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KPBS Commentaries

The "Los Angeles? Angels and Other Teams From Nowhere

The World Series is underway this week without the Los Angeles Angels. They came close, but they lost the American League pennant to the Chicago White Sox. I should be sorry. But although I live in Southern California I have no feelings of loyalty toward the Angels. In fact, I wonder how you can love a team that doesn't know where it is?

This is the team that used to be the "California? Angels. Then they were the "Anaheim? Angels. Anaheim, of course, is where they play ball. But I suppose too many people said, "Where the hell is Anaheim?? ...and the team got tired of saying, "You know, where Disneyland is.?

So now they are the Los Angeles Angels. OK... Anaheim is close to Los Angeles. And I guess it makes more sense to say the Angels are from LA than to say the Giants, of the National Football League, are from New York. The Giants actually play football in New Jersey.

But Anaheim is not LA, and the Angels know it. In fact, there may be no other team in the country that wears its identity crisis on its sleeve like the Angels.

The Angels' problem is pretty clear. It's a team that's located smack in the middle of a sea of suburban sprawl. It plays ball and draws fans from a metropolis that has no center and no strong identity. This is Orange County, after all.

I'm reminded of the story of when the New Jersey Devils won the Stanley Cup in 1995. The team wanted to have a victory rally. But where? As one fan put it, "There's really no town to go to.? In the end, the team held its rally in a parking lot. You could say that North Jersey has some of the same issues as Orange County.

It's fitting that the Angels lost the A.L. pennant to the White Sox, a team that suffers no identity crisis. The Sox are the South Side. They're the infamous "Black? Sox of olden days. They're a Chicago team, and we all know where Chicago is.

When I was growing up in the state of Iowa, we had our own small-town version of a team from nowhere. It was a high school called Interstate 35. It was a school, with a football team, that was named after a freeway.

I can't remember the name of their team. Were they the Fighting Freeways? The Ramps? The I-35 Mile Markers? One day my Dad, in a fit of inspiration, wrote a fight song for good old I-35. And maybe that's what the Angels should do. Write a proud, humorous fight song and embrace their suburban-wasteland identity.

They should go back to calling themselves the California Angels. It's close enough, and let's face it... Orange County is what an awful lot of California has become.

Words to the unofficial I-35 team fight song.

Fight, fight for I-35!

We've got the forward. We've got the drive.

Tell those bums to hit the road.

For I-35 will never be snowed.

Through hail and rain storms, we'll never tire.

I-35 sure has the fire.

Fight right on and don't hit the berm.

And never make a wrong turn!