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In California's World Series, a missing rivalry

By Staff writers of The Christian Science Monitor, Daniel B. WoodStaff writers of The Christian Science Monitor / October 18, 2002


It is, geographically, a California World Series.

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But starting with the first pitch Saturday night of Game 1 between the San Francisco Giants and Anaheim Angels, the only question will be: Which California will win?

According to postal carriers and cartographers, San Francisco and Anaheim are West Coast cousins, linked by the broad stretch of a single state. Yet according to Imelda Enrique, standing outside Edison Field in Anaheim, "San Francisco is another place entirely."

"Nothing against them," she says, "but they might as well be in a different state."

The feeling is mutual.

One is simply "The City," the fog-enshrouded enclave of California's high caste – of old gold-rush money and the Young Turks of high tech, of tapas bars and cable cars. The other is the backdrop for Disneyland, and the center of America's new suburban experiment – a conglomeration of sprawl so massive that it has become its own metroplex, even though it lacks anything that could be traditionally called a "city."

It's greenies vs. growth, strip malls vs. Swan Lake, Space Mountain vs. Russian Hill. Yet, so far completely missing from this classic rivalry of California's north and south is, well, a rivalry of north and south. The most traditional California battle line has yet to be drawn, and some say that is a reflection of a much broader change, not only in state sports, but also in the state itself.

Where northern and southern California were once largely fiefdoms of San Francisco and Los Angeles, a dozen new city-states such as Anaheim – and its surrounding Orange County – have risen, splintering the geographical hegemony.

Fans milling about in front of ballparks in Anaheim and San Francisco can feel the change. For all the differences of the two cities, neither group can cough up much animosity for the other. Anaheim is not Los Angeles, after all, and until now, not many people in either place thought of comparing Anaheim with San Francisco – on the field or as a city.

As this series suggests, though, that is changing, and as other urban centers from Fresno to Monterey develop, the notion of a north and a south California is evaporating.

"We're not used to juxtaposing these two cities to one another, because Orange County is kind of a new entity," says Kevin Starr, the state librarian. "So this is sort of a big thing. It announces that Orange County is coming of age."

Yet along San Francisco's Embarcadero, where flags snap in the cool October wind, Anaheim gets little respect. Not that fans who have gathered outside Pacific Bell Park in search of tickets are mocking. To the contrary, it seems that it's the first time any of them have seriously considered Orange County. "If people thought of Anaheim as a Los Angeles team, then maybe there would be a rivalry," says David Hafner, a Marin County novelist who's wrapped himself in a blanket and camped in front the gate.

At least Los Angeles has the legendary Dodgers and a history that dates back to before the invention of the microwave. Anaheim was a bourgeois upstart. When San Francisco was a bohemian mecca in the late 19th century, Orange County was a collection of orange growers.