All across the country, baseball fans are feeling increasingly alienated by their respective franchises. In response, the Anaheim Angels’ management team reached deep into its bag of Disney magic to find a gimmick so randomly stupid and powerful, that it could take apathetic Southern California sports fans and inspire them to become dynamic and excited supporters of the Angels.
That magical gimmick, of course, was the Rally Monkey.
For those of you living in a hole, the Rally Monkey (who also moonlighted as Marcel on NBC’s Friends) appears on the scoreboard wearing an Angels jersey when the home team is tied or behind after the sixth inning. It then proceeds to jump up and down, while the fans do the same. Then, in theory, the Angels come back and win the game.
This practice began on June 6, 2000; ironically, the monkey’s first appearance accompanied a come-from-behind win in interleague play over the San Francisco Giants, whom Anaheim is fighting for the World Series title.
The Rally Monkey (actually a female Ka’apor capuchin monkey named Katie) failed Saturday in Game 1, as the Angels lost 4-3. But it was still up to its usual monkey business. It showed up on the JumboTron when Anaheim was trailing 4-1, hoping to ignite the crowd and spark another Angels comeback. Troy Glaus promptly tagged his second homer of the night immediately after the pesky primate’s first World Series appearance. Shortly thereafter, Brad Fullmer drove in Adam Kennedy to cut the lead to one, and the Angels’ fans went crazy. But they were banging their stupid ThunderStix in vain, because Robb Nen and the rest of the Giants shut the door.
“I ain’t worried about no monkey,” Giants skipper Dusty Baker told The San Francisco Chronicle. “If it was a gorilla, it would be different. I was scared of King Kong.”
Like most people, I think the Rally Monkey is completely absurd, but its growing throng of believers is passionate because of this year’s American League Championship Series against the Minnesota Twins.
In Game 4 of the ALCS, the Rally Monkey came out during the seventh inning of a 0-0 tie. Anaheim promptly took a 2-0 lead, then put Minnesota away with a five-run eighth inning.
In Game 5, the Twins were winning 5-3 in the seventh. Enter the Rally Monkey – before Minnesota knew what hit them, the Angels had scored 10 runs and earned a spot in the World Series.
In addition to those two wins, the Rally Monkey is believed to be responsible for the 42 other comeback wins that the Angels had earlier this season.
I tried to repress my memories of watching the classic Disney movie “Angels in the Outfield,” but the Rally Monkey magic has been so ridiculous as to make that impossible.
I keep expecting Christopher Lloyd, Danny Glover and Tony Danza to get the fans to wave their arms like the mindless sheep they really are. After random celebrity appearances at the World Series by David Hasselfhoff and Tim “The Toolman” Allen, they would fit in perfectly.
But no matter how much the marketing-created Anaheim fans resemble a Hollywood script, the Angels still lost Game 1, and that doesn’t sit to well with the Rally Monkey, who writes a column on the Angels’ team website called “Primate Report.”
“All I know is, I was working my tail off out there, catching air like Tony Hawk, waving my ‘Rally Time!!!’ sign, the whole thing,” Rally Monkey said. “But, hey, I’m only the cheerleader, right? I had nothing to do with those 42 come-from-behind wins this season. Pure coincidence.”
Despite the monkey’s complaints, there was no rally, but that didn’t stop him from using his column space to guarantee a victory in Game 2.
Quoth the monkey: “Look, I tell you one thing, I’m not much into guarantees, but let me make one thing clear: Barry Bonds will wash Jeff Kent’s truck while wearing a Tommy Lasorda jersey before those Giants win two straight in my house.”
Any mammal can see how well that prediction worked out – Angels 11, Giants 10.
Steve Jackson can be reached at email@example.com.