The Anaheim Angels and their fans caused plenty of headaches during the 2002 baseball season. With an animated "Rally Monkey" on the scoreboard, and huge crowds banging Japanese-styled Thunder Sticks, opponents at Edison Field were jolted by volume.
But in addition to the show-biz, the Angels had real talent, racking up a 99-63 record. Though lacking a big-name superstar, Anaheim sported outfielder Garret Anderson (.306, 56 doubles, 123 RBI), third baseman Troy Glaus (30 homers), and starter Jarrod Washburn (18-6, 3.15 ERA).
Actually, Anaheim wasn't the top team in the American League West. The Oakland A's, riding MVP shortstop Miguel Tejada (.308-34-131) and a terrific starting rotation, reeled off a 20-game winning streak and took the division by four games. The A's, though, couldn't get past Minnesota in their Division Series. Minnesota, which had won the American League Central by 13-1/2 with strong defense, a balanced attack, and deep pitching, took Oakland in five games.
Minnesota had the honor of facing Anaheim in the ALCS, because the Angels had defeated the American League East champ Yankees in four games. New York second baseman Alfonso Soriano was the year's biggest surprise, exploding for 39 homers, 51 doubles, and 41 steals.
The Angels' 2002 World Series Opponent was another wildcard club, San Francisco. Barry Bonds had one of the greatest years in history, batting .370 with 46 homers and setting single-season Major League records for walks (198) and on-base percentage (.582). He clubbed his 600th homer and won his record fifth MVP Award.
San Francisco disposed of National League East champ Atlanta in a five-game Division Series, battering Tom Glavine for 13 earned runs in two starts, then beat St. Louis in a five-game NLCS. The Cardinals had previously dumped the National League West-winning Diamondbacks, whose ace, Randy Johnson, had gone 24-5 with 334 strikeouts to claim his fifth Cy Young.
The Cardinals overcame adversity en route to their National League Central title. Hurler Darryl Kile died unexpectedly in Chicago on June 22, four days after legendary Cards broadcaster Jack Buck passed away. St. Louis used 14 starting pitchers during the year, yet still took the división by 13 games. Scott Rolen and Albert Pujols were offensive spark plugs.
As much fun as 2002 was, the postseason almost didn't happen. The players scheduled a walkout due to the owners' plan to unilaterally impose a salary cap. A work stoppage was barely averted on August 31, when the two sides agreed to a new four-year labor deal.
As the nation settled down for a West Coast World Series, the spotlight fell on Bonds, whose previous postseason performances had been criticized. This time around, after blasting four homers in the first two rounds of the postseason, Bonds unloaded on the Angels for four homers.
Bonds alone couldn't vanquish the scrappy Angels. The Giants drubbed Anaheim 16-4 in game five at PacBell Park to go up 3-2. In game six in Anaheim, San Francisco jumped ahead and led 5-0 in the bottom of the seventh. However, Scott Spiezio's three-run homer cut the lead to 5-3. Then, in the last of the eighth, the amazing Angels rallied for three more on a homer by Darin Erstad and a two-run double by Troy Glaus to pull the game out, 6-5.
With momentum clearly on the Angels' side, game seven was almost anticlimactic. Anderson's three-run double in the third inning broke a 1-1 tie and led to a 4-1 series-clinching win, Anaheim's first world title. It was enough to make anyone go ape, and Angels fans did.
The next page provides headlines and summaries for some of the top stories of the 2002 baseball season.