Wild series ahead

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 16, 2002

For the first time ever, two wild card teams have advanced to the Fall Classic making for one wild World Series beginning Saturday.

The 2002 edition of the World Series might unseat Master Card's Greatest Moment due to the electric and exciting fashion in which the playoff games have been decided.

The Anaheim Angels and San Francisco Giants have both had amazing seasons. Both teams had to fight to get into the postseason in pennant races that were overlooked because they were happening on the west coast.

Now, however, even the most casual baseball fan will learn all about these two teams and what they are made of.

The Angels will represent the American League, but they resemble a National League team more so than even the Giants, who will represent the NL in the World Series.

Of course, with single-season home run record holder Barry Bonds in the lineup why wouldn't the Giants look and play a little bit like an American League team?

So, the 2002 World Series will pit an American League team that plays "small ball" or like a traditional National League team against an National League team with a lineup that boasts power and a manager in Dusty Baker who can play "small ball" or sit back and wait for the three-run homer like American League teams are apt to do.

This year, the American League team is the home team which gives the Angels the home-field advantage. It does not, however, mean the Halos will benefit more from the designated hitter rule than the Giants.

A prediction on which team will come out on top would be an exercise of futility since this sports editor seems to be a jinx when it comes to making predictions (see last week's column about how Auburn would destroy the Arkansas Razorbacks for the latest proof).

Now, I could predict that the Giants will win since I find myself pulling for the Angels. Of course, the jinx probably would not work in my benefit.

Besides, regardless of which team has the honor of getting their hands greasy by accepting the trophy from deplorable Commissioner Bud Selig, I will be happy to see either team win the Fall Classic.

The Giants have an outstanding manager in Dusty Baker and I would love to see him get a ring. Bonds has done everything but win a ring and has the ability to provide perhaps the most memorable moment in World Series history. He might even replace Reggie Jackson as Mr. October.

The Angels are a ragtag bunch of players who resemble a group of kids at the sandlot playing for fun and bragging rights against the kids from the rich neighborhood.

The Angel players are scrappy and willing to do all the little things to score just one run and then play defense and hold on for a 1-0 win. The best example of the type of players on the Angels roster is David Eckstein.

In fact, when one thinks of the Angels it is hard to come up with the name of a star player on the roster.

The World Series should be exciting and when the final out is recorded or a walk-off hit scores the winning run there will no doubt be countless memories.

Those memories will more likely be made by the play of a dark horse. A little known player almost always steps up in the postseason and proves to be the difference maker.

Angels relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez was outstanding in the American League Championship Series and became only the fourth player to record four wins in postseason play on Sunday. The other four pitchers who have accomplished that feat are David Wells, Orel Hershiser, Jack Morris and Dave Stewart.

He was not the only star to shine for the Angels.

Adam Kennedy also joined some elite company with three home runs in Game 5 of the ALCS to become just the third player to belt three dingers in a league championship series game.

In the National League Championship Series, role player Benito Santiago was named the Most Valuable Player. He earned the award by his solid play behind the plate and by his clutch hits batting behind All-Star Barry Bonds in the batting order. It was nice to see the award go to No. 33.

The real storyline for the World Series, however, is enough to drive fans bananas.

The Giants, especially Bonds, are trying to get the monkey off their back and win a World Championship.

The Angels will be playing in the first World Series in franchise history. The Anaheim players, however, do

not have a monkey on their back - a monkey has their back.

Yes, the rally monkey is alive and well in Anaheim which is just one more reason to sit back and throw away the remote control. This is one World Series that should definitely live up to all the hype.

John Wallace is the sports editor of, and columnist for, The Andalusia Star-News.