September 4, 2006: Anaheim, California
Orange County, California…the OC, surf and sand, horrendous housewives, a ridiculous FOX melodrama and baseball. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim baseball isn’t the first thing most people think about when the OC comes to mind, although the Angels have called the OC home since 1966. The Angels’ presence in mainstream America would not show until their 2002 World Series victory, when a team of gritty contact hitters and a great bullpen overcame a 5-0 deficit in Game 6 to defeat the San Francisco Giants. The Angels’ World Series run was aided by the Rally Monkey, a primate dressed in Angels’ paraphernalia encouraging Angel fans to root, root, root for the home team. Since their ascension onto the national stage, the Angels have been sold to Arte Moreno (baseball’s first majority Hispanic owner), changed the name of the franchise to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim from Anaheim Angels, and set attendance records in consecutive seasons (3.4 million fans in 2006).There was a time when the Los Angeles (1961-1964), California (1965-1996), Anaheim (1997-2004), and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2005-present) played second fiddle to their National League rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Angels shared Dodger Stadium with the Dodgers from 1962 to 1965 before opening Anaheim Stadium for the 1966 season. The Angels provided an alternative for baseball fans when the Dodgers were out of town. After experiencing Dodger baseball the previous day, I was excited to end the 2006 Ballpark Tour at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, previously voted as the ballpark providing fans with the best value in Major League Baseball.
It could have been all the cold medicine I was taking, but I was ecstatic to attend the Angels’ match-up with the Baltimore Orioles. All the planning had paid off; 29 ballparks down and 4 to go! I was impressed with the friendly atmosphere at Angel Stadium. All the ushers and concessionaires made me feel welcome in their “home.” Heck, its baseball in Southern California; why wouldn’t you have a smile on your face?
On the field, the Angels were defending their American League Western Division crown. 2006 was full of injuries for the Halos, including 2005 American League Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon, who went down early in the season. For the Angels to compete, they needed contributions from rookies during the course of the season, two of whom provided the spark for the Angels’ 1-0 win. Jered Weaver continued his outstanding rookie season, going seven shutout innings for the win. He was helped by his rookie battery-mate Mike Napoli, who threw out two attempting base stealers, thus preserving Adam Kennedy’s 4th-inning RBI single. Orioles starting pitcher Rodrigo Lopez was the hard luck loser, allowing only one earned run in seven innings.
Most of the 38,217 fans in attendance were awesome. However, at one point during the game, Mike and I were sitting next to a couple on a date. The girl asked her date what the yellow pole was that we were sitting near. Only in the OC! With that being said, Angel Stadium of Anaheim does offer a first-class baseball experience. The atmosphere is nurtured by Angels’ owner Arte Moreno who has transferred several principles that made him successful in the advertising world to the baseball diamond. He has been known to walk the Angel Stadium concourses to meet and greet fans while asking them for feedback on the ball club. Angels’ baseball is #1 in Southern California, and they have their owner to thank for it.