10/03/2002 7:51 pm ET
Angels arrive on baseball scene
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- One team has monuments, the other a Rally Monkey. One plays in the House that Ruth Built, the other in a ballpark named after a utility company.
The Angels have one-third the payroll of the Yankees and virtually no postseason
experience prior to this week. But the only comparison that matters now is they
each have one win and the American League Division Series has become
best-of-three and the Angels have the home-field advantage going into Friday
night's Game 3.
The Angels weren't expected to win one game in Yankee Stadium. No visiting team in the postseason ever is.
"Why? We've all played there before," said Troy Glaus, who hit three homers there, one in each eighth inning to put the Angels ahead. "It's not like this
was the first time we were at Yankee Stadium. There's no reason to be nervous. It's the same game we've played since we were kids."
The Angels know what the rest of the world still thinks, that even tied, they are underdogs. Funny, they don't feel like underdogs.
"We are not doing anything different in this series than we've done all year," said Tim Salmon. "No one in this clubhouse is surprised by what we're doing.
People ask, 'Aren't you surprised to be tied with the Yankees?' Maybe it's because this is happening on such a grand scale. But the bottom line is, we've been doing it all year long."
They haven't been intimidated by the Yankees' legendary starting pitching, by the insanity of playing in Yankee Stadium or even after letting Game 1 slip away.
"Yankee Stadium works as an extra player for us only if we play well," said Yankees manager Joe Torre. "Our fans can be intimidating, yet they appreciate good baseball. They appreciate what they saw from the Angels."
What they've seen is a team that believes it can win, even though it never has.
"We have shown tremendous resiliency," said manager Mike Scioscia. "There isn't anything I've seen in either team that resembles nervousness. The Yankees are an incredibly talented team that keeps methodical pressure on you. There are some similarities in the two clubs that way. I felt good about our ability to bring our game to the park both nights. The style we played all year long was alive
and well in Yankee Stadium."
The style runs from the top of the lineup to the bottom, but nobody personifies it better than Garret Anderson, who is showing the rest of the world what the
Angels already know.
"He's not underrated if you ask other players and managers," said Scioscia, who endorsed Anderson for Most Valuable Player consideration. "It's great to see
Garret perform at this level. He doesn't need to have a great series to say he really is that good. This guy's a player."
Anderson is 5-for-10 in the series with a home run, a double, three RBIs and three runs scored. He has hustled himself on the bases into a better position to
score the way he hustles himself out of the spotlight off the field.
"There's no doubt if he played in Yankee Stadium every day or on the East Coast, no doubt he'd be huge," said Salmon. "He doesn't seem to get the attention he'd
get on the East Coast."
Nor do the Angels, despite winning 99 games. Winning a series like this can elevate the reputation of an organization, especially an organization now into
its fifth decade without having won a postseason series.
"This can change the way players perceive a club, like free agents from the
standpoint of guys wondering if the club will ever get over the hump. We finally
have," said Salmon, a homebred Angel and Rookie of the Year in 1993. "Hopefully a season like this can attract guys who want to play here. We are starting to
put ourselves in the category of clubs that will get to the postseason."
And it's never been that way as long as Salmon has been here. In fact, not since the free-spending Gene Autry years, when the Angels bought Reggie Jackson, Don
Baylor and just about every free agent on the market.
"From Day One when I got here, all I heard about the Angels was it's a West Coast team," said Salmon. "The guys who have been in the organization a long time remember back when it was an Angel town and everybody got fired up. Until this year, I hadn't seen it. Now it's awesome. We come home from a trip and people are at the airport waiting for us. I'd never seen that until this year."
Which is what Scioscia had in mind when he took the job, having experienced it throughout the 1980s playing for the team just up the freeway.
"I had these expectations from Day One," he said. "This wasn't a typical
rebuilding with a change of managers. There was a talented core. I set my
expectations to be a perennial contender. We're not raising pennants saying
we're here, because this is a constant effort to get to the level we want to
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This article was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.