Baseball is a game of memory, and the World Series that concluded last night with the Anaheim Angels besting the San Francisco Giants in the seventh game for the first championship in their 42-year-history added generously to the collective scrapbook. The stern mask of Barry Bonds, a silver cross dangling incongruously from his ear as he leaned over the plate and dared anyone to pitch to him. The uncanny poise and wicked stuff of 20-year-old Frankie Rodriguez, the Venezuelan phenom with a month or so of big league experience under his belt. The rally monkey. Thunder sticks (ban 'em, I say). Kayaks in the bay outside Pac Bell, waiting for another monster drive from Bonds.
If last year's back-and-forth struggle between the mighty Yankees and the finally victorious Diamondbacks featured some deliciously improbable moments, this year topped them—beginning with the improbability of the matchup. Neither franchise was supposed to be there. The Angels started the season with a team that had finished 41 games behind the Seattle Mariners. And 2002 looked at first like more of the same, as they were 6-14 out of the gate. In the Giants' division, all the attention was on the defending champion D-backs and their awesome twosome, Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling.
As the season progressed and the negotiations between players and management grew nastier, it began to look like no one would be going to the Series. A strike was averted, but the problems Michael Stevens wrote about in this space in a two-part season preview were merely papered over in a short-term compromise. Many lifelong fans are alienated. (My friend Bill, with whom I have spent thousands of hours talking baseball, boycotted this series because he has never accepted baseball's ...1