August 12, 2006

Did I Mention That I Hate the Angels?

I do. Call them what you will – The California and Los Angeles Metropolitan Area Angels of Orange Country or whatever, this is my least favorite Major League team, and not just because they kicked the Yankees’ ass at the Stadium last night, 7-4. Nor because they ran the Yankees out of the postseason twice in the last four years.

I have no very strong feelings about the Angels’ original owner, Gene Autry - seems to have been a nice enough fellow, don’t care for his movies - but he sold the team to Disney in the mid-1990s. This is a corporation that makes George Steinbrenner look like Mother Theresa. And for all the talk about financial inequality in baseball and the Yankees’ insane spending – a legitimate issue, I freely admit – if the execs at Disney cared even half as much about winning as our lovable psychopath Boss, the Angels’ salary could easily have been, oh, say $750 million.

Disney sold the team in 2003 to Arte Moreno, a self-made billionaire Vietnam vet and the first Hispanic owner in the majors. I like some of what I’ve read about him so far (e.g. lowering ticket prices and declining to sell the stadium’s sponsorship rights), but his team still has The Mouse’s prints all over it. I give you, for example, the fake-rock fountains in the outfield. Look, I grew up in New Jersey, and I know tacky when I see it. This isn’t the good, fun kind of tacky either; this is generic, soulless, lazy tacky. (If you want a baseball example of fun tacky, I give you “the Baggie,” the apparent garbage bags lining the outfield wall of the Twins’ Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Is this an attractive look? No. Is it classy? Probably not. But it has character.)

That I hate the rally monkey with a fiery passion should probably go without saying; I’m not even going to dignify that cutesy little cocksucking fleabag with a response. Most of all, though, I hate the Thunder Stix. Seriously – if you need ugly inflated plastic devices to artifically create enough noise to cheer for your team, you are not a baseball fan. Go ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: you'll love it. Take the monkey. Everybody wins.

But, really, you might ask - more than the Red Sox? Well, you know how in roughly 70% of all movies ever made, the hero and the villain have a big confrontation, and realize that they actually have a lot in common? It’s like that. “We are not so different, you and I!” say the Sox, as they dangle the Yankees over a tank of man-eating sharks. Boston and New York are two proud old baseball cities that place a lot of value, perhaps too much, on tradition; spend lots of money; boast rabid, unhealthily dedicated fans with sometimes delusional expectations; and host shrieking media outlets that fan random little sparks of stories into raging wildfires at every opportunity. There’s a grudging mutual respect there, mixed in with the blind hatred, as there is with all the best sports rivalries (and supervillians). I guess what I’m saying is that under other circumstances… if things had been different… we might even have been friends.

Say what you want about Fenway, but I’m confident you won’t see many Thunder Stix there any time soon.

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