(Note: I didn't finish this preview before Game 1 actually started. You could say I was as prepared as the Angels hitters were. I'm keeping my original series prediction, foolish as it may now look.)
In contrast to the Rockies-Phillies series, I don't like either team in the Angels-Red Sox tilt. I never liked the Angels, dating back past the 2002 World series disaster, where my general dislike caramelized into thick, sugary hatred for the team down south. Since 2002, it's only gotten worse. Here are some things I hate about the Angels:
1. Former Dodger Mike Scioscia is the manager. He was such a fixture in Chavez Ravine - behind the plate, in the dugout, on Tommy Lasorda's nuts - that with him gone, Lasorda had to turn to prostitutes.
2. The spelling of Chone Figgins's first name.
3. The fake mountain range in the Angels Stadium outfield.
4. The gentle media treatment of Gary Matthews, Jr. after he was implicated in a performance-enhancing drug scandal this off-season, compared to the scorn heaped on Barry Bonds. I guess it's possible Gary was just ordering the medication for a child with growth failure...
5. The 2002 championship banner.
6. The name "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim". That is a stupid name of idiocy. to be fair, the Spanish translation (Los Angeles de Los Angeles de Anaheim) is awesome.
There was a time when I really liked the Red Sox. My father's weird self-loathing Irishman fandom led him to despise both the Boston Celtics and Notre Dame University, but he never turned his hatred on the Red Sox. I've visited Boston a few times, and declared my love for the city on these virtual pages. I watched the Don Zimmer Game from South Boston, cheering on Pedro Martinez even as he was throwing a 72-year-old man into the infield grass headfirst. Sure, I occasionally criticized Boston for being a team full of ringers, but I pulled for them all through the 2003 and 2004 postseason, even after embarrassingly declaring their 2003 Division Series to be over after the A's went up 2-0.
Something changed after 2004. Suddenly, the downtrodden, lovable Red Sox fans had become the most obnoxious, arrogant fans in the world. 86 years of playoff misery had been the only thing keeping the natural New England assholery in check. Coupled with the dominance of the Patriots, the Red Sox's success created a national army of monstrous fans, worse than Yankee fans at their worst. And Jimmy Fallon ran onto the field at the end of Game 4, while metaphorically pissing in Nick Hornby's face. I haven't seen the movie, but I'd lay dollars to donuts that Fallon started cracking up in the middle of the shot.
So with the series beginning on Wednesday, how was I to display my disdain for both teams? I did it by wearing an Angels jersey to work. But not just any Angels jersey. I wore the 1998-edition #42 Mo Vaughn jersey. For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Vaughn, he left the Red Sox in 1999 to sign an $88-million dollar contract with the Angels. He injured himself falling down the dugout steps in his first game, missed the entire 2001 due to injury, and gained approximately 60 pounds over the life of his contract. Thus, a Mo Vaughn jersey brings back painful, negative memories for both fan bases.
What are the Red Sox like?
Really damn good. Great hitting, good fielding, good pitching. It's still a team of ringers, with only three lineup regulars remaining from the 2004 championship team. The lovable David Ortiz leads the way, with able support from Manny Ramirez. There's no bad hitter in the lineup. Pitching features a Japanese import, post-season hero Josh Beckett, and right-wing Bush fellater Curt Schilling.
What are the Angels like?
Only partially a team of ringers, they're similar to the Red Sox but slightly worse in most areas. Vlad Guerrero is the superstar, though he's hurt and won't play the field in this series. This will be a disappointment to certain roommates of mine, who see Vlad's throwing arm as pure poetry. In his stead, they'll be playing a white guy named Reggie, the last white Reggie since Archie comics began. The Angels have a better bench and a better bullpen than the Red Sox, and they steal more bases.
Things to say to appear more knowledgeable about this series
"Howie Kendrick is going to win a batting title someday."
"It's Kelvim. With an 'm'."
"The Angels have lost their last six (now seven) playoff games to Boston."
"Vladimir Guerrero is most reliable RBI man in the major leagues."
"Boooooooo! This guy sucks!" (when J.D. Drew is hitting, regardless of which team you are supporting)
"The Red Sox probably won't bunt here."
Root for the Red Sox if...
You like big guys who give lots of hugs, you grew up in New England, you're Irish, you like Japanese pitchers, you hate the Yankees, you appreciate the novelty of Caucasian ticket scalpers, or you work for the FOX network and desperately want a Yankees-Red sox League Championship Series.
Root for the Angels if...
You thought Walt Disney was very handsome and wish his doppelganger success owning a baseball team, you love Vlad Guerrero, you like fan gimmicks like Thunderstix and animated monkeys on the Jumbotron, you can't spell "Sean" correctly, you are The John Francis.
Who are you rooting for, Sean?
Boston, and it's not even close. As much as I despise Schilling, I love Manny and Ortiz just as much. And besides, anything south of Fresno, it's all the same.
Though the Sox are superior on paper, I'm going to go with Angels in five, because Vlad might win a game by himself, John Lackey is a stud, and it's safer to pick against the team I actually want to win.