A FAN FOR SALE PART 2: Angels Aren't Just in the Outfield

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Dixon McPhillips

The view from my parking spot.

INTRO—California's a Brand New Game
PART 1—Yo Soy Tu Padre

ANAHEIM, Calif.—So I realized in my last entry on the Padres, I left off the score. The Padres ended up losing that game, 6-1. For this installment of A Fan for Sale, I traveled a little way down the 5 to Angel Stadium for the Twins-Angels game. En route, I could see the Tower of Terror, Space Mountain, and the Matterhorn from Disneyland. A huge plus! Anyway, here’s what I found in Anaheim:

THE STADIUM

Angel Stadium is good, but not great. It’s comfortable, but it doesn’t really have any unique quirkiness. At the ballpark’s main gate, the paving is laid out in a baseball diamond pattern and two giant Angels helmets flank either side. A welcoming statue of Gene Autry, the founder of the Angels sits outside, inviting fans with his signature smile and outstretched hand.

Parking wasn’t too much trouble, and since the stadium’s in the middle of nowhere, there’s no gameday traffic to contend with after the game.

Inside, the rocky fountain in the left-center stands provide some nice ambience from a distance, but up close, there’s really nothing to see.



The stadium also lends some much-needed shade over most of the infield seats.

As far as concessions go, Angel Stadium offers a usual fare. There’s Ruby’s Diner that has a retro 50s atmosphere and the club level holds the Knothole Club, a baseball-themed restau-bar serving among other things a California Roll plate (typical ballpark cuisine).

THE TEAM

I didn’t get to talk to any players, though I tried desperately to get a word in with Gary Matthews, Jr.—since his dad played for a long time with the Braves.

But I did get to talking with the fans sitting next to me about how the Angels now remind us, more than any other team, of the Braves in the 90s. The guy, who as it turned out was Alan Autry (no relation to Gene, I think), regaled me with stories about going to Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium while in Georgia shooting the TV show, “In the Heat of the Night,” to watch the Braves make their worst-to-first comeback in 1991.

He and I both agreed that the Angels are a ballclub with no real “big-hitter” per se. They instead rely on a great pitching staff, built around John Lackey, Jared Weaver, and Ervin Santana. And their lineup gets the job done.

And the beauty of the Angels is that they're in the American League, so I don't have to totally forsake my love of the Braves.

Chone Figgins is fun to watch on the base paths—he stole second and third in the bottom of the eighth to set himself up to score the Angels’ tenth run of the game, earning all fans ten free wings at Claim Jumpers.

THE FANBASE

Alan Autry, along with his son, Austin, was a consummate Angels fan. From talking with him, it sounded like Angels fans are laid back without being too laid back. The beef I had with PETCO was that the fans didn’t really seem all that into the game. Angel fans knew what was going on.

The crowd had the intelligent intensity that I would want from a hometown audience, but still maintained a welcoming openness and family-friendly rapport.

Everyone I met at the park was amazingly nice, to the point that I genuinely believed everyone was a paid plant. At one point in the game, Austin Autry opens a pack of baseball cards, flips through them, then pulls one out of the deck…a Vladimir Guerrero card.

“I’ll give this to you,” Austin said to me. “But you have to be an Angels fan.”

A park attendant named Alan, happily explained the 10 runs, 10 free wings deal, totally unprovoked. My seat was on the club level, so I could order food directly to my seat.

As an added bonus, some crazy fan ran out on the field and got tackled by some field personnel. He had to have been a plant!

Needless to say, my Angels experience felt like a Hollywood script.

The one problem I have with the Angels fanbase is the Rally Monkey. There are two things that I find especially mind-boggling about the Rally Monkey phenomenon. 1) How the heck did it come into being and 2) Why didn’t the winged Christopher Lloyd ever take hold as the rallying symbol?

Regardless, at the end of the day, I shook the hand of “The Singing Cowboy” and pocketed my Vlad Guerrero card. I can’t make any promises that I will be an Angels fan, since I’m still sworn to three more entries, but bribery does help.

FINAL SCORE OF THE GAME: Angels 11, Twins 5

Dixon McPhillips '10, a Crimson sports chair, is a visual and environmental studies concentrator in Kirkland House.

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