The Anaheim Angels ended their 42-year wait on Sunday night, while Barry Bonds still hasn't found what he's looking for.
The Angels cruised to a 4-1 victory over San Francisco in Game 7 of the World Series at Edison Field, claiming their first championship and slamming the door on Bonds' 17-year quest for a ring to call his own.
Garret Anderson's three-run double off Livan Hernandez in the third inning gave the Angels an early lead, and they hung on to cap one of the most amazing Octobers any team has experienced.
Anaheim came from behind to win in eight of its 11 postseason victories, erasing five-run deficits on two occasions, including the Series-turning Game 6 win Saturday night.
"Scott Spiezio put it best when he said, `Hey, the Rally Monkey is in here,' and pointed to his heart," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think that says it all."
Rookie John Lackey earned the victory, with relievers Brendan Donnelly, Francisco Rodriguez and Troy Percival combining to throw four scoreless innings. The all-California Series set records for most combined runs (85), home runs (21) and extra-base hits (45). Troy Glaus was named Series most valuable player, denying Bonds another award that was in his back pocket only 24 hours earlier.
The Angels' story is so farfetched that if it were a movie, it would probably go straight to video. Anaheim finished 41 games behind division-winning Seattle in 2001 and got off to a 6-14 start this year, the worst in franchise history. The Angels trailed the Yankees 6-1 in the third game of the best-of-five division series but came back to win 9-6 and take the series in four games.
They looked dead against the Giants in the seventh inning of Game 6, only to shrug off a 5-0 deficit and stage an improbable comeback in a do-or-die situation.
Giants manager Dusty Baker and his players must now cope with a long winter of what-ifs, wondering what might have been had the Giants not blown that five-run lead in Game 6.
San Francisco has been ravaged by a fire, earthquakes and the dot-com crash during its history, but never before had the city been brought to its knees by a monkey.
"I imagine everybody here--all the fans, the owners, the people in the front office--everybody is kicking themselves," Giants second baseman Jeff Kent said. "They should. They rightfully should. We were close. Not only `six outs close' [in Game 6] but close in the seventh game of the World Series."
Will Bonds ever get another opportunity to win his ring? Will Baker leave the Giants and try his luck with the Cubs or some other team? Will free-agent Kent turn his back on owner Peter Magowan and hook up with the rival Dodgers? Will they ever recover from Game 6?
"I'll remember [Game 6] as long as we are in baseball," Magowan said. "Unless we win the World Series someday."
Reggie Sanders' sacrifice fly in the second gave the Giants a 1-0 lead, but Bengie Molina's RBI double in the bottom of the second tied it. Hernandez continued to struggle in the third, serving up back-to-back singles before hitting Tim Salmon in the right hand to load the bases.
Baker quickly got his bullpen up, but not before Anderson doubled into the right-field corner, clearing the bases and giving Anaheim a 4-1 lead.
Lackey, pitching on three days' rest, pushed the mute button on the Giants' offense, leaving after five innings and watching the bullpen do the rest. Donnelly struck out Tom Goodwin in the sixth with runners on second and third, and Rodriguez struck out three batters in the eighth around a walk to Bonds.
Percival put two runners on and faced the tying run in the ninth, one last scare for Angels fans.
"I said I'm going to throw the same pitches I've thrown all year," Percival said. "That was evident because I brought the tying run to the plate, like I always do."
But Percival struck out Tsuyoshi Shinjo and induced Kenny Lofton to fly out to Darin Erstad, starting the celebration in Anaheim.
Cut. Fade to black.
At long last, the Angels were going to Disneyland.