A decade ago I started to get it. I was nine years old and baseball was it. I watched the Yankees all summer. Then I watched the Yankees lose to a team that Joseph Gordon-Levitt rooted for*. That team was stacked with odd names, gritty players, and, above all, crazy talent.
*In Angels in the Outfield Christopher Lloyd played the role of Mike Trout.
Ten years ago today, the Angels won Game 6 of the 2002 World Series. For a more detailed look at that game you can go here. In this post, Andrew Karcher and I are going to share our memories of the evening, and hopefully prompt other Angels’ fans to do the same. Here’s Andrew’s account:
Oddly, I don’t remember Game 7 that well. But I remember damn near every little detail about Game 6 of the 2002 World Series. I imagine other Angels fan share this sentiment, much like a fan of the ’86 Mets probably remembers Game 6 or a fan of the ’88 Dodgers remembers Game 1 or, for a more recent example, Cardinals fans probably have fonder memories of Game 6 in 2011 than their Game 7 blowout win over the Rangers (heck, even fans of the ’75 Reds might remember Game 6 the best…and they LOST that game but won the World Series anyway). Game 7 of the 2002 World Series is dear to my heart, but experiencing Game 6 heightens the fondness that much more. It’s almost like grilling the perfect cut of beef — sure, the steak is the star of the dish and is perfectly edible on its own merits, but the seasoning makes it pop.
With the Angels down 3-2 heading into Game 6, my family hosted a watch party with other long-suffering Angels fans (I was 14 and had been following the Angels for like 4 years. I was due for a title!). By the time Barry Bonds hit a solo homer that hit the Anaheim Pond across the 57 freeway, off of wunderkind Francisco Rodriguez no less, our once joyful gathering turned into a solemn support group just waiting for the doctor to tell us our close friend wasn’t going to make it. The Giants tacked on another run in the 7th to give themselves a 5-0 lead and our suffering was nearly over, we just didn’t know it yet. After Garrett Anderson led off the bottom of the 7th inning with a lead off groundout, the Angels win expectancy was 2.6%; if you want to factor in coming back to win that game AND then winning Game 7, the odds of them winning the World Series were…well, bad. You know how sometimes if you you a movie for the first time that blows your mind you wish you could unsee it and relive it again for the first time (the most recent example for me is either Looper or The Smurfs)? That’s how I feel about this moment.
After the groundout Troy Glaus singled and the rest, as they say, was history. I remember my sisters, who care not at all about baseball, running downstairs to see what happened after we all shouted after Darin Erstad’s homer in the 8th cut the deficit to 1 run. I remember everyone staying in their “lucky” seats and so as not to dick with the feng shui in the room. I remember Bonds’ derp on Anderson’s single, allowing pinch runner (and fastest human alive as far as we were concerned) and tying run Chone Figgins to reach third base. I remember Troy Glaus’ double and Mickey Hatcher’s cheer, which literally gave me chills right now just writing about it. I remember knowing it was “Game Over” when Percival entered, and I knew they had won the World Series after he recorded the final out.
Game 7 was a formality. A beautiful, perfectly seasoned formality.
I remember the buildup to the game much more vividly. I remember the Yankees not playing terribly, but losing to a pesky Halos’ club. The Angels had a very decent crop of starting pitchers, but it was the offense that scared opponents. Pretty much everyone was good. There was power (Anderson, Glaus, Salmon), average (Kennedy, Eckstein, Erstad), and plenty of grit. I can’t explain grit, but I learned about grit by watching that Halos team in the playoffs.
I remember being glued to the TV for Game 6. It was a tumultuous series, going back and forth. Barry Bonds was on the Giants, and he was an absolute joy to watch. I wish what he did was real, but I’m okay with it not being real, because it helped the game capture my attention.
It was a magical night. The Angels were down, but it never seemed like they were out. The game built up steam, and I feverishly watched the reliable Giants’ bullpen blow the club’s chance at a World Series crown. As Andrew stated, Game 7 was a formality; I don’t remember in nearly as much detail as I do Game 6.
Well, what do you guys remember about the series? What stuck out to you?