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The Bell Curve -- Joseph N. Bell

April 04, 2002

There are two times during the year when I have to deal with almost

insufferable stress. The first time is in early October, when the World

Series goes head-to-head with both professional and college football. The

second is early spring, when I somehow have to juggle the NCAA basketball

tournament with the opening of the baseball season. That is probably the

most difficult of the two since it carries emotional overtones that go

back to my early childhood. This year, it also conflicted with our annual

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neighborhood Easter party, which raised ethical and religious

considerations, both of which passed rather quickly.

The Angels opened their season on Easter Sunday, the only team in the

majors to do so. We were told that this was because it gave them exposure

on national television ahead of everyone else, which turned out to be a

mixed blessing. I had planned to sneak off from the party to get my first

look at the new and improved Angels on TV when two Easter miracles

happened.

I had resigned myself to seeing most of my baseball this season on the

tube. Our piece of a season ticket was lost in economic austerity. The

extended family season ticket connections followed suit. Any ticket clout

I once had as a result of writing warmly about the problems of the

Angels' ticket manager some years ago in the Los Angeles Times were gone,

along with him.

Then, miraculously, rescue. From across the street and over the phone.

My lawyer neighbor, Ron Darling, invited me to join him at the Angels'

last exhibition game against the Colorado Rockies on Friday. And my

brother-in-law, Dan Angel, called in some favors to the Angel front

office, got tickets for the opener on Sunday, and invited my wife and me

to join his party.

The table was set on Thursday when Indiana quite remarkably won its

way to the NCAA finals. Then on Friday, the Angels lived up to all their

rosy predictions by beating up on Colorado. I went home that night full

of hope that the new Angels were loaded to deliver our first World Series

in history.

Then came Sunday and Monday. It would have been more exciting to stay

home and watch small people hunt eggs in our backyard than it was at

Anaheim Stadium. The Angels collapsed like a deflated balloon, losing 6-0

to the Cleveland Indians and looking very bad in the process. Cleveland

scored four runs before the Angels ever came to bat in this new season,

and I could actually feel the air go out of a capacity crowd once

inflated with hope. Then the following night, Indiana was creamed by

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