By John Hickey
Tuesday, April 9th, 2013 at 6:10 pm in 2013 spring training.
This is the type of blog item that isn’t strictly about baseball, so if you’re looking for nuts and bolts about the national pastime, you’d better check back later.
This is about something that doesn’t matter to most people. It’s about arrogance of baseball ownership and the powers that be.
Tonight is the home opener for the Los Angeles-California-cum-Anaheim-cum-Los Angeles of Anaheim Angels. A good time may be had for all.
For all except for the print media. In an apparent fit of pique, LA-C-A-LAofA owner Arte Moreno decided to relocate the press box from behind home plate into the right field corner. Radio and TV, both of which pay big money to cover the team, remain behind home plate.
The spot behind home plate where the press box used to be is an empty hole. The apparent idea was to have put yet more luxury boxes in the home of the LA-C-A-LAofA Angels. They only have five dozen or suites or so, not counting those at field level behind the plate, making it easy to see that they need a couple more big ticket seating areas.
The trouble is not that the media has gone from having a good view of what’s happening to a mediocre one, although that’s certainly true.
The trouble isn’t even that the new press box doesn’t have any restrooms, although it’s easy to see a lot wait in the regular stadium restrooms will mean reporters stand a chance of missing whole chunks of the game.
The trouble starts with the fact that the media will have to hike a long way through huge crowds to the clubhouse after games on deadline. People have hiked the Himalayas covering about the same amount of ground that writers going to the Angels clubhouse will have to sprint – going and coming back.
Either deadlines or story angles will be missed. Count on it. And that means there will fewer column inches in early editions in Southern California devoted to Angels. And that’s not a disservice to Moreno as much as it is to the readers (and, of course, the writers).
The trouble is that Moreno apparently is doing this to punish the media and not specifically to have those new suites. He is, after all, so anxious to have them that they have not been built yet.
Moreno cried poverty when he wouldn’t re-sign Torii Hunter, then spent $125 million on Josh Hamilton. He apparently wasn’t a big fan of people in the media pointing that out and other inconsistencies in his ownership.
Given a chance to speak with the leadership of the Baseball Writers Association of America during spring training to see if some accommodation could be reached, Moreno bailed. Repeated requests to get Moreno together with BBWAA president Susan Slusser have gone without resolution.
The media, near as I can tell, did not attack Moreno or the Angels. They don’t seem to have done anything to him except report what he did and said and what his team did, including last year’s third place finish with a team that was thought to have first-place quality.
It’s probably time to break out the old Jack Nicholson “You can’t handle the truth,’’ line. But the truth is that when the White Sox moved their press box from behind home plate to the right field corner a few years ago, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said it wouldn’t happen again.
It just did.
Does this matter to the average fan? No. There’s no reason it should. But when game coverage in Anaheim is missing obvious storylines, or if the final game story is too late to get into the morning paper, it’s would be good for the reader to know that the real culprit is likely to be Moreno.