|No business like Monkey business|
By Jim Caple
Page 2 columnist
The Rally Monkey was not pleased when I suggested the Angels really could have used his mojo at Yankee Stadium during their 8-5 loss to New York on Tuesday.
"Oh, so it's my fault, huh?" he snapped. "Somehow it's my fault they can't hold a freaking one-run lead in the eighth? It's my fault Scioscia screws up the bullpen? Like I told him to bring in Schoeneweis to face Giambi and a 31-year-old rookie to face Bernie with two on, a one-run lead and two out in the eighth? Give me a break. I might just be an old world primate, but even I've evolved enough to know he should have gone to his closer.
If the Rally Monkey seemed a little cranky, he had good reason. The Angels have never been to the World Series and haven't even reached the playoffs since The Little Mermaid had fins. Now here they are back in the postseason, playing in Yankee Stadium, and they blew a lead in the eighth inning in Game 1 when they had their best starter going. That means the pressure will really be on when the series heads to Anaheim for Game 3. And the Angels don't have a real good history of handling pressure in the postseason.
Of course, those previous Angels teams didn't have the Rally Monkey, that excitable simian whose scoreboard appearances inspire remarkable comebacks.
"Yeah, sometimes I surprise even myself," the Monkey said. "But now everybody is copying me. It's like when The Chicken started. Pretty soon everyone had their own mascot. Same here. I hear every team is getting a rally animal, and it really ticks me off."
"Yeah, but do they have to have such lame animals?" the Monkey sneered. "The Mariners are training a big fish that just flops around. They're going to call it Coho Mojo, the Rally Salmon. And the Devil Rays are auditioning a Rally Possum. He does nothing. Absolutely nothing at all. He just lies there, and the fans don't respond, and the team never rallies. I don't get it.
"Listen, you can't just put an animal video on the board and expect the team to come back from a three-run deficit. You have to have a skilled craftsman who knows what he's doing. I'm an artist, and I take my work seriously."
It sounded as if there was more bothering the Rally Monkey than Tuesday's loss.
"It's true. I'm pretty frustrated with my career path right now," he said. "I'm busting my butt out there, but Disney won't use me the way they should. I'm tired of being only a Rally Monkey. I should be in movies, but they keep passing me over for all the good roles. I swear, I could have killed as Rafiki in 'The Lion King.' I could be so big that Disney stock would shoot to the moon again if Eisner would only give me a chance. Think about it. 'Lilo and Rally Monkey.' 'Beauty and the Monkey.' 'The Rally Monkey on Ice.'
"But noooooooo. 'The Country Bears' movie gets greenlighted, and I'm stuck working the stadium scoreboard in Anaheim. Disney won't even let me ride in the Main Street Electrical Parade.''
I sympathized but pointed out that it's not like there are a lot of great monkey roles out there. At least not since they dumped Marcel on "Friends.''
"That's why I keep telling him to send me more interesting scripts, maybe get a part in an indie film. I need a breakout role like the stuff Robin Williams is doing lately. I need something out of character that will show the industry what I can do, like maybe a sexually repressed butler in a Merchant-Ivory production. Otherwise, I know how they typecast you in this town.
"Look at Donald Duck. He's far and away the most talented character in the Disney kingdom, and they still won't give him any pants."
I wanted to ask the Rally Monkey about what he made of reports that Disney is trying to sell the Angels, but he cut me off. He said he had to get ready for Game 3 in Anaheim.
"But I hope Disney does sell," he said. "At least then, maybe I can branch out and realize my full potential."
The Monkey paused briefly, and when he spoke again his voice was low and conspiratorial.
"You know,'' he said, "what I really want to do is direct."
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.