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Game 111: Twins at Angels

Can the Twins snap out of their funk against a team in one of their own?

Boston Red Sox vs Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 2009 AL Division Series
Arte Moreno, Angels owner. (The guy on the right.)
Damian Strohmeyer/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images (for some reason the system captioned this "Set Number: X83074 TK1 R2 F52" and I don't want to anger the System)

“Quirky” start time: 8:38 Central

Weather: Calm, mostly sunny, first pitch 81°

Opponent’s “on hiatus” SB site: Halos Heaven

TV: BSN. Radio: Provus maybe still not in California, is perhaps afraid of Disneyland

On July 24 last year, in a game I definitely did not remember, today’s Angels starter Patrick Sandoval pitched 8.1 innings of no-hit ball against the Twins (it was broken up by Brent Rooker, now in the Royals’ organization). No doubt it was something of a highlight in a year where Anaheim finished 77-85 (and the Twins finished where they did). Sandoval’s been quite decent for the Angels this season.

Sandoval, by the way, is not related to former Giants slugger Pablo Sandoval (although Pablo’s brother Michael was in the Twins’ minors for a few years). YTD digits:

Sandoval relies heavily on a 93-ish fastball, slider and changeup; when he’s on, the offspeed stuff is his most effective.

If you haven’t been following it lately, the Angels’ New Stadium Quest has taken some very, very crazy turns recently...

It begins in 2003, when billboard-hawking billionaire Arte Moreno bought the team fresh off their World Series championship. He was loved by the fanbase for being the first Mexican-American owner in US sports, and for being willing to spend on payroll, something Angels owners hadn’t often done. (The most recent owners were the Walt Disney Company, who’d bought the team solely to cross-promote it with their lazy remake of Angels In The Outfield, hoping for some of the success they’d found with the film and hockey team Mighty Ducks.)

This 2004 article from “USA Today” sums up how many Anaheim fans thought of Moreno back then — as someone who was into baseball for the love of the game, not the money. Heck, he’d even helped personally build a Little League ballfield and been a youth coach in earlier years. The author quotes Moreno as saying “the fans own the team. I’m the economic caretaker.”

Ah, but that was then. Moreno soon decided that while fans are well and good, he’d just as soon be handed more of their money, please.

It was his brilliant idea to officially change the team’s name to everyone’s beloved, linguistically ridiculous, Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim (the Anaheim part had to be included for lease reasons with the city). This annoyed people in Anaheim, in Los Angeles, and in the greater Orange County area, but they still came in droves — the Angels are regularly among baseball’s top teams in attendance. And they have a huge local cable deal.

Still, is there anything that drives owners crazy today more than an old stadium? Not much! And at the ripe age of 56, Angels Stadium is the fourth-oldest in MLB today. (Oakland Coliseum opened the same year, but only for the Raiders until 1968; Kauffman Stadium opened in 1973).

So Moreno started making the usual noise about how Angels Stadium (which, again, has fantastic attendance) was a dump, how he might have to look at relocation options without a new building, blah blah. Problem was, the lease wasn’t up yet! (It had been extended several times as a condition of the city funding renovations.) As we all know, when owners try to get out of stadium leases, it generally doesn’t go well.

Until, in 2018, a new mayor enters the picture, one Harry Sidhu (elected by a whopping 422 votes out of over 81,000 cast). Mayor Sidhu was Very Excited about moving forward on such a Tremendous Investment Opportunity.

Because this is now, Moreno didn’t just want a new stadium, either. Nobody wants just that, anymore! (It’s so 2010.) Nope, he wanted lots & lots of land around the stadium, too, to build condos and office buildings and, oh, fine, maybe a small city park and the minimum amount of affordable housing required by California law. Just so long as Moreno got the city to give him a sweet, massively undervalued real-estate deal and the customary tax freebies that went with it.

Negotiations took several years (the affordable housing part was a big problem, who wants that near their swanky condos). Finally, a deal was struck. Moreno would get his land, and his stadium, and the city would get way less money than if they sold it all to any other developer. But it would sure be a shining jewel for Mayor Sidhu to brag about (never underestimate the importance of bragging up shiny new buildings to politicians with their eyes on a big future).

And, most importantly, in terms of making it all look less sleazy than it was, the Angels would be locked into staying in Anaheim until at least 2050.

Until, crazy happened....

On May 16 of this year, it came out that Mayor Sidhu was under investigation by the FBI and a grand jury for, well, all kinds of good stuff. Neil deMause, take it away!

There’s “fraud, theft or bribery, making false statements, obstruction of justice and witness tampering,” all of which had to do with pushing through the stadium deal. (And then there was also the nucking futz charge of Sidhu registering his helicopter in the wrong state for whatever reason, which deMause noted was “FRAUD. Also, WEIRD FOR A MAYOR, but mostly FRAUD.” That one appears to not be stadium-related.)

Those curious about the details of the deal can backtrack it from there, starting with this deMause post, and rest assured, he’s got many more.

(Be sure not not to miss this one about the involvement of an Anaheim Chamber of Commerce leader, who wanted a few million for a giant ski-resort house, and also was swindling a marijuana legislation task force? I told you, this stuff is crazy. Also: never trust skiers.)

Essentially, though, it’s the standard modern story about how stadium sausage gets made, only it’s very readable when deMause does it. Basically, the more convoluted these numbers get, the more possible it is to pass legal taxpayer-thieving to the public.

Except, of course, when the mayor is actually veering into the not-so-legal. Guess what? He’s gone! As of May 23, when he resigned. And the stadium+land deal’s off, too.

Well, that’s life in the big city, I guess. Forget it, Arte: it's Anaheim.

Today's Lineups

Byron Buxton - CF David Fletcher - SS
Carlos Correa - SS Shohei Ohtani - DH
Jose Miranda - DH Luis Rengifo - 2B
Jorge Polanco - 2B Taylor Ward - RF
Luis Arraez - 1B Jo Adell - LF
Gio Urshela - 3B Jared Walsh - 1B
Gilberto Celestino - LF Max Stassi - C
Max Kepler - RF Jose Rojas - 3B
Sandy Leon - C Steven Duggar - CF
Tyler Mahle - RHP Patrick Sandoval - LHP