Fans eager for opener in Anaheim

Fans eager for opener in Anaheim

ANAHEIM -- While fans in Southern California have a bad reputation for arriving to the ballpark late, it certainly wasn't the case on Wednesday as thousands waited eagerly for the gates to open two hours before the Angels were set to play the Red Sox in Game 1 of their American League Division Series at Angel Stadium.

complete postseason coverage

Fans waited in long lines and many ran to get a good spot for batting practice as the Angels were finishing and the Red Sox were just about to start.

As the fans walked in, they were also given a banner that read "What A Year," which could also be converted to a noisemaker.

Excitement was clearly in the air for Angels fans, who were hoping that the Halos make it out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2005.

"I can't wait," said Wendy Pfeiffer, who shares season tickets with her boyfriend Mike Goetz. "I love it. I'm really excited."

Pfeiffer and Goetz were joined by thousands of Angels fans, many of whom were clad in red with Angels hats, jerseys and face paint. But there were also a surprising number of Red Sox fans who came out to root for the visiting team.

Certainly a few of the Red Sox fans made the trek from Boston to see the game, but many of them were simply transplanted fans who live in Southern California.

Steve Monday and his son Dan were such fans as they both live in Southern California but are Red Sox fans.

"We root for Boston exclusively," Steve said. "My wife's from New England, so in my house you have to be a Red Sox and Patriot fan."

Steve hasn't made the trip to see Fenway Park yet, but Dan has been there twice. He said he's hoping for a similar atmosphere at Angel Stadium and gave a bold prediction for the game and the series.

"I think Red Sox will win, 5-2, tonight and will win the series in four," Dan said.

But it wasn't quite the prediction that Angels fans had as many were confident the Angels will win the series and avenge last season's sweep. After all, the Angels are healthy for the postseason, unlike last year, and as many fans pointed out, the Red Sox no longer have Manny Ramirez on their side.

"Without Manny, we're going to come up looking good," said Harold Julius, who wore an Angels hat and a Tarzan-like outfit. "It's going to be a close game, though."

While Julius had a common rationale for the Angels winning, Pfeiffer had a much more interesting reason why this is the Angels' year.

"The reason why we didn't go to the World Series last year was because my grandson was born this year," said Pfeiffer, who showed a picture of her grandson with the Rally Monkey in his crib.

While fans from both sides made predictions across the board about which team will win the series, the one common theme among Angels fans was the series won't turn out like last season when the Red Sox swept the Angels.

"It's simply our turn to win," Goetz said.

Rhett Bolinger is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.