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Friday, February 10, 2006

Message To Arte And Anaheim: Chill

At least, that's what Times columnist Dana Parsons recommends:
In losing, the city may have won.

Good baseball owners don't come around every day. Hitting Moreno up for millions of dollars in damages wouldn't have been the way to keep him happy.

Had Moreno been forced to pay, the bite may well have come from future team payrolls. He would have told everyone it was Anaheim's fault. Or, who knows, he may have grown so disenchanted that he either sold the team or started counting the days when the lease would let him move it.

Anaheim officials need only ask themselves how popular their town would be in Orange County if the Angels ever left because of them. Or what having no baseball team would do to their tourist business.

"I didn't bring this suit on," Moreno told reporters after the verdict. "I was sued. This took me away from my family for a long time."

...

The good news is that Moreno seems every bit the intuitive man. He's courted fans with a magic touch. He needs to tap into that and make an adjustment or two to appease Orange County fans who don't like being thought of as part of Los Angeles, no matter what demographers say.

In about the time it takes to play a 10-inning game at the stadium, the jury gave Moreno a huge win.

For both sides, it's now time to play ball.

With each other.

Update: More on this from the Register where we learn that Arte broke down in tears at hearing the verdict, and something else:
After the verdict, Moreno thanked jurors.

While juror Diana Reyes talked to reporters, Moreno leaned in to shake Reyes' hand and pulled her in for a hug, telling her "muchas gracias." She blushed and thanked him. "I wish I could've taken a picture with him," said Reyes, one of the jurors who mentioned Moreno's good looks during jury selection.

One of the jurors who said that? Wow. And -- as suggested by one of my commenters below -- how about this Frank Mickadeit piece that leads off with a Plaschkean "The last time I felt this way after a verdict was O.J."

Another suggestion from one of my commenters was a passage in yesterday's Times story about the verdict:

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he still bled Dodger blue.

"Los Angeles has been the home of the Dodgers since 1958 and it always will be," Villaraigosa said. "Along with the rest of the fans in Los Angeles, I remain a proud supporter of the Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles."

Dodger owner Frank McCourt issued a statement reiterating the team's position on its encroaching neighbor: "Everyone knows there's only one team in Los Angeles, and it's the Dodgers," he said.

The Dodgers denied spending any money assisting the city of Anaheim and have tried to stay out of the legal fray, but sources said team attorneys helped behind the scenes, spending more than $100,000 in legal fees. And last season's Dodger motto — "This is L.A. baseball" — suggested they were well aware of Moreno's aggressive push into Los Angeles.

Since Moreno bought the team in 2003, the number of season-ticket holders has jumped from 12,000 to 30,000, with a waiting list this year for the first time in team history. Annual revenue also increased from $102 million to $175 million.


Comments:
O.C. Register columnist Frank Mickadeit had a different reaction to the verdict:

"The last time I felt this way after a verdict was O.J."
 
L.A. Times:

"The Dodgers denied spending any money assisting the city of Anaheim and have tried to stay out of the legal fray, but sources said team attorneys helped behind the scenes, spending more than $100,000 in legal fees. And last season's Dodger motto — "This is L.A. baseball" — suggested they were well aware of Moreno's aggressive push into Los Angeles."

The more bad blood between the two teams, the better for the Freeway Series and inter-league play between the two teams.
 
All the Angels have to do is give a discount to OC residents who buy tickets.
 
He needs to tap into that and make an adjustment or two to appease Orange County fans who don't like being thought of as part of Los Angeles, no matter what demographers say.

30,000 season ticket holders. 3.4 million tickets sold last year. Offered a television package for the same money the Dodgers are getting. No, I don't think Arte really needs to do anything different than he's been doing.
 
Does anyone honestly think that not having the Angels would affect Anaheim as a tourist destination at all?
 
You might not think so, but it's entirely reasonable. That was certainly Disney's motivation in buying the club in the first place; the one thing they didn't want was for the west-central part of Anaheim to turn into a ghost town or worse. You have to remember that at that time there were many small motels that had converted to month-to-month or weekly operation for people who had little money and weren't rational enough to figure out that they'd save considerable dough by just getting first and last together for a regular apartment. Those kinds of developments combined with an abandoned stadium would really make Anaheim look pretty shabby.
 
Arte doesn't have to do anything to appease disgruntled O.C. Angel fans -- and I'm a perfect example. As an O.C. resient, I was bitterly opposed to the name change, but I still watched every freakin' game last year despite my feelings. And I'll probably watch every game this year, too.
 
Randy Youngman of the O.C. Register writes the following in Saturday's edition of the paper:

"Just wondering:Arte Moreno won, and the city of Anaheim lost. Do you think city officials now regret not accepting a rumored $20million settlement offer from Moreno before the silly name-change case went to trial?"
 

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