“Of all the sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest of these…it might have been” (J.G. Whittier).
The year is 2010. The Anaheim Angels are the talk of Major League Baseball. In the last eight years, the Angels won a World Series and reached the playoffs six different times. They are a model franchise that drafts well and develops their young core, while spending wisely in free agency. Angel stadium is the place to be. Fans flock inside proudly wearing their red colors, banging their thunder sticks, and waving their rally monkey. From 2002-2009, Anaheim is Camelot and everyone from the east to the west wants a seat at the round table.
But for one man, this is not good enough. This man wants more glory, more fame, and more fortune. He wants to supplant the hated team to the north as the king of Los Angeles. He isn’t just happy with playoffs appearances, good draft picks, and a solid top five franchise; he wants to be the straw that stirs the drink. He wants it all and he wants it now; therefore, he does what all power-hungry narcissists do—instead of letting “Jesus take the wheel,” he pushes him out of the car and takes control.
The man’s name: Arte Moreno. The man’s job: Owner of the Anaheim Angels. The man’s purpose: Destroy the franchise through any means necessary.
Step #1: Overrule all baseball personnel and demand the franchise sign an overweight, overage, overhyped player to a ridiculous amount of money and years. Every baseball mind that had helped shape the Angels from 2002-2009 argued with Mr. Moreno and said, “Do not sign Albert Pujols to a 10 year $240 million dollar contract. His best years are behind him and this goes against our philosophy of developing young talent and spending wisely in free agency.” Mr. Moreno would respond, “I’m the boss. You do what I say. It’s my money.”
Step #2: After step #1 blows up in your face, wash-rinse-repeat the same decision to try and mask your error by signing another player who was declining and had an addiction to drugs. Every baseball mind that told Mr. Moreno not to sign Albert Pujols, also told him, “Do not by any means sign Josh Hamilton.” Mr. Moreno once again responded, “I’m the boss. You do what I say. It’s my money.”
Step #3: After step #1 and step #2 blow up in your face, wash-rinse-repeat the same decision to try and mask both your errors by signing more and more players to big contracts as the farm system dwindles and the scouting/player department leaves or gets fired. These players include but are not limited to: Vernon Wells, C.J. Wilson, Gary Matthews Jr, and Anthony Rendon.
Step #4: Change the franchise name from the beloved city you call home to another city’s name 45 miles away that shares the same name with one of the most iconic baseball franchises in MLB history. This will ensure the complete irrelevance of a franchise that was building its own reputation and had a supportive and growing fanbase.
Step #5: Tell the world you’re finally selling the team so that the new ownership group can go in a different direction and then at the last second, pull the rug out and leave the team and its fans hanging.
The year is now 2023. The Angels are the laughingstock of Major League Baseball. They had not one but two generational talents and wasted their careers (see steps #1-#5). They have one playoff appearance in the last 13 years and zero playoff wins. They have the worst rated farm system in baseball. They are weighed down by overpaying semi-productive players that can’t stay healthy long enough to matter. For the past three years, they have arguably the best player to ever don a major league uniform and someone who put up numbers both on the mound and at the plate never seen before by one person and yet have never finished above .500. They say hope springs eternal but that eternal flame has long burned out. No longer do Angel fans flock inside the stadium proudly wearing their red colors. No longer do the thundersticks provide any thunder. And no longer does the rally monkey even appear on the big screen. Camelot is dead and the Anaheim Angels franchise as it was once known, no longer exists.
“Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Anaheim—the mighty Moreno has struck out.”
A Shattered Halo Fan