It is time to fire up the ol’ What If Machine. This edition of our trip down hypothetical lane is courtesy of the tale of Frank McCourt who now officially has received several bids to buy the Dodgers. What does this have to do with the Angels? Well, as some people already know, McCourt originally tried ot buy the Angels before Arte Moreno won out.
It makes me shudder just thinking about it, but think about it I shall. What if it was McCourt who bought the Angels and drove them into bankruptcy? While I am no Nostradamus, I think there are a few pretty logical conclusions we can derive from the history of McCourt, Moreno and the Angels that would have dramatically altered the future of everyone involved
- First and foremost, the Vladimir Guerrero era in Anaheim probably never would have happened. Lest we forget, it was the Angels who swooped in with a better offer at the last second to steal Vlad from the Dodgers and McCourt. Moreno helped spearhead that move, I doubt McCourt would have had the acumen of financial wherewithal to pull off the same maneuver had he been in the same position.
- Speaking of Guerrero coming to Anaheim, that is where he would have been coming to, not Los Angeles of Anaheim. That whole thing was Arte’s brain child, no way frank would have gone down that road, not unless there was any money in it.
- Where there was money to be had was in the sponsorship of Angel Stadium. Moreno decided against selling the naming rights as part of maintaining the integrity of the franchise. McCourt and integrity are not often associated, especially with a chance to bilk tens of millions of dollars from the team. Granted, McCourt did NOT sell the naming rights to Dodger Stadium, but there was a historical precedence there, where there really wasn’t in Anaheim lest we all forget the “Big Ed” era.
- The one thing that endeared Arte Moreno to fans in Anaheim was how he quickly embraced the idea of improving the fan experience. He famously went on to lower beer prices and has done his very best to not raise ticket prices despite the large boost in payroll. As for McCourt, he did the opposite in LA. He raised ticket prices. He added new seats that infringed on the field. He kicked several lifelong Dodger ticketholders out of their seats. He has done almost nothing to remedy the horrifically long lines at stadium concession stands. Basically, he is the anti-Moreno when it comes to the fan experience at stadiums.
- The most obvious problem is that McCourt raided the Dodgers’ assets for his own personal use. Since the Angels don’t own their stadium and have generally earned less revenue than the Dodgers, that would’ve made it harder for McCourt to embezzle from the team. That isn’t to say that he wouldn’t have done it, it just would’ve been harder to pull off since there was less readily available money to steal. The easiest thing would’ve been for him to do would be to suppress the Angels’ payroll, much like he did with the Dodgers. It would have been far more drastic in Anaheim though. McCourt struggled to maintain a nine-figure payroll in LA, no way would he have been able to do so in Anaheim. The fallout from that is unfathomable. Would they have paid for Torii Hunter? Would they have been able to afford trading for Dan Haren? Sadly, the probably would’ve been able to afford Gary Matthews since the Dodgers made a similarly awful investment in Juan Pierre.
- Here’s a bright spot, that Vernon Wells deal would have never come to pass. Taking on Big Vern’s albatross of a contract pushed the Angels payroll to heights the Dodgers never saw under McCourt’s reign of terror. See, Dodger fans, sometimes having a terrible owner can help! Heck, we might even still have Napoli… nah, Scioscia would’ve drove him out of town still.
- I think it goes without saying, but there is no way Albert Pujols would have ever been lured into joining the Angels.
- Here is an interesting question, would Mike Scioscia have signed his “manager for life” contract? McCourt did have the drawing power to coax Joe Torre into managing the Dodgers, but he was unable to convince him to stay for more than a few years. Could he have done that with Scioscia? I kind of doubt it, especially since the Dodgers would have probably had an opening of their own right around the time that Scioscia realized that this McCourt guy didn’t exactly have the team’s best intentions in mind at all times.
Am I missing anything else? I thought about saying Weaver wouldn’t have signed an extension, but that could be false since the Dodgers were able to lock up Matt Kemp this year too. No doubt you all have some great suggestions of your own to add. But even without those additions, I’m sure we can all agree that we owe the Disney Company a debt of gratitude for picking Moreno’s offer McCourt’s.