Lookin' for love in Cali
By Bob Halloran
Special to Page 2

What I need is a vested interest in something with a much bigger payoff than today's stock market -- something like the World Series.

Angels fan
Bob Halloran is ready to get the monkey off his back ... and find a World Series team to love.
I'm not talking about gambling. I'm talking about a sure thing. No betting. This is for purely entertainment purposes. There have been two great games so far, one-run games decided by late home runs. The best kind of baseball played by the two best teams still standing. It's been FANtastic with a capital FAN.

But for me, there has been one thing missing -- a vested interest, someone to root for. I don't have anything invested in either the Giants or Angels. The games have been awesome, but I don't really care who wins. I watch eight innings of everything I love about baseball, not only the ebb, but the flow, and as Troy Percival tries to close it out, I'm not really sure what I should be hoping will happen.

It's like watching "Brian's Song" and not caring if Pic lives or dies. It's like reading the first 4,000 pages of a Tom Clancy novel, and not bothering to finish the second half, because you're not all that interested in the characters or the outcome. So, I've decided I've got to pick a team. I have to learn to love one of these teams before the start of Game 3 on Tuesday night. And in baseball, as in life, the best way to find love is -- scientifically.

You know how fans frequently try to determine if one team is better than another by comparing them position by position? Are the Cardinals better than the Diamondbacks? Let's see, at first base it's Tino Martinez vs. Mark Grace. Edge: Cardinals. Second base is Fernando Vina vs. Tony Womack. That's a wash. And you do that for every position. Then throw in a few intangibles, like coaching or chemistry, and you're on your way to knowing which team is better.

I figure I can do the same thing with "likeability variables." Whichever team turns out to be the most likeable ... that's my team for the week.

Benito Santiago
Benito Santiago is a great story, but he's outnumbered by the Molinas.
CATCHER: Bengie Molina vs. Benito Santiago: Santiago reminds me a little bit of Edward James Olmos. I liked Olmos in "Miami Vice" and "Stand and Deliver," so I guess I like Santiago. But Bengie has a brother on the team. That's two Molinas against only one Santiago. Edge: Angels.

FIRST BASE: Scott Spiezio vs. J.T. Snow: Snow always reminds me of Wally Joyner -- Gold Gloves, sweet swing, but not enough power for a first baseman. I'd feel better if his name were something like Philip Lawrence Snow, but he goes by J.T. for absolutely no reason. Alas, his name is Jack Thomas. Edge: Angels.

SECOND BASE: Adam Kennedy vs. Jeff Kent: Kent has always seemed a bit surly. He'd like to be a tough guy on a motorcycle, but he's really just jealous of Barry Bonds. Besides, being from Massachusetts, I've got some inexplicable and misplaced loyalty to the Kennedys. Edge: Angels.

THIRD BASE: Troy Glaus vs. David Bell: Talk about your All-American boys. Glaus is just downright dreamy! Homered twice in his first World Series game. David Bell is part of three generations of baseball Bells, with Grampa Gus and Papa Buddy ahead of him, but he would have to have saved an abused cat from a burning tree to get the edge from Troy Wonder. Edge: Angels

David Eckstein
Not everyone is carried away with the inspiring tale of little David Eckstein.
SHORTSTOP: David Eckstein vs. Rich Aurilia: Eckstein looks like my friend's 12-year-old kid ... when he was 8! He's the little engine that could. Standing 5 feet, 6 inches tall. Constantly in motion. Hustles. Dedicated. Perseveres. Everybody loves the little guy. Edge: Giants (I can't stand people like that).

LEFT FIELD: Garret Anderson vs. Barry Bonds: Edge: Angels. Don't even get me started! Too late. I'm already started. The book on Bonds is that he's an egotistical Giant with his own private area of the locker room. More often than not, he's terse and rude with the media and not much better with the fans. Steroid use isn't completely out of the realm of possibility. Yet somehow he has become a sentimental favorite. Seventeen years without getting to the World Series? He's there now. Sentiment's over. I'll say it again. Edge: Angels.

CENTER FIELD: Darin Erstad vs. Kenny Lofton: Erstad's gone old school, and I mean really old school, with the all red socks and the high pant legs. He has a reputation as a baseball player with a football mentality (he was the punter at Nebraska). And he was the subject of trade rumors most of the offseason, and stayed cool throughout. Nothing against Lofton, but ... Edge: Angels.

Tim Salmon
What's not to love about Tim Salmon? Well, he looks a little like Steve Garvey.
RIGHT FIELD: Tim Salmon vs. Reggie Sanders: Salmon as a great nickname, Kingfish, but he looks a lot like Steve Garvey. That hurts his case. Edge: Giants.

DESIGNATED HITTER: Brad Fullmer vs. Shawon Dunston: I got nothing here. Edge: Giants (but only because they need a few to catch up).

STARTERS: Jarrod Washburn vs. Jason Schmidt: I like John Jason Jingleheimer Schmidt, but the idea that a "wash burn" can either be a Game 1 starter or the result of an overagressive loofa sponge is better. Edge: Angels.

BULLPEN: Francisco Rodriguez vs. Felix Rodriguez: I'm sure Felix loved Hollywood until he gave up the two-run homer to Kingfish, but Francisco is a 20-year old phenom who's first five career victories have come in the postseason. Plus, I love that a guy named Francisco is pitching against San Francisco. He's the Frisco Kid, but he's with Anaheim. It's perfect. I was inclined to give the Rodriguezes a push here, but again ... Edge: Angels.

Robb Nen
Has anyone ever seen Robb Nen in the same place as Troy Percival?
CLOSERS: Troy Percival vs. Robb Nen: Aren't they the same person? Nen is 33 years old with 314 career saves. Percival is also 33 with 250 saves. They're both hard throwing right-handers born in California. I've already given my heart to one Troy. Edge: Giants.

MANAGERS: Mike Scioscia vs. Dusty Baker: I like that Baker is probably the first manager to ever have a career year in his contract year. He has been just like a player heading for free agency. He'll cash in somewhere, and he cashes in here as well. Edge: Giants.

FANS: I haven't seen much out of the Giants fans in this series so far. And I don't think the fact that both games were played in Anaheim should be used as an excuse. Edge: Angels.

OWNERSHIP: Disney owns the Angels. Disney signs my paychecks. Edge: Angels.

So, by a score of 10-5, the Angels are the team to root for. My voting might have been biased somewhat because I was leaning that way anyway. One reason is because the Angels finished 41 games out of first place last year. Forget your worst-to-first stories. That is an amazing single-season turnaround. And here's the clincher. The Angels did it all after getting rid of Mo Vaughn. Mo Money skipped out on Boston overrated and overweighted. After two years in Anaheim, Mo went to the Mets, and the Angels went to the World Series. The Red Sox also went to the playoffs the year after Mo left. Here's a tip for the Mets. Notice the trend.

Go, Angels! I think I'm in love.

Bob Halloran is an anchorman for ESPNEWS.



Bob Halloran Archive

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