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WORLD SERIES * ANGELS VS. SAN FRANCISCO

Giants Not Jumping for Monkey Joy

October 17, 2002|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

Hate the rally monkey? Blame the San Francisco Giants.

When the Angels' mischievous monkey mascot appears on the scoreboard, the crowds at Edison Field go bananas. Fans deliriously twirl stuffed monkeys in the air.

And, with the Giants in town for the World Series, the Angels sent out a news release recalling the origin of the monkey.

Two years ago, during an interleague game against the Giants, two guys on the Angel video crew were goofing around. They slapped the words "rally monkey" onto an image of a monkey jumping up and down, flashed the clip on the video board and the crowd went nuts.

The Angels rallied from a 4-1 deficit to tie the score. After the Giants took a 5-4 lead in the top of the ninth, the Angels rallied to win in the bottom of the ninth, scoring twice off San Francisco closer Robb Nen.

If Nen does not blow that save, perhaps the rally monkey never is heard from again. Nen did not care to discuss the monkey Wednesday, but two teammates did.

"The monkey doesn't go out there and play," outfielder Marvin Benard said. "It's like USC football. Sometimes they're down, and all of a sudden they play their chant and everybody goes nuts. It's just an inspirational thing."

First baseman J.T. Snow was amused that the Angels are reminding people that the Giants were the first victim of the monkey.

"I think somebody's got a lot of time on their hands," Snow said. "Maybe it's fate. Maybe it's good. Maybe they'll have to put that monkey up there a lot because we're winning."

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John Lackey will be available in the bullpen for Game 1 Saturday. In the division series, in his only relief appearance in the major or minor leagues, Lackey pitched three shutout innings.

If he does not appear in relief, Lackey will make his Game 4 start on 10 days' rest. As expected, the Angels will stick with the same rotation they used in the league championship series, with Jarrod Washburn starting Game 1, Kevin Appier Game 2 and Ramon Ortiz Game 3.

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Chuck Finley finally made it to the World Series -- as a catcher. During his 14 years with the Angels, Finley won 165 games, a franchise record. If the St. Louis Cardinals had won the National League championship series, Finley would have pitched against his old team in the World Series.

But the Cardinals lost, so the Angels invited Finley to catch the ceremonial first pitch before Game 1. The pitcher will be Jackie Autry, widow of the Angels' founding owner, Gene Autry.

*

Pitching coach Bud Black, who withdrew from consideration for the Cleveland Indians' managerial vacancy, might be receptive to interest from the Seattle Mariners. Black grew up in Washington and made his major league debut with the Mariners in 1981. The Mariners do not plan to start their managerial search in earnest until next week.... The Giants are scheduled to arrive in Anaheim today and work out at Edison Field tonight.

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