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T.J. Simers

Failures of Angels and Chargers have similar roots

Arte Moreno in Anaheim and the Spanos in San Diego are to blame for a dysfunctional approach to team ownership.

October 03, 2012|T.J. Simers
  • Arte Moreno is to blame for the Angels' problems.
Arte Moreno is to blame for the Angels' problems. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

It starts at the top.

I look at the Angels, all that talent, a $159-million payroll, and they can't finish ahead of the $55-million Athletics from Oakland?

And that's with baseball offering an extra wild card this season to make up for a slow start.

What's worse: choking like the Dodgers after running out to the best record in baseball or underachieving like the Angels?

How did the Angels not make the playoffs, and dumbfounding as it is, how did the Angels not make the playoffs for a third straight year?

I know this, I watch Angry Arte routinely negotiate himself out of a better team, letting free agents sign elsewhere because his emotions get the better of him.

He lets Adrian Beltre go to Texas because Beltre wants an extra year added to his contract and dismisses Mike Napoli to make room for Vernon Wells.

Blame it on former general manager Tony Reagins if you like, because Arte Moreno would if cornered.

Moreno won't sign Beltre to an extra year, but he gives 10 years to Albert Pujols, who might be as old as Angry Arte for all we know.

I hear Moreno going ballistic, screaming into a telephone to say how nasty agent Scott Boras is because he won't deliver Mark Teixeira for $160 million. Boras prefers his client take the $180 million the New York Yankees are offering.

And Angry Arte is still upset with Boras for doing his job.

When everything is added up, is it as simple as concluding Oakland's brain trust is just that much smarter than the Angels'?

The Times' Mike DiGiovanna has been covering the Angels since he was a young man and now writes a story about what needs to be done with these losers. And he has seen "Moneyball."

I have to figure he's way ahead of the current Angels general manager who has to deal with Moreno's whims.

As dysfunctional as the Angels have been — Arte in charge, the GM in charge, Mike Scioscia in charge, friction between the manager and GM — the Goofs in San Diego come to mind.

They sure look like football's version of the Angels, high on expectations and disappointing upon execution.

Alex Spanos bought the Chargers in 1984. The Chargers are still looking to win their first Super Bowl, known mostly now for underachieving.

Feel familiar?

Spanos was self-made rich and wanted everyone to know it. He was impatient, overbearing and an emotional team meddler from Stockton who considered himself the people's owner, calling those who loved the Chargers, "My fans."

He liked to fire employees and more often than not was mad because his team was lousy.

Drew Brees might be setting an NFL record Sunday against the Chargers. I'm sure it will draw a smile from Napoli.

Alex begot another Goof in son Dean, who assumed control of the Chargers in 1994. I'm told Alex has medical issues now, and as fun as it was to irritate him, I hope he fully recovers so we might spar again.

But together the Goofs just never got it right, son like father hyper-sensitive to criticism. Attendance problems have plagued the team and there's talk now the Chargers might move.

Sound familiar?

Angels home attendance has dropped four straight years, with even Angry Arte spending more time at home in Arizona than in Angel Stadium.

Despite the marketing splash that came with the signing of Pujols, the Angels' average attendance hasn't been so low since 2003.

So much for cheaper beer prices being a draw, although I would imagine sales are higher now for those watching the team.

Michael Eisner, a.k.a. Mickey Mouse's boss, won a World Series. But Angry Arte, who considers himself a baseball expert, has not.

His team is a big disappointment. Again. And again.

Moreno fires folks as the Spanos Goofs do, the little people who can be blamed for his mistakes taking the fall.

Angry Arte so badly wants to say, "My reporters," so he only talks now to the team's website and to the radio station he owns.

While based in Anaheim, he still thinks his team is more Los Angeles, with a Chargers-like out in his stadium lease that could put the Angels on the move.

Wouldn't that be a Los Angeles pair, the Chargers and the Angels, no end to the potential frustration that comes with failed expectations?

How many times have the Chargers started a season with everyone pointing to how talented they are?

How good did the Angels look before playing a game this season?

How does a team with a pitcher like Jered Weaver and a sensation like Mike Trout not make the playoffs?

How does a team that also includes Pujols, Zack Greinke and an inspirational Torii Hunter blow it?

How does a team with the best manager in baseball, as so many say, go dead for such long stretches?

The Dodgers have lasted longer this season than the Angels, and that's with Frank McCourt as owner when the season began.

The Angels have not met expectations and consistently so. Is that the manager's fault or the guy who essentially signed the manager to a lifetime contract?

For those who think next year will be different, that's what they say every year in San Diego.

That's what Angels fans have been counting on the last three seasons, Angry Arte promising as much.

So where is there reason for hope?

There is none in San Diego.

As for the Angels, if there's any chance Moreno can get his emotions in check, stop making baseball decisions and be the jolly soul again who doesn't think everyone is out to get him, then just maybe.

Otherwise the goofs will just continue to pile up.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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