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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Arte's Not-So-Smoking Gun

Via the Times:
The Angels submitted what they called "the proverbial smoking gun," a copy of a lease draft dated April 17, 1996. In a memorandum of understanding dated April 3, 1996, Disney — then owner of the California Angels — agreed to change the team name to "include the name Anaheim therein." That language is identical to what appears in the lease, dated May 14, 1996.

The draft filed by the Angels includes a handwritten notation — allegedly on the city's behalf — scratching out that language and substituting "the Anaheim Angels." That alteration, rejected by Disney, is "exactly what [the city] wants from this court," the Angels argue. In the absence of such language, they contend, they can change their name from Anaheim Angels without breaching the contract.

The city disagrees, arguing neither Anaheim nor Disney ever discussed identifying the team with another geographical area. In previous court declarations, city officials have acknowledged Disney's unwillingness to approve the restrictive Anaheim Angels name in the lease, and one expert said the draft is far from a smoking gun.

"I don't think it's anything dramatically new," said Carl Bjerre, who teaches contract law at the University of Oregon. "The fact that Disney was wanting some flexibility does not establish that Disney was wanting enough flexibility so as to call the team the Los Angeles Angels."

Madness, I tells ya, madness.

For Dodger aficionados and Frank McCourt, this is turning into the best of all possible worlds. A chance to laugh at the rubes in Anaheim arguing a legally untenable position, AND the folly of the LAAOA. For a marketing guy, Arte Moreno sure dont know much about marketing in SoCal, taking the typical out of towner view that SoCal must identify with Los Angeles. Well yeah, but what he doesn't get is that about half of SoCal identifies with Los Angeles as the antiChrist. That includes the OC, the Inland empire, and good chunks of LA county itself-San Gabriel & Pomona valleys, Long Beach, South Bay. A smart marketer would take the Anaheim appelation and turn it into meaning "not Los Angeles". Who knew Arte's role model would be Donald Sterling?
LA's not the "anti-Christ", but Arte's made a big fool of himself with this ungainly name change.
I'm not so sure that this isn't a big help to Moreno's case. The fact that the specificity was proposed and rejected, and that the lease was signed with full knowledge of that rejection, bolster's Moreno's argument that the lease does not hold him to "Anaheim Angels." I don't really see how Anaheim can argue otherwise, based on the information now available (there may be correspondence between the counsels from 1996 where Disney assures Anaheim that the clause does mean "Anaheim Angels," though the wording is vague).

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