Angels waiting in wings to provide hope for all those Yankees haters

August 23, 2004|By PETER SCHMUCK

IF YOUR FAVORITE team is the Orioles and your second-favorite team is whatever team is playing the Yankees, then the Anaheim Angels made a discouraging weekend in Baltimore a little more bearable.

The Angels swept the Yankees in the Bronx to help the Red Sox tighten up what once looked like a runaway race in the American League East. That may not do the Orioles any good - especially after an 0-6 homestand that refocused local attention on the NFL exhibition season - but it was food for the soul if you're one of those fans who is sickened by the sight of pinstripes in the postseason.

Of course, I can't deny a certain fondness for the Angels, because I used to ride my bicycle to Anaheim Stadium (which later became Edison International Field of Anaheim and now is known by the unwieldy moniker Angel Stadium of Anaheim), but this isn't just the muttering of a nostalgic Californian.

The Angels are the only team in the AL with a winning record against the Yankees (46-45, including postseason) since the new Yankees dynasty was born in 1996. Their 23-19 record at Yankee Stadium over that period is even more impressive, and certainly bodes well for the postseason if they can outlast the A's and Rangers in the tight AL West.

The Orioles certainly have had their share of injuries this season, but manager Lee Mazzilli can't keep falling back on that as a catch-all excuse for another lost season.

The Red Sox lost Nomar Garciaparra and Trot Nixon for extended periods in the first half, yet remained in contention. The Yankees have done without Mike Mussina and Kevin Brown and Jason Giambi at various times this year.

Every manager has to deal with injuries. The difference between the Orioles and their chief divisional rivals is pitching depth. Period.

While everyone swoons over Deena Kastor's surprising bronze medal in the women's marathon, I have to admit that I just don't get it. If I want to participate in a sport that makes you throw up, I'll pledge a fraternity.

If I recall, the original marathon was run by a messenger delivering news of victory in the Battle of Marathon. Legend holds that the runner delivered the news, then collapsed and died. That ought to tell you something. We now have television and the Internet, so it is no longer necessary for anyone to run that far.

The weather has been stifling at the Olympics, nowhere so much as the beach volleyball venue, where the temperature of the sand has reached 107 degrees. Thank God the female participants are dressed appropriately for the heat.

My close friend Randy Youngman, a Southern California columnist who once worked for the old News American, passed along this interesting fact about the Olympic sport of badminton, which is a extremely popular in Asia.

The official shuttlecocks - which travel at speeds of up to 160 mph - are made from the wing feathers of Chinese white geese, and not just any wing feathers. Each shuttlecock is made with 16 feathers from the bird's left wing, which Youngman pointed out could pose a philosophical problem for local fans planning to attend the 2005 World Badminton Championships at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, Calif. Orange County, after all, is a historically right-wing area.

Personally, I'm just surprised you can put the word "shuttlecock" in a family newspaper.

The Jim Palmer-Earl Weaver bobblehead doll that was distributed to the first 25,000 adults at yesterday's game already is a popular item on eBay, some selling for as much as $40.

This just in: Former Full House star John Stamos has filed for divorce from stunning actress/model Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, disproving every accepted theory of human sexuality.

The final thought for today comes from the West Coast, where San Francisco Chronicle columnist Tom Fitzgerald got an e-mail from reader Jim Barach of Dallas about the high-pitched voice of Olympic gymnastics champion Paul Hamm.

"Unfortunately, after winning the gold medal in the all-around gymnastics," Barach quipped, "he tested positive for helium."

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