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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

CROSSTOWN
As you know, nothing has happened with the Angels in the last week or so. Well, at least, not directly. For, as you also know, the other Los Angeles team shot themselves in the foot this weekend.

It’s not that Paul DePodesta was necessarily going to lead the Chavez Ravine team back to glory. But he deserved more than two years on the job, especially when you consider that his team won a division title in his first season. And his second was torn by injury – to me, the Chavez Ravine 2005 team is quite reminiscent of the 2003 Angel squad.

DePo was obviously imperfect, and didn’t adequately fill the catcher, third base, or backup outfielder positions. But few teams are perfect, and an owner with a clue would allow his executives some leeway as they going about building a team (and an organization – the Dodger farm system was not in the best of straits before DePo’s arrival).

It’s that last point – about the lack of leeway – that I think really spells doom for the Ravine faithful. The McCourts allowed DePo to fire Jim Tracy, then turned around and immediately fired DePo; this demonstrates a lack of long-term vision. And firing DePo after a mere two seasons also betrays a disturbing impatience – is it any surprise that the McCourts have now gone through four different PR directors, as well?

After two years, the McCourts have shown that they have no stomach for long-term solutions, and are quick to abandon their employees at the first sign of trouble.

What does this mean for the Angels? One might guess that the time is ripe for the Angels to seize further LA market share. I think there is truth to that, but one should also recognize that baseball market share in this town is not a zero-sum game. Both teams can be successful, enjoy huge attendance, sell plentiful merchandise, and benefit from large media deals. The success of one team, on the field or financially, does not rely on the failure of the other, and I would say that having both teams thrive is beneficial to all parties, as it would contribute to Los Angeles becoming more of a baseball town.

The National League edition of LA baseball continued to draw well in 2005, despite its struggles. Will it continue to do so? There is often a hangover in the effect of team performance on attendance – the Angels had more fans show up in 2003 than in 2002 – so one might wonder if there will be some decline for them in 2006. Of course, that may be abated by the team improving, and if they get any health at all, they are certain to improve and very likely compete in a comparatively mediocre division.

But, right now, the Angels are the best game in town. They have an owner with deep pockets and long-range vision, one who wants to win now while also preserving the future, and one with an imaginative view of how the team can better exploit its revenue streams. They have a general manager and a field manager on the same page, and a cohesive organizational philosophy. I might not always agree with that philosophy (like, draw a walk, someone), but an imperfect plan well-executed is a huge advantage over having no plan at all. They have the greatest player Southern California has seen since Tony Gwynn retired, and have been to the postseason three times in the last four years. And need I mention the loaded farm system?

This is a good time to be an Angel fan, and a perfect time for those disenchanted with the McCourts to get clued in to the exciting brand of winning baseball being played just down the 5.

Comments:
I don't think I've ever really dis-liked the Dodgers. They are the National League team I root for... however since the McCourts bought them... I can't help but not like Dodgers all that much.

The McCourt's have single handedly ruined that team! With no one to blame but themselves!
 
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