By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Yes, it's baseball, and technically, he's a manager, but we're going with the Soshon this one. He's won two division titles and a World Series, has a winning record, and is fluent in Spanish. If there's one thing Orange County likes more than a winner, it's one that is fluent in Spanish—except maybe Walt, but he's dead now, at least until they thaw him out. OC sports fans (or the Los Angeles fans of Anaheim, if you believe Arturo Moreno) are lucky enough to have Scioscia, which offsets the terrible luck that landed Angels fans that insufferable rally monkey. Scioscia has a distinctly National League style, which seems to work well against an unsuspecting American League defense. His coaching has seen the departure of the "Cowboy Curse," a reference to original owner Gene Autry's haunting due to the rumored Indian burial ground in the outfield. Scioscia has done away with the patented August Angel Fade that typically saw them blowing huge leads late in the season. He also got rid of those cheesy, periwinkle, angel-winged-logo uniforms ESPN lovingly referred to as the "softball beer league" threads. Scioscia has turned the Angels into an American League powerhouse to be feared and respected—and given the once-notoriously sit-on-their-hands Anaheim fans something to stand up and clap about.
Readers' Choice: Mike Scioscia
Best Angels Player
Vladimir Guerrero gets the big money, Francisco Rodriguez sports the cool goggles, and Orlando Cabrera deserves all your love after that All-Star Game snub. But the man who embodies why your Anaheim Angels are no longer a pendejada is Reggie Willits. He's homegrown, not brought in as a free agent; a scrapper, not naturally gifted; humble, a sleeper prospect and plays the small ball the way the Los Angeles Dodgers did for years and are starting to do again. His unlikely story—an Oklahoma stopgap for oft-injured outfielder Garrett Anderson who built his home around a batting cage—has already graced the pages of The New York Times and the blathering tubes of ESPN. More important, though, the squirt has continued to hit above .290 through this long, hot summer. Finally, someone at whom fans can chant "Reg-gie, Reg-gie!" who actually deserves it.
Readers' Choice: Vladimir Guerrero
Best Ducks Player
When the Anaheim Ducks acquired Teemu Selanne for a second stint in 2005, many fans figured it was just a sympathy signing, allowing one of the most popular players in franchise history to retire a Duck. But Selanne proved doubters wrong last year, winning the National Hockey League's Bill Masterson Memorial Trophy (for comeback player of the year) and helping the Ducks to the Stanley Cup semifinals. But the eternally smiling Selanne outdid himself this past season, becoming the first player in NHL history older than 35 to record consecutive 40-plus goals seasons while leading the Ducks to, well, if we have to tell you what they did this past season, you deserve deportation from Orange County. Even if Selanne retires, as he's hinted recently, he's made no secret of his love for the county, for Ducks fans—and even if he hated us, we'd still love him forever for the goals he produces in buckets.
Readers' Choice: Scott Niedermeyer
Best Mixed-Martial-Arts Fighter
Ultimate Fighting Championship icon Tito Ortiz, a.k.a. The Huntington Beach Bad Boy, has not only helped to elevate the "fastest-growing sport in the world," but also brought a tough-guy, kick-ass notoriety to Orange County. Ortiz hasn't been winning much of late, most recently taking a beating at the hands of Chuck Liddell, followed by a draw with Rashad Evans, but that's not important. He's still basically a rock star who beats the shit out of people. Flaunting bleached-blond hair and porn star-turned-business mogul Jenna Jameson draped over his arm, Ortiz's flamboyancy brings out the bad boy in us all. Mixed martial arts is now huge here, with training gyms—some even equipped with UFC octagonal rings—peppering almost every city. If you're a guy, walk into a bar in H.B. and be prepared to be sized up by nearly every Tito-wannabe in the place. They will undoubtedly be mentally preparing to kick your ass. (If you're bigger, he's planning an arm bar or rear naked choke. If you're smaller, he'll probably just punch and kick the crap out of you.) Either way, if he knows what he's doing and you don't, buy him a beer and shut your mouth.
Best Girl Gang
OC Roller Girls
There's a certain segment of our society that seems fascinated with the idea of watching women fight one another. What seems sleazy and exploitative in front of a bar is elevated to high art, though, when transferred to the roller rink. Roller derby is a sport that thrives on rough, high-speed physical contact. Heather Shelton, a Tucson transplant, founded the OC Roller Girls in 2006, and since then, the team has competed against other women's roller-derby teams from across the country (even braving the notorious ladies of the Inland Empire earlier this year . . . and you know those IE women know how to take a body down!). Best of all, the OC Roller Girls devote much of their energy to charity work, raising money for breast-cancer research, Roll for a Cure, the Irvine Animal Shelter, and more—which makes attending one of their bouts feel a little less bloodthirsty. Hey, when these strong women body-check one another, they're doing it for love!