Will Angel Stadium and Mike Trout Lose Their Halos?
When I was formulating this entry I knew from the beginning that it would be very personal for me to write, I debated for an entire week whether two separate the two issues that I wanted to talk about into two separate entries or write about them together. I quickly realized that the answer was obvious, the two issues that I want to discuss our intertwined and I can’t really talk about one issue without talking about the other; so writing about Angel Stadium and Mike Trout separately didn’t make much sense to me.
Sports’ have a way of uniting communities for the better with a singular identity between the franchise and the city in which the franchise resides in, it’s a special interdependency that gives both the team and the community and intertwined identity. Some examples of this are the San Francisco 49ers helping the city of San Francisco heal after the assassinations of its mayor and a supervisor in the 1970’s or the Boston Red Sox helping the city heal after the Boston Marathon bombing; sometimes the identity between a city and its franchise become so intertwined that it’s tough to differentiate or even imagine two separate entities.
An example of the latter is the case of the Angels and the city of Anaheim. The Angels moved to Anaheim in 1966. Creating a singular identity for Anaheim and the rest of Orange County separate from the Los Angeles Dodgers and the city of Los Angeles. I was born and raised in Orange County, and grew up about three and half miles away from Angel Stadium. Yes, I absolutely love my Lakers but it is nice to have a team closer to home that we as a community don’t have to share with another city much less another County, I have similar feelings of allegiance towards the Anaheim Ducks.
Until recently the Angels had a lease with Angel Stadium until 2029 with a opt-out clause that was exercised by the franchise this past off-season. The Angels franchise and the city of Anaheim recently agreed to a short-term extension until the end of the 2020 season, in order to give the two sides time to discuss a possible extension that would be more amicable to both sides. During these talks between the two parties, The city of Long Beach has reached out to the Angels franchise about the possibility of moving the team and building a stadium in Long Beach.
As an Angels’ fan for over 30 years, I can see the appeal of moving to Long Beach, however, from a pragmatic, financial, and business standpoint it doesn’t make much sense to me, let’s assume the Angels do move to Long Beach. They would be in close proximity to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Angels would be in more direct competition with the Los Angeles Dodgers, I find it hard to believe that the Angels would be very successful in prying away fans from a well-established franchise such as a Dodgers. The relationship between the Dodgers and the city of Los Angeles is too entrenched for the Angels to have any measure of success.
It is for this same reason that I believe the Angels would be more successful staying in Anaheim. The Angels identity is Anaheim no matter how many name changes the Angels franchise decides to go through. Anaheim is far enough away from Los Angeles for the team to have its own distinct relationship with the city, additionally the location in Anaheim is situated such that the Stadium sits next to a Metrolink and Amtrak train station that very easily brings people from all over Southern California without causing Stadium goers to think twice about traffic, while at the same time saving the fans that use the train Stadium parking fees. The Angels would be better off in my opinion taking advantage of the public transportation options surrounding the Stadium, including the Orange County bus system that facilitates the ability of fans to attend games. If the franchise goal is to draw more fans in, moving to Long Beach seems counterintuitive. I sincerely hope that the Angels franchise realizes how intertwined they are in the Orange County community, I highly doubt they can duplicate the loyal fan base if they move to the Los Angeles area. While I realize Angels’ ownership is always wanted to be in direct competition for the Los Angeles fan base, it’s important not to forget about the Orange County fan base; as the old adage goes, “if you stand too close to the fire, you’re going to get burned.” In my opinion, if the Angels do decide to move from Angel Stadium, this is going to monumentally backfire on the organization. I love the organization too much to not at the very least express my very personal opinion, I do not want to see Angel Stadium lose its Halo.
Perpetually intertwined with Angel Stadium and the Angels franchise is the future of Mike Trout, how will the Angel Stadium negotiations or a potential move affect Mike Trout’s desire to stay? There is no question that the Angels need to put better pieces around Mike Trout especially pitching both in the bullpen and in the starting rotation. In order for them to do this, they must be able to successfully put fans in the seats, something that is extremely difficult to do given that they would have to draw from the same local fan base that the Dodgers do, which would hamper the Angels ability to successfully draw fans, from a dwindling fan pool; in turn, this scenario brings us back to the Stadium situation, if this happens, Mike Trout is as good as gone. Trout, is a throwback to an old time baseball player, he is a baseball purist, and although money is important to him it is not as important as being successful at winning championships. The Angels must find a way to contend, not just compete in order to convince Trout to stay. It’s going to take much more than just beating Bryce Harper’s 13 year, over a quarter of $1 billion contract to convince Trout that he belongs in an Angels’ uniform for the rest of his career. The team must show its willingness and ability to contend and be close to winning every year that he is involved with the team.
I highly doubt the Mike Trout cares about is state-of-the-art Stadium or how many fans the Angels can possibly pry away from the Dodgers, however these two items are intertwined and it won’t mean much if he Stays or goes if the Angels don’t figure out a way to contend and win. It won’t matter if the Stadium is state-of-the-art if no one’s around to watch Mike Trout and the rest of the team play.
The Angels are definitely in a conundrum and face the very real possibility that both Angel Stadium and Mike Trout will lose their Halos. It is my very sincere and deep love for this team that makes me hope neither of these two situations happen.