I can’t believe it’s only my second posting and I’m writing about sports already.
Well, I’m on my way to the game in a few minutes, so here goes.
I know this is hard to believe, but I may have misheard a broadcast (or maybe I correctly heard a misleading broadcast) on L.A. radio yesterday that said Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle had lifted his season-long “boycott” of Angels baseball games in time for today’s opening game of the American League Division Series against the hated New York Yankees.
Before that rumor goes any further, let me clarify what I believe to be Pringle’s actual position: The Mayor will host the Boys and Girls Clubs of Anaheim at today’s game as a charity event. Pringle has said his choice not to attend regular-season games was not actually a boycott, as some people have described it. The Mayor’s choice to attend post-season games will be considered on a game-by-game basis, with special consideration given to benefit selected charities.
I feel better knowing all of that, although I had been impressed by Pringle’s principled stand – You should see the digs the Mayor gets at Angel Stadium. You do have to admit he’s in an awkward position, because he has to simultaneously show that he’s mad at the team while at the same time showing support for the team that (sort of) calls Anaheim home (Is that kind of like saying “I support the troops but not the war?”).
Just in case anyone doesn’t know, Pringle’s beef with the Angels dates back to the team’s decision this year to relegate to afterthought status the name “Anaheim” in favor of the moniker of a metropolis some 40 miles to the north. The City of Anaheim sued the franchise because it had made a deal with the team wherein consideration for the city’s name being affixed to all things Angelic secured more than $100 million worth of stadium improvements by the city, completed in 1999. New Angels owner Arte Moreno – who clearly had bought an undervalued asset if he could find a way to really catch fire in the Los Angeles media market – was not to be denied by Anaheim’s naming clause.
His solution: “The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.”
Well, Anaheim of Anaheim responded, “A deal’s a deal.”
This is where a contract lawsuit turned into a real fight – It’s a Baseball Thing. The Angels have been rivals with the Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles for decades. Who could really expect the namesake city of the 2002 World Series Champions to sit by while some guy from Arizona bought the team from Disney and unceremoniously dropped the name “Anaheim” from its road uniforms? Adding insult to injury, L.A. doesn’t even want to associate themselves with the Angels, because, again, it’s a rivalry (Dodger Stadium scoreboards still list the Angels with the abbreviation “ANA” instead of “LAA”).
Having grown up in the City of … er … Angels, I don’t see quite the stigma of the L.A. name that Orange County residents see when it’s emblazoned on Angels garb. But I do understand rivalries, and I do believe a deal’s a deal. And I hope Anaheim wins its lawsuit come January. Smart money says the city wins: http://www.anaheim.net/administration/PIO/news.asp?id=575
So what’s the political angle here? Well, I did mention a politician. But seriously, the way I see it, many of us political observers love a good, principled fight. I would suggest that the art of a manager kicking dirt on an umpire’s shoes – or a skinny pitcher using a Judo move on a brawny beaned batter charging the mound – is just as entertaining and just as principled as the best convention floor fight.
So what’s the “Inland Empire” angle here? I’m just suggesting that those eight million or so of us Southern Californians who don’t live in either Los Angeles or San Diego Counties ought to get into the spirit of the former “California Angels” today as they take on the Yankee juggernaut at 5 p.m.
I wish the San Diego Padres luck, but I for one am particularly looking forward to seeing the only California team since the 1981 Dodgers that’s managed to stop the Bronx Bombers in the postseason repeat that heroic feat this week.
Have I managed to offend everyone yet?
Good. I’ll be at the game with my Blackberry turned off.
Oh – and read Men at Work by George Will. It’s also a Baseball Thing.