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This is L.A. baseball?

October 05, 2005

JUST A FEW SHORT YEARS AGO, coming out as an Angels fan was like admitting to a secret admiration for the Clippers. Like the Clippers, who play in the shadow of the Lakers, the Angels were the perennial second choice of a city that belonged to the Dodgers.

But now the Angels are playing baseball in October -- and they're doing it on national television for the first time as a "Los Angeles" team. (Of course, they still have some work to do growing into their new name; during Tuesday night's loss to the Yankees, Fox announcer Joe Buck said, "The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim -- do we have to keep saying that all night?")

The Angels' success is no fluke . When Arte Moreno bought the Angels in 2003, shortly after the team won the 2002 World Series, he quickly went to work. He spent millions for top talent such as outfielder Vladimir Guerrero and pitcher Bartolo Colon. He lowered notoriously high beer prices.

And in January, in a transparent ploy to assert his team's presence in the nation's second-largest media market, he changed the name of the team from the Anaheim Angels to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. It was an attempt to become L.A.'s team in name if not in fact.

The Dodgers retaliated by plastering the city with billboards that read, "This is L.A. baseball." Team officials also refused to list the Angels on the Dodger Stadium outfield scoreboard as "LAA," preferring the more geographically correct "ANA."

Unfortunately, the scoreboard also recorded every one of the Dodgers' losses, and there were a lot of them: 91, the team's second-worst season since moving from Brooklyn in 1958. Although every team has its bad years, this one was especially difficult because the team had done so well last year.

The Angels may need more than a few successful seasons to take over as Angelenos' hometown team. But they are hunting for their second World Series title in four years, and they're representing Los Angeles on national television. Maybe that name change wasn't so silly after all. Check back with us after the World Series.

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