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Saturday, October 19
Updated: October 20, 4:10 AM ET
 
No monkey business in Angels' Game 1 loss

By Ray Ratto
Special to ESPN.com

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Rally Monkey went 1-for-12 Saturday night, thereby undercutting offseason plans for a Rally Donkey, a Rally Junkie, a Rally Flunky and a Rally Blood-Spurting Platypus.

Now it is not normally our place to make fun of fans having fun. The point here is, on an international stage, with everyone in the world even vaguely interested watching, the Rally Monkey got its red behind (hey, how do we know it isn't a baboon?) kicked by Felix Rodriguez, Tim Worrell and Robb Nen.

The monkey got in a quick lick when Anaheim second baseman Adam Kennedy dunked a single into right field in the sixth inning to score Brad Fullmer and cut San Francisco's lead to 4-3.

But that was the extent of it. The monkey had already made two outs after Troy Glaus' second homer of the game, and then went down in order in the seventh, managed only a two-out walk in the eighth, and then went down quietly in the ninth.

In fact, the ninth inning marked Nen's first one-two-three inning in eight postseason appearances, and served as revenge for Nen's blown save here two years ago when the monkey was ... well, born, I guess.

So then, given what we just witnessed, what kind of cheapjack primate is being foisted on us here?

Oh, it has its place, to quote San Francisco right fielder Reggie Sanders.

"I just think it's good,'' he said, charitably. "It brings excitement to the fans here because it keeps them in the game. I think they're excited about the Rally Monkey. They make money off the Rally Monkey.''

Boy, do they, but this being a Disney-owned operation, we see Christmas bonuses in the Rally Monkey. That's one hell of a monkey, let me tell you.

But the monkey isn't just marketing genius on a planetary scale. It's a supernatural figure, reaching into whatever dimension can alter time, space and the odd hanging curve ball, and it is supposed to make the Angels bigger, faster, taller, remove unsightly back hair and make them unbeatable in the clutch.

Last night, though, with only the first game of the World Series on the line, and the Angels already having touched the Giants for eight hits, the monkey took a powder.

Oh, some people will credit the Giant bullpen, which has been very nearly as good as Anaheim's this season, for keeping the Angels at arm's length in a one-run game in a hitters' park. Some people will notice that Felix Rodriguez has been absolutely hellish in sixth- and seventh-inning situations for more than two months now, that Tim Worrell has adapted well to eighth-inning work, and that Nen's eight blown saves came with 43 unblown saves.

But forget about all that. This is America in the new millennium, and marketing is the new Industrial Revolution. If the monkey says jump, damn it, we jump.

At least that's how it was while the monkey was all-powerful and able to make the laws of physics jump to his (her? its?) will. But now, we have seen it fail, and fail miserably, at the most important time of year.

We feel cheated. We were sold a bill of goods here, and we feel wronged.

But there's always Sunday's Game 2, and, we presume, a backup monkey. If the Series doesn't change for the Angels, next year we'll probably get a Rally Fruit Bat.

Then again, if the Angels rally and win the World Series, as they have the last two playoff series after losing the first game, the Rally Monkey could also file for arbitration. I mean, nothing is more primal a force in the animal kingdom than leverage.

Ray Ratto is a columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle and a regular contributor to ESPN.com





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