July 30, 2001
The Daily Prospectus
A Different Perspective
For those of you who haven't been to an Angels game lately, the Rally Monkey is the Angels' device for getting the crowd excited when the team is behind. It started about a year ago, and now every time the Angels need runs, they show a clip of this small animal, who may or may not be the monkey from "Friends" jumping up and down. There are Rally Monkey stuffed animals, T-shirts, a movie is in the works...you get the picture. A bad idea being pushed by the full weight of Disney's marketing muscle.
Saturday night, I went to the Angels/Orioles game at Edison Field with my better half, my best friend from college, Mike, his wife, Lisa, and their two-year-old boy, Cameron. Cameron is growing into a big baseball fan, inheriting his dad's love of sports and, it seems, his love of the Angels. In fact, when I arrived at their place Saturday afternoon, Cameron was rapt while watching his favorite movie, "Angels in the Outfield," and excitedly telling everyone who would listen--"Joe, Joe, an angel's gonna come!"-what was going to happen.
We arrived at the ballpark a few minutes before the 7 p.m. start, in time to get Cameron the free helmet being distributed to kids. When we reached the first concourse, on the way to our upper-deck seats, Cameron got his first glimpse of the field and took off running towards it--a two-year-old will do that, regardless of how nervous it makes the parental-skills-challenged man who is supposed to be watching him--planting himself in one of the chairs set up in a wheelchair section. It took some convincing to turn his attention from the field and continue up towards our seats, but we finally made it.
Cameron loves the Rally Monkey. Loves, the way only a two-year-old can love. We'd gotten a taste before the game, when Mike and Lisa had him "do the Rally Monkey." This consists of Cameron jumping up and down, waving his arms, and generally impersonating the hyperactive simian. At the ballpark, he'd exclaim "Rally Monkey!" every time he saw one of the stuffed versions. When the stadium scoreboard flashed a clip of the monkey, he'd jump up from his seat, carefully remove his helmet, and proceed to do his dance.
Midway through the game, the Angels put the image of legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden on the scoreboard screen. Mike and I did the only thing two Trojans could do: boo like madmen. Cameron quickly turned around and scolded us: "No booing!" This persisted later, when the crowd's abuse of Tony Batista for his insistence on not being Cal Ripken Jr. reached a fevered pitch late in the game; Cameron was frantic in his attempts to quiet the jeers.
With the Angels trailing 3-2 in the eighth inning, Mike and Lisa informed us that no matter what happened over the next 20 minutes, the Angels won. Apparently, Cameron gets quite upset if you tell him they lost. Fortunately, the Orioles bullpen and outfield defense made lying to a small child unnecessary, as the Birds allowed four runs in the bottom of the eighth and cruised to a 6-4 defeat.
In the ninth inning, Cameron began asking about the pitcher. It took some time for us to figure out--actually, for Mike and Lisa to figure out; I never could have done so, and am in awe of my friends--what he was asking, but he was wondering where O's starter Willis Roberts had gone. Roberts had injured himself in the sixth inning and been carried off the field on his stretcher, and Cameron, who remembered Roberts for his orange glove, wanted to see him. He was genuinely worried, but his parents were able to convince him that the pitcher was fine and was simply being fixed up at the hospital.
Walking with Cameron and his parents back to our cars after the game, I thought about the game. I was disappointed to not see Ripken, although I expect I'll see him before the season is done. Cameron, though, won't have that opportunity, and I felt bad. I was hoping he'd be able to see the Hall of Famer so that, 60 years from now, when he's taking his grandchildren to a ballgame, he could tell them that, yes, he had seen the great Cal Ripken play.
I don't think Cameron was disappointed, though. As he rode Mike's shoulders through the parking lot, laughing and screeching, he wasn't thinking about grandchildren or legends or misplayed fly balls. He'd been to a baseball game, and seen the Rally Monkey, and eaten ice cream from a batting helmet, and told 39,000 people to stop booing. I don't think he'll remember this as the game he didn't see Cal Ripken.
And it's funny...I don't hate the Rally Monkey anymore.
Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by clicking here.