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Angel Fans Miss the Signals
Diana Pucin in Monday's LA Times
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BOSTON -- Tried to find the Angel-Red Sox game on TV, didn't you? Found the White Sox-Devil Ray game. Bet that had you glued to the tube.

But the Angels-Red Sox? Two teams battling for American League division titles and wild-card position? At a sold-out Fenway Park? That game wasn't televised in Southern California.

These Fightin' Angels deserve better. A team owned by a media conglomerate should use some muscle to get the biggest game of the season on television. Why should fans come out in sellout numbers if ownership can't get its team on television? Do you think George Steinbrenner would stand for this, having a Yankee-Red Sox Sunday afternoon game not on television?

Why should fans watch TV this week when all three home games against the Devil Rays will be televised if they can't watch a road game played in a historic park between two teams in a tense playoff battle?

On a Sunday when there was no regular-season NFL football, no Grand Slam golf or tennis tournament, no Tour de France or Ryder Cup or any other momentous sporting occasion, the Angels still couldn't get on TV.

The Channel 9 crew was here.

Rex Hudler was running people over as he galloped through the glum Boston crowd after the Angels, with a rookie pitcher going against an All-Star, won, 8-3, by scoring five times in the top of the ninth.

"Wasn't it a great game?" Hudler shouted.

And wouldn't it have been great to have seen it live, heard Hudler live in all his full-blown, charmingly-Angel homerism?

Live, that's another thing. Tonight's Red Sox-Angel game, the final one of this critical four-game series, will be televised by Channel 9. On tape delay. And on KLAC (570). On tape delay. Tape-delay television, that's understandable. A little. But tape-delay radio? Even the Sparks get live radio broadcasts!

Here's what Channel 9 showed Sunday instead of the Angels-Red Sox:

"An Hour of Power."

This while Mickey Callaway, a 27-year-old rookie was making his first start for the Angels and his fifth major league start. Callaway, just called up from triple A, was going against Boston All-Star Derek Lowe, fighting through a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the first, only giving up one run. Callaway once pitched for Tampa Bay. If he was still with the sad-sack Devil Rays, he would have been on local TV.

By the time "Feed the Children" came on an hour later, Callaway was gingerly making his way into the sixth inning, giving up only one more earned run. Meanwhile, his new teammates were scrapping out their third run in the top of the fifth on David Eckstein's leadoff infield single and stolen base, Darin Erstad's sacrifice and Orlando Palmeiro's RBI single. Little things done well, something for the Little Leaguers to learn from.

Oh, wait. We see way more of the Little Leaguers than the Angels. Louisville star Zach Osborne has more face time in Anaheim than Callaway.

About the time of a half-hour of paid programming, Callaway was finishing his outing by getting two groundouts and a pop out around a walk. He'd kept the Angels in this thing, score tied, 3-3.

While the "Black Forum" consumed the next half hour, the game settled into a tense rhythm. Three up, three down for the Angels against Lowe.

And same for the Red Sox against middle reliever Brendan Donnelly, another one of those surprising Angel finds, as the station segued into a half hour of "Crime Strike." It was a one-two-three eighth for both teams too. Steady Scott Schoeneweis had taken over for Donnelly. Lowe kept hanging in for the Sox.

Finally, it was during "Animal Adventures" when the Angels scored five times. Scott Spiezio started it with a single and Manager Mike Scioscia pulled him for Chone Figgins, 24, just called up from Salt Lake City to take Tim Salmon's place on the roster. Figgins went to third on Shawn Wooten's pinch-hit, hit-and-run single, then scored the eventual winning run on Eckstein's squeeze. The Angels added four more runs in the inning.

"We weren't on TV?" Scioscia said after the game? "Huh?"

The official explanation is that ESPN had designated this game at the start of the year as a possibility for its Sunday night game. Two weeks ago, ESPN (owned by Disney, which owns the Angels), chose the Dodger-Brave game for national television. That left the Red Sox-Angels up for grabs.

In Boston, the local Fox station managed to sell ads and televise the game. In Southern California, no deal.

Fox Sports Net had a rerun of the "Best Damn Sports Show Period," Major League Lacrosse playoffs and "Beyond the Glory" looking at Lawrence Taylor.

This would be funny. Except it's sad.

The most entertaining team in the game, with a roster of more underpaid overachievers than overpaid underachievers, exists in a tape-delayed media vacuum and everybody seems to shrug their shoulders, make excuses and say, "That's just the way it is."

The manager and players get called on it when they make excuses. The ownership owes this manager and these players and all the fans fewer excuses. And more television.

· Godfather
338 Posts
I enjoyed watching the Dodgers-Braves on ESPN (except for the moron announcers, where's Vin Scully when you need him?) but I would've loved to see the Angels-Red Sox game too. With all the sports channels available, it amazes me no one broadcast this.
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