September 4, 2006
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 since 1966 the Angels have called the OC home. The Angels presence in mainstream American 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 fan to root, root, root of 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 season, 3.4 million fans during the 2006 season.
There was a time when the Los Angeles (1961-1964), California (1965-1996), Anaheim (1997-2004), 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 4 to go! I was impressed with the friendly atmosphere at Angel Stadium. Whether it was the ushers or concessionaires they 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. The 2006 was full of injuries for the Halos, 2005 American League CY Young winner Bartolo Colon went down early in the season. For the Angels to compete they needed contributions from rookies during the course of the season, two of which provided the spark for the Angels 1-0 win. Jered Weaver continued his outstanding rookie season going 7 shutout innings for the win. He was helped by his rookie battery mate Mike Napoli who threw out 2 attempting base stealers preserving Adam Kennedy’s 4th inning RBI single. Orioles starting pitcher Rodrigo Lopez was the hard luck loser, allowing only 1 earned run in 7 innings.
Most of the 38,217 fans in attendance were awesome. Although at one point during the game Mike and I were sitting next to a couple on a date. The girl next to me 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.