|The Battle for Los Angeles, and the Eyes of the Baseball World||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on December 17, 2012
Photo by Malingering, used under creative commons license.
Apparently money is everything when it comes to free agents, and Los Angeles is where the money is these days. And frankly the Yankees and the Red Sox are old hat. The Red Sox don’t look to be very good, and the Yankees are both old and a shadow of what they were just a few years ago. Oh, and did I mention that they’ve been trying, successfully, to reduce payroll to a paltry $189 million?
Between the money and the decline of baseball’s greatest rivalry, a new rivalry has been born. The battle for the hearts and wallets of Los Angeles is well underway and both players are serious heavyweights. These are teams that won’t meet except in interleague play and perhaps the World Series, but both are spending for a chance to have that Fall Classic matchup and a freeway series.
The Angels will feature the most fearsome lineup in the game with a lineup whose top four will include Mike Trout, who should have won last year’s MVP, and two previous MVP winners in Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. Throw in Kendry Morales, Mike Trumbo and a bunch of guys who’ll hit between .280-.300 and the Angels are going terrorize American League pitching.
In the Senior Circuit, the Dodgers will enter the season with the highest team salary in the game. They’ve added plenty of recognizable stars including Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez, Josh Beckett, Zack Grienke and now Hyun-Jin Ryu, the pitching star of the Korean baseball league, to their roster since last July and committed over $400 million to salary going forward.
What it adds up to is the biggest spending spree in Major League history as both LA teams fight to win not just the hearts of LA but of baseball itself and to change the image of LA from an indifferent baseball town to the center of the baseball universe.
Hard to imagine they’ll succeed in that, but no doubt they’ll be a heck of a lot more balanced coverage for west coast stars in the upcoming years. But it’s all incidental to a battle between these teams as to who “owns” LA.
Each side has their pluses. The Dodgers have deep, deep pockets after a television deal worth between $6-7 billion landed in their pocket. They’ve also got a charismatic ownership group whose front office face of Ervin “Magic” Johnson is one of the most recognizable faces in sports. They spent a ton of money to buy the team and certainly haven’t been afraid to spend some of what they’ve already made.
On the other hand there is Arte Moreno, the Angels owner who plays to win and doesn’t let money stand in the way of getting the talent he really wants for the team. He out of the blue sent his baseball guys to sweep the feet out from under Josh Hamilton and to place him in the Halos outfield for the next five years. That’s the kind of owner he really is -- focusing on action rather than words and with little care for being in the spotlight when it comes to his team. That’s not to say he shuns it, but he lets his baseball guys -- the guys he relies on for advice and the team on the field -- take the spotlight, rather than having it focus on his antics or words.
Attention in LA is bouncing between the team – NL then AL then back again. Plenty of money is being spent. Tons of stars are moving out to the place where they can walk down Hollywood Boulevard. They may well strut their stuff there. But it remains to be seen if either of those teams can buy themselves a World Series Championship.