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The Bell Curve

September 02, 1999

Joseph N. Bell

It is probably time to write my annual thank you column to the Anaheim

Angels. I say "probably" because as a committed card-carrying romantic,

my instincts always tell me to wait until they are mathematically

eliminated from the pennant race. These are the same instincts that keep

me watching in the ninth inning when the Angels are 15 runs behind and

clearly as bored as the people who paid hard-earned money to come and see

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them play -- and have long since gone home.

But I still remember vividly some years ago -- when I was offering my

heart and soul to the Chicago White Sox -- that they once scored nine

runs in the last inning to beat the Yankees 10-9. And so I am loathe to

concede. But my editor, who is a pragmatist, says that it is time.

If you have been paying attention, you know that I have made a deal with

a Party -- whose identity is my own business -- not to leave this

bountiful life until the Angels have won a World Series. It appears --

no, says my editor, it is certain -- that the Angels won't endanger me

this year. And after the 14-12 debacle in Cleveland Tuesday night, I must

agree. Hence this note of thanks.

The list of individuals to thank is long and deserving, but before I

single them out, I would like to say that from beginning, the commitment

of the Angels to lose on my behalf has decidedly been a team effort (last

in the major leagues by a wide margin, for example, in runs-batted-in).

From the front office to the $80 million man -- with a few notable

exceptions -- the Angels have been consistent and determined

underachievers. In spite of my romantic leanings, I knew subconsciously

by early May that I was safe and that you were going to get this weekly

liberal enlightenment -- the editor willing -- for at least another year.

So let's get to the business at hand and give special thankswhere it is

due -- in no particular order of importance.

The first expression of appreciation goes to general manager Bill Bavasi

who pulled off a coup almost breathtaking in its ingenuity. The Angels

had two players who persisted in performing up to their salaries: pitcher

Omar Olivares and second baseman Randy Velarde.

They caused me some anxiety early in the season. But Bavasi cleverly

traded them in July to the Oakland Athletics. In return, he got three

deep minor leaguers who aren't likely to cause me any problems for at

least several years. Meanwhile, the two former Angels are leading

Oakland's quest for a playoff spot. Olivares is 4-0 with the Athletics,

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