|Monday, October 7
Updated: October 8, 3:36 AM ET
Rally Monkey happy to see Yanks out of playoffs
By Jim Caple
The first indication that perhaps the Rally Monkey's success had gone to his head was his annoying new habit of referring to himself in the third person. Or would that be third primate?
"Rally Monkey doesn't have much time to talk," he said. "Rally Monkey is meeting with Disney's suits at the Polo Lounge for breakfast. Eisner wants to pitch an idea for a new ABC Family Channel series based on the old Bonzo movies. It's intriguing but Rally Monkey would rather hold out for a late-night talk show that would replace Koppel and 'Nightline.' Plus, Clint Eastwood is interested in reviving the "Any Which But Loose" series, with Rally Monkey replacing the orangutan."
It sounds as if the Angels' surprising series victory over the Yankees has done wonders for the Rally Monkey's career.
"Rally Monkey can't tell you how big a boost that was," he said. "And not just for Rally Monkey. For the Angels as well. Hell, for the entire country. The Angels knocking out the Yankees in the first round was just what America needed. Everyone talked about Yankees mystique and Yankees aura, but Rally Monkey's mojo kicked their ass. Rally Monkey was bigger than King Kong. The Angels trailed in every game, including a five-run deficit in Game 3, and still took the series easily. The way Garret Anderson, David Eckstein, Troy Glaus and Tim Salmon always keep battling, they make Rex Hudler look like a pessimist.
"Believe in the power of Rally Monkey."
October certainly does seem like a more pleasant month now that the Yankees are gone. It's the most welcome departure from a series since Timothy Dalton left his gig as 007.
"Everyone is happier because the Yankees lost," the Rally Monkey said. "The economy is in the toilet, our CEOs are crooks, our 401Ks are worthless and we're heading to war -- but at least the Yankees got knocked out of the postseason. It gives everyone hope."
And it isn't just the fans. Players in the postseason usually lie and say that they don't care which team wins the other series, that whoever wins will be a worthy opponent. Not so with the Yankees. Twins center fielder Torii Hunter told me Sunday that he was rooting for the Angels all the way against the Yankees. "To see them gone makes me happy," Hunter told me. "I think the country wants to see a low-budget team win. I don't think anyone will say, 'Oh, we miss the Yankees.' Because I'm tired of the Yankees.'"
So is the Rally Monkey.
"Personally," he said, "Rally Monkey was tired of seeing Derek Jeter most of all. Fox has shown so many close-ups of him and his parents the past couple years that Rally Monkey thought they must have been the cast of 'Malcolm in the Middle.' And Rally Monkey is confused. Was Giuliani the mayor of New York or the principal on 'Boston Public'?
"The networks may love the Yankees but after awhile, that got as tired as the old Herbie the Love Bug series. Instead, we have a wide-open postseason and it is so much better this way. Now instead of hearing about Jeter and Rivera and Torre, we have other teams and other plotlines."
It's true. We have America's Team: the Twins, a franchise referred to as "small market" so often that it should be written across their chests instead of Minnesota, a team defiantly playing for the American League pennant less than a year after Bud Selig sentenced it to death. As Doug Mientkiewicz said Sunday, "We give a lot of hope to a lot of franchises."
We have the Cardinals, another small-market team in terms of population but not in terms of support -- St. Louis may have the most loyal, passionate fans in baseball. The Cards overcame the death of Darryl Kile to win the NL Central, then swept the defending world champion and debt-weary Diamondbacks in the first round. A lot of angels in heaven will be happy this month because now they get to hear Jack Buck deliver the play-by-play.
We have the Giants, who have the greatest player of our generation, a man who may wind up as baseball's all-time home run king. An underdog team that is fighting for its first world championship in 48 years. A team that defied the rest of sports by doing the right thing and building their own ballpark without taxpayer support.
"And you have Rally Monkey and the Angels," Rally Monkey said. "A team with only one player with postseason experience prior to last week. A team that hadn't been to the postseason since Cyndi Lauper had a career. A team that not only has never been to the World Series, it had never won a postseason series until last weekend. A team with a 5-foot-6 shortstop who led the league in getting hit by pitches. A team with a 31-year-old rookie reliever who was once released to make room for Jim Morris. A team with a quiet left fielder who puts up big MVP numbers and gives new meaning to the term, 'Angel in the Outfield.'
"Consider those four teams and tell me: Is there anyone out there who would rather see the Yankees?"
No one, except perhaps a certain network with the broadcast rights. As Denny Hocking told me during Minnesota's celebration Sunday: "This is the Fox network's worst nightmare. Us and Disney."
"Screw 'em," the Rally Monkey said. "This postseason isn't promotional programming for the fall prime-time lineup. It's the fans' reward for putting up with all that contraction nonsense and the strike talk this year. Besides, last time Rally Monkey checked, the Angels played in the nation's second-largest market. And trust me, with all the drama surrounding these teams, everyone is going to be setting their TiVo for these games.
"Forget 'storied' Yankee Stadium. This is what the postseason is all about. This is what sport is all about. Teams overcoming death and death sentences. Teams overcoming curses and star-crossed legacies. A team overcoming a soulless owner and a malicious commissioner. Baseball played on warm California evenings instead of cold eastern nights. Fans waving white homer hankies and wearing red T-shirts instead of donning wet overcoats and winter parkas. Rockets slamming into McCovey Cove. Eardrums bursting in the Metrodome. And Rally Monkey working the crowd like Robin Williams on speed."
Put it like that and the remaining postseason almost sounds like a hit Fox series. All that is missing is a little sex and violence.
"Well, Bonds and Kent could always slug it out in the dugout again," the Rally Monkey said. "And as for the sex -- Tawny Kitaen could always show up in St. Louis."
Box score line of the week
7.2 IP, 17 H, 13 R, 13 ER, 7 BB, 4 K
Because Glavine is a free agent, those may have been the last games he pitched for Atlanta. If so, it would be a shame because he's been such a great pitcher during his long, distinguished career. He helped turn Atlanta from perennial loser into a constant October presence. He's won 242 games and pitched in 40 postseason games, covering 253 innings, the equivalent of just more than an entire season. How long has Glavine pitched for Atlanta? The last time Glavine did not win a game for the team, Gene Garber did.
Lies, damn lies and statistics
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.