Mike Hiserman and Kimi Yoshino, and correspondent Chris O'Connell contributed to this report.

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