Won over by situational hitting


Well, you Angels fans have been world champions for two weeks now.

You have a cap that says, “World Champions” on it. And you’ll be 2002

world champions forever.


I’m from Chicago myself. We have two baseball teams there. One of

them hasn’t won the World Series for 85 years and the other one --

well, the other one is the Cubs.

Since moving west in 1979, I’ve become fond of the Angels, but I


never considered them my team. My baseball loyalties remained


I did, however, notice that the 2002 Halos seemed extra feisty on

TV in May and June. They were even lovable, or they would have been

if I hadn’t declared myself to those other teams when I was younger.

The Cubs, the White Sox. The Cardinals during those summers in


As the season continued, I found myself taking an active interest.


For instance, I noticed that Scott Spiezio hit better if, when he had

two strikes on him, I changed the channel, waited 45 seconds and then

changed back. This is baseball science; has to do with sound waves

over distance or something.

Early in the playoffs, I pointed Spiezio out to Patti Jo. We had

the game on in the kitchen.

“Look, that’s Spiezio,” I said. “No, you missed him, that’s Molina

-- wait, there he is, leading off to first. That’s Spiezio.” Patti Jo


watched patiently as I jabbed at the screen.

“You’ve been talking about him a lot lately,” she said, and

decided to tease me. “Are you in love with him?”

The realization was immediate. “Yes,” I declared, unashamed. “I’m

in love with Scott Spiezio.”

Patti Jo was taken aback; we’ve been together since 1985. She

finally asked quietly, “Is it the goatee?”

She didn’t understand. It’s not like I wanted to meet the guy.

Wives don’t understand the love a man can have for a utility player

who comes through as a regular and understands situational hitting.

The whole team was like that.

I found myself rooting tensely for the Angels in the Series. By

that time they’d won the American League pennant, and me.

Oh, I know they belong to you natives who grew up with them, just

as my Chicago teams, God help them, belong to me.

But lately I’ve been thinking of getting one of those red caps,

anyway. After all, the Angels wouldn’t have won the Series if I

hadn’t used that channel- switching angle during game six.

Patti Jo’s still a little hurt over my new love affair, but it’s

like I told her: I’m not cheating on her. I’m cheating on the White


* SHERWOOD KIRALY is a Laguna Beach resident. He has written four

novels, three of which were critically acclaimed.