© 2005 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
ANAHEIM -- Crimson-clad Angels fans streamed through the gates at Angel Stadium by the thousands on Monday night, hurrying to get prime seats along the third-base line.
There wasn't a game, though; there wasn't even batting practice. Rather, it was Rally Monday, which brought paratroopers flying into the park, Rex Hudler and Steve Physioc emceeing a tribute to the American League West champion Angels and a variety of giveaways.
In other words, there was a variety of enticements, but none great enough by itself to explain why over 10,000 Angels fans would pack the park on a weekday evening. If anything, Rally Monday was a tribute to the spirit of Southern California baseball fans, who flocked to Anaheim just to show they cared, just to show they appreciated the Angels' memorable season, just to show that Angel Stadium would be in no danger of being overrun by Yankees fans come Tuesday night.
For Angels fans, packing Angel Stadium for 81 home dates -- totaling a club-record 3,404,686 in attendance -- just wasn't enough. Monday's fervent display -- complete with the usual sea of red clothing, ThunderStix, various stuffed primates and, in the case of one teenage girl, a full-fledged angel costume, replete with stand-alone wings.
If this is what an off-day is like at Angel Stadium, just imagine what Game 1 of the Division Series will bring on Tuesday.
"The Yankees know they're going to get spanked by the Angels," Jeff from Garden Grove said.
The Angels were indeed 6-4 against the Yankees during the regular season, and 21-game winner Bartolo Colon will start on Tuesday against Mike Mussina. On Monday, the mere mention of the word "Yankees" drew a roaring boo from the crowd, drowning out the voices of Hudler and Physioc as they narrated tales of Angels glory before eventually giving way to a concluding fireworks show.
But while the Angels drew more people to their fan rally than many teams draw to their September home games, Larry and Laura from Mission Viejo weren't surprised.
"I thought there would be this many if not more people," Larry said. "Fans enjoy championship baseball."
The couple was in attendance for one of the Angels' home wins over New York from July 21-23, and they didn't expect to see anything different in the Division Series.
"We saw them win last time, so I guess there's hope," Laura said as the rising roar of the crowd drowned out her voice.
Judging from the impressive fervor of Monday's rally, the Angels will have one heck of a homefield advantage on Tuesday -- and that's just how Halos fans like it.
At the urging of former Angels All-Star second baseman Bobby Grich, the Angels faithful clapped and banged their ThunderStix together as three words echoed through Angels Stadium: "Yes, we can."