Monday, April 01, 2002

OPENING DAY: Matt Welch has a report on the Angels' opener, among other things. I guess he missed that LA Times piece about how people on the West coast aren't supposed to care about baseball:

"I was brought up in a pressure-packed situation in Boston," Vaughn said before the Mets played the Dodgers in an exhibition game last week. "Overall, the East Coast is a get-it-done-yesterday type situation. And I seem to thrive on that. Not necessarily for the publicity, but the situation. That's the way it is."

Piazza believes there is "more of a football mentality on the East Coast. You lose a game, it's like the end of the world.

"I remember a few years ago, [the Mets] opened the season with a $70-million payroll, in 1999. The first day, we lost to the Marlins and the back page the next day said, '$70-Million Flops.' You laugh about it. Next day, we won the game and it was, 'Mets Get Their Money's Worth.'

"A lot has to do with the blue-collar work ethic of the towns back East. It's reflected in the media, in the whole roller-coaster ride of the media there. You can be a hero one day, next day you're a goat. One day you're the greatest thing since Mickey Mantle, the next day they want to run you out of town."

Philadelphia Phillie Manager Larry Bowa previously coached in Anaheim and managed in San Diego. He has seen major league life from both sides of the country and maintains that "overall, there's more of a sense of urgency to excel on the East Coast. They don't have a lot of other things to do, whereas on the West Coast, the fans have a lot of stuff to do out there. It's more laid-back. It's a little more casual. It's really a form of entertainment for them.

"On the East Coast, it's, 'Hey, we want you to win at all costs. It's our summer, don't screw it up.'"

On the East Coast, a defeat is treated "like a death in the family," Bowa said. "Especially if they have high expectations for you and you're floundering early. I mean, you turn on a radio talk show and you get buried, everybody's getting buried....

"You can feel that, that urgency as soon as you take the field. Obviously, they're a lot more vocal. If you don't do well, they let you know about it. I'm not saying they don't boo on the West Coast, but it's very minimal compared to the East Coast."

Part of it can be attributed to location. So it's July in Southern California and the Angels are losing? So let's surf/kayak/jog/roller-blade/golf the blues away.

Yankee pitcher Roger Clemens says he has "seen a few times in Anaheim where a guy is throwing a cool game and people get up in the fifth, sixth or seventh inning and head for the beach."

Me personally, I can't start following baseball until the (lousy stupid) Lakers win the inevitable championship and another team's name is inscripted on the Stanley Cup. (The Devils got a chance, I swear.) And then there's the AFL, WNBA and WUSA. But when all that's done with --yes, baseball operates on such a mammoth scale timewise that three minor pro sports complete their entire seasons within baseball's regular season-- I'm right there with baseball. In the meantime I'm sure Ken will have lots of baseball love. I mean, I'm always up for going to a baseball game but as for actually following the sport over a 162-game season --man, just like those supposed West coast baseball fans and the beach, I got other stuff to pay attention to.

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